Archive for February, 2006

An Insider’s View of Hollywood

February 27, 2006

“This is the age of insincerity. The movies had the misfortune to come along in the twentieth century and, because they appeal to the masses, there can be no sincerity in them. Hollywood is tied hand and foot to the demands for artificiality of the masses all over the world.” — Lionel Barrymore, legendary stage and Hollywood actor, 1878-1954.

(Barrymore may be best known for his role as Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He is also actress Drew Barrymore’s great uncle. Here he is dressed in his role as terminally ill bookkeeper Otto Kringelein in the magnificent “Grand Hotel”, co-starring Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and brother John Barrymore. It is available at the Multnomah County Library and Amazon.)

Real Conservatives Reject Bush Doctrine

February 26, 2006

“It is a great lie that America needs to give up its civil liberties, the separation of powers, the Geneva Conventions, and humane treatment of prisoners in order to defend itself against terrorism. If these are the Bush regime’s terms for protection, Americans need quickly to find another government.” — Paul Craig Roberts, assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan

iPod Video: The Untold Story of Columbia Credit Union

February 24, 2006

I checked out a friend’s video iPod the other day. It seemed pretty cool, but I thought it needed an FM and satellite radio receiver. Sometimes, I am sure, it can be tough to find good stuff to watch on an iPod.

When I got home from work tonight I remembered posting a rough cut of my 2004 documentary, Save CCU: The Untold Story of Columbia Credit Union, on Portland Indymedia. The film is about the grass roots members’ movement that halted the conversion of Columbia Community Credit Union to a bank.

Several changes, including voiceover narration, were made to the video after this version was edited, but the final cut is not presently online. Due to file size limitations at Indymedia the words on the screen are going to be difficult to read. I had to post it in three sections of about 10 minutes each. Here is the link to the video. Click on each of the three camera icons on the next page.

This film was shot in Vancouver, Washington in 2003 and 2004 on a Panasonic DV-953. Transportation was accomplished via the Tri-Met (Portland, Oregon) and C-Tran (Vancouver, Washington) rapid transit systems.

America’s Death Squad Training Going Well in Iraq

February 18, 2006

Earlier this week, news from Iraq that the US has “caught” Shiite death squads in the act of killing their Sunni victims. See an example of the reporting of this story from the BBC.

Something bothered me about this story for days* until I remembered that the US was considering training Iraqi death squads in what Newsweek magazine called the “Salvadoran option” to fight the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, as it had done so ruthlessly in El Salvador and elsewhere since the 1960s.

Perhaps George W. will start adding this to the short list of things the US is doing well in Iraq: reconstruction, installing democracy, bringing the peace, finding weapons of mass destruction, construction of permanent US military bases, and death squads.

(*Point of clarity: Something STILL bothers me about this story.)

And, I Take it, You Missed the Bird*

February 15, 2006

Finally emerging from his cone of silence on Wednesday to answer non-questions from a friendly network’s flunky, the Vice President appeared to address some of the issues surrounding shooting his “friend” Harry Whittington in the face with a shotgun on Saturday.

Cheney appeared at first glance to take the blame, saying: “Well, ultimately, I’m the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. [No denying that.] And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that’s the bottom line. And there’s no — it was not Harry’s fault. [Damn him!] You can’t blame anybody else. [But if there was a chance to do so, I certainly would.] I’m the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And I say that is something I’ll never forget. [But I sure wish the American people would hurry up and forget it.]”

Asked if he had been drinking: “No. … We had … I had a beer at lunch.” Sounds like the stock answer to the question asked by cops to thousands of drunk drivers every day. Except most people try to make it more believable by saying, “I had a coupla beers at lunch.” This is another good reason for waiting a day to report the story: You’ll never prove he was drunk at the time.

Asked if it would have been wiser to alert the media sooner than the next day: “Well, if it’s accurate. If it’s accurate. And this is a complicated story.” And we needed to make sure we could shape and control every facet of the story before telling it to a hand-picked reporter from a small South Texas newspaper who was personal friends with the ranch owner.

Cheney added that, “You know, we canceled the Sunday hunt. [W]e were scheduled to go out again on Sunday and I said I’m not going to go on Sunday, I want to focus on Harry. I’ll have to think about it.” How magnanimous of you.

As of this writing, Whittington survives, but remains in the intensive care unit of the hospital.

*Actual question posed by Fox News’ Brit Hume to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bush Regime Retaliates Against Study That Challenges Its Forest Policy

February 8, 2006

On January 20, the journal Science published a scientific paper by an Oregon State University graduate student in Forestry named Daniel Donato. Donato’s research appears to shoot holes in the Bush administration’s longstanding claims that heavy logging of fire-damaged areas accelerates recovery. Turns out heavy logging may impede recovery of burned forest land and increase fire risk. (Here are links to an abstract of the paper and online supporting material. The full article costs $10 from the magazine.)

Prior to the publication of the article, several professors in the Oregon State School of Forestry, which is cozy with the US Forest Service and the timber industry, tried to force Science to cancel publication of the paper. OSU’s attempt to censor their own student prompted top Science editor Donald Kennedy to state that the professors were “trying to rewind history”. (Something the Bush administration does well.)

The Oregonian newspaper picked up the story and exposed the hypocrisy of the School of Forestry, whose professors feared the loss of funding from their cronies in government and industry. Subsequently, as they feared, the Bush administration threw gas on the fire by cutting funding to the OSU program that conducted the research.

[Flashback: When George W. Bush came to Portland, Oregon shortly after the August 2002 Biscuit Fire to raise millions of dollars from wealthy Republican donors and announce his new forestry initiative, dubbed “Clearcuts Don’t Burn”, thousands of demonstrators met him at the Hilton Hotel to express their displeasure. They were subsequently doused with gallons of pepper spray, shoved with batons, and shot with rubber bullets by the Portland police and other city and state police agencies, as noted in this radio report about the resulting federal lawsuit.]

[Postscript: Here is an article about the congressional hearing on the dustup, where elected officials grilled Donato about his research methods.]

Stencil Fascination

February 3, 2006

Since happening across British artist Banksy’s stencils, which adorn many walls, doorways, and even zoo animals in Britain, I have become fascinated with stencil work. Because I was not graced with an artistic gene, I find comfort in the fact that stencils can be created by even the most inartistic of God’s creatures, such as myself. Here is another tutorial.

I have been toying around with stencils of familiar images, but have not yet completed any works to speak of. Still, I wanted to share a few of my early creations, which I hope to complete as time and resources permit.

Here are three draft templates that need no introduction and links to the original photos: 1, 2, 3.

“The terrorist is the one with the small bomb.” — Brendan Bahan, an IRA veteran of the 1940s

In Honor of Black History Month

February 1, 2006


To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

Langston Hughes