Saturday, July 12, 2003

H to the Izzo, X to the Hizzay 

On the topic of Dictator contests, Hugh has a link up to a dictators site which answers the question of which was the greatest dictator (this century only) by setting them up in playoff matches. There's two, one for the first tier and one for the second tier of dictators (Saddam, contrary to popular belief, is in the second). Kim Il Sung wins the first matchup, mostly for the Korean war and his status as the century's longest running dic. Longevity counts for a lot in the contest; Mobutu "Rumble in the Jungle" Seko takes out Hitler in the first round based on it. As for the second tier, the winner's last name is the title of this post.
Kim Jr. makes it pretty far in the contest too, which got me thinking: considering Kim Jong Il has a dad he will never live up to in the Great Dic department, why doesn't the media start calling him Lil' Kim?

Funky fresh dressed ready to signify 

There is a very good article about an academic Pop Music Conference at Seattle's (horrifically ugly) EMP building in the New Yorker. It pokes out the contradictions in getting nerdy about rock, mocks the use of the word interrogate in a non-detective sense, and gives a shoutout to one of my (many) fave rap producers, Timbaland. In the midst of an analysis of Justin Timberlake's "Cry me a River" (which also does analyze the madness of analyzing NSync) Alex Ross notes:
Every bit of the song shows the fingerprints of the hip-hop producer Tim Mosley, a.k.a. Timbaland, who is the éminence grise behind half of what is great in the Top Forty these days. He has sampled every genre under the sun, from world music to austere electronica. He likes to leave yawning gaps of silence between his speaker-puncturing beats, which inspire new kinds of vehemence on the dance floor. (As Virgil Thomson observed long ago, we dance to syncopated music because our bodies like to fill in the missing beats.) Modernist ideology accustoms us to think that experimentation can take place on the margins of a culture, but hip-hop production is the site of some of the weirdest, wittiest thinking in pop music today.

I've always thought so. Though weren't the ubiquitous Neptunes the ones producing Timberlake? The discussion ends:
In sum, “Cry Me a River” may be the most polyphonically complex teenybopper ballad in history.
Well, actually Aaliyah's 'Are You That Somebody?' or Missy's 'Work It' are much better Timbaland joints. Academics don't know shit.

UPDATE: Good post and discussion about the article at a great hip-hop blog. The comments make fun of Toure, the (um) poetic Rolling Stone early 90s rap writer. Good stuff.

Friday, July 11, 2003

The Empress of Fun 

City Hall is looking for a 'Sultan Of Fun' to oversee festival planning. That is most incredibly awesome. I just got back from Montreal, which basically closes off the downtown core during the summer in order to have street festivals. Vancouver should be a lot more like Montreal. Mayor Campbell, however, uses catious rhetoric: "I hesitate to use the term Funcouver, but I think we're seeing a revitalization of active street life."
Personally, I think everyone should hesitate to use the term 'Funcouver'.

While I was away, City Hall decided to let both buses and clubs run til 4AM. Good work, everyone.

But what do the people think? 

There's this poll that does not look too good for Bush. Some highlights:
Yes 45%
No 45% ...
For the first time, a majority of Americans report that they believe the Administration overestimated Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. 56 percent now think the Bush administration overstated the case....
For the first time since the war began, less than half say Iraq really was a threat that required military action -- and a majority says it could have been contained or was no threat at all.

Worst of all, people who think the war was worth the cost "believe that there are other benefits to the war: first, that removing Saddam makes the war worth it, even if no weapons are ever found; and second, that it helped stop terrorism or removed a threat to the U.S. Less often mentioned as a justification is liberating the people of Iraq."
Personally, I think liberating Iraq still does make the war worth it...though it would be nice if there were some elections sometime soon. But as for the threat to America, Americans are dying in Iraq at the rate of about one a day. That was not true before the war. The good news is that Howard Dean's name recognition is up to 7% from 1%. Once the people realize that Bush has been lying his ass off, who else is there to vote for?

Alabama Gas Station 

My friend just returned from Alabama and brought me a deck of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom Heroes of War' crads. Each has Dubya's blank grinning visage on the back. They are awesome. But very cheap. So cheap they misspelled Colin Powell's name as 'Colon Powell'. I think that's funny. They also misspell the names of such war heroes as 'Joe Leiberman' and 'Ari Fliescher.' Is that any way to honor your heroes?

Blame the CIA 

The new Bush line on why he claimed Iraq was trying to buy Nuclear weapons from Niger goes something like this: ``If the C.I.A., the director of central intelligence, had said, `Take this out of the speech,' it would have been gone, without question,'' Ms. Rice said.
But CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that before the State of the Union speech was delivered, CIA officials warned members of the president's National Security Council staff that the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.

According to sources, White House officials responded that a September dossier issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: "Iraq has…sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

As long as the statement was attributed to British intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections.

Jeez. But why did Colin Powell not use the same claim when presenting the case to the UN a few days later?
Mr. Powell suggested that he had looked into the assertion more closely and had decided it was not based on sufficiently reliable information to repeat to the United Nations.
Lying to the American people is OK, just not to the foreigners. There's a skeptical press over there, that actually questions government claims!
They'll all be impeached any moment now.

Tourism minister apologizes! 

Stefano Stefani (only Italians are allowed to have names that cool) apologized today for his remarks about Germans: ``I love Germany. If my words caused a misunderstanding for many Germans I would like to say here that I am very sorry.''
Stefani, responsible for tourism, told a newspaper last week Germans had been ``indoctrinated from the beginning to feel top of the class whatever the situation.'' He also said Germans ``loudly invaded'' Italian beaches and called them arrogant beer guzzlers who hold ``noisy burping contests.''
I can see why there might have been a misunderstanding.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Sensible thoughts  

About winning the olympics, from the Vancouver Scrum.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Right Gay 

In another Stranger article, Andrew Sullivan rants about why it's unfair that all gays are assumed to be lefties, and how angry that makes him. He is right, of course. And it's a good rant. But it has its odd moments. He looks at gays throughout history and notes: A brief glance at history would reveal that gay men and women have been all over the map politically. Alexander the Great was pro-war; W. H. Auden was anti.
Is 'pro-war' really the correct adjective for King Al? Was there an anti-war movement that he opposed? I guess every general is somehat pro-war...but that sentence still makes my head hurt. Not as much as this paragraph, though:
I can't tell you how often someone expresses shock upon finding me in a tank top in a leather bar. Huh? What's the problem? I like guys with back-hair. Does that invalidate my support for the Iraq War? Or my adoration of Margaret Thatcher? Or my disdain for the European Union? It's back-hair, guys. And sometimes the personal is NOT political.
Allow me to express a heartfelt non-partisan EWWW. I'm of the opinion that regardless of your sexual orientation or political viewpoint, you should not be allowed to use the words 'tanktop', back hair' and 'Margaret Thatcher' in the same paragraph.

Where Bush got his info about WMD's 


Happy Birthday, everyone! 

For a very belated acknowledgement of Canada and Independence day, here is The Stranger's July 4 tribute to the real land of the free. One article mathematically proves that Canada is almost certain to beat America in a war. Another notices that America takes our crappiest celebrities and makes them stars. I've always found it sad that Canada is represented abroad by Bryan Adams, Celine, and Shania. But hey, we never bought their albums. Bad American taste made them stars. There's also rants about how undogmatic we are, why it's good to be gay here, and information about how to become a Canadian citizen. Best of all, there's a message from our incomparable PM, Jean Chretien, in English and in French. He says that after reading the Stranger's look at Canada, "you'll soon find yourself thinking, Holy shit, their country is so much better!"
So true.

Ari Fleischer: 

"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."

That makes a lot of sense.

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