You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.

I explain the criteria in the local stories post below.

1.  Jewish Voice for Peace responding to Gaza attacks – I made this post exactly one year ago and it received the most hits of any non-local story.  Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza were at war then.  There were several posts on topic.  This one drew the most hits. Another post with links to Israeli protest information also drew a large number of hits.  We have a relatively large Jewish population in Sohum, many of whom have very ambivalent feelings on the issue.

2.  Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer – The discussion thread was short, but you clicked on this thread and its links in large numbers.  Maybe there just wasn’t much to be said.  I think the economy tanking made this story much more relevant to many of you than it might have been otherwise.

3.  Sarah Palin ditches the governor job – I think this might have been my last post devoted solely to Palin.  I’m suffering from Palin burnout, but she definitely draws your interest.

4.  Oklahoma students don’t pass citizenship test – it was actually a discussion of education in general.

5.  Disobedient women viewed as just as bad as their abusive husbands – extreme fundamentalists are always good for a blog throttling.

6.  The Blue Lady – my nostalgic post about a famous ghost with whom I have something of an association drew a large number of hits when I posted it, but a recent visitor has taken a new interest in this old post.  He may have single-handedly driven the hit numbers up.

7.  Anarchist activist turns his fellow activists in – several posts on the matter.  I’ve tried to bring Mr. Darby onto my radio show, but he wants to wait until all legal issues have been resolved.  I’m not sure what remains as both of his associates have pled guilty.  There were some local connections which made these posts relevant to some here.

8.  Arthur C. Clarke’s monolith – I think this post ended up on some geek link sites which is the only explanation I can offer for the hundreds of hits this post received.

9.  Mary Ann’s marijuana bust – Baby-boomer pop-culture and marijuana, always a recipe for hits around here.  But notice, none of my numerous health care reform posts is coming up on this list.  Thinking about why we don’t have a public option in the final bill, I have to look at the popularity of this post over each of the HCR posts and I wonder if I don’t have the answer.  I should say, this one had no comments, but hundreds of hits.  Again, I wonder if I didn’t end up linked from elsewhere.

10.  Health Care Reform – okay, at least one post made it into the top 10.  Slightly relieved.  This post was short and to the point, focused on what I consider to be the central issue which defeated health care reform.  It wasn’t that government health care would be inefficient.  It was that it would be too efficient.

The list  is structured strictly according to the numbers of hits, rather than comments or other criteria.  I have no way of knowing whether the hits are all from different people, and I suspect that some stories, such as the community park, have multiple posts from a few people which may skew the list.  If there are other posts on the same subject I only link to the post receiving the most hits.

A few of the posts within top 10 are death notices, and I’m excluding those from the local list in the interest of tact and class.

1. Community Park – By far the most hits, and most comments.  The post linked broke a record for comments previously held by a Reggae War post.  There’ve been several other posts.  Much like the Reggae War threads, if I go for any length of time without a new post on the subject there are a few posters who will keep posting.  A review of the threads shows considerable repetition.  There are other stories which draw more diversity in posters, but by far this story is receiving the most hits.

2. Tom Dimmick and Carol Bruno part ways – one of the final chapters of the Reggae War.  This post, one of my shortest, drew an enormous number of hits and a slew of comments.  There were a couple of follow-up posts, but the energy of the story seems to be over.

3. Estelle Fennel heads up HumCPR – in a moment which redefined local politics, Estelle joined the ranks of the property rights movement, normally reserved for folk of the conservative political persuasion.  However, dynamics unique to Humboldt County culture have generated a new political paradigm pitting “urban” environmentalists, controlled growth advocates, and regulatory agencies against a coalition of hippie homesteaders, old guard, realtors, and developers.  Some have called it a “false division” resulting from breakdowns in communication following the TPZ subdivision moratorium aimed at PALCO and two very disturbing incidents involving a Code Enforcement Unit in which the structure of accountability had broke down.  I believe however that the new divide is very real based upon very distinct philosophies and ideologies as well as contrasting material interests.  In any case, this was a very pivotal moment.

4. CLMP makes a play for community unity – In a story related to the one just above, the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project put together a meeting between the various interests and perspectives with regard to the General Plan Update and actually managed to facilitate the creation of a list of universally accepted talking points which were presented at the Planning Commission meeting last June.  The meeting, for all its shortcomings, was the only one which came close to representing the diversity of opinions countywide.  CLMP has since become a voice more critical of the county, although officially it’s focused more on process than policy substance.

5.  David and Kaitlin come to KMUD – For whatever reason this short announcement of a new KMUD talk show generated a very long thread and drew a very large number of hits from both ends of the county.  David and Kaitlin are very active in a number of issues and there are strong feelings for and against them.  For blogging purposes they seem to the the Rob Arkley of the left.

6.  Earthfirst! cofounder Mike Rozelle visits Garberville – I don’t think the topic was so much him as a discussion about the history of tree spiking.  The visit, and the thread, brought out some old unresolved politics.

7.  Swine Flu vaccinations – we had several threads which drew yet another intense discussion with multiple perspectives.

8. Buju’s return – several posts on this blog and several other blogs with heated discussions about homophobic violence, censorship, the rights of partyers, whether spirituality mitigates bigotry, People Productions, etc.  It ended a bit differently than a couple of years ago when Banton played at the Mateel.  The gay rights activists of the north county were apathetic to the politics which governed the dynamics down here and aggressively protested – spearheaded by Mitch Trachtenberg who told me (paraphrasing) “I felt we were making progress with the more traditional sources of bigotry only to find ourselves blindsided by the dreadlocked young people I thought were on my our side!”  The show was set to take place in Eureka, but was ultimately canceled.

9.  Planners come to Sohum – not the more recent event, but last spring some planners and Clif Clendenen came to Garberville in another CLMP organized event to discuss the GPU.  That meeting was much more contentious than the most recent one.

10.  Burglaries in Redway – I believe it turned out that only Holly’s business was burglarized.  The discussion thread was short, but the interest in this very upsetting incident involving a much-loved business and owner drew numerous hits.

Looking over the list, it was obviously a very slow year in local news.

I will post a list of the non-local topics you found most interesting in short order.

GOP representative Mike Conoway gets asked why they are so gung ho in attacking Obama for waiting for three days to comment on a thwarted attack, when Bush took six to respond to a similar attack.  He clearly was not prepared for the question.  Unfortunately, she lets him off the hook.

Addendum: The White House hit back at the GOP, and particularly VP Dick Cheney – fairly aggressively actually.  Some excerpts:

“The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and – unlike the last Administration – we are not at war with a tactic (“terrorism”), we [are] at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies.

….

To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President.

Ouch!

Second addendum: Just so you know, another problem with Obama is that he’s vacationining in his home state of Hawaii.  That’s a “foreign place.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are starting to find their voice.  This isn’t 1980 or 1994.

The Times Standard reports that the cinema in the Bayshore Mall will be closing as Coming Attractions Theaters will be giving up its lease.  Coming Attractions already has a virtual monopoly in the county, including the Minor in Arcata, and I can’t stand the amount of commercials they play before the movies – actual annoying product commercials, not just trailers.

Apparently it wasn’t making good business because the films were all “second run.”

So here’s a thought.  Maybe instead of paying to tear apart the film infrastructure in the space and trying to rent out yet another space, maybe the mall would consider lowering its rent for awhile to allow someone or some group to go in and operate an independent theater which plays either old films or independents, maybe showcasing local talent.  I know that a mall is an unusual venue for such a venture, but the Mall is in trouble and should start trying to think out of the Big Box.  If they dedicate one room to old Disney or other kid films, creepy or otherwise, it would still serve the baby-sitting function parents look for and maybe some of those films would be “new” to their kids.

Anybody with a little money to risk interested?

Addendum: Hank has some more information about the closing.  Apparently they already have a new tenant.  You can find excerpts from an interview with the Coming Attractions CEO, including promises regarding independent films at the Minor and financial explanations for the addition of commercials as well as the usual “world is changing” mantras.

A leaked report indicates that the Afghan army has, well, some very serious problems, the key sentence being ‘nepotism, corruption, and absenteeism among ANA leaders makes success impossible.”

A huge story getting some traction in the media.  More as it develops.

Republicans are going all out on the recent attempt to blow up an airplane, and the right wing criticism of Obama over the incident range from borderline reasonable to manic.  One of the more ridiculous comments comes from Fox News in which they slam the president for using “allegedly” to describe the actions of a soon-to-be criminal defendant.  A real president knows what happened and doesn’t need to reserve judgment.  And a real president rants like a 5-year-old as opposed to coming across as “detached” and “reserved.”

Doesn’t he understand that the President’s job is to whip up the fear and anger?  After all, we may have to invade Yemen now.

He’s being criticized for not holding an immediate press conference.  Never mind that Bush waited a week before addressing a similar attack.  That was then, this is now.

He’s being criticized for allowing the suspect (more Harvard talk) to be charged in the criminal justice system (like the shoe bomber) amid calls for more racial profiling.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra meanwhile understands appropriate responsive behavior.  You don’t use big words like “allegedly” and you don’t try to calm people.  It’s an opportunity to raise money!

And this blogger asks whether Republicans are simply more easily played?  Consider that the privacy versus security debate which had largely remained dormant throughout two presidential campaigns has been revived.  It all depends on who’s in power.

The Democrats are apparently huddling in fear, reminiscent of the Cold War days, with one exception notable as unlikely.  I imagine that more will find their voice after the New Year if the barrage keeps up.

So, is Yemen the new Iraq?  Or new Afghanistan anyway?  In case you missed it, Maddow had a reasonably comprehensive piece on the issue last night.

Addendum: Not really an update, but I just love this title – Islamofascism vs. Boobs and Penises.

Oh, and a voice of the right wing has finally come up with an answer as to why Richard Reid, the would-be shoe bomber, was tried in civilian court.  It’s as lame as they get.  The reason Padilla was removed was because the evidence against him wasn’t clear enough to win in civilian court, which of course raises separate questions.  Subsequent terror suspects were in fact tried in civilian court.

I won’t repeat my ranting about the loss of real reform with the public option.  I think I’ve been over that ground enough.  The question is whether the bill is worth supporting with what’s left.  I’m not convinced, but Nate Silver makes a good case for its value to working families.  An excerpt:

Marcy is basically treating the $5,243 per year as though it’s a tax hike. That’s not what it is — at all. It’s a deeply discounted — albeit mandatory — service that they’re purchasing. And it’s saving them a lot of money: it either saves them a lot of money every year if they’re already buying insurance, or a lot of money on average if they’re not buying insurance.

And in either case, because of the caps in out-of-pocket expenditures — it also provides them with a lot more certainty in forecasting their income stream. It allows them to come up with a reasonable gameplan.

Frankly, unless they’re living in New York or the San Francisco Bay or some other place where the cost of housing is very high, the family that Marcy draws from — one which pays $1,600 per month for rent but does not buy health insurance for themselves or for their children — does not have a reasonable and responsible gameplan to begin with. If they can’t figure out how to squeeze out $430 per month in insurance premiums, what are they supposed to do in the status quo when somebody actually gets sick? You can object to the Senate’s health care bill on libertarian/paternalism grounds, but it will leave the overwhelming majority of low- and middle-income families better off.

It’s a bit patronizing to suggest to poor families that they ought to be able to come up with $430 per month in addition to the costs of life they’re already enduring.  Yeah, maybe someone will get sick, but with poverty it’s often really about the hear and now – the kids get hungry in the moment.

And without the price controls, what is even the guarantee of $430?  They’re mandating no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, but what in the bill ensures such people aren’t simply priced out?  That’s just as effectively prohibitive as an outright refusal.

Santa brought my 5 year old daughter a DVD copy of the old movie Benji, about a little dog who aids in the rescue of two little kids from a kidnapping.  I’m not sure if I saw it as a kid.  If I did, I must have blocked out the scene where one of the bad guys kicks a dog (Benji’s girlfriend) and causes her to bleed.  Plus the kids got shoved around and there were a couple of scary gun scenes.  Lilith handled it fine, but I spoke to a friend of mine tonight who said that her kids were very upset by the scene.

I don’t know that it’s such a big deal.  It’s real, and many kids see similar or worse acts in real life.  The film makes it clear that the action is way out of line and suggests that if people work together, justice can be done and repeat performances averted.  I tend to think we assume our kids are so fragile that we not only underestimate them, but we do them a disservice.  It’s a sweet movie, and managed to depict kids and dogs without making them too cute and/or bratty; just cute and bratty enough.  The harshness of the story is brief, and I doubt anybody who watches it as a kid is in therapy for the experience.

That being said, I do have to wonder about some kids movies.  It’s true that children’s fables used to be much harder edged.  For instance, Grandma and Little Red actually didn’t survive being eaten in the original fable.  You took what comfort you could find in the fact that the woodcutter gave the wolf his just desserts at the end of the story.  And even into modernity, we teach our kids songs about babies falling out of trees and even mass death due to the Black Plague (All fall down!).

And we had overt racism in Dumbo, but it was a product of the times and it has plenty of redeeming qualities.  Mom was shot and killed in Bambi, and Dad was killed in the Lion King, but these were integral to very good stories and most kids could handle it.  Some of the other kids’ movies were scary, like Snow White and Jack and the Bean Stalk, but only just enough.  I don’t have too many complaints of movies made before I was born or shortly thereafter (with a couple of exceptions noted below).

The seventies were a little bit loose in some respects.  The all-child cast of Bugsy Malone softened the violent gangster themes by replacing bullets with whipped cream.

But there was a bit of an outcry over the fact that 14 year old girls played this scene.

Parents did assert some control over television.  To the major disappointment of comic book reading kids the fights between the Superfriends and the Legion of Doom were ridiculously tame.  Nobody ever threw a punch or did anything violent.  There were rays emitted from weapons which sort of put a rival to sleep, or otherwise immobilized him/her – nothing which could result in bruising.

Now compare that with the more recent rendition of the Justice League.  Here Wonder Woman’s mind is controlled by the bad guys and she’s forced to fight four of her fellow female team members in some sort of arena.  Plenty of suggestion of bruises even for super powered women, and the scene climaxes with one of the heroins actually threatening the life of a bad guy.  Granted, this latter cartoon is intended for older kids.

While the media won’t have the racy scenes of children in films like Bugsy Malone or The Blue Lagoon, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of restraint when it comes to violence.  At least they don’t show the blood.  Yet.

But even setting aside overt violence, sexual innuendo, and other themes arguably questionable for child entertainment – there are kid movies which creeped me out as a kid, or would have had I seen them at the time.  I think about them now wondering what the writers and/or directors were thinking.  A few examples are discussed below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nine demonstrators were shot dead in Tehran today, including Seyyed Ali Mousavi, nephew to Mir-Hossein Mousavi who allegedly lost the recent presidential election.

This video is from Al Jazeera.

And a recap of the previous round.

And this Kos post discusses the dearth of media coverage and speculates as to the cause.

Especially when thrown by Drew Bees. The science explained:

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