Sunday, March 26, 2006

FlickPick: 'V For Vendetta'

I'm not a huge fan of the multiplexes, but had to get out on a dreery Sunday afternoon to check this one out. I was pleasantly surprised. Though I don't consider myself a film reviewer by any stretch of the imagination, I will say V For Vendetta is entertaining and thoughtful. Despite the sometimes over-the-top political rants, there's still quite a lot for your brain to chew on. Maybe. If you're of the right-leaning persuasion (and don't think for yourself too often), you might find yourself turning beet-red and ready to pop a couple of shells into the screen, maybe slay a couple of unpatriotic giggling policy wonks on your way out. Alternatively, the young hippie war protesters may see this film as their modern-day 1984 (note they share that same dramatic letter on the posters). If you're a critical thinker, or simply enjoy blood and explosions and an oddly-serene soundtrack lacing a potent storyline that conspire to joyously mock the FoxNoSpinZoneification of the world, this movie's for you. And no, I don't think is glorifies terrorism any more or less than another of psk's FlickPicks, Syriana.

On a related note, found an interesting powerpoint presentation today from our friends at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Grow to Live

In some deep, dark lair Dale has been working on another blog, a reinterpretation of the urban gardening series we started last year. This one should be a lot more expansive, and we promise to update it more often. We've got a lot of seedlings already going strong, mainly heirloom tomatoes, a variety of leaf lettuces, Georgia collards, and purple pole beans. Next week, there'll be about 12 more things to add to the list. Grow to Live.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March means "Outdoor Play" in Esperanto

Last Friday was one of those days nobody wants to be indoors. The cubicle dwellers of Floor Four maintained sanity long enough to get some word done. As is normal, we ignored all the pigeon droppings caked on the windows, and opened them all to let in the sounds of the city. This nice weather has everyone's pants on fire, so Saturday found the fellas of The Brentwood cleaning the garage and playing Uno with some hot fillies under the Christmas lights. Nate's reggae CD is the rockinest actually feel like you're in a Blue Mountains banana shack. Kinda. Perk set herself busy counting the empty beer bottles lining the wall (up to 103; can we make 150 by summer?). The ultimate goal for that place is to leave it comfortable as an outside room, but with room for all the toys. The last entry was about a growing collection of stuff, and this garage is where a lot of that stuff resides. Time to purge, and re-up on other stuff, bigger, more fun stuff. Not sure there's room from the rafters to hang one, but I'm fiending for a new kayak (and you're right if you were thinking a wooden Chesapeake Light Craft Arctic Hawk). My $7 skateboard is still holding up even as super-tall people attempt to ride it like a luge. For that, maybe I'd suggest the Alet Chair. The 3-speed bikes are lonely and feeling underutilized, which they are. My thrift store road bike (a garish green, yellow, black and red late 80's carbon-framed Trek) is getting lots more use because it's much faster and can easily fit in the backside of someone's car. You know, for the times I get lazy. Currently, it's docked at a meter in Adam's Morgan. At least it was Thursday, so maybe it's time I visit, meaning a perfect starting point for a quick ride through Rock Creek Park.

Now that the winter doldrums are beginning to abate (though it'll probably snow in a couple of days), it's time to reasses my thoughts on human-powered transport. I still haven't bought another car but still actively considering it. If not a car, a be specific, a bobber or cafe racer. Either of these options is useful for a leisurely escape to the George Washington Parkway, or the George Washington, National Forest. At the same time, they'd leave me vulnerable to the volatility of the energy markets. Fueling said fun machines isn't getting any easier, and the future is looking even more bleek.

I'm still what a WSJ freelancer might call a peaker, or someone that adheres to the "radical concept" of Peak Oil. It's a problem I still don't see us having averted, even with the much vaunted talk about corn ethanol ("Go Yellow!" HA, GM's a gas, don't you agree?) and the Athabasca oil sands (See TOD's "Will Canada Fuel Fortress America"). Folks in Nigeria still have beef with Shell concering their actions throughout the Niger Delta, and Hugo's still got a firm grip on the Venezualan drillers.

And then, there's the news out of Iran. All this nuclear back-and-forthing doesn't bode well for the oil markets. Not simply because the Mullahs control shipping through the Strait of Hormuz (through which 40% of the world's daily oil output is shipped to the open oceans), but also because Iran is the world's fourth largest oil producer. They are threatening once again to shut off exports if the global community (led by us, woohoo) imposes sanctions. From Iran Daily, March 12:

Asked whether Iran will use oil as a means to retaliate against possible sanctions to be imposed by the United Nations Security Council, the [Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi] said, “When the issue of sanctions comes to the fore, we will use all means at our disposal. The point is if sanctions are imposed against Iran, the international community will pay a heavier price than the Iranian nation.“

There is some optimistic news coming out of that nation. Wikipedia says Iran has the world's fourth-largest community of bloggers. Iran Daily also reports that their Agriculutre Jihad Ministry (wow) has pushed to the top on the ministry’s agenda the concept of "providing people with health foods, stressing that a specialized committee has been tasked to control use of pesticides and fertilizers in the agriculture sector." Are they preparing for something we don't know about? Imagine if the U.S. devoted itself to such a goal. We'd drastically reduce our dependence on natural gas, a vital feedstock in fertilizer production (and also gaining popularity as a motor fuel...not a good idea).

Soooo, lot's to think about this week.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Stuff, Stuff, and more Stuff

I have lots of stuff. I purport to be an 'environmentalist' of some sort, and I'm not sure possessing lots of the aforementioned stuff is good for my image. I've moved from clothes and car parts and old tin signs to insect collections and Hemingway-esque fishing and hunting trophies. Maybe it's my love-affair with dirt, water, gadgets, motor oil and...museums. Collections appeal to me, especially collections nicely displayed in a glass box and lit from all angles. The kind of presentation that makes a bottle cap seem special. (All those halogens brightly sparkling in an air-conditioned room CAN'T be good for our air quality, can they?)

DWR doesn't help fight materialism. They just make it neater and a little more expensive, with their simple wooden blocks carefully, artistically supporting a bleached piece of coral or a uniquely ornate shell, the entire Darwinian mess resting on a sleek shelf full of books you'll never read but bought because the pictures were arresting or served as inspiration for that dream clubhouse with the big brown leather chairs. Then there's also the recent trend of these design books, you know the ones. They like death too, the showcases of skulls and horns and fur rugs, perhaps to draw in the manlier men? Maybe. For me it's much simpler; the imagery harkens back to my childhood habit of killing things for no apparent reason really. Hey, that's what we did back then, and we know better now, but I digress.

This ornamentation...of dead things. It's the museum fetish, I'm sure of it. The Smithsonian is nearby. Lots of local DC kids have yet to go in their 10 or 12 years on earth, but me, the guy from southern Virginia...I go a couple of times a month. To see the same thing over and over. It's not just old and/or dead stuff either. The National Garden is cool too, especially in winter. Nice place to take a date I'd suppose. Either way, it's still a museum and it's still a collection. Thus, I've decided I must stumble upon some new energy source as to make me financially wealthy enough to buy a nice simple modernist box of a house (on a few pristine acres), a reasonably 'green' eco-house in which to display my rotating collections as an ode to material culture. This of course requires a large annex of some sort, probably a 3-car garage to replicate that of my parents. I don't think there's ever been a car in 2 of the sections...just racks and boxes of thrift clothes and gifts bought on sale and tools and my stuff from college. Collections of the past, objects ready for the future. Only they don't move, just like the stuff at my house now. So this spring I'm going to thin my collection. A piece by Amanda Kovattana has convinced me that is the only thing to do. Maybe I'll get materially thinner by the time GreenDC Week rolls around. It's only right, as an 'environmentalist.'