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Prisoner exchanges

From a speech given by the head of HizbíAllah over two years ago.

"Nasrallah made clear that in future kidnappings, the Israeli soldiers would survive the abduction and be live hostages. The remark was a reference to the fact that the three soldiers abducted by Hezbollah in October 2000, whose bodies were returned Thursday as part of the prisoner exchange, were killed prior to the kidnapping.

íNext time I promise you we will capture them alive,í Nasrallah told those attending the Hezbollah rally."

The man he refers to that Israel refused to release, Samir Kuntar, was responsible for killing three members of an Israeli civilian family in 1979. He took the father and daughter outside their apartment, near a beach, and shot the father in the head in front of his five-year-old daughter. Then he and another man bashed the girl’s skull in with their rifles.

Nice. Yeah, um, weíll hand him right over to you guys if you promise to stop firing missiles at our civilian centers and keep taking the land we offer you. Oh, and keep taking money from Syria/Iran so they can extend their power in the region and eventually start WWIII. Thatís cool, too.

- 7/29/2006 8:29:29 PM | link

I just want to read royalty checks

Mickey Spillane, author of the Mike Hammer novels, died last week

"A former comic book writer and Army Air Forces veteran, the Brooklyn-born Spillane arrived on the literary scene in 1947 with the publication of his first novel, "I, the Jury," which introduced his tough-guy New York City private detective.

With his wartime best friend having been found murdered as the novel opens, Hammer vows to avenge his friend’s death the same way he was killed, with "a .45 slug to the gut, just a little below the belly button." The book concludes with what has been called the most infamous ending in hard-boiled fiction.

After discovering that the killer is the seductively beautiful woman he has fallen for, Hammer shoots her with a .45 slug to her naked belly. The book’s final three lines:"

"How c-could you?" she gasped.

I only had a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.

"It was easy," I said.

- 7/29/2006 8:51:07 AM | link

Snapping Turtles on a Bullet Train

"I have not seen Snakes on a Plane, so I have no idea how good this movie is (or isn’t). But I do know this: Its existence represents a weird, semidepressing American condition, and I’m afraid this condition is going to get worse. I suspect Snakes on a Plane might earn a lot of money, which will prompt studios to assume this is the kind of movie audiences want. And I don’t think it is. Snakes on a Plane is an unabashed attempt at prefab populism, and (maybe) this gimmick will work once. But it won’t keep working, and it will almost certainly make filmmaking worse."

- Chuck Klosterman in latest Esquire

- 7/29/2006 7:38:35 AM | link

Man on fire

If you’re not watching Rescue Me, you’re missing out. This is hands down the best show on television. I know some of you don’t like Denis Leary, but you’d be what I consider stupid. Yes, better than 24, better than Desperate Housewives, better than the cancelled Deadwood or the washed-up Sopranos. Better than Scrubs. Well, OK, maybe not better than the first season of Deadwood or the second season of Six Feet Under. And Dave Chappelle is funny, yes, but those "lost episodes" aren’t all that funny now that you know he ran off to South Africa to avoid total artistic freedom. OK, but, still, it’s better than anything on right now. I mean right now before any new shows come out. It’s that good. And I hate fucking peddling TV shows. You know what, just forget it.

- 7/18/2006 9:49:32 PM | link

Double negatives

The case against the case against war.

5. If advances in "information technology" and "munitions technology" establish an "alarming principle" under which "grass-roots hatred and resentment of American may be converted into the death of Americans with growing efficiency," how can we possibly reduce hatred enough to save our skins? If, eventually, any 12 reasonably well-educated angry men can cook up a devastating attack, isn’t it hopeless? We’ll never lower the number of angry anti-Americans to single digits.

Something to stir up the masses.

- 7/18/2006 9:39:41 PM | link

This is for when you ask

- He looks old. Older than I wanted him to look. But then, he is alive and Iím alive and we had this moment. What more is there?

- The plane flight cost $500, but the soft drinks and water were complimentary. It is the height of marketing that we accept this as natural and correct. Nobody bothers to say that the drinks are included. Theyíre on the house. Theyíre complimentary. "Would you like a complimentary beverage?" the stewardess asks. No, Iíd like the entire free drink cart for starters.

- He is a bundle of tics and old habits, gripped by the past and beguiled by the present. He is nervous and perhaps intimidated by me. I know this and yet I canít help but want to shock him out of all this, to bring him forward and skip past all our problems and old, sick grief. I want him to be a father and a grandfather. I want the impossible and I cannot release myself from the past either. Not so fast, I say to myself. Not so fast. You are just like him in some ways. And yet, you cannot afford to be like him.

-[idea for a poem]

Did they call them lunatics
because of the moon?
Or did the sound
create a delirious swoon?
If you find yourself on fire
giving hope
to small desires
Think of us there

- We are a nation of children in search of our parents, wanting them to be there and yet barely finding them tolerable when they are around, missing both the experience of who they should have been and the very present possibilities of who they are. It is Americaís great unkept secret that our parents are forever leaving, taking up the fight or fleeing one (even as they sometimes sit still in our minds), in search of a salvation they themselves were never granted, and doing this all in the name of their own sons and daughters.

- How was it? I know I will ask this later and think of it when asked. It wasnít worth bottling into labels. But if asked Iíll say "It was fine." If truly asked I will say "He is my father. I love him."

- 7/17/2006 10:42:53 PM | link

Crisis + Opportunity = Croportunity

The whole tiresome "Chinese symbol for crisis includes opportunity" meme thoroughly debunked.

This, of course, will take twelve years to seep into national corporate consciousness, at which time the story will appropriate the Cyrillic symbol for shitbath.

- 7/10/2006 10:39:37 PM | link

Naked bull-running existentialists

Funny post by Scott Adams on protests over the running of the bulls in Spain.

On a McLuhan level, however, isnít it odd that we naturally assume that the whole point of any sort of protest is to "get peopleís attention." So, the point isnít to necessarily make a cohesive link between the form of protest (running naked or posing naked or standing on a beach naked or taking group pictures naked) and the point of the protest (preventing mistreatment of animals seems to somehow fall in line with naked posing), but rather just making sure people direct their eyeballs to this portion of the global screen. And furthermore, we realize that this attention-getting is within the context of an attention-deficit culture. We might see the blacked-out breasts of females running down cobblestone streets and pause for a moment as weíre flipping through the channels, but otherwise it is just a pit-stop of nothing-knowledge. Does any of this make you want to learn of the tradition of the running of the bulls or what it means in the context of a society that has lot its tethers to the past or how tourism and the encroachment of media has made it nearly irrelevant or, even, in reading some work of literature (like, say, Hemingway) on the subject and feeling what it is to be a lost man in a lost world who comes to find himself among drunken, Christ-haunted Spaniards and wild-eyed beasts? In what sense could any protest fail if itís point were to simply direct attention without much effect? In other words, isnít this is all just more entertainment and fodder for another episode of Xtreme TV moments? Have we not lost touch if the point of anything and everything is how successfully it amuses us? Or is amusement our only escape from what seems like a world gone half-mad?

I think about two things here (which I always think of and which I canít seem to shake), which may or may not be true, but seem to pertain in strange ways:

1. Kierkegaardís notion of the sickness unto death being despair and manís inability to sin properly. That we donít come near enough to achieving the sort of damnation that requires any redemption and thus despair of this half-limbo world where everything is measured against the self we perceive (i.e. I am close to some fulfillment because I am now closely resembling X) as being our true self and the false self that we know we are not (i.e. I am not the person who does X and yet I have done X). This notion was carried forward sans God as modern-day existentialism. Existence precedes essense and man is left to make up the difference.

2. In ten year increments things are largely getting better for humanity. People are healthier, tend to live longer. Technology tends to improve life. Wealth expands to the middle class. And yet, in the same ten year increments, people tend to think things are getting worse. The planet is about to implode. World-wide pandemics are around the corner. War and disease abound. Global warming will destroy the planet. Such doom and gloom seems to come in an almost direct inverse proportion to the relative health of economies and people. How can this be? I must admit I am attracted to the notion that things are getting worse (itís almost a Christian notion as well...this world not being made to last, the apocolypse, etc.), but I donít know that itís true in any real sense.

So, anyway, thatís where that is.