Arranology

Archive for September 2008

We’ve Lost Him: Paul Newman, 1925-2008

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It’s hard to speak of Paul Newman’s entire life. There were too many parts to it. He drove race cars and sponsored Newman-Haas, one of the most successful Indy-league teams in sports history. He began Newman’s Own out of a few jars of salad dressing whipped up as Christmas gifts and turned it into a multi-million-dollar corporation that has provided satisfying work and healthy working conditions for thousands of employees, and turned $250M over to charities. He started out as an actor but rapidly grew into a director of some ability, a producer, and even a writer.

But it was as an actor that I knew him first, and it’s as an actor that he’ll be remembered by most us.

If Marlon was the Giant, the pioneer, the trendsetter, the larger-than-life prototype for all who followed, Paul was the one he opened the door for. If Brando was an earth-shattering explosion, Paul was the guy who came later and used the hole as the foundation for a hospital.

Newman always claimed he was a character actor in a leading man’s body, and over the years, especially his later career, he proved it. He was as dedicated to his craft as any artisan, and it was Newman who proved to the doubters of The Method, the ones who said Brando and Dean were exceptions, that Stanlislovski’s technique could bring depth and desire to even the 2-dimensional illusion of film. Brando may have finally given acting the cachet of art, but it was Newman who gave it the stability and honor of craft.

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Written by Mick

September 29, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Art, Film, Obits

Tagged with , , ,

The Aftermath of the Davis Stay

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The front page story – top dead center – of the Savannah Morning News wasn’t about Troy Davis’ stay of execution but about how disappointed Officer MacPhail’s family are that the execution has been put off.

Tuesday’s last-minute stay of execution for murder convict Troy Anthony Davis has left the victim’s family disheartened but still hopeful justice will be served.

“It hurt, honestly,” said Mark Allen MacPhail Jr. “It’s a big disappointment.”

I can understand why they’d want it to be over after all this but don’t they even want to make sure it’s the right guy before they fry him?

The thirst for revenge – on anybody, doesn’t matter who – is the reason the law was developed as an objective force rather than a nemesis. The hopelessly misguided (or deliberately obstructionist and vindictive) movement to make the families of crime victims “part of the process” has injected an element of revenge into our judicial process that is poisoning criminal law. It is less and less about justice than it is about getting back at somebody for a wound.

Frontier justice is attractive in the movies but only because they’re NOT REAL. In the actual world, it’s the next thing to vigilantism and shouldn’t be encouraged.

Written by Mick

September 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Davis Execution Delayed

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Five hours before Troy Davis was scheduled to die in the electric chair for a crime he almost certainly didn’t commit, the Supreme Court decided to consider whether or not to hear his plea for a new trial. A scant two hours before his execution time, the Justices ordered a stay until such time as they make that decision.

In its order, the U.S. Supreme Court said if the justices decline to accept Davis’ appeal, “this stay shall terminate immediately.” If the appeal is granted, the stay will remain in force until the high court issues its ultimate ruling on Davis’ appeal, the order said.

The decision is scheduled for Monday. As Thomas Nephew pointed out in his blog, newsrack, in turning down Davis’ appeals, the Georgia Board of Pardons and the State Supreme Court ignored some fairly heavy legal advice.

But the Georgia State Board of Appeals has already rejected a bid for clemency, unmoved by appeals from the pope, Jimmy Carter, and former FBI director William Sessions’s opinion that a closer look at the case is warranted.

The Georgia board can still change its mind; please urge them to do so here (Amnesty International USA).  Meanwhile, if you’re the praying sort, now’s the time to start.  Troy Davis’s execution is set for 7pm today.

The post was put up before the SCOTUS’ order, but the urgency isn the same. Troy Davis has one more week of life if the SCOTUS turns down his appeal. Click Thomas’ lionk and add your voice. We need everybody.

Written by Mick

September 23, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Troy Davis Clemency Denied

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The one thing nearly everyone agrees on is that Troy Davis didn’t kill Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail.

On Sept 23, ten days from now, Troy Davis will die by lethal injection for the murder of Mark MacPhail.

If that doesn’t make any sense to you, consider it Georgia Justice.

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Written by Mick

September 13, 2008 at 11:47 am

Microsoft Blames Vista Problems on…Us

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MS’ Vista OS was a dog from the word go, but according to them, it wasn’t, of course, their fault.

The main problem with Vista, Microsoft said, was that given the delays, uncertainty and significant changes in the software, the rest of the industry was not ready when Vista finally arrived. There are one billion worldwide users of the various versions of Windows. Hundred of thousands of hardware devices and software applications run on it, and they need connecting programs, called drivers, to work smoothly with it.

I have been forced to work with Vista for months now and have become, if possible, even more frustrated than I used to be when I had to work with MS’ last dog, Me. It freezes, collapses, unexpectedly closes for no reason whatever, doesn’t play well with other applications, including its own browser, Explorer 7, and is, in general, a royal nuisance. I can’t run my upgraded online email because Vista doesn’t know what to do with it and will try to load it for hours before giving up in confusion and despair, which it signals with an “Explorer Can’t Find This Site Even Though It Know It Exists and Has Been There Before. The Path is Too Complicated for Its Minute Brain and It Wishes to Recommend You Lump It” splash screen.

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Written by Mick

September 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Technical Stuff

The Tinny Drum

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I recently tried to read what is considered to be one of the classics of modern European fiction, Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum. Originally published over 40 years ago, Grass’ novel is beautifully written, full of insight and wit, and thoroughly unreadable. I first tried to get through it as a senior in high school and managed a couple of hundred pages before I gave up in bewilderment. Now, 40-odd years later, I managed nearly twice that before giving up in frustration.

The Tin Drum‘s primary problem is the near-total unpleasantness and impenetrability of its narrator, a 3-ft dwarf named Oskar who claims to have dedicated himself to the beauties of drumming on a hunk of enameled tin mere minutes after leaving the birth canal. He also insists that at the age of 3 he decided he didn’t like the adult world and promptly forced himself to stop growing so that he could remain a 3-yr-old forever.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Oskar is currently living in a mental institution.

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Written by Mick

September 8, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Fiction

Dominionists Get 2nd Spot on GOP Ticket: Palin and AIP

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I trust you know who the Dominionists are – ultraconservative, neofascist, fundamentalist Xtians who want America to become a theocracy run by Biblical laws.

If you are unclear about what this means, read the book of Leviticus in the Bible. Biblical law as interpreted by these folks means the death penalty for homosexuals, adulterers, and recalcitrant children.

 No, this is not a joke. Not an exaggeration. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, are Dominionists with all that that means. Todd is a dues-paying member of the Alaska Independence Party (AIP) and has been for years. Sarah’s relationship is through him. The AIP wants Alaska to secede and become a Xtian nation on its own. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

September 3, 2008 at 11:16 am

“Bush? Bush? Never Heard of Him,” Whispers the GOP

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At the nominating convention of the party in power, a party whose leader had 8 years – two full terms – in office that they presumably would be celebrating if they thought they had a reason, they’ve shuttled the Emperor off to one side. He wasn’t even allowed to attend in person – the ultimate insult – instead, making an appearance via satellite on closed circuit tv.  Adding insult to injury, they then gave the major speaking slot to John McCain’s real running mate (and potentially co-president a la Bush/Cheney), Joe Lieberman.  Lieberman. An ex-Democrat so far to the right that even Harry Reid has given him up for lost.

President Bush, relegated to a minor role at the Republican National Convention, praised John McCain Tuesday night as “ready to lead this nation,” a courageous candidate who supported the war in Iraq despite risks to his campaign for the White House.

I’m sorry, what??!! McC is courageous because he followed the pack? Did what he was told? Licked the Emperor’s boots? This is what passes for courage in the Republican party?

You gotta love the way these people are always the gutsy victims of some vicious, over-powering enemy even when they massively out-number that enemy and have every conceivable advantage. It’s sort of like hearing the Roman Senate bragging about how their heavily-armored and highly trained Legions stopped a revolt of slaves armed with rocks and sticks, only the way they tell it the Romans had the rocks and the slaves had 50mm Howitzers and the Empire was in grave danger from those 47 slaves and their sharpened thornbushes – or balsawood planes, if you’d rather.

But while George was lost in his usual fantasy of imagining himself and his GOP cohort as some combination of Winston Churchill & and the ’39 RAF and Leonidas & his 300 at Thermopylae, back in the real world (comparatively) Fred Thompson was going after the people who’ve been going after Li’l Sadie P.

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Written by Mick

September 2, 2008 at 6:43 pm

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