Archive for the ‘Weaponry’ Category

Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa (Movie Review)

September 26, 2007



Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa is the most thought provoking of the dozen or so films I’ve screened for the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival. It concerns a group of people living on “The Mesa,” a remote section of northern New Mexico where there’s no power grid, no land lines, no mobile phone service, no internet, no water, no police force — nothing except a few hundred residents who have chosen to live in the middle of nowhere, the serious middle of nowhere — my San Francisco friends’ cracks about Oakland notwithstanding. Off the Grid plays at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco as part of the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, Monday, October 1 and Sunday, October 7, with a matinee on Saturday October 6.

Read my review at Techyum.

Image courtesy of the Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa MySpace page.


The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

September 23, 2007

I usually resist blogging excerpts of excerpts, but I can’t resist here; at Techyum, Violet pulls a great quote from Naomi Klein’s interview in Salon, wherein she talks about her book  The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism:

There is a new level of integration between homeland security companies and media companies. General Electric, which owns NBC, has been in the weapons industry for some time but has become very active in the homeland security business. They recently purchased InVision, which provides bomb detection for airports. Since 9/11 InVision has received $15 billion in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security — more such contracts than any other company. A company like that gains from the atmosphere of crisis and fear that is spread through media outlets. It’s war against evil everywhere with no end. That’s a war that can’t be won, and you couldn’t ask for a more profitable business plan. The only thing that threatens it is peace.

Fatal Police Shooting in North Oakland

September 23, 2007

Some disturbing  news from Indybay about a shooting in North Oakland. I live in West Oakland, but spend a fair amount of time in the vicinity of 54th and MLK. From the Indybay article:

At 4:45PM on September 20th, a policeman shot and killed a man on the street in North Oakland. Gary King (who was in his early 20’s) had just exited a store on the corner of 54th street and MLK. Apparently the officer approached him for questioning. The details of what happened next are unclear, but it seems that it involved the policeman using a taser. King pulled away and it appears that during his attempt to flee, the officer shot him twice in the back.

A swarm of police cars (including helicopters) arrived on the scene very quickly, but it was a number of minutes before an ambulance arrived. In the meantime, one policeman appeared to be performing CPR. Gary King reportedly died at the hospital a short time later. Police on the scene dealt somewhat roughly with bystanders- including relatives of Mr King.

Someone spray-painted “Police did this” on one of the BART support columns on MLK at 54th. A memorial with candles and personal items is set up at the place where the shooting occurred (  Photos).

A protest will be held on Monday, September 24th at noon at Oakland City Hall.

This is the third time this year that the Oakland police have fatally shot someone. The Oakland police sergeant who shot Gary King was involved in two previous shootings in recent years, one of them fatal.

What freaks me out the most is that in looking for a graphic for this post, I found this image as the “General Information” Icon at the Oakland PD website. Am I imagining things, or is this supposed to be a cop pointing a gun at somebody?

Techyum Roundup

August 22, 2007


 Arrr, matey!! Two pieces from Techyum:

Today’s Pirate Bulletin (techyum) (Somali pirates release Danish ship; recap on the 2005 Seabourn Spirit attack)

Why Chicks Dig Pink (techyum) (New studies say women have preference for reddish colors; run on pink Glocks to ensue)

Techyum Roundup

August 20, 2007

stingerThe last few days, I’ve been blogging over at Violet Blue’s Techyum, a blog of technology, innovation, and shiny things. Some primo Roche bloggage:

Guinness Crowns New World’s Tallest Man (And he’s not Mongolian)

I Got Yer Flying Car (NASA awards winners of the Personal Air Vehicle Challenge)

Kicks for Stingers (Guy in Florida trades ground-to-air missile in on designer footwear for his daughter)

The Mounties Always Get Their Sasquatch (The elusive Bigfoot finally captured, grudgingly takes off his gorilla suit)

Image via Wikipedia.

Gay Politics, The Sopranos, and Merv Griffin (in the corner pocket)

August 20, 2007

mergriffin.jpgToday was the day for strange gay showbiz news: The first item from IMDB concerns Merv Griffin, whose irredemably boring talk show was my daily afterschool babysitter for years — probably aggravating, if not causing, the sense of existential malaise that has plagued me ever since:

The decision by the Hollywood Reporter and the Reuter News Agency to run an article by columnist Ray Richmond about the late Merv Griffin’s alleged homosexuality on the day of his funeral — then pull the article from their websites — then restore it — has touched off a storm of public and industry controversy. L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke reported that the Richmond column was yanked after editor Elizabeth Guider was contacted by angry friends of Griffin. But David Ehrenstein, who writes a column for the popular liberal blog The Huntington Post, said that Richmond contacted him “fearful for his job” and he, in turn, called Michelangelo Signorile’s “Sirius Out Q” radio show about the censorship. Listeners to the program, Ehrenstein writes, deluged the Hollywood Reporter with demands that the article be restored. And a few hours later it was.

…and I ask you, what universe are any of these people living in wherein Merv Griffin wasn’t gay AND in which everyone in the world didn’t know he was gay, OR, if he wasn’t gay (about which I don’t actually give a shit, nor, I think, do most of us) what universe were any of these people living in wherein they actually thought that everyone in the world didn’t already figure the cat was gay and figure everyone else knew it, too.

If Merv wasn’t gay, he did a great job of seeming queer as a three dollar bill, in which case I do wish he had come out as straight, so other heterosexual beta-male pseudo-homo metrosexual pansies, among which I sometimes count myself depending on my mood, can take heart.

But no, he chose to go to his grave one of those ambiguous Hollywood closeted gays, which seems to be the fashion, contributing further — whether he was gay or straight — to our culture of homophobic sex-hating self-destruction.

I feel strongly that everyone has a right to privacy — your sexuality is your business — but I feel less and less tolerant of a Hollywood where queers naturally gravitate, only to remain closeted in the service of a career.

But wait! Sensitive Vito is here to save the day, by beating all of those gays to death with a pool cue. No, wait some more, the uppity queerazoids have stopped him!

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has won a victory against Oregon-based Rockwell Billiards, which had introduced a pool cue endorsed by The Sopranos star Joseph R. Gannascoli, who played a gay character beaten to death and sodomized with a pool cue in the TV series. The cue was advertised as “A Cue to Die For.” Following protests by GLAAD, Rockwell agreed to withdraw the product. In a statement, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano said, “Rockwell Billiards has done the right thing by no longer selling a product that many deemed offensive and insensitive.”

rackem2.jpgAs someone who suffered through every god damned episode of the useless Season 6 of The Sopranos, only to have two-thirds of the country trumpet the genius of David Chase because he’d discovered tape splice, I have to say that this is about the ONLY thing I can imagine Gannascoli doing that could be more offensive than his credulous portrayal of token homo Vito Spatafore in what might have been Season 6’s most hackneyed, bland, tedious and unimaginative storyline if the season hadn’t  teemed with other hackneyed, bland, tedious and unimaginative storylines.

Did Mr. Gannascoli, whom I am tempted to presume is gay because no fag could ever do that crappy a job of playing a straight person, feel that in order to buttress his public heterosexuality, he needed to promote a product that drew attention to the way in which his queer character was offed (“punished” in left-wing bleeding-heart theory-nerd parlance)?

Probably not. He probably didn’t give a second thought as to whether selling a pool cue would reassure people he was straight. But somebody somewhere, presumably at Rockwell Billiards, thought it was a laugh riot to sell a Vito Spatafore pool cue.

I’m not big on the idea that when in movies, plays or books bad things happen to sexual minority or female characters, filmmakers and authors and actors need to be taken to task — art is art. But commerce, too, is an art, and the Vito Spatafore Sodomy-Ready Pool Cue is a big fat Ishtar, just like Season 6 of The Sopranos. Good riddance to both.

Photo by Sean Mack, modifications by the author.

Italy Intercepts Arms Deal for Iraqi Black Market

August 13, 2007

Mob News relates a CBS report on a $40 million Iraqi arms deal intercepted by Italian police.

The sale of “more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons to the Iraqi government” was uncovered by an Italian anti-Mafia probe. Says Mob News, “The Iraqi participants in the deal claimed in e-mails with Italian brokers that the purchase had the approval of the U.S. government. A U.S. spokesman in Baghdad denied that.”

UK Biosecurity Lapse

August 11, 2007

UK Security Lapse Is Tip of Iceberg

We now know that a research lab was to blame for the latest outbreak of foot and mouth in the UK. But the escape of a biological agent from a supposedly secure facility is nothing new, say experts. Worse, similar incidents are more likely in the future.

“Lab accidents happen more frequently than the public knows,” says Ed Hammond of the Sunshine Project in Austin, Texas, a non-profit organisation that monitors the use of biological agents.

“They are not always as spectacular as the one in the UK, but I believe, based on years of looking into this, that there’s a real culture of denial about the scale of the problem,” says Hammond, who recently used the US Freedom of Information Act to confirm and expose an undeclared incident at Texas A&M University in College Station.

British Prime Minister: Look Forward to A Generation of War

July 30, 2007


In terms of content, I admit am weak on politics here at That’s not because of lack of interest or what has become synonymous with interest, outrage. On the contrary, it is because most of the time I just don’t know what the fuck to say. The world has gone stark raving mad.

CNN’s headline “Brown: Al Qaeda fight to last a generation,” referring to a statement by Britain’s new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, further tests my understanding. How can Brown say stuff like this, and CNN report it, and apparently be completely unaware, or pretend to be, of this aspect of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four? Or do Western politicians just no longer give a fuck that they’re endorsing eternal war as a tool of fascism, and their citizens are too stupid and scared to know it?

I’m not sure if it’s more or less disturbing that the concept of Endless War has translated into a war to last a generation. Perhaps that’s as far ahead as humans can think any more; the concept of eternity is simply outside our ken.

Image: Fictitious world map from the last chapter of Nineteen Eighty-four. From Wikipedia.

Right-Wing Childhood Heroes, Volume Eleventy-Seven

July 29, 2007


Chuck Yeager, the pilot who broke the sound barrier, and who was portrayed so artfully by hick freak playwright Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff, lived a colorful life after not becoming an astronaut; he eventually became a Brigadier General and was assigned as an advisor to the Pakistani Air Force during the 1971 Indo-Pak War

chuckyeager.jpgAccording to Wikipedia, on the opening day of the war, Yeager’s personal aircraft was destroyed on the ground, which Yeager interpreted as a way of “giving Uncle Sam the finger.” The pilot happened to be then Lieutennant Arun Prakash, who went on to become the 20th Admiral of the Indian Navy. Interestingly, you can read Admiral Prakash’s account, “How I Crossed Swords With Chuck Yeager,” at Bharat-Rakshak, the English-language “Consortium of Indian Military Websites.”

Yeager, who is still alive and kickin’ at 84, has endorsed the presidential bid of California Representative Duncan Hunter, a Vietnam vet and a true prince among men.  Yeager’s website says of Hunter: “He is the only candidate who has the best of Ronald Reagan’s character and politics.” Among Hunter’s other supporters is Ann Coulter, whom Hunter publicly defended in the recent Elizabeth Edwards-Ann Coulter controversy.

Among Rep. Hunter’s greatest hits are the introduction of The Right to Life Act, to “implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person” and the Parents’ Empowerment Act, which “would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue in federal court anyone who knowingly disseminates material ‘that is harmful to minors,’ or specifically ‘any pornographic communication, picture image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other pornographic matter of any kind.” He also has called for the construction of a reinforced fence along the US-Mexico border. If he becomes president, Hunter has said, such a fence will be built within 12 months. Rep. Hunter’s son, Duncan Duane Hunter, is currently campaigning to succeed his retiring father in the Congressional seat.

duncanhunter.jpgI am not sure at what point I realized that a lot of the heroes I had as a child were right-wing freaks and stood in opposition to everything that I believe in — as I see it, those things being peace, liberty, and generosity. I guess that’s the price of a childhood spent reading biographies of World War II combat veterans and thinking it’s awesome to kill large numbers of people with bombs.

Information, quotes and photos from Wikipedia. Photos: Top, Bell X-1, photo by NASA; middle: Chuck Yeager, photo by US Air Force; left, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Official congressional portrait and bottom, Chuck Yeager with the Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 he flew to break the sound barrier.

More Links: Chuck Yeager’s Website, GoHunter 08, Hunter’s Official Congressional Site