The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Ah, Incoherence!

Now, I have my (more than) occasional incoherent moments. Which is why I enjoy Mark Morford's columns in the SF Chronicle - when he goes incoherent, he swings for the fences. This one, on the Disney adaptation on the C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia:

To my mind and the minds of I'm guessing about a billion others, Narnia, despite claims that C.S. Lewis somehow wove his beloved Christian themes into the narrative, remains foremost a source of true, coolly pagan, magical childhood power and if you need proof of this you clearly did not read the books when you were nine and you did not find yourself trekking through your parent's house immediately afterward, searching the basement and poking into their closets and praying to the great god Aslan that you would find a secret doorway leading somewhere other than your mom's private stash of Vicodin.

[ . . . ]

But while the Narnia series is merely, on one level, a children's empowerment fable, it's also one of the most imaginative and potent inner landscapes ever created in children's lit and therefore you hope it's not all decimated and bleached out and diluted by The Bad News, which is that it's being produced and marketed by that ultimate destroyer of nuance and subtlety, Disney.

[ . . . ]

But oh, Narnia. I hope it is a towering, magical success, despite the annoying Aslan-as-Jesus insinuations. I hope it reaches new heights of power and beauty heretofore unimagined in fantasy cinema. I hope it makes the books shine even more.

[emphasis added]

Um, it's not just a "claim" or "insinuation." This struck me as wrong-headed, given the author, so after 15 minutes on Google, I found evidence to the contrary in the alt.books.cs-lewis FAQ, section 3.22 (for convenience, the actual quotes are in boldface:

All readers of Narnia must realise that Aslan the Lion, who is the Son of the Great Emperor Across the Sea, who breaks the power of the White Witch by his death and resurrection - and who, as C.S. Lewis pointed out to one of his young readers 'arrived at the same time as Father Christmas' - is a picture of Jesus Christ. Does it follow that the books as a whole are allegories?

C.S. Lewis used a very strict definition of the word 'allegory' - after all, one of his most important academic books was a study of this subject. He wrote to some Maryland fifth graders in 1954:

'I did not say to myself 'Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia'; I said 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen'.

'The whole series' wrote Lewis in another letter 'works out like this:

The Magician's Nephew tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia,

The Lion etc. - the Crucifixion and Resurrection,

Prince Caspian - restoration of the true religion after a corruption,

The Horse and His Boy - the calling and conversion of the heathen,

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep),

The Silver Chair - the continuing war against the powers of darkness,

The Last Battle - the coming of Antichrist (the ape). The end of the world and the last judgement.'

So, in today's loose terminology the books can probably be said to be 'allegorical'. If you want to use that term, then a number of characters might be said to be allegories:

The White Witch represents the Devil, as does Tash.

Peter represents the valiant and wise Christian.

Reepicheep is the very soul of chivalry with both its virtues and its failings.

'Edmund,' wrote Lewis 'Is, like Judas, a traitor and a sneak. But unlike Judas he repents and is forgiven (as Judas no doubt would have been if he'd repented).'

Alas, poor Anglican (and toward the end "very Catholic") Lewis - the author knew not what he wrote! And I suppose that when Tolkien wrote "'The Lord of the Rings' is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision," he really meant that the work was, to use Morford's phrase, "a source of true, coolly pagan, magical childhood power."


And what Morford column would be complete without some pointless slam on (pick at least one) BushCo / Rove / Halliburton / right-wing / Christian / Republicans? I daresay that if he ever wrote a column that didn't include such a slam, his head would literally explode.

I will agree though - a Disney version of the Chronicles of Narnia will probably suck, though I hope it won't. For those who would point to this fun lightweight movie, I would point out that the Chronicles of Narnia doesn't occupy the same plane as an amusement park ride.

Posted 11:39 PM by Tony

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
If That's The Way He Wants It

Ted Kennedy, on his next oppnents (via Boston Globe by way of Opinion Journal):

Now comes Kennedy to profoundly disagree. In fact, he was on the phone last week from Washington to essentially say that the nice-guy campaigns of yesteryear are just that: history. Anyone who runs against him for the rest of his career runs at his or her own peril.

"Historically, what I've always tried to do is run for the office, not against someone," he said, an acknowledgement of what's gone on before [i.e., Republicans winning state office after losing to Kennedy in low-hostility campaigns].

Then he delivered this barely veiled threat: "This is a difficult and challenging profession. No one should come to it lightly. As it should be. People have to be held accountable, professionally, and the public is looking at it in terms of private lives, as well. Everything is fair game."

[emphasis added]

Does he really want to play that, given that his own past?

Posted 6:09 PM by Tony

Thursday, June 23, 2005
Cabbage Patch Kid*

Okay, am I the only one to whom this seems a bit odd? (via Korea Times):

Cabbage will no longer be allowed under pitcher Park Myung-hwan’s hat.

The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO)’s rules committee ordered the Doosan Bears’ ace to stop wearing iced cabbage leaves, which he uses to keep his body cool while pitching.

Park has been using the cabbage therapy since last year, explaining that it helps him sweat less and keep more focused on pitching. No official complaints have been made by his opponents so far, but some media raised questions that it violates baseball rules after he dropped the leaves twice on the mound while pitching against the Hanwha Eagles on Sunday in Seoul.

* Yeah, silly name for a post, but it's no worse than "The Vagina Monoblogs" (via Instapundit).

Posted 7:29 PM by Tony

PETA Practices

Sometimes I feel bad harshing on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. As far as challenges go, it's right up there with clubbing baby seals, if you'll pardon the expression. Then I remember stuff like this and I don't feel so bad about it.

Then there's stuff like this (via Virginian-Pilot):

Days after two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were arrested on animal cruelty charges, Bertie County, N.C., officials said they were stunned to learn that the group had euthanized most of the animals it had taken from shelters in the northeastern part of the state.

Despite a written apology from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to cut all ties to the group.

The two PETA employees were arrested last week after police saw bags of dead animals being dumped in a trash bin in a supermarket parking lot.

Debra Saunders in the SF Chronicle gives PETA both barrels:

DON'T BE FOOLED by the slick propaganda of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The organization may claim to champion the welfare of animals, as the many photos of cute puppies and kittens on its Web site suggest. But last week, two PETA employees were charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty each, after authorities found them dumping the dead bodies of 18 animals they had just picked up from a North Carolina animal shelter into a Dumpster. According to the Associated Press, 13 more dead animals were found in a van registered to PETA.

The arrest followed a rash of unwelcome discoveries of dead animals dumped in the area. According to veterinarian Patrick Proctor, the PETA people told North Carolina shelters they would try to find the dogs and cats homes. He handed over two adoptable kittens and their mother, only to learn later that they had died, without a chance to find a home, in the PETA van. "This is ethical?" Proctor railed over the phone. "I don't really think so."

[ . . . ]

That's right. PETA assails other parties for killing animals for food or research. Then it kills animals -- but for really important reasons, such as running out of room.

[ . . . ]

No lie about not caring for people. In 2003, [PETA's Ingrid]Newkirk hectored late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because a terrorist blew up a donkey in an attempt to blow up people. Newkirk also told the New Yorker the world would be a better place without people. She explained why she had herself sterilized: "I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it's nothing but vanity, human vanity."


I just find the "purebred human baby" rationale a little ridiculous. Is there such a thing as a "mongrel human"?

Posted 7:59 AM by Tony

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Thanks For Remding Us

The Senate apologized yesterday for its failure to pass antilynching legislation, in the form of Senate Resolution 39 (PDF). Despite what was likely a moment for deliberative thought, John Kerry decided to provide some amusement, presevered for posterity on page S6374 (June 13, 2005) of the Congressional Record (PDF):

There is no small irony, I suspect, in the fact that the Senate is here sort of making good on what the Senate failed to do. I personally am struck by even,
at this significant moment, the undeniable and inescapable reality that there are not 100 Senators as cosponsors. Maybe by the end of the evening there will be, but as we stand here with this resolution passed by voice vote, there are not.

I, personally, was struck by Senator (and former Kleagle) Robert Byrd's complete and absolute silence on the topic, even though he's listed as a cosponsor. I would have thought that the man who launched a 14 hour filibuster in opposition to the Civil Rights Act would have something to say.

Kerry provided some additional hiliarity four paragraphs later in his speech:

It is pretty incredible to think about it. Lynchings really replaced slavery. They came in the aftermath of slavery, around the 1880s. Between the 1880s and 1968—I have to pause when I think about that because I was already a young officer in the military. I had left college. I remember the early part ofthe 1960s devoted to the civil rights movement, the Mississippi voter registration drive. We were still recording lynchings during that period of time, but I did not know it, not in the sense that we know it today.

I like the oh-so-subtle way in which he lets us know, yet one more time, that he was in the military. Yes, I'm being a tad sarcastic, I know, but the reference to his military service is absolutely irrelevant to the topic at hand. The shocking part is that he didn't mentioned that the whole thing was seared -- seared into his memory.

But I do appreciate the reminder, as I was wondering about Kerry's recent, selective release of his military records, which, curiously. Specifically, I was wondering about his 1978 honorable discharge notice, some six years after his likely release from service. And the endorsement of Kerry's Silver Star citation by John Lehman, who was the Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration and denies having approved the citation. And concerning which neither the Times nor the Globe appear to have uttered a peep.

Posted 8:50 PM by Tony

Monday, June 13, 2005
F*ck Yeah!*

Opinion Journal points to this conclave of academics in North Korea, and characterizes the story as Life Imitates 'Team America':

While official negotiations have been stalled since last June, veteran East Asia professor Donald Hellmann visited North Korea for three days last week to conduct what he called the first international academic conference ever held there.

[ . . . ]

Thursday through yesterday, he and more than 20 scholars from the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea met in a North Korean mountain resort not far from the South Korean border. In a compound surrounded by armed North Korean soldiers, they discussed the North Korean nuclear stance and what it would take to make future talks successful.

No U.S. government representatives or North Koreans took part, but the North Koreans listened in on the proceedings.

Which makes the whole thing, I figure, a rather pointless gabfest.

What cracked me up is that the Korea Times appears to have run with the Team America idea a bit too far:

Now I am not talking about some secret mission into Pyongyang where we send Rambo in to take matters into his own hands_ that it is too scary of a scenario whether it is Hollywood or the real thing. Instead of Washington relying too much on its coterie of hawks to tackle this crisis, maybe Hollywood could help out in a different way and call on some real heroes to help defuse the crisis.

Think about it. Imagine a delegation of heavyweights like Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, _ and perhaps Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris thrown in for good measure _ sitting down with Kim Jong-il and ending this nuclear crisis. We could even round off our delegation with some recent heavyweights like Samuel L. Jackson, Lawrence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves. And how about some superheroes like Tobey "Spiderman" Maguire and if we can coax him to don his bat cape again, Michael "Batman" Keaton?

After all, Kim is a big movie fan and maybe he would listen to some of his favorite Hollywood characters. For all we know he has probably seen many of their films so he might be really keen on the idea.

Of course we would need some elder statesman to head this delegation and there's probably no one better than Clint "go ahead, make my day" Eastwood for such a task. Likewise, Robert "you talking to me" De Niro or Jack Nicholson would also be suitable just because they can really be intense when called upon if the talks were to break down.

As for any Asian experience, both Seagal and Norris have studied martial arts and Norris was even stationed in Korea when he was in the military. Likewise for any political experience, as governor of California, Schwarzenegger would bring in some political clout and credibility to this delegation. Even Eastwood has some experience as the former mayor of Carmel, California.

I think I may need to find osmewhere to go laugh my head off.
* One guess where the title of this post comes from.

Posted 6:26 PM by Tony

Thursday, June 09, 2005
Unintentional Hilarity

From the Media Matters web site:

The promotion machine for Edward Klein's attack book on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) includes a name familiar for his past bankrolling of attacks against the Clintons -- Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-wing Pittsburgh billionaire who funded the 1990s dirt-digging operation against the Clintons known as the Arkansas Project.

I just find it amusing because the promotion machine for the David Brock-led Media Matters attacks on all things Republican includes a name familiar for his past bankrolling of attacks against the Bush Administration -- George Soros, the left-wing New York billionaire who funded the 2000s crap-flinging operating against the Bushes known as MoveOn.

But, people tell me I have a peculiar sense of humor.

Posted 4:33 PM by Tony

A Good Way To Start A Morning

I just picked up the Man Show on DVD. Let me just say, there are worse ways to start a morning than by watching beautiful girls jumping on trampolines.

Posted 8:17 AM by Tony

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
"Semantic Argument"

Some points are just demonstrated by quotation.

From the foreward to 2005 Amnesty International Report, by Secretary General Irene Khan (see also CNN):

Instead, the US government has gone to great lengths to restrict the application of the Geneva Conventions and to "re-define" torture. It has sought to justify the use of coercive interrogation techniques, the practice of holding “ghost detainees” (people in unacknowledged incommunicado detention) and the "rendering" or handing over of prisoners to third countries known to practise torture. The detention facility at Guantánamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law. Trials by military commissions have made a mockery of justice and due process.

John Podhoretez compares Guantanamo to actual gulags (via Boston Herald; found via Bill):

Number of prisoners at Gitmo: approximately 600.

Number of prisoners in the Gulag: 25 million, according to peerless Gulag historian Anne Applebaum.

Number of camps at Gitmo: 1.

Number of camps in the Gulag: At least 476, according to Applebaum.

Political purpose of Gulag: The suppression of internal dissent inside a totalitarian state.

Political purpose of Gitmo: The suppression of an international terrorist group that had attacked the United States, killing 3,000 people while attempting to decapitate the national government through the hijack of jets.

Financial purpose of Gulag: Providing totalitarian economy with millions of slave laborers.

Financial purpose of Gitmo: None.

Seizure of Gulag prisoners: From apartments, homes, street corners inside the Soviet Union.

Seizure of Gitmo prisoners: From battlefield sites in Afghanistan in the midst of war.

Perhaps a comparison with more recent camps might be helpful (via Val):

They [prisoners in Castro's Cuba] eat maggot filled slop maybe twice a day. Dont see the light of day and are tortured both physically and mentally in so many different ways that I, so far removed yet so read up on the subject, even have trouble imagining.

Some have their arms wrapped in refrigerator coils which are powered 24/7, rendering such pain that the use of their limbs is forever atrophied. Others have cables clamped to their testicles and the other ends connected to car batteries, destroying not only their bodies, but their manhood, or, if they be lucky enough to ever be released from their hell, their ability to create a family.

The parallels, or lack thereof, to North Korean prison camps - the use of prisoners as experimental subjects, forced exercise of sick prisoners until death, suffocation of newborns - is also quite instructive.

I think it says something when the Washington Post disagrees with you:

IT'S ALWAYS SAD when a solid, trustworthy institution loses its bearings and joins in the partisan fracas that nowadays passes for political discourse. It's particularly sad when the institution is Amnesty International, which for more than 40 years has been a tough, single-minded defender of political prisoners around the world and a scourge of left- and right-wing dictators alike. True, Amnesty continues to keep track of the world's political prisoners, as it has always done, and its reports remain a vital source of human rights information. But lately the organization has tended to save its most vitriolic condemnations not for the world's dictators but for the United States.

[ . . . ]

Worrying about the use of a word may seem like mere semantics, but it is not. Turning a report on prisoner detention into another excuse for Bush-bashing or America-bashing undermines Amnesty's legitimate criticisms of U.S. policies and weakens the force of its investigations of prison systems in closed societies. It also gives the administration another excuse to dismiss valid objections to its policies as "hysterical."

But, hey, why let a mere "semantic argument" get in the way, even if the comparison admittedly doens't apply? (Irene Khan letter to Washington Post):

The May 26 editorial "'American Gulag'" risked letting a semantic argument overshadow extraordinary and unlawful U.S. policy and actions.

Perhaps, but what seems extraordinary is this admission by Amnesty USA director William Schulz (via Fox News Sunday):

WALLACE: Now, Secretary Rumsfeld [described by Schulz as an "architect of torture"] did, we believe, approve putting prisoners in stress positions for prolonged periods of time, stripping them naked and even using dogs to frighten them.

Mr. Schulz, do you have any evidence whatsoever that he ever approved beating of prisoners, ever approved starving of prisoners, the kinds of things we normally think of as torture?

SCHULZ: It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea...

Actually, what I find fascinating is not the gulag comparison, but rather Secretary General Khan's other comparison, made in May 25 remarks:

In 2004 our Report recorded incidents of religious humiliation of detainees in US custody, growing anti-Semitism in western Europe, including France and Belgium, and Islamophobia in Europe and North America. Ironic that this should happen as we mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I think it's kinda funny that we haven't heard anything about Zyklon B being pumped into prisoner cells at Guantanamo. Or is objecting to a comparison of Guantanamo and Auschwitz simply another "semantic argument"?

Posted 6:41 AM by Tony

Monday, June 06, 2005
61 Years Ago

At about this time 61 years ago, the Allies had established a toehold in Europe. I figured it's worth remembering.

Posted 8:55 AM by Tony

Thursday, June 02, 2005
A Clarification

Note to the American Gold Star Mothers - clarifications sometimes aren't better (via Navy Times; see Sept. 2003 story at DOD):

Ligaya Lagman [who is not a US citizen] has dropped her bid to become a Gold Star Mother, but still wants rules changed so that women who lose sons or daughters in war will be able to receive the honor — even if the mother is not a citizen.

[ . . . ]

Lagman’s son, Anthony, was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan last year at age 26.

Also Saturday, the incoming American Gold Star Mothers president clarified remarks she made Friday about a possible change in rules.

Judith Young said that although any member may propose a change to the organization’s bylaws for a vote in 2006, she personally had no plans to initiate such a change.

"I’m not saying at this present time that I’m going to do that," said Young, who becomes president of the national nonprofit next month. "We have a lot on the agenda, things we have to get done."

Thanks for the clarification. Admittedly, I can't really work up the sarcasm for Ms. Young, since she lost her son in Beirut. Still, the whole business seems just a bit more than insulting.

Posted 8:37 AM by Tony

Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Inside The Fishbowl

The weird thing about being here in the Bay Area is that everything seems like it's big news. Here's one example (via SF Chronicle):

It was meant to be funny -- but no one is laughing now in the San Francisco 49ers' front office over an in-house training film that featured off- color racial jokes, lesbian porn, a spoof of gay marriage and a trio of buxom, topless blondes frolicking with team public relations director Kirk Reynolds.

The 15-minute video, some of which was filmed in the City Hall office of Mayor Gavin Newsom -- who comes in for a few unsubtle swipes -- was intended as a primer on how players should handle the media in diverse San Francisco.

[ . . . ]

From there we're taken to a topless, lesbian wedding, filmed at the Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theater and officiated by "Mayor" Reynolds.

"I know the courts say we can't do this," Reynolds says, "but like my predecessor, we make our own rules here in San Francisco."

After the "I do's," the happy couple slink to the floor for some heavy petting.

"Go 49ers," the brunette says as the camera pans back to the "mayor."

"As you guys learned in diversity training,'' Reynolds tells his football player audience, "people have diverse lifestyles. You may know someone or have a family member with a diverse lifestyle. So embrace diversity -- embrace it. "

At which point, two hunky guys -- one black and one white -- march up to be married.

Stupid, yes. That's why it's called "locker room humor." I think this thing has a "tempest in a teapot" quality to it, but I imagine opinions will vary.

Posted 8:13 AM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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