Tuesday, January 30, 2007

24 is boring?

Last night I passed out during 24... because it was so boring!
Actually I was a bit jet lagged and had been traveling for 12 hours... from Chicago, so it shouldnt have taken that long, but at the end of the day I had traveled on: a subway, a bus, a plane, a train and an automobile!
Anyway, I'm not quite into this season of 24 yet, though I will give it more time. I just dont like any of the current storylines:
Karen Hayes: She goes from mid-level bureaucrat at Homeland Security to National Security Advisor to... CTU Los Angeles? Imagine if Condoleezza Rice resigned (when she was NSA) and then got a job at a regional Homeland Security branch. And Karen did this after a nuclear bomb went off in LA, when the President begged her to stay... because the Chief of Staff is blackmailing her? So now she is on "military escort" to Los Angeles from D.C. I'm sure that means she will be flying faster than normal, but unless she is in a supersonic jet then this bitch is out for a couple episodes. Perhaps she will call Bill from the plane ever so often. Perhaps her plane will crash? That would be cool.
Sandra Palmer: For the past 3 episodes, her only line, repeated over and over with slight variance, is "OK can we get WAH-LEy'ad now! He's gonna get hurt! Les get Wah Ley'ad! He's gonna get hurt! I'm gonna go get Wah-Ley'ad!" First of all, she isnt pronouncing his name right and its annoying! What s with her weird, semi-ghetto southern drawl? David Palmer had none of that, neither does his less competent brother. Second, everytime she said that I kept thinking, they are in a dentention facility there are guards everywhere! How could Walid get hurt? Well, he does get hurt, unfortunately. Its quite annoying. That entire storyline is annoying, and pointless.
Nadia: Give me a break! Nadia is locked out of some levels of security because she is a Muslim, quite ironic due to the fact, as Milo point out, that she is a "registered Republican." So Bill calls Karen who fights with Tom Lennox again. Its too political, even for me. All they do is argue about civil liberties and security over rights, Constitutional boundaries, yadda yadda yadda. Its like 24 is trying to show us "both sides". Stop trying to send a message, just write a good show! Its stupid. Nadia is annoying. I hope she does turn out to be a terrorist. Now that would be cool.
Jack: Gee its hard to even find Jack in the show now, what with these idiotic other storylines going on. Jack's is one of the lamest. His brother, who looks nothing like him, and his dad, may be connected to the nuclear bomb going off! Wow! What a coicidence. It just doesnt interest me at all. Its too soap-operaish. I dont want to know about Jack's family (except his daughter) because I dont care. Terri Bauer getting shot was one of the best things to happen to 24, because she was so fucking annoying. I hope they do away with this whole brother brother father thing. Whats next, his mom?
But, it is just the beginning of the season so Im hoping it gets better. It appears Audrey Rains will be coming back by mid-season, since the actress who played her had her other television show canceled. Plus its good to know that on 24, the storylines at the beginning usually wrap up and new ones begin. After all, in the first part of season 5, Jack was on the run as a suspect of Palmer's death and they dedicated a bit of time to that airport hostage situation, involving the woman Jack was banging and her bastard son. We never heard from them after that! Hopefully season six goes the same way.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Give me just a litle more time!

Everytime I've ever watched the State of the Union, which I started watching during the Clinton years, I always think to myself "If I was in the Congress, I just wouldn't clap or stand the entire time." As if the speech isn't boring enough, people in Congress feel the need to clap and stand every other sentence, depending on what he is saying. Some obnoxious members even whistle, which I found particularly annoying last night. Everytime the Republicans stood to clap I would hear four or five people whistling, as if it was the academy awards or something.
Despite what your teachers may have told you, the State of the Union is not important and you get virtually nothing out of watching it. Because its the biggest audience the President gets all year, he sugar coats everything and doesn't ever really say anything big. Its a very ceremonial thing and reminds me a lot of the Queen opening Parliament in England. If anyone has ever seen that its quite a spectacle.
The Queen is all dazzled up like she is back in the 16th century and is taken by a horse drawn carriage to the House of Parliament, where she walks on over to the House of Lords, because she is forbidden by law from stepping into the House of Commons. So when she sits down on her big throne, a representative of hers walks across the hall to the House of Commons where Blair and Gordon and everyone else is hanging out. As soon as the Queen's represenative gets to the room, he has the door loudly slammed in his face (literally) to show that the House of Commons has the power. Then he bangs on the door loudly, invites everyone to the House of Lords, they all go, sit down, and the Queen reads a very long boring speech where every sentence begins with "My parliament will..." and she says things like "My parliament will continue to protect us from terrorists" or "My parliament will seek to simplify the tax code" and everyone claps. Its boring and ceremonial and not of any real importance, just like the State of the Union.
The Democrat's response though, I thought was fantastic and quite suprising. Because both the Democrats and Republicans are bought off by corporate America, they rarely talk about economic issues. Jim Webb, however, did! Here are some great excerpts from his speech I found suprising and very hopeful:
"Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits.
But these benefits are not being fairly shared.
When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it's nearly 400 times.
In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.
Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.
Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them...
In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy - that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.
Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today...
Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th Century.
America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines.
The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.
Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions.
He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves 'as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.'"
I didn't think it was possible anymore for a politician in Washington, Democrat or Republican, to acknowledge the dangers and warn against "corporate influence", which is destroying our country and is one of my #1 concerns. The war on the middle/lower class that the ruling elites have been conducting over the past 25 years has been ignored by Washington and the media, almost entirely.
Literally, wages for 80% of Americans have stagnated or declined over the past 25 years, while economic growth has continued at a relative pace. Thats never happened before in our history. We've had depressions/recessions, but never a period of sustained economic growth where wages are declining for most of the population (but skyrocketing for the top 1-5%.)
In the 1960's, families were much bigger (more kids) and usually had just ONE parent working. Yet that one parent could support his wife and kids, own a house, two cars, and afford vacations and other economic comforts. America is a much more wealthy nation now. Yet two parents struggle to afford what one parent could afford 40 years ago.
Yet our productivity has skyrocketed. Americans are working much longer hours then we were back then, in fact as Webb noted, Americans work more hours then any other industrial nation. What is the result of that? Not only declining wages, but declining benefits. Whats going on?
And yet, if you turn on the television, as Sen Bernie Sanders noted at the media reform conference, you would think nothing is going on. Its not mentioned at all. It should be a national scandal. We, the richest nation on earth, have the highest poverty rates, child mortality, longest hours, least benefits, declining wages (while the top 1% is overflowing with wealth.)
So I'm quite pleased that Jim Webb broke that taboo and actually said something about this, you rarely hear a Democrat or Republican ever say anything (because they both represent corporate interests.) For once, I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


No I dont mean Dr. Evil and Dr. McCrane, the dick from E.R. back in the days when people watched it. Dr. McCrane on another show...24 ! He was "Graham" in season 5, the dark force on the annoying headset cellphone who controlled all of the events... including the assasination of David Palmer! The evil nemesis of Jack Bauer, the ying to his yang, the Dr. Evil to his Austin Powers, was found to be...
Jack Bauer's brother! (Just like when Dr. Evil is found to be Austin Powers's brother.) If only they had gotten Michael Cain to play the Bauer brothers' father all would have been perfect.
So I could go along with this plot twist, fine, its 24, I'll take it. What I did not like was the unrealistic conversation between Graham and his wife that was one of those talks entirely meant to explain background to the audience and indicative of lazy scriptwriters.
After Graham tells his wife that his estranged brother Jack called (weird how Graham is balding but Jack isnt, by the way) his wife says "Is Jack coming here?" and Graham says something like "I dunno."
Time to give a quick background to the viewers. Graham turns to his wife and says something to the tune of "You never got over Jack did you, all these years! You're still in love with him!"
And she says "Jealously is unattractive in grown men!"
Dum dum DUM!
Later when Jack swings by, Mrs. Bauer is cold to him, doesnt even really say hello. Jack is brief with her as well. "Sorry to interrupt Sharon" or whatever the hell her name was "I just need to talk to Graham about our father."
By the way shortly before that exchange, Jack mentions to Graham that they have not seen eachother since Terri (Jack's deceased wife)'s funeral several years ago.
Then Graham introduces Jack to his son (you didnt bring him to the funeral?)
There is a weird, two second camera exchange between the two (Jack and his nephew.) I suspect, almost fear, the writers are flirting with the idea of a storyline where Graham's son is actually Jack's. Please, please dont do this.
Im also fearing that Graham will reveal he turned evil because he hated Jack. He will have a monologue where we will hear something like "Everyone loved you more than me, first Dad... Then Sharon!" (or whatever her name is.) That, along with the "who's the daddy" storyline, are two cliches I hope the writers avoid.
And is Phillip Bauer (the Bauer patriarch) involved with the terrorist attacks? I suspect it will become increasingly obvious he was... but he wasnt! Instead, Graham used his father's business connections/associates to further his own terrorism goals; perhaps framing his father on the way? This seems too obvious to happen.
Good News: From wikipedia:
"Audrey Raines is expected to be back around episode 12.The producers said that now that she is done with The Nine, they can have her on full time."
Nice. Although its disappointing she wont be in until the second half, its nice to know she will be back.
Still no word on Kim Bauer, whatsupwithat? Perhaps this season she could be chased around Los Angeles by a cheetah.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oy Vey

Next Stop, Tehran?

People have been saying since shortly after the ill-fated invasion of Iraq that the US would next strike at Iran. I've always believed it plausible but not likely. However...I sense something is coming.

The Bush Administration is rachting up its naval presence in the Persian Gulf with not one but two aircraft carrier groups. Bush officials have recently gone on whirlwind tours of the Sunni Arab states who perceive Iran has an enemy both for its increasing power as well as its Persian-Shi'a heritage. In Bush's "speech" about escalating the war, he sent veiled warnings to Iran (and Syria) and rejected trying to solve things diplomatically. Iran claimed earlier this week it shot down an unmanned US spy plane, and I wouldnt doubt thats true.

But even more telling is the sudden talking point being propogated by the right wing in all appearances, which seeks to blame everything going wrong in Iraq squarely on Iran. Rumor has it that if the Bush Admin is to strike, it will want to do so before the end of April when stalwart ally Tony Blair steps down as leader of the Labour Party, and thus Prime Minister of Britain.

And of course it makes sense, from the crazed perspective of the Bush Administration. Not just because Iran is (probably) seeking nuclear weapons; although I should add Iran has yet to do anything illegal and has the support of most of the world as uranium enrichment is an "inalienable right" of all signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which most of the world (save Israel, India and Pakistan) has signed.

But also because of Iraq. The US doesnt want a strong Shi'a Iraq, nor do all the Sunni Arab neighbors, most especially Saudi Arabia which has its own Shi'a minority residing over the biggest oil fields. Yet what can the US do? If the US pulls out of Iraq, which domestic pressure will force it too, then Iraq may not be turned into an obedient client state. It may seek friendship with Iran and become opposed to US-Israeli regional policies, and still remain a democratic state. The only solution, it seems, is to attack Iran and cripple it as a power. I suspect immediately after that the United States military will take it upon itself to "disarm" the Shi'a militias of Iraq, including Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army; no longer fearing the militias will have an Iranian ally to their east to call upon for help.

Of course, attacking Iran is not only illegal, it would be an utmost disaster. It will be the worst thing in the world the Bush Administration could do, and yet I fear its a possibility. If it comes down to it, I would encourage everyone to take it to the streets.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This Week in 24

Bauer Hour
This week we had not one, non deux, but four episodes of 24 to kick of season ("Day") six. As we know, the cliff hanger end of season 5 had nothing to do with season 5 and would have been more fitting for the end of season 4.
For a summary of the most recent episodes, go to Fox's 24 website (google it). Im here just for the commentary, so here goes:
Whats the deal?
Whats the deal with Milo from season one randomly being back at CTU? Did I miss something? I dont even think they bothered to explain this. The last time I saw Milo, he was distraught because that hoochie mama Jamie had apparently killed herself out of guilt for being a mole in CTU; although we later learned it was Nina Myers who had done it. But where has Milo been since then? Working in some corner of CTU Los Angeles? I take it he survived the toxic nerve gas attack that struck them?
So Wayne Palmer is President now. OK, I can see him being elected because everyone is sad that David Palmer was killed, and he was killed by a Republican President. So I guess the American people overlooked the fact that Wayne was present at a crime scene where his lover killed herself for having aided in the death of her husband...and also present (in the same room) for the death of Sherry Palmer, then President David Palmer's estranged (ex?) wife; the very reason David Palmer decided not to seek re-election. Lets just pray that James Heller wasnt retained at DoD.
Also, we find Karen Hayes is now National Security Advisor, and Peter McNichol(?) is Chief of Staff. Once again the President of the United States, when national security is at stake, chooses to rely on his Chief of Staff instead of Homeland Security Director. Well where's Mike?
The 4 hour premiere was filled with everyone's favorite 24 cliches. Like when Jack calls CTU and Chloe, who hasnt spoken to Jack in two years and feared for his life, said "Jack...I never thought I'd hear your voice again" and Jack (predictably) replies something to the effect of "Thats nice Chloe but I dont have time for this I need to speak to Bill." Their relationship reminds me of the abused wife who is convinced its her fault.
Anyway, we find out that Jack Bauer has been released from Chinese custody because the US government negotiated it, and, comments the Chinese official, the US government paid a "very high price". I suppose that either means we'll find out later, or the script writers are lazy. But from what I gather, President Wayne paid this "high price" for Bauer, in order to sacrifice him to terrorists, because he... believed all terrorist attacks would stop? Because Jack Bauer was sacrificed? I thought they hated us for our freedom!
The Chinese official comments that Bauer has not spoken a word in two years. Two years! Yet we find immediately his vocal chords are fine and he speaks normally (albeit in that Kiefer Sutherland raspy whisper from too many cigarettes). It must have been all that green tea he drank in Chinese prison.
Whats the deal with Curtis? He's a bitch, plain and simple. If I were Jack I would've aimed higher and shot him in the head. He's mad because his troops were killed during the Gulf War? Dont put your troops on Arab land then bitch about it if someone attacks you! Thats war Curtis! I hope you are hospitalized for the rest of the show, then randomly die in the middle of the season, impairing Jack's ability to operate because of a heavy burden of guilt.
Lastly, lets turn to the nuclear bomb detonated at the end of last night's second episode. Thats the smallest mushroom cloud I've ever seen. Its much smaller than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. I didnt know nuclear weapons could be made smaller than that, in fact, I dont think they can. As we know a "dirty bomb" would not produce a mushroom cloud. Jack Bauer, we've found, has just quit CTU because of a mental breakdown (I bet he is craving heroin again). Then Jack sees a big flash of light and a mushroom cloud. Should we assume he was far enough away to survive any radition poisoning?
I'll venture this nuke results in very low casualties. I suspect they will say something like "The bomb was intended to be detonated in downtown LA but luckily, because we raided them, it was set off in the staging area far off in the mountains". Oh good. Now we must stop more nukes from going off in populated areas. But 24 needs to top it. How about a hydrogen bomb?
I briefly saw the scenes from next week's episode and we find out Jack is back at CTU because of the nuke. I hope his first thought after the nuke is "My god where is Kim?" After all that was his thought the last time a nuke was set to go off in LA. He should really call CTU and say "Find out where Kim is! And Audrey, then get back to me, and Ill come back aboard!"
All in all its a good start to (hopefully) a good season! Just top it off with Audrey Rains and Kim Bauer and everything will be perfect

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


A few words on Bush's speech. The American people are overwhelmingly against this, the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly against this; it means more dead people, American and Iraqi, more bombs, more destruction, more mayhem. And suddenly, *poof* this is supposed to result in a violent-free Iraq. Only if we kill everyone.

I think the only solution in this situation is the transition, on our part, from passive protest and opposition to all out resistance. Civil disobedience. Stop the war.


On a lighter note, work is so mind boggling boring that I actually got into a dispute with a friend over whether I had used a word correct in a sentence. Refering to an arrangement of folders I said, in an email, "I thought you had them in perfect chronology". Now, I realize I could have said "chronoligical order" but chronology is in fact a word and I believe used correctly. He and I argued about this until I suggested we e-mail some English professors. So I went to the Syracuse English department and did just that.

The first response said something like "Grammar isnt so much the issue as common usage. I would say chronological order." Translation: I dont know the answer to your question. The other two were like that.

So I had a crazy idea. Why not try the world's leading authority on linguistics? He is, after all, a Professor and thus his email should be available. Much to my suprised, I got a response The exchange is below:


Dear Professor Chomsky,

I was wondering if you could help me solve a dispute with a friend. In
the sentence "I thought you had them in perfect chronology" is
chronology being used correctly? I argued that one could say yes,
because it is the same as saying "I thought you had them in perfect
order" or "perfect arrangement". My friend says you need the article
"a" to precede perfect in order for the sentence to be grammatically
correct. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank


Kevin Maley

p.s. I understand one would be better off saying "chronological
order", as Ive been told, but Im wondering on the specific sentence in
mention. Thank you

From Chomsky:

The notion "correct" is relative to some specific choice of a standard. In my English, I wouldn't use "chronology" that way, though I'd understand it, if used. With or without "a".
The notion "correct" is relative to some specific choice of a standard. In my English, I wouldn't use "chronology" that way, though I'd understand it, if used. With or without "a".


While a pretty much insignificant e-mail, I've now had the honor of not only having an e-mail exchange with my all time personal hero, but got to ask the most famous linguist in the past 300 years a question on syntax! Boring to some, yes; but to me its one of life's unexpected suprises.

Give Peace A Chance

Ill blog tonight after Bush's "speech" but for now Ill say something about the logic of withdrawal.

Many on the left, or just generally good hearted, who were against the war and are against it now, have painfully decided that we cannot simply withdraw from Iraq because the country would fall to pieces.

I'll once again reiterate the only thing we need to know: the vast majority of Iraqi's want us to leave, NOW! Polls done by the BBC, Pew Research, Gallup, British Ministry of Defence, DoD, State Dept... even the bloody Iraq Study Group stated their polls said the same thing. The passion is so strong that a majority of Iraqi's support attacks on US troops. So, now, whats the point of staying?

The US army is not just sitting there, guarding the green zone and getting picked off in car bombs. It is flying around the country on bombing raids, destroying villages in the hopes of killing a "terrorist". It is bursting into people's homes everyday and taking all the males, sweeping them off to secret prisons to be tortured and what not. Let us not forget that in the return to "sovereignty" the US had a number of caveats, one of which was retaining control of the Iraqi army (except for a single unit with no weapons for symbolic purposes).

So now everyone hates the USA in Iraq, and it has long appeared likely to me that the US would likely begin arming the Sunni militias who had originally started out as insurgency groups, in order to offset a power balance with what is perceived to be a Shi'a govt under the influence of the scary Ayatollah Khameini of Iran. Thus one need not be suprised by reports that Saudi Arabia is funneling arms to Sunni militias, first reported a month and a half ago. And as history tells us, when Saudi Arabia is arming someone it means its doing so with explicit authorization from the US government, which gave Saudi Arabia their arms in the first place (ex: Iraq in 80's, South Africa, Nicaragua, etc.)

The US Elite ruling class, so well represented by Jimmy Baker, has decided that the most important thing, after all, is controling Iraq's oil reserves. So why dont we takeover the Interior Ministry, get our troops the hell out of there. We'll give the Golan Heights, currently reaching a 40 year anniversary of Israeli occupation, back to Syria and throw a bone to Iran to get them to go along. The democrats cheered this.

But whats fascinating is the dilusional stance of the Bush Administration. The elite money class of the USA, that 1% with 90% of the wealth; who always loved Bush, who were lavished with tax cuts on capital gains, dividends, and for one whole year a complete vanishment of estate tax; have now turned largely against him because of his dilusions on Iraq. Their message is clear: You fucked up royally, now lets pull the troops out and keep diplomats everywhere so we can still get a stake of The Prize... if you keep at this too long we'll lose everything.

And Bush's response was: No, no. No. Dont worry. I've got a plan. More troops!

And thats his speech tonight.