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Sunday, December 31, 2006


Let's all work together to make 2007 better than 2006, what do you say?

Of course, impeaching Bush would be a great start, though I'll be happy if I can just finish getting over this flu.

Still, impeaching Bush would be better...


Saturday, December 30, 2006


OK, it's going on seven days since I came down with this fucking flu--anyone got any miracle remedies out there? SERVE 'EM UP!


Friday, December 29, 2006

K, Saddam is Dead--We Can Leave NOW, Right?



Evil man, dictator, torturer, adulterer, no doubt he's stolen Girl Scout Cookies. All that given, he's dead, so, can the US pull out of Iraq now?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas is Over...Thank Christ!

Sure, I'm an Atheist, but I enjoy Christmas as much as the next guy. Still, Christmas in America has gotten so bad, I wonder if Charlie Brown would kill himself upon seeing how much of it is all about the economy these days. So much of the past few weeks has been about buying, giving and getting things sold to us by corporations.

The funny thing is that yesterday, while TheWife and I and our pal Jen were at the Grove (an outdoor shopping mall in Hollywood) with tickets to see Dreamgirls we could find almost no place to eat or even shop. There were a tiny faction of the shops open and only a slightly larger number of restaurants. As a result, the literal scores of people who had come to the Grove yesterday had a hard time spending their money. We actually had to leave the Grove and walk three long blocks in order to find the deli counter at the famous Canter's restaurant -- they were the only place that had a minimal line.

So, I ask American corporations just one thing: Can you please make up your mind?

If it's about supporting the American economy, then why aren't your shops and restaurants open on Christmas day?

And if it isn't about supporting the American economy, can you please lighten up on the pressure to buy?

OK, that's two questions, but seriously, I feel like it's my responsibility -- no, my DUTY to buy things but when I actually want to buy stuff, you're closed!

I've got Christmas money, gift cards and merchandise returns that will mean profits for you.

Sadly, they are lost to you now.

Sure, I'll eventually get to all of them, but how soon? Not for a while...

Better luck next year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I'm not a big fan of scenery shots. However, clouds tend to do it for me--don't tell me why. I'm sure it's just the fact that I took them--I have a feeling other shots of clouds taken by other people would be pretty boring to me. Anyway, have a look at these clouds and check out more of my [|pictures at Flickr].

These were all taken of the sky over Culver City, California while I was waiting for one bus or another.

Sky over Culver City, CA

Sky over Culver City, CA

Sky over Culver City, CA

Sky over Culver City, CA

Sky over Culver City, CA

Aren't they pretty?

Friday, December 22, 2006



Originally uploaded by thepetecom.

I'm not a Commie, but this drink cracked me up... TheWife and I found

it last night at Famima!!

The Next Episode of TheUsCast is Coming Soon!

Yes, I know I've been saying that for a while now, but believe me the next episode of TheUsCast is on its way! I've got it all edited, I just need to sit down with SiSi and record the intro and outro. In fact, I would have done it last night but we got swept up in Christmas shopping fever and through the post-capitalist glow eminating from the two of us I couldn't quite see all the way to the laptop...


So, be sure to stop by and check out the second to last episode featuring special guest Stennie from the Hucklebug!


Thursday, December 21, 2006


American Taxes Enough to Push Pats to be ExPats

Wow, I've been thinking about how I'd like to leave the country in protest of it's government, but now people are tossing aside their American citizenship because of taxes. Check out this cutting from [|a December 17, 2006 article] at
She is a former U.S. Marine, a native Californian and, now, a former American who prefers to remain discreet about abandoning her citizenship. After 10 years of warily considering options, she turned in her U.S. passport last month without ceremony, becoming an alien in the view of her homeland.

"It's a really hard thing to do," said the woman, a 16-year resident of Geneva who had tired of the cost and time of filing yearly U.S. tax returns on top of her Swiss taxes. "I just kept putting this off. But it's my kids and the estate tax. I don't care if I die with only one Swiss franc to my name, but the U.S. shouldn't get money I earned here when I die."

Damn straight--but what does that say about our country and the American government's actions? It says that America is such a lousy country that taxes are enough to push her out the door for good.

This is where we are now.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006



Guess which city I'm eyeing...


This is something I should have blogged on back in September, but like so many other stories, I just bookmarked it and forgot it.

Anyway, so a couple of months back at, they [|posted an article] with the headline Secret CIA Prisons Help War Effort, Bush Says.

Just in case you hadn't realized, this is some serious fascist shit right here. Secret prisons?

Oh yeah, that's American freedom for you.

Don't cross the Americans! They'll whisk you off, against your will, to a secret freedom prison!


Sadly, this has happened to a whole bunch of people...

OH yeah and one other thing:

Bush thinks secret prisons are good. That means Bush likes (and likes to use) fascist tactics whether he wants to admit they're fascist or not.

Secret CIA Prisons Help War Effort, Bush Says
Suspected Terrorist Leaders Transferred To Guantanamo

POSTED: 3:09 am EDT September 6, 2006
UPDATED: 10:08 pm EDT September 6, 2006
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush on Wednesday said for the first time that some suspected terrorist leaders have been held by the CIA outside the United States in secret locations.

Survey: Support Secret Prisons?

His comments marked the first time the administration has acknowledged the existence of CIA prisons, which have been a source of friction between Washington and some allies in Europe. The administration has come under criticism for its treatment of terrorism detainees. European Union lawmakers said the CIA was conducting clandestine flights in Europe to take terror suspects to countries where they could face torture.

"It has been necessary to move these individuals to an environment where they can be held secretly, questioned by experts and, when appropriate, prosecuted for terrorist acts," Bush said in a White House speech.

The news comes as Bush ordered the transfer of 14 suspected key terrorist leaders from secret CIA custody to the U.S. military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be prepared for eventual trials, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Those transferred include Khalid Sheik Mohammed, believed to be the No. 3 al-Qaida leader before he was captured in Pakistan in 2003; Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged would-be Sept. 11, 2001, hijacker; and Abu Zubaydah, who was believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells before he was also captured in Pakistan, in March 2002.

The United States began using the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in eastern Cuba in January 2002 to hold people suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. About 445 detainees remain there, including 115 considered eligible for transfer or release.

Guantanamo has been a flashpoint for both U.S. and international debate over the treatment of detainees without trial and the source of allegations of torture, denied by U.S. officials. Even U.S. allies have criticized the facility and process.

The camp came under worldwide condemnation after it opened more than four years ago, when pictures showed prisoners kneeling, shackled and being herded into wire cages. It intensified with reports of heavy-handed interrogations, hunger strikes and suicides.

The Supreme Court this year said the president's plan to try Guantanamo inmates in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law.

The president has said he eventually wants to close Guantanamo, but Bush spokesman Tony Snow said there will be no Guantanamo closing announcement Wednesday. Instead, he said the president wants "to bring justice to those who are detained there."

Aides said the president will call on Congress to approve new rules for Pentagon tribunals for prisoners classified as "unlawful combatants."

"One of the most important tasks is for Congress to recognize that we need the tools necessary to win this war on terror," Bush said to members of his Cabinet in prepared remarks Wednesday. "We'll continue to discuss with Congress ways to make sure that this nation is capable of defending herself."

Some lawmakers, including top Republicans, have insisted that the tribunals include more protections for detainees.

Military lawyers have urged a system patterned on the existing system of military courts martial. But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has objected to rules that would give terrorism suspects the right to remain silent -- or challenge hearsay evidence.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner said he has drafted a proposal for trying the terrorism suspects, although it is likely to take less of a hard line than the administration's.

Snow said those differences will be "worked out."

In both military and civilian courts, a defendant's right to see evidence is viewed as indispensable to mounting an adequate defense. Senate leaders were briefed on Bush's legislative plan Tuesday night. It already has met resistance from lawmakers who say it would set a dangerous precedent.

In related news, the Pentagon is about to ban some notorious prisoner interrogation techniques, officials said Wednesday ahead of the release of a new Army Field Manual.

Other tactics deemed necessary for the war on terrorism have been added to the manual, which will be released Wednesday.

One official said the new regulations specifically forbid intimidating prisoners with dogs, putting hoods over inmates' heads and simulating drowning with a procedure called "water boarding."

The manual's publication was delayed more than a year as critics assailed the Defense Department's treatment of prisoners.

The new rules spell out appropriate conduct and procedures throughout all the armed services. A Pentagon spokesman said they reflect a "continued commitment to humane, professional and effective detention operations."

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Working on t5Ms!

Working on t5Ms!

Originally uploaded by thepetecom.

Ah, rendering! SO MUCH FUN!


You know what biometrics is? It's the concept of digitally identifying you through your biology. Most commonly, fingerprint scanners are now used in laptops, thumb drives and other security-oriented devices to confirm you are authorized to access said devices.

Retinal scans is another form of biometrics, along with sensors that can read the blood vessels in your hand, too.

The danger here is that these devices that ID you based on a body part need to keep copies of what your body part looks like in order to ID you. This data can be hacked and replaced or exploited in other ways. Also, it's a good insentive for a psycho to cut your finger off or pluck your eye out in order to get access to your private data. Of course, that's a bit extreme, but a government or a corporation having the data to ID you simply and easily is nothing short of an invasion of privacy.

And now, they're teaching kids to think it's cool and normal. According to [|a September 1, 2006 post] at, Disney theme parks will be using fingerprinting technology to help prevent ticket fraud.

Yeah, like Disney can't afford a little ticket fraud.

Four days later, posted [|something else] about biometrics, this time it's about kids using their fingerprints to pay/get their lunch every day.


Is there anything wrong with just letting them use cash? Or some sort of credit card?

Don't use kids getting beaten up for their lunch money as an excuse--instead of invading kids' privacy how about policing the violent offenders... sheesh!

Monday, December 18, 2006


The 5 Minute Show Episode 43!

WHOA! The 5 Minute Show has some ASTOUNDING NEWS to report! But it's FAR TOO IMPORTANT to explain here. Just watch episode 43 and discover something that may very well change the way you take a crap while flying into or out of Chicago's O'Hare airport!! WATCH NOW!!

[|Check out the iPod/PSP-ready mp4] or watch it on YouTube.Com below. You can also subscribe to ThePete.Com's feed here -->[|] or to get JUST The 5 Minute Show every week paste the following URL into iTunes or other aggregator of choice:

T5MS Episode 43 On it's Way!

Just letting everyone know that episode 43 of The 5 Minute Show will be up by the end of the day. It would have been up this morning but iSquint choked on the raw dv file. :(

So, keep watching this space!


So, Time magazine has named "You" a the Person of the Year. They're saying that each of us who has taken part in creating content for the Web in some form or another we each get credit for having an effect on millions of people.

That all sounds real nice and stuff, but when you consider that the majority of what's on the 'net is either porn or teenage angst, you wonder how much effect any of us caring folks actually has.

What's really sad is that Time is right--we each do have power as individuals. Something like a blog or a podcast can reach people and really can make a difference.

In theory.

The problem is that we're not thinking about what we're doing, generally speaking. SO many of us were against the Iraq war and many of us blogged, vlogged, protested and did other things in the hopes that some of it would stop Bush from invading a country that didn't need invading.

None of it made any difference.

Yet, I believe that Time Magazine has tipped its hand.

This whole "the individual can change the world" thing is a puff piece through and through. But that doesn't mean it's not true.

The thing is, you can't let the Time Magazine piece lead you to believe everything is cool. That's what it does to most people.

"Oh, isn't that great? One person can make a difference!"

Then you go back to your dayjob and never give a second thought to what your company does, how it damages the world around it, let alone any possible dreams you might have had.

Don't be a cog. Get involved, do your research. Don't let just one news source tell you about the world. Learn from many sources.

And for God's sake SPEAK UP! Be vocal. Blog, post pictures, shoot videos. SPEAK YOUR MIND. Let the world (and especially politicians) know what you think.

It's easy once you get going.

Time Magazine is right! Individuals can make a huge difference! But only if they BOTHER.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

First Pic from My Sidekick 3!

First Pic from My Sidekick 3!

Originally uploaded by thepetecom.


The First Post from My Sidekick 3!!

Ah, me and the gadgets! One of the promises I made to myself when I went back to dayjobbing was that I'd bribe myself with cool new gadgets. I wasn't about to spend 40 hours a week toiling away at a job that wasn't helping my career without SOME sort of real compensation!

Thus, the gadgets. The first new one I picked up was a replacement minicam. Then I bagged a Nintendo DS Lite. Finally I picked up the spiffy web-enabled cell phone called the Sidekick 3!

While far from perfect, this little device seems to be pretty awesome. It's got a camera (no video clips, alas), an mp3 player, email, an IM client, a phone (duh) and a bit more.

So expect to see more blog entries from my SK3 and more pics taken on the go.

What's next for my gadgeting? Hm, probably that motorcycle...

Friday, December 15, 2006


Most people have never heard of the [wiki: petrodollar]. In a nutshell, it's a nickname for the US dollars that are purchased by anyone on planet Earth who wants to buy oil from most OPEC countries. See, most OPEC nations (Venezuela is the only exception--though Iraq used to be one, too) only accept USD for their OIL. This is what keep the American dollar so powerful. If OPEC suddenly stopped taking dollars for oil and started only accepting euros for oil, we'd lose a huge chunk of our economy.

So, it's a bit worrisome when oil-powered nations pull away from the USD, even a bit. Check out this cutting from [|a December 10, 2006 article] at
Oil producing countries have reduced their exposure to the dollar to the lowest level in two years and shifted oil income into euros, yen and sterling, according to new data from the Bank for International Settlements.

The revelation in the latest BIS quarterly review, published on Monday, confirms market speculation about a move out of dollars and could put new pressure on the ailing US currency.

For OPEC, it turns out the drop in USD investment and the rise in euro investment is only about 2%, but that works out to a buttload of money in a scale this grand. If this trend continues we could see a complete shift downward in the American standard of living.

This is a story to be paying attention to, but the mainstream media doesn't think you're smart enough to wrap your brains around it.

I like to think they're wrong.

Oil producers shun dollar

By Haig Simonian in Zurich and Javier Blas and Carola Hoyos in London

Published: December 10 2006 20:11 | Last updated: December 10 2006 20:11

Oil producing countries have reduced their exposure to the dollar to the lowest level in two years and shifted oil income into euros, yen and sterling, according to new data from the Bank for International Settlements.

The revelation in the latest BIS quarterly review, published on Monday, confirms market speculation about a move out of dollars and could put new pressure on the ailing US currency.

Market liquidity is traditionally low in December, and many traders have locked in profits, potentially reinforcing volatility.

Russia and the members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the oil cartel, cut their dollar holdings from 67 per cent in the first quarter to 65 per cent in the second.

Meanwhile, they increased their holdings of euros from 20 to 22 per cent, the BIS said. The speed of the shift may help to explain the weakness of the dollar, which recently fell to a 20-month low against the euro and a 14-year low against sterling.

The BIS, the central bank for the developed world’s central banks, is customarily cautious in its language. However, it noted: “While the data are not comprehensive, they do appear to indicate a modest shift over the quarter in the US dollar share of reporting banks’ liabilities to oil exporting countries.”

The review shows that Qatar and Iran, whose foreign exchange policy has sparked widespread market speculation, cut their dollar holdings by $2.4bn and $4bn respectively.

Such shifts may be modest compared with the total assets held, but they provide a crucial indication on future thinking.

Currency switches are likely to be progressive, subtle and discreet, as untoward attention could hit the dollar, lowering the value of depositors’ remaining dollar-denominated assets.

The last time oil-exporting countries cut their exposure to the dollar – in late 2003 – it pushed the euro to an all-time high against the dollar. Eighteen months ago, the exposure to the dollar of oil producing countries was above 70 per cent.

BIS data is the best guide financial markets have to the currency investment trends of oil producers, which otherwise do not provide figures. The rise in oil prices since 2002 means oil producing countries have amassed a current account surplus of about $500bn, according to the IMF. This is 2½ times the current account surplus of China.

Overall, Opec’s dollar deposits fell by $5.3bn, while euro and yen-denominated deposits rose $2.8bn and $3.8bn, respectively. Placements of dollars by Russians rose by $5bn, but most of their $16bn additional deposits were denominated in euros.

The dollar has suffered weakness because of concerns about global imbalances and the future course of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy.

Additional reporting by Peter Garnham in London

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006


It's hilarious to me the state of denial many Americans are still in regarding the damage we do to the rest of the world. "History" isn't written by the winner. However, history books are. Last night I was surfing for some rights-free clip art I could use for some new category icons for [|one of my other sites] and stumbled across [|this page] at It's entitled "Why We Fought WW2" and it's a quick review of, well, the obvious. Here's the part of it that tweaked me:
Recognizing the danger, President Roosevelt encouraged public support for rearmament and Congress responded. The US also cut off Japan’s fuel supplies and demanded its withdrawal from China.

Rather than give up its empire, Japan preemptively attacked Pearl Harbor.

Isn't that a riot? It says that "The US cut off Japan's fuel supplies," yet, somehow the attack on Pearl Harbor was still "preemptive."

How does this guy think we cut of Japan's supply of fuel? With a pair of safety scissors?

There's more:
Hitler (who had encouraged the Japanese attack) followed suit by declaring war on the United States.

Hitler "followed suit" by declaring war on the US? How is "declaring war" "following suit"??? This guy's written a bunch of books but his grasp of basic English is questionable here. If the Nazis had truly "followed suit" they'd have attacked us, as well. All Hitler did was throw his support to the Japanese in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of way.

And just a bit more:
The US responded by a full mobilization and a commitment to unconditional victory. By 1944, when victory was in sight, the US initiated ambitious plans for post-war reconstruction, a generous peace designed to integrate both allies and former enemies into a US-led global order.

Nice. So this moron doesn't bother to include anything in this little excerpt about how the Japanese had been firebombed into prostration and are said to have been ready to surrender before the bombs were dropped. Then, Truman drops the bombs causing hundreds of thousands of Japanese to suffer and die of radiation over the span of the next sixty-plus years (not to mention all the people that died in the immediate explosions of each bomb).

I love this kind of American rationalization of our own corrupt deeds.

For Christ's sake, people--are we so spineless that we can't even admit that we've done bad things?

Where the fuck is my America?

If we can't face our mistakes, the bad things we've done or any of our own flaws, we'll never learn from them. Then we'll be damned to repeat them over and over, just like we're already seeing happen with this illustrious (and imaginary) war on terror.


Yay!! I love stories like this because they point out how we can't trust authorities to understand what freedom is--let alone trust them to protect it.

Way back in September posted [|a blog entry] about how "Australian scientists are working on automating this procress in software to track "inappropriate behavior" in public places, interpret that how you will."

Well, I interpret it this way: bad.

Sometimes I'm walking down the street and I realize I'm heading in the wrong direction. Do I stop and turn around? NOPE. I didn't used to. I felt that I'd look stupid if I did that. I felt like someone else on the street would see me and think "that idiot doesn't know where he's going!"

Of course, the reality would be that I did know where I was going, I just made a mistake. Still, this concern used to be enough for me to not put myself in the right direction immediately. I'd have to walk around the block once. A little OCD? Probably, but that's who I am.

The reason I bring this up is because someone else watching me might think up some other reasoning for why I suddenly turned around and they'd likely be wrong. Perhaps I just felt like walking the other way? Or maybe I just felt like a spaz and decided to explore my spazziness.

The point is that, often, you can't tell what is going on in a person's head based solely on their behavior. Take [|the story of the 6 Muslim Imams who were kicked off a plane because they were praying to Mecca before they got on]. The crazy suspicious Americans (probably mostly white folks) were freaking out because these Muslims were clearly praying for the last time before they blew up a plane.

Or not.

So, now we'll have software telling authorities who is behaving "strangely."

Isn't that great?

A computer deciding whether or not I'm about to blow up a plane.

Hell, my Mac can't even tell when I want to listen to my iPod and when I'm just wanting the charge the damn thing and it's a Mac...

I feel safer already...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


So, here we go--King George is trying to make us think he's not an idiot and that he meant to do everything he's done so far and he wants us to believe it's not quite as bad in Iraq as it really is. However, since he's admitted that shit is bad over there, everyone in the press is pushing him to make a change. The thing is, he won't be rushed.

Here's a cutting from [|a December 13, 2006 article] from available over at
President Bush said Wednesday he would "not be rushed" into a decision on a strategy change for Iraq, saying that in a round of consultations he heard both some interesting ideas and some "ideas that would lead to defeat."

"And I reject those ideas," Bush said after meeting with top generals and Defense Department officials at the Pentagon. He said those ideas included "leaving before the job is done, ideas such as not helping this (Iraqi) government take the necessary and hard steps to be able to do its job."

How many Americans are dying over there every day? How many humans?

Every day Bush "won't be rushed" is another day people die. Every day Bush "rejects those ideas" that only he feels would "lead to defeat" is another day of his continuing denial that he hasn't already been defeated.

It's over in Iraq and that's all there bloody well is to it.

Every day we stay over there is another day we can be blamed for the deaths of Iraqis and Americans.

But let's not rush things and inadvertently cause our own defeat!

Better to ponder things, intentionally allowing our own defeat but with a lot more people dead!

Of course, from Bush's standpoint, the more bullets, shells, and missiles that are fired over there the better. See, the man is in tight with the Carlyle Group--one of the most successful investors in the military/industrial complex. The more money that is made by the companies Carlyle invests in, the happier the Carlyle People will be to see George when (and if) he steps down from his throne in the White House.

A screengrab from

"Ah, yes! Every day more blood flows.
It's great being sociopaths!"

BRICK (2005)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Yeah, definitely. I thought it was entertaining in ways I wasn't expecting.

Technically any good? This is a tough question. The film felt like the best made, most entertaining student films I've ever seen. Some have said this movie is patterned after a film noir--it's not patterned after one--it is film noir only it is set in a high school and only two adults show up in the entire film. It's very loyal to the noir genre in both structure and acting styles. Both are reasons the film treads into silliness for brief, but jarring moments. The film is still completely entertaining, however. The cinematography was very interesting as was everything else. The filmmaker takes a lot of risks and while some don't pay off others pay off in spades.

How did it leave me feeling? Definitely satisfied. While the film needed to be tighter and more refined, there is still no shortage of intrigue and mystery to keep you glued to the screen. I very much recommend this movie and, on a side note, I'd love to see the director remake this movie in 2015 just because I think a more experienced artist would be able to better execute the truly brilliant ideas in the film.

Final Rating? GTD - Get The DVD - I hope to own this movie.


So, the Dems win Congress completely and what do they do? Renig (is that still a word?) on one of their promises. Typical fucking politicians. Turns out they promised to implement all of the suggestions made by the 911 Commission. They still say they will implement all of them...but one...

Can you guess which one?

Let's read what [|a November 30, 2006 article] at reported regarding the matter:
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

Because plans for implementing the commission's recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the "first 100 hours" of the Democratic Congress.

So, first, they bail on impeachment and now they won't even reorganize themselves to make sure a 911-style attack can't happen again.

This is more proof of my theory that the Dems want to abuse the same power that the Republicans have been abusing for the past six years.

Democrats, Republicans, they're all the same--part of a corrupt system of rule. Not government--rule. You know, like what kings do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006



OK, so check out this screengrab from's main page last night:

So, here's my solution:

Just wait it out.

I mean, come on! How many people are even left in Iraq?

Give it a few more days and no one will be around to even get killed, let alone kill anyone else.


Too cynical?


So, I'm perusing the Google News page this morning and stumbled across [|an opinion piece] at on Mel Gibson's latest film. Having just seen the film last night (as of this writing, but not of this posting), I felt this piece seemed to misrepresent the movie so I decided to address each of the author's points.

Enjoy, but beware--SPOILERS ABOUND! Don't continue reading unless you don't mind having some of the movie ruined for you!!

San Francisco Chronicle

'Apocalypto' does disservice to its subjects
Zachary X. Hruby, Special to The Chronicle

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Apocalypto," Mel Gibson's new thriller about the ancient Maya civilization, is exactly that: thrilling. But this entertainment comes at a price.

Yeah, the price of a ticket. I bet now I'm going to have to explain how Hollywood movies are supposed to be simplified entertainment. Of course, they have a responsibility to generally get it right, but by the nature of cinema, simplification MUST occur.

The Maya at the time of Spanish contact are depicted as idyllic hunters and gatherers, or as genocidal murderers, and neither of these scenarios is accurate.

So, there were absolutely no hunter-gatherers in all of South America during the period in which the Mayan Empire existed? I'm no historian, but I hardly think depicting one village of hunter-gatherers equates to committing a grievous misrepresentation of the Mayan people.

The film represents a step backward in our understanding of the complex cultures that existed in the New World before the Spanish invasion, and it is part of a disturbing trend re-emerging in the film industry, portraying non-Western natives as evil savages.

The catch is that the film's heroes--the lead characters were portrayed as every day humans--people who work, play, joke, love and have healthy lives with each other. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that Hollywood still portrays "the other" as savage, evil--but this film, I found to be fairly balanced. The "country" folk are peaceful and the "city" folk are violent. Last time I checked, in America, to this day, the dynamics are still portrayed (some would say accurately) as such.

"King Kong" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" show these natives as uncaring, beastlike and virtually inhuman. "Apocalypto" achieves similar goals, but in a much subtler fashion.

I agree with the interpretation of those other films, but the characters in Apocalypto, in my judgment were far from "beastlike" certainly when compared to the islanders in King Kong.

As in "The Passion of the Christ," Gibson utilizes native language to invoke a veneer of credibility for his story, in this case Yucatec Maya, a technique that unfortunately does much to legitimize this rather strange version of Maya history.

I can't wait to hear how this version of Maya history is "rather strange." I hope this guy has stacks of evidence, so I can learn more about Maya history.

First, a typical Maya village is shown as an unorganized group of jungle people who appear to subsist on hunting alone.

True enough. There was nothing in the film about the lead characters farming, or practicing any sort of local politics, though the lead characters father does seem to have some sort of leadership role. Though I think such exploration of politics and farming may have taken away from the message of the film--that power corrupts and simple is better (that's what I got from the movie, anyway).

The Maya were an agricultural people with a very structured social and economic system.

I didn't see anything that contradicted this. There are scenes where we see other Mayans on farmland, just not the lead characters.

Even small villages in the hinterlands of large cities were connected to some political center.

OK, but are you saying that a truly tiny village like the one in the movie could not have existed? I think this is a little bit like saying a tiny town in the middle of rural Alabama would have close ties to the state capital. Possible, I suppose, but in the lives of these "country folk" it would seem to be unlikely.

The jungle people in Gibson's movie are flabbergasted at the sight of the Maya city, exclaiming that they have never seen such buildings.

I don't have a perfect memory, but I don't remember them speaking of the city at all. They were tied to bamboo poles by their necks and were generally silent during their captivity. They did speak but only a couple of lines of dialog and I don't remember them talking about how they had never seen such buildings.

The truth is, pyramids of comparable size were never more than 20 kilometers away from anywhere in the Maya world, be they occupied or abandoned.

20 kilometers was a long way back then--I'm not sure I've ever traveled that far on foot and I know people who have never walked beyond the borders of Los Angeles, which I'm not sure is much larger than 20 kilometers (actually, I have no idea how big LA is).

Second, Mayan city people are shown as violent extremists bent on harvesting innocent villagers to provide flesh for sacrifice and women for slaves, leaving the children to die alone in the jungle.

No, just some of them were. Many were portrayed as rich, "cultured" people with amazing costumes, make-up and body jewelry. The sequences in the city were fascinating because of the various people they portrayed. The political leaders of the city were the ones portrayed as violent extremists bent on harvesting innocent villagers to provide flesh for sacrifice. These same politicians turn around and lie to their people saying that the men who were about to be sacrificed were brave, willing warriors. Believe it or not, this is Mel making a statement about politics, here. The city-dwellers, trusting their leaders, believed them, much like modern day Americans have been known to trust their leaders when they probably shouldn't.

Hundreds of men are sacrificed on an Aztec-style sacrificial stone,

Well, that I can't judge as I couldn't tell you the difference between Aztec and Maya sacrificial stones. I understood that all South American cultures of that time period practiced ritual human sacrifice.

their headless bodies thrown into a giant ditch reminiscent of a Holocaust documentary or a scene from "The Killing Fields."

Ah, here's where we get to an interesting point. Suggesting that there is no way Mayans could not be these same kind of genocidal murderers as Nazis suggests a sort of inverted racism where the Maya are not subject to the same emotions of greed, hate and racism as the white man is. This suggests that the white man is the source of all corruption in the world. Now, I'll admit to some of that corruption sourced with us pale-skin types, but come on--fighting racism with racism? But back to the giant ditch of decapitated bodies...

Problem is, there exists no archaeological, historic or ethnohistoric data to suggest that any such mass sacrifices -- numbering in the thousands, or even hundreds -- took place in the Maya world.

But plenty of artwork depicting such acts or else where would we get the idea that any human sacrifice occured at all? This is can be justified by realizing that Mel Gibson doesn't make films that are historical documents--he tells fables, legends--simplifying historical events in the interest of making a more exciting story (and thus making it more likely to be seen again and again). Come on, didn't you go to film school? ;)

Third, once Gibson paints this bloody picture of 15th century Maya civilization, the ultimate injustice is handed the pre-Columbian Maya. As the jungle hero escapes the evil city and is chased to the edge of the sea by his antagonists, with literally nowhere else to turn, Spanish galleons appear, complete with a small, lead boat carrying a stalwart friar hoisting a crucifix. For Gibson, the new beginning for these lost Mayan people, the Apocalypto, evidently is the coming of the Spaniards and Christianity to the Americas.


The scene that he describes above that I saw depicts the lead character at the end of a long series of obstacles that threaten his life and indirectly the lives of his family. His final two pursuers have caught up to him but all three are distracted by the European ships. The film's hero realizes his pursuers are distracted by the men on small boats coming ashore, so he quietly backs into the forest and rescues his wife. As the hero and his wife climb a nearby hill, overlooking the ships, the wife asks her husband if they should see who these new people are. The lead character thinks for a moment and then says something like "No, let's go into the forest... where we can find a new beginning."

Tell me how you get that Mel is saying the Europeans are the "new beginning" for the Maya. Seriously--the lead characters are heading away from the Europeans!!

How is this an example of the primitive savages finding a new beginning with the white men??

Besides that, everyone knows that the Mayan Empire no longer exists--so, how could the Europeans' arrival be a good thing for the Maya if the Maya aren't even around any more?

Although this film will undoubtedly create interest in the field of Maya archaeology by way of its spectacular reconstructions and beautiful jungle scenes, the lasting impression of Maya and other pre-Columbian civilizations is this: The Maya were simple jungle bands or bloodthirsty masses duped by false religions, resulting in the ruin of their mighty but misguided civilization, and their salvation arrived with the coming of Christian beliefs saddled on the backs of Spanish conquistadors.

The "salvation" of the Maya people is not represented in this film. Once again, if moviegoers are aware of the single fact that the Mayan Empire went extinct around this time period, I fail to see how the film infers that "salvation" arrived with the white man. If anything Mel is suggesting with this film that if we're not careful we might end up like the Maya--as the author of the opinion piece says, " The Maya were simple jungle bands or bloodthirsty masses duped by false religions". Often times filmmakers will provide commentary about modern society or politics by presenting examples of past cultures. Look at MASH and how it commented on the Vietnam War despite being about the Korean War. In my opinion, this is Mel's point. Issues and fear and political corruption do appear in this film, so that's how I take it.

As archaeologists struggle to accurately reconstruct ancient Maya society, obstructed by their decimation via Western diseases; destruction of their books, art and history by Spanish friars; and their subjugation and exploitation by the conquistadors,

I find it pretty messed up that you failed to mention the genocide by Europeans... Just "subjugation and exploitation".

such films as "Apocalypto" represent a significant disparagement of that process.

I disagree. This film will invariably inspire some to seek out more regarding the Mayan People. ANY film about the Maya is going to have some sort of positive impact especially when not every Mayan is portrayed as a bloodthirsty maniac. Mayans in this film are portrayed as both blood thirsty and peaceful, responsible and reckless--in other words, they're portrayed as human.

Further, inaccurate representations by Hollywood of indigenous peoples as amoral, inhuman or uncivilized can only lead to greater misunderstanding and strife in contemporary society. This may be particularly important in a modern world, where common ground is increasingly difficult to come by.

I think the writer of this opinion piece has a right to his opinions, but I feel that he is allowing himself to be swayed by his emotions rather than the film he saw. Saying the film unfairly portrays Mayans as bloodthirsty people or simpletons is a little bit like saying the film It's A Wonderful Life portrays all white people as greedy, warped rich bastards bent on propping up the institution of the corporation. This ignores George Baily's fight for his family and for his beliefs, the same way such judgment of Apocalypto ignores the struggle of the film's lead character to protect his family, his beliefs and his future.

Zachary X. Hruby, Ph.D., is a lecturer and research affiliate in the department of anthropology at UC Riverside, and senior archaeologist at CRM Tech in Riverside. He divides his time between Southern California and Guatemala. This article originally appeared on

Ah, well, that explains it--he knows nothing about cinema. No wonder he seems to think presenting a segment of Mayan culture to be stupid, simple or bloodthirsty provides "significant disparagement" of the process of learning more about the Maya people. While I'm no anthropologist, it is my understanding that Mayans did, in fact, practice human sacrifice, therefore, ignoring that aspect of them would also serve as "significant disparagement" of the process of learning more about the Maya people.

Take the good with the bad or you'll never learn from history--all humans, throughout history, have been guilty of tremendous atrocities all around the world. You can't use this film to accuse Mel of racism against Mayans unless you use Braveheart to accuse Mel of racism against white, British Christians.

As someone who knows very little about Mayan culture, I can't say whether or not this film is an accurate portrayal of Mayan history. To me, it seems like there are enough contrivances for the sake of plot to make it evident that this is more of a fable about Mayan culture than something like an historical document.

And hey, sad as it is to say, why not compare the accuracy of this film to all of the other films on Maya culture?

You can't because there are no other films on Maya culture...

I'm not saying you should count your blessings, but for the first modern major Hollywood film about the Maya, I'd say it does pretty damn well.

One of Every 32 Americans In Trouble with the Law in 2005

I had wanted to blog about this last week when I first came across the story but got swamped. Anyway, so can you believe this statistic? If you know thirty-two people, one of them (possibly YOU) were in trouble with the law in the year 2005.

According to [|a November 30, 2006 article] from available over at, there are a whole lot of Americans who have broken the law. Check out this cutting from the article:
A record 7 million people or one in every 32 American adults were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday.


"Today's figures fail to capture incarceration's impact on the thousands of children left behind by mothers in prison," Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group supporting criminal justice reform, said in a statement. "Misguided policies that create harsher sentences for nonviolent drug offenses are disproportionately responsible for the increasing rates of women in prisons and jails."

From 1995 to 2003, inmates in federal prison for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.

WELL, at least they're in prison for a good reason!

Or not!

Those numbers are absolutely absurd!! You know all those extremist Christians who are always whining about how America is becoming more and more decadent and so on?

Well, I'm beginning to agree with them!!

I don't think Christianity is the solution. I'm thinking a hearty dose of the golden rule would be good, though. If people were taught to think about other people as people just like themselves, I like to think they'd commit fewer crimes.

Also, we've got to stop sending people to jail for fucking drug offenses. This is ridiculous. Nearly half of the rise in the number of people in prison were put there because of drugs. Who the hell do drug offenses hurt? OK, dealers, I can see--but users and possessors?

Legalize that shit and license and tax it through the government. That's how you solve the drug "problem."

But that still leaves a bucket-load of people in prison for other crimes.



Hm, guess we better do more than just give you platitudes and rhetoric.


Just say no?

Monday, December 11, 2006


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Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely entertaining and a pretty positive experience, too.

Technically any good? I have very little knowledge of Mayan culture and I have read a tiny fraction of the reviews currently out there, so I only know of most movie critics seeming to like the film and many descendants of Mayans not liking the film, so I can only judge this film based on the film, itself. With that in mind, I have to say that almost across the board the film was technically well-made. The script suffered from the occasional contrivance, while most of the camera work was beautiful, some of it was obnoxious (too much slow-mo, Mel!), the make-up was wonderful and the acting was 100% believable. I didn't care for the music (I've had quite enough of James Horner's work) and felt there should have been less of it, but I really only mention it because there was, in my opinion, very little to find fault with in this film. What can I say? The man hates the Jews but he makes a good film!

Well, I thought [|Passion of the Christ] was a pretty poorly made film, while I love Braveheart, so in the end, two out of three ain't bad.

How did it leave me feeling? Entertained, damn it! And even a little thoughtful. The film's plot resolves with almost absurdist ease making the movie more of a fable than an historical document. Clearly the events in the picture did not occur as they were portrayed--but I still think we can learn from the story and take positive things from it.

Final Rating? SIYL - See If You Like this kind of movie. While far from the kind of violent that Passion of the Christ was, Apocalypto is still violent, so if you don't want to see people get killed, don't see it. I do believe this film is worth the $10 though I doubt I'll be seeing it a second time.

The 5 Minute Show Episode 42!

Check out the disturbing footage I came across recently. It seems I've got a fanbase! All right, so it's a fanbase of ONE. Still, she's kinda cute! Check out this week's episode and see what you think. Hm, I feel like saltines...

[|Check out the iPod/PSP-ready mp4] or watch it on YouTube.Com below. You can also subscribe to ThePete.Com's feed here -->[|] or to get JUST The 5 Minute Show every week paste the following URL into iTunes or other aggregator of choice:

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Nice Album Cover

So, back in 1978, composer Giorgio Moroder records cover versions of classic scifi themes from TV and movies. These were not cover versions very similar to the originals. These were the cheesy covers that were considered the height of disco-ness at the time. You can still find this album from time to time and it's even on CD--though it's not cheap. What's great about the CD is the cover:

Ah, sweet, sweet, female exploitation. I only wish it was as commonly done with men--I have no problem with objectification just so long as it's equal.

Feel free to click on that pic to buy a copy from I get a tiny cut, in theory, and the CD is just $80! SWEET!

Friday, December 8, 2006


Wow, well, for those of us in the impeachment crowd, I've got good news and bad news. First the good news:

A congresswoman has put forward a bill to impeach Bush, Cheney and Rice. This seems overwhelmingly justified as there is a goodly stack of evidence that would convict Bush of violating a handful of laws--which is funny since you don't even need to break the law to be impeached.

Now for the bad news:

The bill to impeach Bush and Company was sponsored by Cynthia McKinney who won't be returning to her seat in January.

Here's a cutting from [|a December 8, 2006 article] from available at
In what could be her final legislative act in Congress, outgoing Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill Friday to impeach President Bush.

The legislation has no chance of passing and serves as a symbolic parting shot not only at President Bush but also at Democratic Party leaders. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the liberal wing of her party against making political hay of impeachment.

McKinney, who drew national headlines this spring when she struck a Capitol police officer, has long insisted that Bush was never legitimately elected. In unveiling her legislation in the final hours of the current Congress, she said Bush had violated his oath of office to defend the Constitution and the nation's laws.

The legislation says Bush misled Congress into approving the war in Iraq and violated the law with secret surveillance practices. The bill also calls for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Nice how the first thing the article talks about regarding McKinney's backstory is the "hitting a capitol hill cop" story. Then they throw in the bit about how McKinney felt that Bush had stolen the 2000 election to make sure that the average reader reacts to this story with an: "Oh, she's one of those sore-losermans."

The funny thing is that McKinney has been spotting the same things that I have been--questionable choices made by Bush time and time again that have ended up getting us in bigger trouble. She has felt that the official 911 story is suspicious, the war in Iraq was waged on lies and that much of what Bush has done has been unethical and illegal (hence the impeachment bill). So, it isn't that surprising that she is best known for overreacting to a cop demanding to see her ID on the way into the capitol building. Obviously, the media labeled her a loon early on and just waited for her to do something to embarrass herself in public. Then, when she did, they exploited it.

I'm not saying there was a conscious conspiracy by the media to smear her, but the natural cynicism of the media would have excluded stories of her criticizing Bush while including stories of her embarrassing herself because they are more "juicy."

There is some other good news, however. McKinney has been voted out of office, before. I believe she can win her seat back again and hope she won't give up on politics. Once the American people spend a couple years with the Dems in charge of the House and Senate, they'll realize that there's really no difference between the two parties. Then, McKinney can run as her true, outspoken self and stand out against the lobbyist-loving crowd in office now. She'll win easily.

I do want to touch on one last thing regarding the above-linked article from the AP. Here's quick quote from above:
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she will not entertain proposals to sanction Bush and has warned the liberal wing of her party against making political hay of impeachment.

Isn't that funny? According to the article, Pelosi thinks the liberal wing of the Democratic party wants to impeach Bush. I always thought "liberal" meant "generous" not "sticking to the letter of the law." In my mind anyone who wants to impeach Bush in the interest of abiding by the law and thusly protecting said law, the US government and the country of America are quite conservative--not liberal. A true liberal would want to give the libelous, law-breaking leader the benefit of the doubt. A true conservative would see Bush impeached with extreme hardcoreness.

That's what really cracks me up about these damn labels and the politicians who use them--they're all acting like one thing: greedy politicians who are care about one thing and one thing only: their jobs.

Our system breeds hypocrisy.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006



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Tuesday, December 5, 2006


ThePhlog for 12/3/6

Weeee... is no more so I went looking for another free service and found

Click below to listen to my test episode of ThePhlog that I recorded last Sunday.

Sadly, I had to manually paste this direct link to the mp3 file and there is no way (that I could find) to have automatically post a direct link to the mp3--thus making it work inside of a podcast. So, sadly, until someone points me to a free post-audio-from-a-phone service, ThePhlog will no longer be updated. :(

I'm hoping to pick up a Sidekick 3 one of these years which will allow me (hopefully) to upload videos directly from my phone that will be included in a podcast, but who knows? With all of the competing formats these days it's tough to say what will work and what won't. I'm still hoping that the format that the iPod and PSP plays--the mp4--will become the standard for video just like mp3s have become the standard for audio, but still there are apps that don't like mp4 files that don't have the ".avi" extension, which cracks me up since ".avi" could mean just about anything. Ah well, let's hope for a bright future for mobile blogging. :)

Monday, December 4, 2006



Now, I know most cops are good peeps. I understand that the overwhelming majority of the time police officers do everything more or less right. However, in the last week or so, I've read about cases of cops indulging their trigger happy fingers which resulted in one death in each instance. The case that got the most press was the black guy in NYC who was driving out of a strip club parking lot the morning of his wedding. Cops thought he or his two friends were armed, so they fired 51 shots at their car. One cop even stopped to reload. Too bad they weren't armed AT ALL.

The next event that has been getting a bit less press, I believe, occurred before the event with the black guy. This is the case of the 93 year old woman who was scared of intruders so she bought herself a gun. When police officers showed up to execute a "no knock" search warrant, the woman probably (and understandably) thought she was about to get robbed, so she opened fire on whom she probably (and understandably) thought were intruders. They, of course, fired back.

It's my understanding that the police were at the wrong address. The woman was shot to death.

Finally, today, [|blogged on a case] of a young man suspected of PS3-theft getting shot when police arrived to execute a search warrant. The theory is that he was probably holding one of the PS3's game controllers which cops may have though was, you know, a gun. It's still pretty early to know what's what in this case, but one thing is clear--cops need to remember their training--that guns are drawn in DEFENSE--not offense. Be ready to end a person's life when you pull that gun and you'd better hope that the sight of the gun convinces them to give up before they end up like the poor suspected PS3 thief--no extra lives or replays for him.

Come on, Police Officers, think about your suspects as human lives, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The 5 Minute Show Episode 41!


It's the Thanksgiving episode!! Just a couple weeks late! Check out footage of ThePete's attempt to cook a green turkey to match his hair! WAHOO! Seriously, it's flashback time to Turkey Day 2002 with fragments of pilot of sorts for The 5 Minute Show. Basically, it's just footage of ThePete being goofy while cooking a turkey. CHECK IT OUT!!

[|Check out the iPod/PSP-ready mp4] or watch it on YouTube.Com below. You can also subscribe to ThePete.Com's feed here -->[|] or to get JUST The 5 Minute Show every week paste the following URL into iTunes or other aggregator of choice:

Friday, December 1, 2006

New Flickr Pics!

Hey there--been swamped with work and stuff and have been too busy to blog, but I did just upload some new pics (taken with my minicam) to my Flickr account and I thought you might enjoy having a look at 'em. Here are a few:

I Voted pt 2
Found the above on the way back from voting--it's an "I Voted" sticker stuck to the sidewalk. SOMEone's feeling patriotic but ashamed to show it! :( So sad!

Saw this in a Nine West window at my local mall:
Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment, much? Sure, the guy's probably enjoying it--except for the fact that he isn't. Imagine if the genders were reversed in this pic--but the expressions stayed the same. The man happily grabbing the woman's ass. Yep--pretty unequal. And no, revenge is not cool.

Earth 'n' Clouds

That one I got lucky with. I was bored waiting for my bus to show up and the contrast ended up being PERFECT. I love the clouds, too.

So, there are a few--check out my Flickr page for more (that's Make sure to have a look around, too, if you haven't already and leave some comments, if you feel like it.