How we will know the war has been won

johnny_cover". . . War Against Terrorism - a war without borders or horizon, without territory to conquer and occupy and administrate although we will find territory and occupy and administrate something because that is how we will know the war has been won . . . ."

-- Christopher Trumbo in an essay about his father, Dalton Trumbo, blacklisted writer of "Johnny Got His Gun." If you haven't read the book, maybe you've seen the 1971 movie or heard the 1940 radio play of it starring James Cagney.

You know: for kids!

Customized leather holsters designed to hold a can or bottle of beer, crafted by members of acclaimed female tribute band AC/DShe.


Metrics going forward.

Developing the strategies to execute the changes to cascade the priorities, enabling the implementation of growing the citizenship of the stakeholders. The robust core functional communication demonstrates team growth through performance of strengths, constructively and with development tab refresh maturity. Ultimately, there should be collaborative points between competency and management linking proficiencies. The weight of your on-going feedback may specify.

Benchmark. Deliverable accountabilities.

Only managers can cascade.

Best Practices,

(Yeah, I just got back from a 1.75 hour meeting on setting performance objectives.)



Nazi Zombies and Weird War Movies

I caught a couple of passable horror movies lately that involved Nazi zombies and WWI Jerry spooks. Outpost (2008) shows some modern mercenaries trying to find a piece of spectacular lost technology in a Nazi bunker. Horror and hijinx ensue. Deathwatch (2002) shows some Brits in WWI who take over a haunted stretch of German trench.

Now I'm interested in finding supernatural horror movies set in WWII, WWI, involving zombies, undead or ghosts, or later settings that show aftermath of those (soldiers or experiments or ghosts still alive from the wars). This feels like a low-level OCD compulsion to catalog lots of movies along a similar theme. Few of these movies would be worth watching on their own, but as part of a Nazi Zombie Fest or Weird War marathon, it suddenly becomes worth watching. Like the Horror Franchise Blast-off marathon with Jason X (in space), Leprechaun 4: In Space, and Hellraiser: Bloodline (in space).

l'abime des morts vivantsSo here are a few I found:

Revolt of the Zombies (1936). Set in World War I. Directed by Victor Halperin, who also directed and/or wrote White Zombie and Torture Ship.
Revenge of the Zombies (1943).
Return of the Vampire (1943). Bela Lugosi as a vampire whose slumber is disturbed by bombs during WWII.
Creature with the Atom Brain (1955).
She Demons (1958). Nazi experiments, not really supernatural.
Shock Waves (1977). Peter Cushing!
SS Hell Camp (1977). Neanderthal experiment, but probably more focused on sexploitation.
Deathship (1980) has Nazis, may or may not have supernatural elements.
Zombie Lake (1981). Le lac des morts vivants.
Night of the Zombies (1981), aka The Chilling.
Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies (1981) aka Le trésor des morts vivants, L'abîme des morts vivants, Oasis of the Zombies, Oasis of the Living Dead. Is this the same as El desierto de los zombies, Grave of the Living Dead, La tumba de los muertos vivientes? No! The Spanish version has some alternate scenes, but it's a version of the same story.
The Keep (1983). Directed by Michael Mann! Yes, that Michael Mann!
Puppet master (1989) and sequels. Origin linked to Nazis.
The Bunker (2001). Like Outpost from the German perspective.
Deathwatch (2002). Haunted trench in WWI.
Dog Soldiers (2002). Werewolves vs modern Brit special forces. (Not sure if there's any WWII or Nazis involved.)
Below (2002). Haunted sub, WWII.
Hellboy (2004). Oh yeah!
Horrors of War (2006). Low budget, bad review.
War of the Dead (2006)
Outpost (2008).
Warbirds (2008). Sci Fi channel production. WWII fighters vs dinos. Perhaps no Nazis involved, but come on!
Dead Snow (2009).

Please leave a comment if you can think of others I'm inevitably missing. Raiders of the Lost Ark doesn't count, does it, just because Nazis get melted by ghosts in it?



obama from flickr photo by sister72Here's an excerpt from Obama's town-hallic photo op in Rio Rancho, ostensibly on the topic of credit card reform. I like how the questioner drags the topic back to the place she wants it.

Q: . . . So many people go bankrupt using their credit cards to pay for health care. Why have they [politicians] taken single-payer off the plate? . . .

President Obama: . . . If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards a single-payer system could very well make sense. That's the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world.

The only problem is that we're not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of employer-based health care. And although there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with their health care, the truth is, is that the vast majority of people currently get health care from their employers and you've got this system that's already in place. We don't want a huge disruption as we go into health care reform where suddenly we're trying to completely reinvent one-sixth of the economy.

So what I've said is, let's set up a system where if you already have health care through your employer and you're happy with it, you don't have to change doctors, you don't have to change plans -- nothing changes. If you don't have health care or you're highly unsatisfied with your health care, then let's give you choices, let's give you options, including a public plan that you could enroll in and sign up for.

Now picture President Obama in 1861, trying to sell a proposal about railroad reform or something to constituents in Rio Rancho, New Mexico territory.

Q: Setting aside railroad reform for a moment. So many humans are held as chattel by others. Why have they [politicians, you] taken abolition of slavery off the table?

President Obama: If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards abolition of slavery could very well make sense. That's the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world.

The only problem is that we're not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of industry based on slave labor. And although there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with being owned, the truth is, is that the vast majority of owned people currently get bread and water and a shack from their owners, and you've got this system that's already in place. We don't want a huge disruption as we go into human-resources reform where suddenly we're trying to completely reinvent one-Nth of the economy.

Perhaps he's supposed to be the first Black President of the CSA for the purposes of this analogy? I realize this will seem offensive because slavery analogies should be "off the table" when we're talking about a Black president. I could make an analogy of Nazis using tradition to justify some aspect of their status quo if that works better for you. What kind of harmful, failed, inhumane, suck-ass tradition would you prefer as an analogy, to put you in mind of someone using tradition as an excuse to maintain their status quo?


Generation of Novel Viruses

"While transmission of new or novel viruses from animals to humans, such as avian or swine influenza, seems a rather infrequent event today (Gray et al., 2007; Myers, Olsen et al., 2007), the continual cycling of viruses and other animal pathogens in large herds or flocks increases opportunities for the generation of novel viruses through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human-to-human transmission. In addition, as noted earlier, agricultural workers serve as a bridging population between their communities and the animals in large confinement facilities (Myers et al., 2006; Saenz et al., 2006). Such novel viruses not only put the workers and animals at risk of infection but also may increase the risk of disease transmission to the communities where the workers live."
-- from page 13 of Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, a report released by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production on 29 April 2008.

In other words, these people warned over a year ago that raising animals on feedlots like they're industrial products increases the likelihood of diseases like swine flu developing and spreading.

Pointed out by Michael Pollan on Democracy Now, 14 May 2009. Pollan also said that food (unhealthy diets) is implicated in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, stroke, cardio-vascular problems. "In a sense, the health care crisis is a euphemism for the food crisis."


Do Protocol Droids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Deckard administers a Voight-Kampff test on a suspected replicant going by the name C3PO. Watch for Uncle Owen buying Roy Batty and other replicants from the Jawas. And please don't ask R2 how he feels about his mother.

All audio and video taken from Blade Runner (director's cut), the 1998 edition of Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV), and a few seconds from Metropolis (1927) except for the text crawl at the start and the cola ad, plus a few effects.

Alternate titles:
Droid Runner
C3PO's Voight-Kampff Test


Overthinking mashups

You might be surprised or disgusted by how much time I spend on each video mashup I make. Not just editing them together, but "researching" the original movies and making tons of notes about scenes that might be funny or effective. The problem is One of the problems is that I brainstorm lots of ideas but I don't weed out enough of them. It's like Letterman's Top 10 lists. That's a simple and effective comedy writing technique because you can get a few people to sit around thinking up ideas around one topic, and then you pick out the ten best. In some of my mashups, like the 8 minute long cartoon version of Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls, I thought of several scenes that might work, then I tossed them all in and neglected to narrow it down. It really doesn't merit watching for 8 minutes.

Now I think it will be funny to have Deckard from Blade Runner administering the Voight-Kampff test to determine whether C3PO is really human, but does it add anything positive when I include Luke and his Uncle Beru buying replicants Roy and Pris from the Jawas, or should I keep it short and sweet? It's only five minutes long now, but I'd rather have an effective two minutes that leaves you wanting more, instead of five or even three minutes that doesn't sustain interest.

After I've stared at these images for hours, slicing out just a few frames from one spot, cropping another spot, putting new sounds over each other, I can't keep sight of what's working and what isn't.

Maybe I should finish it as best I can, then shelve it for a few days and see if it drags or works the next time I see it. A lot of times, I post a video and then notice things I wish I had clipped.


Separated at Birth

Compare Drew Barrymore in this promo picture...

...with this still from Brazil.
brazil baby mask

Disney's First Black Princess

Frog-Princess-a-webThis Disney project "The Princess and The Frog" has been bubbling and in development for months if not years, and the controversy is already months old, if not years. The first complaints I heard were that the princess's name "Maddy" was wrong, sounded too close to "mammy", so they changed it to "Tiana." Reminds me of that skit on SNL where Nicolas Cage played "Asswipe Johnson", pronounced "Os-wee-pay".

Yesterday I saw a short article about bloggers complaining that Tiana's male love interest is light-skinned, supposedly South American but could pass for White. Does this mean Disney is afraid to portray a Black prince, or a strong black male character? Or that they fear the white audience in the US will be turned off by seeing a black male character with more screen time than the crows from Dumbo? Or just a black male as part of a couple?

I understand the complaint that Disney underrepresents sympathetic black males, but to complain about it in this instance veers pretty close to complaining about inter-racial relationships. The complaint should be that Disney still needs more blacks and more non-whites in general, not that they should have had a black male love interest in this case.

The counter-argument is that Disney thinks:
We can't pair up 2 dark-skinned people in the same movie, because it might automatically alienate a certain group of the film's potential audience - read, white people. So, just as we do with live action pictures, in order to guarantee rich box office returns, we'll cast a black woman/man, with a white man/woman, in a love story.

How often do we get to see love stories on screen featuring 2 obviously black people in the starring roles?

[AtlasBlack quoted on This Black Sista's Page. I'm not sure if the emphasis is original or added by This Black Sista.]

On the one hand, do white Americans of average racist level really have better reactions to mixed couples than to black couples? Maybe there have been polls or studies on this, but I would think racists would prefer to see blacks paired with blacks, in cases where they tolerate seeing blacks at all. I'm not taking it as given.

On the other hand, even if it were true that racists felt more at ease seeing mixed couples than black couples, you're leaving yourself open to the same kind of second guessing from critics who favor inter-racial couples. They're only showing a black couple because they're opposed to mixed couples, just like when Mowgli from The Jungle Book complained that different species should stay separate from each other. We can't show a mixed couple in a movie, because it might alienate a certain group of the film's potential audience - read, anti-mixing black bloggers and critics.

I've learned from too many flamewars and disintegrating debates online that guessing people's motivations is foolish. If a behavior or a claim or a policy is wrong, then the best thing to do is talk about why it is wrong. Talking about what motivates the behavior or claim or policy is just speculation. It can't be proven but it can't be disproven, which means that you can sit around all day speculating about the dark intent of your opponent. They can do the same about you, and you can't disprove them either. You could guess that my motivation is racism for criticizing black critics, and that it's obvious because I'm white. If my arguments are wrong, why not pick apart the arguments directly, instead of speculating about my motivation?

Anyway, after reading articles and blogs about it, I concluded that this is a battle Disney can't win no matter what they do. There's always going to be some angle that critics will pick at.

But now I'm thinking of the main audience, tiny kids who will watch this three times every day for months until they scratch the dvd too badly and have to buy another copy.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that most people, black and white, will enjoy this movie as much as any recent Disney feature they've seen, and they'll praise it in the same way that they praised Obama -- in spite of complaints by black critics that his background doesn't reflect most African-Americans, or that his policies aren't good for African-Americans. (Personally I think his escalation in Afghanistan is a bad policy for Americans and African-Americans and Afghans and humans, but I don't regret voting for him as the most viable, least worst candidate.)

My new conclusion is Disney can't win with the critics, but they'll probably win with kids and their main audience. Ten or fifty years from now, the children and grandchildren of the critics will probably embrace it as a positive if flawed milestone.

[Feel free to re-read and re-apply this blog post as necessary to each new controversy that springs up about this movie.]


Dark and Painful

"...During this time, I was again kept for several days in a standing position with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal ring in the ceiling. My lower leg [where it contacts prosthetic leg] was examined on a daily basis by a doctor using a tape measure for signs of swelling. I do not remember for how many days I was kept standing, but I think it was about ten days. The doctor finally ordered that I be allowed to sit on the floor, I was still kept with my arms extended above my head."
-- Walid Bin Attash, quoted in the International Committee of the Red Cross Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody, Feb 2007.

Also from the ICRC report: "Mr. Bin Attash commented that during the two weeks he was shackled in the prolonged stress position with his hands chained above his head, his artificial leg was sometimes removed by the interrogators to increase the stress and fatigue of the position."

Obama on torture, from Apr 16, 2009: "This is a time for reflection not retribution," Obama said. "We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."