27 June 2005

Quote Fest (CS)

The age of the soundbite can be pretty frustrating. People want their information in easily digestable chunks and these days it seems like the portion size of what's "easily digestable" gets smaller and smaller. People start to miss the tone of a speech, the context of a thought, or the entire point of a book, history, or philosophy. For example, my friend Jeff left me this quote by Jeremy Roenick while i was away at work:

I will say personally, to everybody who calls us spoiled, you guys are just jealous. We're trying to get this thing back on the ice and make it better for the fans. If you don't realize that, then don't come. We don't want you in the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey.

First reaction is to call Roenick a jackass. Which he is.... but he was one long before this quote. I downloaded the press conference it was from and after watching Roenick speak, I realized that he was a lot more thoughtful over the hockey labor dispute than the quote gives him credit for. He fully admits that the players and owners were foolish, made mistakes, and certianly made the wrong choices. He also fully admitted that it's not the big name players that have anything to worry about AND that a deal must be worked out where the owners make good money or there will be no league. And he's not far from the truth that hockey players stand to get screwed at least in comparison to the players of any other major sport and their respective labor disputes. Anyway, MY point is that Roenick was much more eloquent and educated about the labor dispute than the soundbite gave him credit for and had i not watched the majority of the press conference to put that quote into context, i would have been none the wiser.
But let's face it, quotes are fun. Aphorisms are great, they were always my favorite part of Latin class. And i was always happy that the Washington Square News would supply a quote or two within its pages, particularly wise ones that pertained to any sort of modern issue at hand.
AM New York does the quote thing too, having about three "Quotes of the Day" as well as one or two extras showing up in bold face within the pages. Today's samples are fantastic:

"He's one of the worst dates I've ever had."
-- George Clooney re: Sam Rockwell

Ah Mr Clooney, So full of whit vhim and vigor and the oldest jokes in the book.

"I don't think I've ever missed a deadline; I think it would make me physically ill."
-- Roger Ebert

I gotta respect a man with conviction and committment and an understanding of hard work. All the same, if anyone can do the research and find a deadline that Ebert HAS missed, i also respect a man that can make movie critics physically ill (extra points if it's Harry Knowles).

"I marvel at Jessica Alba. How is that possible? That's God."
--- Michael Chiklis (aka, The Commish)

That's a pretty good one right there, and it seems like our soon to be Thing has a better idea of the glory of God than many of our Ten Commandment lovin' countrymen.

And that would very well be the quote of the day.... If not for this gem:

"Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years."
--- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

Really, i would laugh if it weren't at the expense of such a rediculously fucked up situation. Talk about a scramble to save one's own ass. Not that it changes the fact that apparantly we've created a situation of violence that could go on for the next decade and a half. Mr Rumsfeld, expert on insurgencies, particularly their prolonged effect, did you not see this coming? Does it make you uncomfortable that things seem to be escalating again in Afghanistan, too? It should.

25 June 2005

Comics Roundup 6/25 (CS)

So i'm thinking about making this "comics roundup" a regular feature at Whippersnapp. Perhaps i risk alienating the non-comics reading readers, but hey.... What readers?? (yeh, you all saw that one a mile away). Anyway.....

Obviously, the Batman movie is out. You can find any number of reviews online, I'll simply say that i thought it was friggen awesome. Batman is usually the closest we get to an "everyman" hero, since he's one of the few out there without super special powers beyond those "endowed by his Creator." Certainly, he's the only mortal man out there with a seat at the table. So I suppose it's not too far a stretch to say that successive incarnations of Batman often give us a good picture of the atmosphere we humans are experiencing at that time. Thus, i particularly liked this essay by Pete L'Official (can that name be for real?). Here was a particularly fun little snippet that really got me:

If there's a Bat for every time, as O'Neil suggests, what does ours look like?
Let's see . . . a wastrel with bottomless bags of cash, tormented by the desire to honor his family legacy, out to change the world through stubborn force of will by utilizing the power of fear to distort, disorient, and thus control his enemies? Sounds like B . . . ruce Wayne to me! (Jaws may drop when Rutger Hauer tells lil' Brucie, "We'll be watching the empire. When you grow up, it'll be waiting for you.")

But as much as I love Batman, Captain America was always my guy (it's the one book i've consistantly subscribed to). And I think Captain America is rarely more entertaining than when he's butting heads with the government he represents. That sort of story can be tiring if done all the time, and the Cap books have been turning more towards his past w/ his former sidekick, Bucky. But more of that conflict between what America represents and what it does (especially behind the scenes) can be seen developing in the pages of The New Avengers:

Captain America lives under a burden few other heros have. Mutants face racism, Superman is an alien, Spiderman gives us the line that applies to all of them, "with great power comes great responsibility." Most of these guys (and gals) are idealists in their own way, but Captain America wears the symbol of an ideal that hits closer to home than most. An ideal (and a country) that almost anyone in the world is familiar with and has an opinion about. The sad truth of the matter is, especially for Cap, the country he represents sometimes does not (and some would say rarely ever does) live up to the symbol he wears and the ideal he stands for.

There are all sorts of issues, past and present, where this division can be illustrated. The gap between the thinking of the government and its understanding of the symbol/ideal certainly underscores the current argument regarding flag burning. But i guess one of the big topics du jour is the prisons we run in Gitmo and Iraq, where the US has finally admitted to torture. The US also insists, however, that these prisoners are "enemy combatants" and that as such they don't qualify under the Geneva Conventions. Also, the argument will be made that certain measure must be taken in the interest of national security.

I do not doubt, for a second, that there are some nasty elements out there that intend to harm us and that we can use whatever advantage and tools we can get. However, I've learned a lot from my heroes. I think Captain America would be disgusted with torture or anything resembling it. I think he would see to it that it would be stopped. But he would also see to it that we were still safe. He would find another way. He would keep his ideal AND our safety intact, letting himself take the big risks, if necessary. He would make sure that we kept intact that thin yet all important division that "makes us better than them."

23 June 2005

Lions and leopards and kittens, oh my (CS)

Amazing news fromt he world of big cats (and sad news from the world of small ones) as one set saves a little girl's life and another is defeated by an old man using HIS BARE HANDS.
I find the story of the African man taking out the leopard particularly interesting. It reminds me of a piece of news i once read about an Icelandic man who killed a shark by wading into the water, dragging it to shore, and then stabbing it with his knife. Now that is hard.

I love these stories cuz it reminds me that there's a bit of something we've certainly lost since the days we actually had to DO things to get by. In Africa a 73 year old man DROPS his machete in order to kill a leopard (talk about will to power...). Meanwhile, tonight at the movie theater, the masses of people there were crippled into frustration and confusion when the Fandango machines went down. Thank you modern "convenience."

A friend of mine pointed out that it would be a bit blind to not point how in this modern world apparantly Ethiopians can drag off and beat 12 year olds for marriage. We know this, but no one will care until some Ethiopian terrorist attacks us. We certainly didn't care when they were invaded and taken by Mussolini. Who cares about Africa? Just look at the Sudan.

Ethiopia has also apparantly reduced the population of its national symbol to incredibly low numbers. A page right out of our book, eh?

20 June 2005

Odds and Ends (CS)

First of all, Google (as Google comes first in all things). Google is searching for the truth. Google is always apparantly looking to do new things, never staying stagnant, and i like how a Google spokeswoman put it as "evolving all the time." So hey, if we're gonna find an ultimate Truth, why not through Google.

Speaking of the truth, long censored stories by an American journalist who was able to get into Nagasaki not long after the atomic bomb was used on it will finally be released. Let's please try to take this as a "look how shitty war/nuclear arms are" rather than "look at the terrible wrath of the United States" whether it's in a "fear us!" or "loath us!" sense.

We sure seem to have it in spades when it comes to sowing the seeds of destruction, however. All Bush's haughty talk and warhawkish demands seem to have only served to be damaging to pro-reform groops and strenghtened the presence of hardline conservative clerics. I had a professor recently who pointed out how, in the course of history, when often you try too damned hard to achieve one thing, you will get the opposite result. The country has been liberalizing (albeit, painfully slowly), but Bush's administration, the champions of freedom, may have just turned this process entirely on its head.
I remember doing my senior research project in high school on Iran, particularly the events leading up to the revolution in 1979. The hostage situation in Iran came as a shock to most Americans at the time, but targeting Americans and calling America "the Great Satan" doesn't happen on a whim. It was our own fear of Communism that had us propping up the Shah, out of touch with his own country and reviled by Iran. Between his actions and some of the questionable clandestine shit the CIA was pulling over there (all in the name of thwarting communism of course) they sure had enough legit reasons to hate America.... and of course, the culture gap cannot have helped. Then the people just latch on to the first guy with enough power and inertia to get them out from under the thumb of foreign influence. Sometimes i think it's slightly analogous to Vietnam and Diem, except with "Islamic Fundamentalism" latched onto instead of "communist anti-colonialism." We don't seem to have policy makers who really know their history anymore, do we?

And finally, along the lines of understanding history, here is a quite interesting take on the development, current state, and future fate of Marxism in the world. And remember, folks... Just cuz you understand/read up on Marxism, it does not make you a communist. Trying to understand history and the modern world without an understanding of Marxist thought and economic/dialectic construction of history leaves one quite unprepared and with what can only generously be called part of the picture. And if you coudln't follow that, don't bother reading the essay, it's a bit thick (i enjoyed it, though).

14 June 2005

Fight Censorship (CS)

So I am now a proud member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. For those of you who don't know, The CBLDF is a non-profit organization devoted to the defense of comics on First Amendment related issues.... Sort of like an ACLU of the comic book medium. They've done a lot of great work over the past +15 years including recent victories regarding parody comics confiscated by customs in South Carolina and a satire case some newspapers were involved in in Texas.

And y'know, I don't entirely agree with their policies and actions. They certainly do a lot of good work, but of all the CBLDF publications I've read, criticism of comic book creators and vendors is conspicuously absent. I realize that the organization's job is to fight legislation and acts that would restrict First Amendment rights as far as comic books are concerned. However, I feel that there is very little recognition that comic book creators and vendors have to exhibit a level of responsiblity as well. I'm only asking for a little bit of honesty amongst friends.

All the same, I feel no shame in being a supporter and member of the CBLD. In fact, i'm quite happy to join an organization i can feel good being a part of and I highly suggest any of you comic fans out there check it out yourselves. And for those of you who aren't comic book fans, why not check out the ACLU or anyone else in the Free Speech Community.

It's about time terms like "a card carrying member of the ACLU" stopped being derogatory. Granted that we need some sort of intelligence organization to look out for us in some ways. All the same, in an atmosphere of fear, regulations tend to become a bit overzealous. Compare the sentiment behind the Patriot act to those of McCarthy's HUAC or the Smith Act or the McCarran Act and you start to get the picture. So just as it is important to have people watching out for us, at the same time we need some sort of watchdog to make sure these organizations and our gov't do not get out of control and in the current political climate ask yourself, "Which side would you rather be on?" As it has been said, "Sed quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?" .... And as Will Esiner's The Spirit says on 2005's CBLDF Membership card, "Consider this an act of patriotism"

13 June 2005

Whiplash! The first Whippersnapp contest!

Dear Whippersnapp enthusiasts:

Alright, so a couple of months ago I was driving around Kings Plaza in southeast Brooklyn. Stopped at a traffic light, I noticed a sign in the rear windshield of the car ahead of me that read "THIS CAR IS PROTECTED BY A PIT BULL WITH AIDS," alongside a cartoon of a dog with blood smeared all over its mouth. I believe the car was an '80s-model Toyota Celica,

So I've got $50 for the first person who can get me a photo of this car with this sign. If you want to make a similar sign (or buy it, god knows what sort of establishment sells a sign like that) and put it in your car that's cool, too, but get me a shot of it in traffic, because it'd take zero balls to take a snapshot of the car while it's in your driveway and then remove the sign afterward. Also don't give me any Photoshopped crap, I do that for a living and can tell the difference.

Happy snapping,

Brodeur for something-or-other (BR)

Frequent New York Press contributor Christopher X. Brodeur has announced his candidacy for mayor. Brodeur sought the same office on the Green ticket in 2001 (did you know? I sure didn't). This year he's wisened up and has thrown his hat into the Democratic primary.

His platform and ideas can be found at mayorbrodeur.org. Since I'm probably the only person in the city keeping marginal tabs on the mayoratorial race, I'll hold y'alls hand while we examine Brodeur's ideas for the city.

You know what's sad? When you agree with basically every aspect of a candidate's agenda but you're too embarrassed by the method of presentation to support them. I'm not sure for how long Brodeur has been mulling a run at Gracie Mansion this year, but his platform reads suspiciously like the one I posted about a month ago, detailing the tenets of my abortive run for mayor. Abolish the MTA, hold politicians accountable not only for fiscal waste but public disingenuousness, scrap the West Side stadium, looks good -- rebuild the twin towers, eh, I thought they were ugly when they were up, and since no one wants to rent office space a thousand feet above the most notorious graveyard in New York City, a nice memorial with some gardens and statues would be a much nicer tribute, though I agree with his proposal to seize the property from Larry Silverstein via eminent domain (if City Hall can kick old ladies and low-income families out of their homes to build an arena for the Nets, they should use it to screw a rich guy every now and again).

But a good portion of Brodeur's plan for the city is built on quicksand. Witness this silly little bit:

Have you ever called someone’s cellphone only to find it’s temporarily disconnected because they missed a bill? When I’m mayor, this will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

ALL homes and businesses will have a phone jack that will automatically be on always. Everyone will get FREE service and never see a bill again. (If you need more phone lines, you may have to pay for it.) Ditto electricity: all homes and businesses will get a certain amount of electricity free. If they go over that amount (because they waste electricity or they need a lot more than the average person, they’ll have to pay an extra fee to the govt.)


Oh cool, Chris, you gonna send city workers over to wipe my ass after I evacuate my dinner, too? There are already city-financed subsidies toward electricity and phone service for lower-class New Yorkers, completely socialized telecom and electricity only adds another, different layer to the bureaucracy Brodeur claims to despise.

Mayor Brodeur would also levy huge penalties on "lies" in print and visual media in the city. How? What's the burden for proving that a media outlet is untruthful? And where's the guarantee that a "truth in media" statute wouldn't become just another tool for going after people with politically unpopular opinions? There's none; there's no possible way to even write a safeguard into this law, and it seems unenforceable on its face. The only way something like this could work is under the authority of an autocratic executive with sole discretion in determining "truth," and I don't like that idea any more than another subway fare hike. Besides, with his admitted antipathy toward every rag in the city from the Times to the Voice, I don't expect Brodeur would be any more fair in the adminstration of a policy like this than, say, Mike Bloomberg or Fernando Ferrer.

A good candidate could condense and polish these ideas into a socialist/progressive "Democrat" campaign and garner a lot of support in New York, but Brodeur isn't a good candidate. He's an hysterical firebrand whose webpage reads like a 15-year-old's AOL member site (I'm surprised to be saying this because I like his editorial columns). Epithets, hyperbole, unkeepable promises and all-capitalized words and sentences abound, he's fond of referring to all New York City politicians with composite names like "Rudy Dinkins-Bloomberg," and people are sick of ideologues of all stripes. Especially angry ones. Except in the immediate aftermath of some public tragedy like September 11 or the Diallo shooting, no one in this city will get riled up about political issues, especially wonky stuff like misappropriation of tax money.

We don't want or need a "leader" in this city, we need an effective and honest administrator. Brodeur does himself in by attacking outright any press that could possibly boost him, which is why you've probably never heard of him. It's a nice idea, Chris, but you're the wrong man for the job.

This New Yorker is sticking to his muted support of C. Virginia Fields for Mayor.

Domo Arigato, Kiccoro and Morizo (CS)

I definitly think we should throw all our children into the wilderness to learn them a thing or two about not being so self involved and to be more environmentally/world/spiritually conscience and I think modern technology does a lot of nasty things but..................
I'm still a sucker for awesome new technology sometimes, particularly when its robots. There was recently a big expo in Japan. Check out the cute little guy in the picture in this Yahoo article. Also, be sure to check out the exhibition's main site where you can see working robots, prototypes, and even the expo mascots Kiccoro (forest child) and Morizo (forest grand father). Environmental mascots at a robot show? I'd wonder what that was all about, but they're so distractingly cute.

08 June 2005

Comics roundup (CS)

Just a brief survey of this week's print strips and other stuff (appropriate with the MoCCA festival coming up this weekend, i thought).

Both Sutton Impact and This Modern World deal with the modern media in light of Newsweekgate and Watergate-revisited.
It reminded me at least a little bit of Transmetropolitan (which i'm catching up on these days in trades) and how I wish we could have more journalists like Spider Jerusalem. Or ANY journalists like Spider Jerusalem for that matter (with the passing of Hunter S. Thompson we lost the only writer that probably even came close.... obviously Spider owes a lot to Thompson but blah blah blah blah).

Along the same lines of humor and art and comics pointing out the media's inadequacies as well as our own inadquacies as citizens is this week's Tom The Dancing Bug (link forthcoming, but it's in this week's Voice). The 6th panel points out the public (and media's.... and for that matter gov't's) boredom with the continuing crisis in the Sudan. For more biting satire on that topic (and even though it's not a comic) I would refer you to this fantastic opinion piece from The Onion.

Purely for entertainment purposes.... Perry Bible Fellowship rarely dissapoints, this week being no exception. Check out "Colonel Sweeto" too as long as you're there. And I really enjoyed this week's Maakies that appeared in the Voice as well... One of those just straight up strange but beatuifully drawn installments that Tony Millionaire does from time to time. When does he get his own MoCCA exhibition/installment/tribute?

As for MoCCA this week:
It's a day too late to get in on the Sutton Impact book release, but of course not too late to check the book itself out. The big festival is this weekend. Ruben Bolling of Tom The Dancing Bug should be there, as well as lots of other great indie comicers. It's also a great place to pick up some cool artwork if you're looking for something rad to put up in the empty space on your wall.

And finally, can anyone confirm for me whether the second "g" in Google on their site is supposed to be the Guggenheim or not?

Science is cooooooooooooooooool (CS)

I think this study about monks, meditation, and brain patterns is friggen awesome. Plus, the picture on the article is friggen hillarious. Check it out, these dudes kick your ass in concentration, and they actually DO seem to attain some other mode or level of consciousness. Maybe that's why H.H. the Dalai Lama seems like such a happy son of a bitch all the time.

07 June 2005

Shelly Silver for President! (BR)

Not really, but every New Yorker owes the City Council speaker a big fat Thank You.

Sheldon Silver used his veto power to sink any chances of a new Jetsplex/Olympic stadium to be built on the West Side of the island of Manhattan. Whatever his motivations are, and there's no reason to assume they were pure, Mr. Silver has saved the city years of hassles, countless traffic jams...oh, and $600 million in tax revenue. Also, big ups to New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer). After surprising me to death by leading an override of George Pataki's heinous veto of the minimum wage hike, Senator Bruno also voted against the stadium.

Mayor Bloomberg is furious -- his aides actually used the word in describing his mood following the vote -- mainly because a chunk of his legacy project is tarnished (now he'll forever be the Mayor who wouldn't let me have a fucking smoke with my beer) and he looks like an ineffective executive.

It'd be one thing if New York didn't have a sports team. Sports are a vital aspect of regional culture. But we have three. Four, if another game of pro hockey is ever played in the United States again. Every sports arena project built in the last three decades or so has ended up costing the municipality jobs and tax dollars. Ticket prices skyrocket to make up for the building expenditures, so low- and middle-class fans have little hope of catching more than one game a year, forget about food or concessions.

The West Side project was particularly ill-advised because of its location. The West Side highway is already one of the few major thoroughfares which is more often congested than not. Imagine a Sunday afternoon in the fall. Imagine the secondary traffic buildup in Jersey and Connecticut. Madison Square Garden is the only huge event complex in Manhattan for a reason: the city crawls when something big rolls into town. Think of a September afternoon not far off, with the Yankees in a pennant race (I know it seems crazy right now) and the Jets playing a home game. Madness.

And after Bloomberg stacked with sympathizers and comrades the advisory committee which gave initial approval to the West Side Stadium (14-0, I might add) over a more lucrative offer for the land by Cablevision/MSG, which also would have built several public facilities and new housing, it's nice to see the Boy Mayor knocked down a peg.

So excuse me if I gloat a bit in the faces of Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki and the rest of grandstanding statist stadium hawks with egg all over their faces on this beautiful Tuesday evening. Boo-yah, I say.

02 June 2005

They May As Well Be Illiterate (CS)

So Human Events (The Conservative Weekly Since 1944!!) listed what they consider The Most Harmful Books of the 19th AND 20th Centuries!!!! Of course, to most people with a modicum of intelligence it comes across more like a required reading list. Feminists, scientists, and metaphysicists all make the list But I guess when all is said and done, Communists are still public enemy number one, as Marx not only makes the list twice, but edges out Hitler for the #1 spot. I guess these are the same people that would label the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as "pre-mature anti-fascists." (The ALB, for those of you to lazy to read up on it, were Americans who went to fight for the democratic gov't in Spain against Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler).
One of the most disturbing portions of the list is it's "Honorable Mention" (although... Wouldn't it actually be a dishonarable mention to them??). On it is of course Darwin (who i'm suprised doesn't make the top 10) and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. How in the hell does On Liberty, one of the most thoughtful books on social citizenship, qualify as Harmful? Is it cuz he advocated freedom of opinion? Perhaps it was his chapter promoting "Thought and Discussion" that they found so offensive. In fact, anyone that hasn't read On Liberty should for that very chapter.
The reasons why a conversation between most conservatives and people that can read with a discerning eye become apparant with a list like this. It's no wonder that me and my grandmother can never see eye to eye. She'd probably rather pick up the Sean Hannity book advertised on the sidebar.

Is it Just Me Or Is Galactus the Easiest Target In Marvel For Comedy? (CS)

On the lighter side, i bring you comedy! (via)
Non-comic book dorks need not apply .

Derrida, Rise From Your Grave! (CS)

An interesting essay by Derrida (originally published last fall) in this week's Voice. One thing i think he misses is that this "process of Christianization" in the realm of international confession is missing the aspect of Penance. Of course everyone is jumping on the "I'm sorry, please forgive me" bandwagon when there's no price to pay for it. This was a big deal in South Africa's Truth And Reconciliation Commission which Derrida sites toward the end of his essay as many men who comitted atrocities under the apartheid government were promised complete amnesty if they simply confessed all their doings truthfully.
At Nuremburg there was accountability, punishments were given. Derrida was wise enough to call it "theater" because really that's all it is. It becomes one big PR circus of who can confess to the right things at the right times so as to get off scott-free. Meanwhile, actual accountability is sorely lacking on an international level. Attrocity and strife continue in the Sudan, but considering how China, America, and Russia are trying to all dip into the oil in Darfur, military action there would probably be impossible and the powers that be are only trying to cozy up to the villains. What's more, with those three countries so heavily interested in not offending Darfur, you can imagine that passing economic sanctions through the UN (the body that should help in creating some sort of international accountability) would be impossible. Of course, economic sanctions don't really mean shit to the people in power that are already sitting pretty and essentially only end up hurting the people already suffering, but that's a beef for another day. Maybe it'll all be ok when the current murderers in the Sudan just say "i'm sorry."
I'd like to see what Derrida would have to say about his previous essay with these factors considered, but of course the bastard had to go and die or something. And yes, the title of the post is a reference to Altered Beast.