Putin to the Rescue: Russia Outlaws Foul Language

If you’re a Russian official and use obscene language, you can be fined $40 under the terms of a new law signed by Vladimir Putin, but if you’re a regular citizen, you can be fined $70. Businesses can be on the hook for up to $1,400 per incident.

According to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass (whatever happened to Pravda?), the new law “bans the use of obscene language when ensuring the rights of Russian citizens to use the state language and protecting and developing language culture.”

Huh? Unless the original statement means “while” where the translation says “when,” I’m not sure what they’re getting at here.

Anyway, the use of “obscene language” (undefined in the law) in a film will doom it to the underground, as the state won’t grant it a distribution license.

Rock stars, actors and performances of all ilk are to be similarly constrained by the law.

Books, CDs or movie DVDs will have to be distributed in a sealed package with the warning, “Contains obscene language,” or they cannot be otherwise foisted on a populace too tender to hear swear words.

Is this new law a response to the rock group Pussy Riot and its lyric putdown of V. Putin?

Anyway, Russia — with or without the Ukraine — sure sounds like a fun, open type of place.

Greatest Cinematic Death Soliloquy Ever?

rutger-hauer-tears-in-rain-soliloquy
Rutger Hauer delivers his ‘tears in rain’ death soliloquy in ‘Blade Runner’

I‘ve been watching the new BBC series “The History of Science Fiction” and have come away impressed, after three episodes, with how much heart, soul and literary achievement can be found in scifi flicks.

I think just about everyone the producers interviewed about Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (a film about a future filled both with real humans and with replicants, pseudo-humans with real human emotions and aspirations) waxes poetic about replicant Rutger Hauer’s death soliloquy, dubbed “tears in rain.”

Hauer mostly reimagined the soliloquy from the script. On the written page, however, his soliloquy loses most of the impact that the “History” interviewees rave about:

I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… [contemptuous laugh] Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears… in… rain. Time… to die…

But it’s certainly terser and more impactful than the scripted version:

I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching the stars fight on the shoulder of Orion…I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!

Now, compare both of those to the on-screen rendition and draw your own conclusion. You can try this link to “Tears in Rain,” but if it doesn’t work, just do a search on YouTube. I tried embedding the clip here, but those idiots at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scams, I mean, Sciences, have it blocked (even though I watched it on YouTube just minutes ago).

Makes Sense: V. Stiviano for President

Donald-Sterling-and-V.-StivianaNow the Donald Sterling bringer-downer has revealed her true intentions: She wants to be president, and with the current media furor over her and her buddy Donald, she may have just enough Q rating to eclipse Hillary and Jeb.

Her politics? Who cares? She’s a celeb!

Anyway, enough of that, today’s New York Times contains an absolutely brilliant (if not sardonic) profile of l’affaire Sterling by David Carr titled “A Key Player in a Scandal, V. Stiviano Feeds the Media’s Appetite.”

The article says much about American culture and the media.

Note to Donald Sterling: You Should’ve Used Whisper or Secret

I‘m beginning to think that Donald Sterling made what is now being labeled his “racist rant” on purpose since there was a third party in the room to whom Sterling had assented to being recorded by. [Now there’s a convoluted sentence.]

Regardless, one’s private thoughts should probably never be aired unless one is certain of the possible consequences and willing to face them.

Help is at hand for you buddy Donald Sterlings out there, however: Regardless of the flavor of your rant, the cell phone has come to your rescue.

There are now a few apps (and the list appears to be growing) on which you can rant away anonymously. Secret, Whisper and Yik-Yak are just three of these apps that function like a chat room or forum on your smartphone, and they don’t require you to identify yourself to voice anything.

Granted, I haven’t checked these out yet, but I plan to shortly.

My rant? About all the hypocritical phonies in the news media who feel they’re above racism. Or harboring secret thoughts. Or being human.

Pulitzers Awarded to Two Newspapers for Snowden Revelations

Reprinted from www.pulitzer.org:

For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material, a gold
medal.

Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.

wpostlogo.jpg
 

and

Awarded to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.

Written in the Cloud

Guess we’re seeing the final death knell of the hard-hitting, hard-drinking newspaper reporter.

Turns out that the Los Angeles Times recently got an article about an earthquake to print (actually, to web) in three minutes using an algorithm leeching data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Crime stories are similarly culled without the intervention of human hands — unless the story turns out to be a big one.

You can credit one journalist and programmer named Ken Schwencke with writing the code to put more journalists out of work.

“The way I see it is, it doesn’t eliminate anybody’s job as much as it makes everybody’s job more interesting,” Schwencke says.

Yeah, right, if you still have a job.

Inappropriate Language: ‘Conscious Uncoupling’

What next, “conscious departure” as a euphemism for suicide?

Why not, given the choice of Gwyneth Paltrow (totally over her head in all things dramatic, including divorce) and soon-to-be-ex Chris Martin to label the end of their marriage a “conscious uncoupling.”

Well, I can’t image a divorce would be done unconsciously, but I suppose it’s possible. I’ve seen numerous married couples who seem to have made an “unconscious coupling.”

What else but inappropriate language (i.e., meaningless gobbledygook) can you expect from some idiot who calls her blog “Goop.”

Inappropriate Language: Wine Tasting Commentary

Chris Kern operates a wine shop in Riverside called, epononymously, Chris Kern’s Forgotten Grapes, whose main virtue is that it’s the only place within decent driving distance that offers new wine tastings each week.

Chris specializes in what he calls, well, “forgotten grapes,” in other words, grapes with weird and obscure names — largely from Paso Robles but with a worldwide dabbling — that are also wallet friendly. But are they taste friendly? I’m beginning to think not, and I’m going to switch back to Chilean and Argentinean red varietals, along with any California or French bargains I can find.

That being said by way of introduction, what I want to focus on here, under of the moniker of “Inappropriate Language,” is how wine mavens invariably have to uncover, through their palates, the taste profile (now there’s a construct for the high and mighty!) of a wine they’re tasting for the first time.

Generally, at a tasting they’ll breathe deeply into the glass after the wine is poured, then take a sip, swirl the liquid inside their mouths, swallow slowly, and finally appear to be ruminating deeply before they pronounce their judgment.

Here’s an example I just read from a wine description, and this is typical of what you’ll hear at a wine tasting: “Loaded with wild strawberries, cherry blossom, hints of herbs and a salty minerality that makes it hard to resist, this medium-bodied, elegant, yet rich rosé stays lively, pure and fresh on the finish.”

Now, for starters the only “Wild Strawberries” I’m familiar with is a movie by Ingmar Bergman. What the heck are wild strawberries, and where do you buy them? Does this guy mean “homegrown strawberries”? And what the hell is a “salty minerality”? Does the wine taste like salty dirt?

Anyway, if you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, no one can agree on a “taste profile.” Maybe one or two ingredients will overlap on competing personal evaluations, but profiling usually leads to a game of oneupmanship, such as depicted in this scenario:

We’re all sitting at a wine bar, and the person behind the bar pours Wine X into our glasses. We go through our routines, and everyone spouts off their conflicting/overlapping ingredients. Then one guy takes another sip and pronounces that he detects “a bit of smokiness.”

Not to be outdone, the person behind the counter takes another pass at the grape and clarifies: “More than smokiness, I sense two-day old charcoal ashes from a Weber Grill that just cooked two Wagyu steaks.” Touché!

Read more

Newspapers Still Fading, But Not This Much

International-New-York-Times-censored-in-Pakistan
The complete International New York Times weekend edition, left, and as it appeared in Pakistan, right. Note the article that was deleted.

It appears that the partner of the New York Times in Pakistan that publishes its international edition didn’t cotton to a story this weekend about Osama bin Laden and his relationship to the government.

The Pakistani printer simply deleted the story and photo and distributed the weekend edition with a gaping hole on the front page.

Ode to Bill O’Reilly: The Namby-Pamby Factor

Now, mind you, I can’t stand Bill O’Reilly or his arrogance-laden show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” but I’m so into gone-missing Malaysian Air Flight 370 that I’m forced to watch Fox News, which seems to be obsessing over the incident. The channel is almost a 24/7 source of breaking information about the ill-fated Boeing 777.

Anyway, the transparently arrogant O’Reilly ended his show by challenging his viewers’ knowledge of the word namby pamby. Cuz, he said, he didn’t want any namby-pamby emails or letters sent to him (he’s too good to deal with gentle folk, evidently).

So I went to dictionary dot com and looked up namby pamby, and lo and behold, it means exactly what I thought it meant, which is “weak and indecisive.” That O’Reilly isn’t, but if he had to go “weak and indecisive” to learn some humility, I’d be all for it.

But I bloviate, I guess — another O’Reilly arrogant-ism. You can look that one up and determine if it “takes one to know one.”