The end of the United States …..

December 30, 2008

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123051100709638419.html

Igor Panarin, a former member of the KGB, and today a professor at the Foreign Ministry Academy (school for future diplomats), has been toying with a theory for the past few years;  one that has gotten bigger play from the media instead of just the usual crackpots:  that by 2010, the United States will slip into civil war, or some such calamity, and will disband.  His specific prediction:

California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

It goes on.  It wouldn’t be a recession without a little apocalyptic prophecy.

 

Allow me to take a moment here:

1.  I don’t wholly disagree that the United States is in for a “civil war” like moment.  I really don’t suspect that it will be a war in the traditional sense of the word.  If it is, given the support of the military for the so called “red states”, I would be worried if I lived in New England, the Great Lakes, or the Pacific coast (oops, guess I do live there).

2.  The event I more likely predict is a little further down the road from 2010.  As we reach and pass peak oil, and see that there are going to be major changes to our society happening in a rather short amount of time, I suspect there is going to be upheaval.  Whole industries will disappear, and will likely not be replaced. For one, air travel will become a far rarer event.

3.  Speaking of air travel, the focus of American military power is in its ability to project military strength through:  air power.  That will not go away as quickly, but it will start to go away.

4.  As long as China’s government remains as it is, it will not be too much a center for investment.

5.  As long as Russia is run by its mafia and other unsavory forces, it too will be restricted in terms of how much money people will freely put into it.

6.  I can more easily see Europe and Japan becoming bigger financial centers.  India could as well, but that will heavily depend on its ability to make peace with Pakistan, et al.

It is sad to see that there are going to be some almost unthinkable hard times ahead, and that there are a lot of Americans who are not going to be ready to handle them.  While I disagree that we will see the physical fragmentation of the United States as this “expert” claims, the next 20 years will be far from the happiest.

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Robbing for a memorial to Flight 93?

December 28, 2008

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/flight93_memorial

 

For several years, there have been plans to build a deserving memorial to those who died on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  Plans have been drawn up for not just a monument, but a whole national park.

The crash took place over private land, and most of that land has been purchased by the government.  However, one land owner isn’t signed on, and claims the government hasn’t been negotiating enough.  The project remains on hold.

Time is running out to begin construction to get everything ready for 9-11-2011, the tenth anniversary of the crime.  Some relatives of the survivors have had enough with waiting, and have now requested the Bush administration order the Interior Department to seize the land anyway.

I can’t say I know how these survivors feel to have a loved one ripped away from them by a heinous crime.  But is this how they should be remembered?  Going onto someone else’s property and rip it away from them?  I would hope that if a loved one ever was killed, and I wanted to build a memorial,that I would not insist that uninvolved individuals be forced to turn over money, property, etc. to build that memorial.

All this seems to do is add more pain to an already painful situation.  I can only hope that it will get worked out without


Composers round table

December 26, 2008

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i728e28adf80ba3aae5c37a6bd621de8e?pn=1

I do not subscribe to or rad the Hollywood Reporter (despite having a certain fascination with film), but I caught this particular interview over at imdb.com.  It is a roundtable interview with five composers, identified as being front runners for this up and coming Oscar competition.  I am not as interested in the Oscars, but I do have a love of good music, and notably for music made for film.

I found the interview interesting.  Among the two most notable participants are Danny Elfman (official composer for all things Tim Burton) and Howard Shore (composer for The Lord of the Rings trilogy).  One interesting note that they bring up is that while directors, writers, and actors all seem to congregate together, work together, and meet regularly, composers generally do not.  I guess that collaborative education is not a big part of learning to compose.  😉


Thumbs Up!

December 24, 2008

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/in_the_meadow_we_can_review_a.html

Roger Ebert is something of a Chicago icon.  Certainly . he will always be known as the first film critic to earn a Pulitzer Prize. In addition to putting film criticism on the map with his long running television shows (mostly with the late Gene Siskel, another Chicago icon), Ebert has invested time in getting more and more common folks to look at film more as a form of art in addition to simply being entertainment.  He has for many years now hosted (personally) his own film festival at his (and my) alma mater (the University of Illinois), which showcases films that he feels have been overlooked by movie goers and/or critics.  Despite his poor health in recent years and surgery that all but robbed him of his ability to speak, he continues to review films for the Sun-Times, and continues to make public appearances.  I have always respected his work for trying to bring intelligent discussion to the common person to film.  Certainly, I’ve learned a lot just by reading and listening to his discourse on film.  You can agree with him or disagree with him, but I think it is pretty universal that his passion for film, and his passion for getting others to experience good film is universally accepted.

The above is a link to his Sun-Times blog which is featuring a real holiday treat!  These are some of Mr. Ebert’s best written pans of films from over the years of writing film reviews.  If you are looking for some (often funny) ways to say “bad” or “sucks”, Roger Ebert has a hundred new ways.

My all time favorite among his myriad slams against bad film making revolves around another reason I like Mr. Ebert:  he has always given me the impression that he is more a man of substance than of outward appearance.  Rather than retire from the public eye when his health deteriorated recently, he has kept up a busy schedule to continue taking good film to the public.  He seems to have no qualms about noting that his health may not be the best. Years ago, he slammed a movie by director Vincent Gallo, who in turn, publicly, hoped for Mr. Ebert to come down with colon cancer.  Mr. Ebert responded when he published his review of Mr. Gallo’s controversial film “The Brown Bunny”:

I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than “The Brown Bunny”.


Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2008

Winter Break got off to an early start.  On Thursday, with the threat of a huge snow storm bearing down on the area, many schools made the decision to close on Friday, announcing such on Thursday afternoon.  By Thursday at 3:30, many schools were closed for Friday.  We ended up cancelling classes, but not until 4:45 am on Friday (which the school was forced to do because many of our teachers with littleuns had to stay home because their kids’ schools were closed).  Ironically, the roads were in better condition Friday than they were earlier that week when we got hit with a small ice storm.  Oh well, we already have to be in school longer than other districts, so its no major loss.  I was also smart enough to schedule my test for Thursday, so that worked out well, too.

I wanted to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009.  I will be spending time with the folks and getting to see Al, Mrs. Al, and Baby Annalise for the first time.  Christmas presents will, as usual be delayed, but they will slowly get there.


Dawn of a new industry?

December 19, 2008

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081219/sc_afp/usspacetourism

 

After an environmental impact study, the United States has approved construction of the world’s first commercial spaceport in New Mexico.  If the future unfolds as many futurists and visionaries hope it will:  with travel to orbit becoming a daily event rather than a once-every -couple-of-months event, then the world will soon enough relegate Cape Kennedy to the history books.  Soon private companies (and conceivably individuals) will be able to go to space when needed and not on a government time table.


Can “Blagojevich” fit on a hockey uniform?

December 14, 2008

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/dec/10/little-jail-house-fun/

It seems everyone is pitching a tent in the circus that has become the Rod Blagojevich administration’s waning days.

Last night, he was the subject of the lead sketch on “Saturday Night Live”, and now the Las Vegas Wranglers, the minor league affiliate of the Calgary Flames are getting into the act.

 

The Wranglers, have had many promotional nights for philanthropic causes:

They hosted a “Dick Cheney Night” where the team sported hunting vests as part of their uniform.  They have also dressed in all pink uniforms to raise awareness for breast cancer charities, and recently wore light blue helmets to do the same for prostate cancer research.

They are now planning a “Rod Blagojevich Night”.

The usual hockey uniforms will be replaced with black and white striped uniforms.

The numbers on the back will be made to resemble prison numbers, all with an “ILLGOV” prefix.

A prime SEAT between the benches will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

After the game, the uniforms will be signed by the players and auctioned off for charity.

What a great reason to visit Vegas!  Bravo to the marketing folks behind that one!!