Saturday, March 04, 2006

Boba Fett and Flash Gordon's Dale Arden
(always a scream) are the Captain's
guests tonight for the cosmic pre-Oscars show.
Sorry, only available outside the Terran system. Posted by Picasa
Captain Future's Guide to the Oscars

Everybody watches the Oscars but not everyone has the time, money and brain damage to see all of the nominated films. So in the interest of making your Oscar experience, if not better, perhaps shorter, here are some handy summaries of the nominated films. (Not that I've actually seen them, of course.)

Brokeback Capote --the famous writer with the squeaky voice needs a comeback book, so he uses sex to urge a gay cowboy to commit murder, which he does, but tragically the writer has already framed himself for the crime. He then commits suicide on death row because an execution as the ending is like so fifties. In a subplot, Harper Lee has writer’s block, and sends mash note telegrams to Gregory Peck.

Goodbye, Syriana, and Good Luck—A confused George Clooney assigns himself the story of exposing corporate corruption, but the network won’t air it, so he blows them up.

Crash the Line-- a prequel story involving Johnny Cash as a prison team fullback, in the big game against the guards. Subplot includes idiosyncratic personal stories of all the members of both teams, the coaches, their wives, first grade school crushes, their dope dealers, criminal cohorts, members of congress (redundant category?) and other folks back home as they drive to the game on a very slow bus. Dramatic highlight: June Carter as cheerleader who switches sides.

War of the New Worlds--Alien space invaders rampaging across America turn out to be Europeans.

King, Hustle and Kong--King Kong decides to embrace show business but must start by accumulating street cred.

North Point Match Country--- winner of first sexual harrassment suit has extramartial affair with her boss.

The Constant Junebug--- Won’t she ever fit in? While trying to sell retro velvet Elvises in Brentwood, she stumbles on a vast cabal of corporate-owned movie studios conspiring to give each other awards and really nice goody bags.

The Corpse Bride at the Chocolate Factory --- The Bride, a previously animated dead person, finds acting in a live action sequel so stressful that she consumes the entire contents of the Chocolate Factory and dies again, but pretty happy this time.

Harry Potter and the Geisha of Fire-- In the first Harry Potter movie to earn an R rating, a more grown up Harry---like the age of the actor playing him or something-- slips Ron some pretend “magic potion” called Viagra, Jr. for his date with Hermione, so Ron will realize he doesn’t really need it! But Harry has his own encounter with a witch from the mystic East who shows him some spells he never learned at Hogwarts.

Mrs. Henderson Presents A History of Violence-- Soldiers are becoming bored with topless revues so Mrs. Henderson begins staging nude versions of Jacobean dramas and spaghetti westerns.

The Star Wars Chronicles of Darnia: The Lion, the Sith and the Wardrobe--
“Luke” Lucas leads the Secular Jedis into battle against Darth Mel Gibson and the Dark Side Crusaders, as the Emperor Rev. Lewis leaves off darning his socks when there’s nobody there to search the wardrobe for something presentable that isn’t tweed to wear to the Academy Awards
R.I.P. Luna Leopold

Luna Leopold, a naturalist considered the nation's leading expert and educator on how rivers shape the land, died at his home in Berkeley on Feb. 23. He was 90. The rest of his SF Chronicle obituary is here.

He was the son of one of the pioneers of ecological awareness, the revered Aldo Leopold, author of Sand County Almanac, also a Bible for American nature writers. But even without that patrimony, Luna Leopold would himself be a giant figure, though more for other scientists than the general public. He remained productive as a writer and scholar until his death. Some of his work is archived on the web here.
Sticking Out Like a Healthy Thumb?

You don't expect to find one of San Francisco's most humane new buildings at the corner of Sixth and Howard streets, right in the squalid heart of Skid Row.

But that's where the new Plaza Apartments stand stocky and tall -- an eight-story cube that not only is designed to provide shelter and support for 106 once-homeless adults but to do so as a showplace of "green" design.

Aesthetically pleasing, non-uniform, environmentally friendly and advanced, and includes a Latino theatre company's home theatre, carefully planned for improvization and the possibility of economic viability as well---if San Francisco Chronicle Urban Design writer John King is right about this place, it must be an international model as well as a triumph for San Francisco.

Friday, March 03, 2006

by Rene Magritte Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"All of our ideas come from the natural world. Trees=umbrellas."

Wallace Stevens
Just Desserts Friday

Maybe these last-minute Friday stories will cheer up your dinner---that is, if you like just desserts. We can only hope these are the start of a trend.

In the first of what could be many congressional corruption cases, Former Rep. Randy Cunningham was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for receiving two and a half million dollars worth of known, quantifiable bribes. It became so business-as-usual for him that he actually had a price list, and I wish this was only a Jon Stewart line.

The four months may have been a message, because it made this the longest sentence provided to an ex-MOC.

And conservative site Human Events says that Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff will soon be out of a job---maybe in a matter of days.
Your One-Stop Bushcorps Disaster

So you're looking forward to the weekend and you'd like to get your week-end report of all the disasters, catastrophes and embryonic apocalypse in one fast go? Like more diving Bush poll numbers, skullduggery on torture, Katrina and setting off a new nuclear arms race in Asia?

Dan Froomkin's your man over at the Washington Post. Read it and weep, and duty done, have a fabulous weekend.
The Hybrid House

From Renewable Energy Access:

In the Oshawa community of Copperfield, the heat was turned on in Ontario's first production home equipped with a solar-thermal-geoexchange clean energy system.

The system, said to be the first production home system to integrate solar and geothermal technologies, powers the home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as providing its domestic hot water (DHW) needs. The Stream saves homeowners up to $2,500 a year on home energy bills, and reduces conventional energy consumption by 79% compared to traditional, natural gas furnaces and hot water heaters, said the release.
I'll Take Manhattan...

You perhaps have heard about the Greenland ice melting faster than expected, but not to worry there's always Antarctica.

Today from the Washington Post: The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper that provides the first evidence that the sheet's total mass is shrinking significantly. The new findings, which are being published today in the journal Science, suggest that global sea level could rise substantially over the next several centuries.

Richard Alley, a Pennsylvania State University glaciologist who has studied the Antarctic ice sheet but was not involved in the new research... called the study significant and "a bit surprising" because a major international scientific panel predicted five years ago that the Antarctic ice sheet would gain mass this century as higher temperatures led to increased snowfall.

"It looks like the ice sheets are ahead of schedule" in terms of melting, Alley said. "That's a wake-up call. We better figure out what's going on."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Alaska aurora 2005. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

“While some may bandy their Freud about in silly fashion, the fact that many have come to acknowledge the reality of their unconscious mind (and are even beginning to take responsibility for it) may be the seed of our salvation. Our burgeoning interest in the existence and source of our prejudices, hidden hostilities, irrational fears, perceptual blind spots, mental ruts, and resistance to growth is the start of an evolutionary leap.”

Scott Peck

Bush hearing what he later didn't anticipate. AP photo from White House tape. Posted by Picasa
Is This Denial, or Projection?

Or maybe it's just lying?

The Big Smirk, who famously said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," was told in detail about the real possibility of levee breach in New Orleans, as well as the seriousness of the situation there and severity of the storm, in the hours leading up to Katrina's landfall, as shown by video released by Associated Press Wednesday.
Goosing the Ganders

From Reuters

LONDON — Lawmakers and business leaders from around the world launched a campaign on Friday to push recalcitrant governments to take action on climate change.

Accusing rich and poor alike of talking a good fight against but doing little, the parliamentarians from the Group of Eight rich nations and five major developing countries said their three-year goal was to force the pace.

"Climate change is both a national and a global problem and an issue that transcends political affiliations," Joan Ruddock, British parliamentarian and co-chair of the new Climate Change Dialogue initiative, told a news conference.

Canadian lawmaker Bryon Wilfert, saying his country now had the toughest global warming policies of any G8 nation, said governments had been lazy in tackling the crisis that threatened millions of lives across the world through droughts and floods.

"There is an urgency that not all players grasp or share," he said in a thinly veiled reference to the United States' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on cutting emissions of greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels.


Richard Burton and Julie Andrews in the original Broadway
production of Camelot. Posted by Picasa

Dept. of Mythological Information

Today is March the second. If this were Camelot, winter would exit today, on the dot.

Thank you. We now return you to your less fortunate reality, which is already in progress.
A Match Made in Marlboro

- Evergreen Solar, Inc. a manufacturer of solar power products with its proprietary, low-cost String Ribbon wafer technology, today announced that it has entered into a multi-year supply contract with Global Resource Options, Inc.. a Vermont-based solar power distributor and system integrator. The agreement calls for Evergreen Solar to ship approximately $88 million of photovoltaic modules to GRO over the next four years, Renewable Access reports.

This is the third such distribution deal Evergreen has made in recent months, totalling some $260 million in sales.

This match of manufacturer and distributor will first affect the Northeast, though Evergreen Solar hopes to expand beyond. According to their press release, Evergreen Solar, Inc. develops, manufactures and markets solar power products using proprietary, low-cost manufacturing technologies. The Company's patented crystalline silicon technology, known as String Ribbon, uses significantly less silicon than conventional approaches. Evergreen's products provide reliable and environmentally clean electric power for residential and commercial applications globally. For more information about the Company:
Back to the Commune?

If you can ignore the cliched lead, this New York Times article on a possible trend towards cooperative housing for elders is intriguing. It tries to make a specifically Baby Boomer case for it:

With millions of baby boomers moving toward retirement, gerontologists and developers are looking to communal housing for the elderly with growing interest, building on a generation's mythology that already includes communes and college dormitories.

In co-operative housing, said Janice Blanchard, a gerontologist and housing consultant in Denver, "the social consciousness of the 1960's can get re-expressed." Baby boomers, she predicted, "are going to want to recreate the peak experience of their lives. Whether a commune or a college dorm, the common denominator was community."

While that may be superfically true, or true in spirit, it's pushing it a bit, too. Anyone who lived in dormitories or especially in communes knows how hard-won any sort of community could be. However, it is true that having gone through all this once, boomers may be better equipped to make a go of it the second time around. In any case, it seems more appealing that a lot of the alternatives.

There is a sense that those experimenting with it now--not yet Boomers--also know the cost/benefit. The story quotes one:

"We've all lived through the Depression and war and the big stuff, so we know that things don't always stay the same," Ms. Datel said. "All of us are interested in living."

That pretty much says it. The piece ends with this information:

Glacier Circle and ElderSpirit are self-developed cohousing communities. The Elder Cohousing Network, founded four years ago, offers for-profit how-to workshops. General information is available through a national non-profit,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Utopian thinking does not undermine or discount real reform. Indeed, it is almost the opposite: practical reforms depend on utopian dreaming."

Russell Jacoby

Captain Future's Log

The Future Fair

This extraordinary group of people from different walks of life does have, collectively, the ability to change the world," Gore said. "We face ... a global emergency, a planetary emergency.... There is enormous danger, but there is enormous opportunity to respond to this planetary emergency by making the 21st century a century of renewal."

The Future We Will Create was the theme of the conference, which ran Wednesday through Saturday. Now in its third decade, the conference is run by former Future Publishing and Imagine Media owner Chris Anderson (not to be confused with Wired's editor in chief), who took it over in 2002.

More on the TED conference in Montery from Wired

Although the new emphasis on the public future instead of just the private is noteworthy, it still was an invitation-only conference for the wealthy. We may look to some of these folks for leadership, but the future belongs to everyone, and a better representation is needed just for critique and ideas.

Or maybe Captain Future is just ticked off that as usual, he wasn't invited. (Or the other hand, he's thinking of changing his name to Chris Anderson.)
Goodbye, Dubai

In the last 36 hours or so, it's come to light that the U.S. military arm responsible for port security, the Coast Guard, told the White House it could not say that the Dubai takeover wouldn't help terrorists, and that Dubai has been participating in a boycott of Israel.

No matter--Dubya still hearts Dubai.
Four Out of Five Soldiers in Iraq Agree---We Should Leave

According to a new Zogby poll---the first ever of American troops in Iraq, 72% of them believe all U.S. troops should leave Iraq within the year, and a quarter of the total say they should leave right now.

Monday, February 27, 2006

photograph of the Pleiades Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Charles Dickens
The Democrat's 9-11

Bushites have made shameless and effective political use of 9-11. But Democrats have not effectively focused on an equally powerful phenomenon, with its equally powerful associated images, that is ready-made to tell the tawdry story of Bush administration failure. The Democrats have Katrina. And it's about time they used it.

The issue is ready-made because it remains powerful in the public mind, even with the extreme fall-off in coverage of the affected region, and the Democrats' failure to concentrate on it. Just in the past week or so:

An Ipsos poll conducted for Associated Press shows Americans choose spending on Katrina over spending on Iraq as the country's highest priority by a margin of 2 to 1:64% to 31%. Nearly 90% believe that the affected area is still devastated. More than half are not confident that the federal government can handle a similiar disaster in the future.

A WNBC poll conducted by Marist College says :

Among the many controversies surrounding the Bush Administration, its response to Hurricane Katrina is most troubling to voters. 66% of registered voters nationwide are bothered a great deal or a good amount by the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Although Democrats are most critical, 64% of independents and 42% of Republicans are bothered by how the administration handled the disaster.

(Hat tip to Political Wire which reported both polls.)

Katrina is the narrative that tells all the stories about Bushcorps that Democrats need to tell. Inattention and inaction when Americans were in trouble and needed their federal government. Disrespect for working people, the poor and people of color, which can be further illustrated through many other policies and failures. Failure of leadership, and failure of character. An aftermath studded with scapegoating and more evidence of the Culture of Corruption in the awarding of no-bid contracts to cronies. Wasting taxpayers' money on these contracts with companies which demonstrably fail to do the job.

Even the Bush administration admits that its response was too little and too late. But what is their solution? Its Homeland Security office issued a report recommending the full militarization of disaster response. Such a response leads directly to a critique of the Bushite penchant for a police state, in the guise of national security.

There is also a clear opportunity to get the Climate Crisis on the table at last. Katrina is also a golden door to making the Climate Crisis a Democrat issue, especially with the recent statements by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, amending the view that the severity of Katrina and other hurricanes last year was not linked to global heating, to say that some researchers there think there is a causal link.

Katrina offers the emotional center and the opportunity to begin an incessant and relentless assault on Republican failures, while making the positive case for what Democrats stand for.
And it is not too late. Katrina is not going away. Cleanup still continues, and bodies of the dead continue to be found in New Orleans, at the rate of one or two a day. More than 1400 dead are recorded, with some 2300 still missing, three-quarters of that number are African-Americans.

Levees are being rebuilt, amidst controversy. Hurricane season is fast approaching.

Katrina should be on every Democrat's lips going into the 2006 Congressional elections. And there is occasion to begin very soon. According to Truthout, a march is planned for March 14, the day before the first scheduled evictions of Katrina victims. It will be in Washington, and the route goes past FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, o the White House. A rally will be held in Lafayette Square Park.

Apart from its specific purpose to bring attention to the plight of Katrina survivors, this event should be the unofficial but very real beginning of the 2006 campaign: the Katrina campaign.

Bush has other vulnerabilities. Today's CBS poll has his approval rating at an all-time low of 34%, which means that even his previously unshakeable core support is shaking. The words that are sinking Bush and the Republicans right now are Iraq, Dubai (several Democratic Senators introduced legislation today to ban foreign government control of U.S. ports) and Katrina. All must be hammered, but the one with the most resonance, which allows for making a positive case as well as a negative assessment, is Katrina.

Soul of Star Trek

Exploring Evil

The nature of evil has been a knotty religious and philosophical problem for centuries, and in more recent decades, has become a psychological, biological. sociological and political conundrum as well.

From the Original Series on, Star Trek questioned the very nature of good and evil. This was drama exploring a very basic human question---and one that challenged and often flummoxed philosophers through the ages.

To explore the questions of the autonomy of evil, its nature and how to deal with it, a discussion of the Star Trek episode that recently focused my thoughts and feelings on the matter, at Soul of Star Trek.