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February 2003
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so much for civil disobedience

Henry Norr writes about technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. I enjoy reading him when he wraps himself around a topic that I'm interested in; he's readable and doesn't talk down to us non-techies. That's pretty much all the thought I've given to him over the years: tech guy I sometimes read.

Norr was arrested during anti-war civil disobedience the other day. The Chronicle suspended him without pay for ... falsifying his timecard! Here's some quotes from a message Norr posted to Jim Romenesko's website:

I returned to work the next day and finished my column, which was to run on March 24. Late in the day I filled out my timecard for that week. For Thursday, the day I spent in jail, I took a sick day. I did so because I was sick - heartsick over the beginning of the war, nauseated by the lies and the arrogance and the stupidity that led to it, and deeply depressed by the death and destruction it would bring....
[C]laiming sick pay for the day wasn't a point of principle for me. My supervisor knew exactly why I was out of work that day. If he had objected to the sick-day claim (even though the Chronicle does not, as far as I can tell, have a formal definition of what qualifies as sickness) before signing the timecard, I would cheerfully have changed it to make the day a personal day, a vacation day or simply an unpaid day....
On Monday, March 24, another supervisor informed me that I could not write anything for the paper until further notice. I asked why, but was told "no explanation." Yesterday, March 26, I was called to a meeting with Rosenthal and Cynthia Burks, vice president of human resources. A representative from my union, the Northern California Newspaper Guild, accompanied me. Burks asked me to explain what I did last Thursday and why I took a sick day. After I had done so, she informed me that I would be suspended, without pay, to give the paper time to "investigate" my "falsification" of the time card.


femme fatale

Femme Fatale

Oh my goodness. Femme Fatale is one of the ultimate Brian De Palma movies, which means you should already know whether or not you'll like it. It has all of his touches, shall we say: the voyeurism, the style-over-substance (or perhaps, style AS substance), the seemingly effortless visuals and awesomely silly plot, the self-referentiality (the only time this movie exists outside the world of Brian De Palma movies is when it's attaching itself to other movies ... it's never about real life). Me, I think it's nothing short of miraculous how easily he pulls off these stunts, and I suspect in the future I'll think as kindly on this movie as I do on his earlier flawed classics like Blow Out. Others will prefer their voyeuristic trash with a classier tone; they are welcome to go watch David Lynch movies. 7 on a scale of 10.


gee, maybe I should boycott these folks

According to this website, here are some celebrities who support Bush's war:

Frankie Avalon
Pat Boone
Jack Buck (hey guys, he's dead)
Kirk Cameron
Chubby Checker
Tony Danza
Bo Derek
Shannon Doherty
Jamie Farr
Bob Hope (yes, I'm sure he's up to speed on current affairs)
Tommy Lasorda
Jim Nabors
Fess Parker
Pat Sajak
Val Venis (wrestler with a porn-star gimmick ... actually, they dumped that gimmick, "Val Venis" no longer exists)
Jimmy (J.J.) Walker


if it's believable, that says something

We had a friend back in the day ... doesn't matter who, some readers will know who I'm speaking of ... another friend died under mysterious circumstances, let's just say, and while nothing was ever proven or even suspected officially, some of us wondered if there was some foul play, even perhaps if our one friend had something to do with the other friend's death.

Probably just a bunch of drug-addled supposition, of course. Writing now, I'd have to say I'm pretty certain the death was accidental. What was important, though, as we realized after the fact, was that for even a brief moment, we thought our friend was capable of something so nefarious. From that moment on, we saw that person in a different light, knowing that we felt him capable of just about anything. Our fears said nothing about what had happened in those mysterious circumstances; they said everything about the kind of person we were dealing with.

And so today I saw a headline on MSNBC.com that read "U.S. ready to impose martial law," and my first thought was "oh shit, here it comes, we're fucked!"

That the story was about plans for Iraq, not the United States, is irrelevant. What is important is that we're living in times where, even for a brief moment, I was ready to believe martial law was coming to America. My fears said nothing about the situation in Iraq; it said everything about the kind of government we're dealing with here in the USA.


dissent

First, there's Stanley Kutler, a professor of law and history at Wisconsin:

As we march to war, the Bush administration's interest is to discredit, even foreclose, dissent.

Passivity and a sense of powerlessness are pervasive everywhere. Tabloids and cable channels refer to the "treason" of celebrities who oppose President Bush. Our political leaders march in lockstep with the president. The so-called "opposition" hedges its bets, "patriotically" supporting Bush's actions, but ever hopeful he will stumble on the economy and give them the opportunity of 1992 all over again.

The freedom and diversity we so cherish for others is strikingly lacking in our public discourse. We must not forget our traditions of challenge and dissent.

Then, ex-President Teddy Roosevelt on Woodrow Wilson's squashing of dissent, quoted by Kutler:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

Then there's "documentary" filmmaker Michael Moore:

We live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up.

Finally, there's the "liberal" Hollywood community in response to Moore:

Boo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


i'll never go away

Thinking about Insomnia made me think of Lantana. Lantana was one of the best movies of 2001. It featured an Oscar-winning actor. It got an 87 out of 100 at metacritic.com ("a metascore in the 81-100 range suggests universal acclaim from critics"). That score of 87 puts Lantana among the top 100 metascores of all time at metacritic, ahead of movies such as tonight's big winner, The Pianist. I gave Lantana 10 out of 10. Like Insomnia, it got zero nominations. Meanwhile, A Beautiful Mind won 4 Oscars including Best Picture ... if anyone out there thinks A Beautiful Mind is a better movie than Lantana, then there's no hope for you.

And now, back to the war.