mr. zilla goes to town

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

winning the war, at home and afar

Tim Dunlop approvingly quotes Jason Burke writing in Foreign Policy on what is needed to win the war on terror:

That simple fact is something that seems to escaped entirely the mental grasp of the Bush administration and even its allies like the British and Australian governments: "...if countries are to win the war on terror, they must eradicate enemies without creating new ones."
An alternate perspective, or perhaps secondary requirement, is put by Fafblog's Medium Lobster:

A free and unfettered press and a transparent government are elements of the American way of life, which as all truly enlightened beings understand is under attack by Terror itself. In order to preserve truth and freedom, America must win the War on Terror, and to win it America must Stay the Course. And if it is to Stay the Course, its national resolve and morale must not falter. And if its national resolve and morale is not to falter, it must never know that the War is going badly. Hence: America will only win if it ignores the fact that it is losing.
Jokes aside, both statements have a ring of truth to them.

it's a broad church...

life at womens' march

Sunday saw the March for Womens' Lives completely dominate downtown DC as somewhere between 800,000 (police estimate) and 1.15 million (organisers' count) people packed the National Mall and march past the White House. It's possible that this is the largest single rally in US history: much bigger than the anti-war rally in April 03; larger than the 250,000 at MLK's "I have a dream" speech in 1963; larger than the 500,000 at the 1969 anti-vietnam war rally at the Lincoln memorial; larger even than the 800,000 at the Million Man March in 1995. And on personal observation I would say that 75-80% of the crowd were women.

The mall is a quite a phenomenally large space and was packed with people from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. See here for the BBC's report and picture gallery, and here for the Washington Post's. Being a part of a crowd of a million (or so) is quite a breathtaking experience, even if from an ants-eye view on the day it's hard to get a sense of those numbers, beyond walking through half a mile of solid crowd to reach our assigned march position.

I can only hope that this massive display of support for a red hot liberal issue puts some jelly in the boots of the folks in the White House.

Personal highlights of the day included seeing the Radical Cheerleaders, and also the "Church Ladies for Choice", who you can see at the very end of the Washington Post's video vignette on the march. They were truly hilarious - at the point we saw them, they had stopped to sing hyms to a tiny group of anti-abortion demonstrators who had a shiny mannequin Jesus with a 'sacred heart' that looked suspiciously like a molotov cocktail. Great personal signage included the "pagans for liberty" group, as well as the rare but valued "republicans for choice", and the sassy "another bitter bisexual for choice". And I shouldn't forget the clever "We have a plan for parenthood. Do you have a plan for Iraq?"

The pro-life counter-protesters were out at the "death march" but in quite small numbers, checking out their designated areas there were perhaps 1,000-2,000 all up. In other words, outnumbered around a thousand to one. They were however up to their usualy gruesome efforts, with massive colour posters of aborted late-term foetuses, not to mention proudly bringing a first-trimester foetus in a glass jar to a Planned Parenthood pre-march meeting. Let's not let that get in the way of some facts: such as that until the 20th week, a foetus has no complex cerebral cortex and no major central nervous activity -- a condition universally regarded as a state of death in adults.

I love the theatre of live and passionate grassroots political activity, and can be somewhat detatched and observational. I don't want to stereotype "pro-lifers" but compared to the marchers there were a large proportion of earnest, praying, bearded older men. And priests. Such groups were often assiduously flanked by counter-counter-protesters, some with yellow hazard signage stating "warning: religious extremism ahead".

However I did see one anti-abortion protester that rocked me back a little. She was a middle aged, latino woman, dressed in simple black and a haunted and weary expression, walking quietly through through crowd on her own. Her sign was simple: my abortion 14 years ago still grieves me. I couldn't help but feel so sad for her, but it doesn't change my position on the issue: its about maintaining the right of any woman to make an equal [and informed] choice, isn't it? She may regret her choice but at least she was free to make it, something the Bush administration is inch by inch taking away from America's women.

On a lighter note to finish, the most hilarious moment of the day came early on, which I had some difficulty explaining to the people around me. For a moment my head spun and I thought I was back in the antipodes, amongst innumerable teenage kiwis. You see one of the pre-march speakers on the mall (after Hillary Clinton, wonder woman Linda Carter, and numerous earnestly awful folk singers) was amping up the crowd, shouting the question, "what are we here for?"

And a million voices, averaging out somewhere around mezzo-soprano or contralto, screamed back....


Monday, April 26, 2004

What would your Anime life be like? by hearthlight
Your looks:Lot's of leather.
Your best friend:Twelve horny alien girls.
Your powers:FIRE!
Your beloved:Love is for the weak.
Your occupation:Demon slayer.
Your ending:Exactly as you'd want it.
Created with the ORIGINAL MemeGen!

heh. cool. via Ratbat!

Friday, April 23, 2004

borders insecurity

Spotted yesterday on the electronic whatsit in the entrance to Borders bookstore in my neighbourhood strip mall, and so quaintly perverse I had to snap a photo.

It spoke volumes to me: Borders, so eager to prevent profit-sapping book theft, they add to all their products something their customers' toddlers may choke upon. Which they then have to warn said customers about to head off the potential financial damage from lawsuits. Bit of a downward spiral don't you think? Further questions also occured to me:

Despite eponymous historical roots, what self respecting Fortune 500 company calls their outfit "borders" in a globalizing "damn the borders" world? And speaking of which, why isn't it mandatory for similar signs to be placed at the entrance to Australia's detention centres, warning of the dangers to kiddies? And would to the hilt privatisation and hopefully subsequent tortious border insecurity of any company who take it on to the extent that the process would implode?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

you can't do that on television

It's a slightly old story, but here is the kind of image that has been banned from broadcast in the USA. Forbidden, unless Bush decides that they're OK to use in a re-election advertisment to reorient the debate away from issues of Democratic strength.

via There Ain't No Sanity Clause.

Update: Both the employee who took the picture, and her husband, have been sacked by Maytag Aircraft Corporation. Presumably their offspring have also been cursed unto the last generation.

simply: word

cheers to DJ Switch (and his producer partner McGuyver) back in oz, who not only have Big Banana / Project 99 due out shortly with UK label Beatcode, but were kind enough to sling me a link to download their new work -

Joshua Collins - Feel It In The Air (Switch vs McGuyver's Jackin Mix) and
Kriece & Switch vs Mcguyver (untitled).

The first in particular is pretty sweet, a laid back percussive roller with a tang of spacial electro. Gra, if these lads head down your way, get your inthemixin' reviewer butt along... or if still detained by Urinetown, check out their work on Pulseradio.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

one good turn

Saturday was a gorgeous day here: temperature around 25C, with blue sky and occasional cool breezes. Late in the afternoon I was biking home, moving slowly through the pedestrian traffic around the Woodley Park metro station when something out of the oridinary caught my eye.

A very tall, overweight gentleman, perhaps in his early fifties and with a very irregular gait, was tearing posters down from nearby lampposts, shredding them, and throwing them into the street. After watching for a minute or two, it was plain that it was only one type of poster he was removing, those for the March for Women's Lives this Sunday by the Capitol.

I'm curious, and nosy, so what the hell?

"Excuse me sir, what are you up to?"

No answer.

"Sir? Why are you tearing down the posters?"

A baleful look. "I'm cleaning up the city."

A pause. I look down at the shredded paper that's in the gutter.

"What a great idea. But why are you only tearing down the posters for the march for women?"

His sweaty poster ripping was by now accompanied by a tense jaw.

"I'd genuinely like to know why you're doing it. It must be really important to you."

A sneer. "Oh... go back to school."

Ok, he's obviously not interested in a friendly chat.

"I learned about the First Amendment in school, the one about freedom of speech, how about you?"

At this point he fixed me with another grumpy glare, abandoned the task, and stomped off down the Metro elevator.

And that, grandkids, is how I earned my pro-tect-choice girl scout merit badge, awarded by my good friend Chris from AGI: with humility and kindness, inadvertently but gently, protecting defenceless posters from a grumpy old man who should have crossed the damn street when he saw me coming.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

puppetry of the POTUS

I apologize sincerely and unreservedly to US President Bush for castigating him for not acting upon the threat outlined in the President's Daily Briefing of 6 August, 2001. Why? Well surely it would be unfair of me to slam him over the contents of a brief that HE DIDN'T READ:
Bush, in fact, does not read his PDBs, but has them orally summarized every morning by CIA director George Tenet. President Clinton, by contrast, read them closely and alone, preventing any aides from interpreting what he wanted to know firsthand. He extensively marked up his PDBs, demanding action on this or that, which is almost certainly the reason the Bush administration withheld his memoranda from the 9/11 commission.

"I know he doesn't read," one former Bush National Security Council staffer told me. Several other former NSC staffers corroborated his habit.
You can visualise Tenet in there, can't you?

"Okay Mr President, gather round. Have you had your glass of milk this morning?"

"Yes George."

"Today's story is about a wicked, wicked man-"

"Ooh! I love Saddam stories! Tell the one again about when President Daddy gave him cooties!"

"Now wait, remember Mr President, that story is about the magical golden Kingdom of Kuwaitis, not cooties. And we took that away from nasty Saddam, we didn't give it to him."

"Daddy let Saddam give him cooties?"

"No, no... look, lets move on to today's story. Once upon a time there was an eeeevil magician named Osama, who lived in a cave...."

When you also consider that Bush will appear before the 9/11 Commission with VP Dick Cheney by his side, how much more proof does the world need that the US head of state and commander in chief is a freakin' meat puppet? More importantly, how do you find a way to make the US electorate sit up and take notice of the fact in November?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

turbine hall, tate modern, london

Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project installation in the gigantic turbine hall of the Tate Modern Gallery. Words really don't do justice to this amazing use of the gigantic space. I guess you could put your eyes up really, really close to the screen before you scroll down.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

overdue musigasm post

I discovered a monstrously awesome site while in Australia called which has a good number of live sets to download from the likes of Nubreed and Hybrid. For a tiny $2.50 monthly fee for VIP membership to the site, I've been able to sit in Starbucks and download Hybrid's recent four hour set at Lot 33 in Canberra faster than you can say "whipless grande soy mocha for here".

While on the subject, Nubreed have their debut album 'The Original' in stores and online in the UK since October last year, I've been hanging on with baited breath for the Australian release on April 26 because...
While a version of the album has received prior release in the UK through breakbeat label Mob Recordings, the Australian version through Vicious encapsulates more of the groups work and comes with a limited edition bonus second disc of NuBreed b-sides, remixes and rarities mixed by Australia’s No. 1 DJ Phil K.
Is it a little hot in here?

home on the range

It's a sunny Monday morning. Just two days ago you flew home for a well deserved, month-long holiday. You pick up the day's paper (not from the front lawn, mind you, but handed to you by a serious gentleman with dark glasses and an earpiece) and have a skim through it.

Nothin' to worry about. Back to clearing the brush behind the house. The weather is tinder dry, so you don't want to go lighting any fires (for example, under the arses of your intelligence agencies). A snooze by the pool after lunch might be nice while Laura works in the flower garden.

Nothin' to worry about.

George W. Bush: keeping America safe since September 12, 2001.

Update: Not that I'm claiming the opinion-forming powers of the midday meal, but its nice when other folks who put a lot more time and research in come out the following day with confirmation of the gist of a rant:

Ashcroft said that before 9/11, his "number-one goal" at the Justice Department "was the prevention of terrorist acts" and that he immediately "began to shape the department and its efforts in that respect"1. But according to the Washington Post, internal Administration documents from before 9/11 "show that Ashcroft ranked counterterrorism efforts as a lower priority than his predecessor did"2. The documents "indicate that before Sept. 11, Ashcroft did not give terrorism top billing in his strategic plans for the Justice Department, which includes the FBI. A draft of Ashcroft's 'Strategic Plan' from Aug. 9, 2001, does not put fighting terrorism as one of the department's seven goals, ranking it as a sub-goal beneath gun violence and drugs."

Am I being too harsh on GWB though? After all, this strategic plan wasn't released until three days after Bush read the August 6 memo. I know how hard it is to get to necessary paperwork when you're on holidays. He'd probably forgotten he read it by then anway...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

travel pix

As you might have noticed, my blogging while travelling worked OK as long as there was a bit of downtime to blog. When that stopped, so did the words here! So, here's a couple of pics I took in Japan to kick things off again.

This is the burial shrine of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan for 250 years until 1868. It's the highest point in the World Heritage listed Toshogu shrine complex, about two hours out of Tokyo by train. (There's a whole other story there about a great bunch of old Japanese businessmen and an English backpacker who made sure I ended up in the two carriages of the train that were actually going to Nikko, not the rest of the train that was contining merrily on to all points north!)

Enormous snowflakes falling amongst gigantic, hushed Japanese conifers and enormous red-roofed shrines, with an onboard soundtrack of the new album from newly uncovered and quite exquisite Japanese outfit Jazztronik made for a breaktakingly vivid experience and memory.

And then there was the occasional family having the family car blessed. Makes sense when you think about it really...