Saturday, December 20, 2008

Clearing the mental bins

I'm sure I got vodka from the shelf, but when I unloaded the car, I had brandy. I checked the receipt. Yes, I had bought brandy. The bottles aren't even close to similar, not even the same colour.

So I reached for vodka and came away with brandy. I didn't want brandy, wouldn't even subconsciously have preferred it to vodka. I do not know why I have brandy.

I do drink brandy, and I enjoy it, but I have some at home already, and I don't drink it often enough to need more.

Did I get vodka in another universe? Is it possible that I was sure enough of what I was doing that I looked away for an instant and ended up missing my aim by a few inches?


I also mislaid a bottle of red wine. I simply don't remember drinking it. It's possible I did, but I don't recall it at all. I've been mostly drinking beer recently and I think I would remember this wine: it was Wrattonbully, and even though it was cheap, I should remember my impression of it, because I was expecting it to be decent.

Should I be worried that I'm losing my mind, or should I welcome it?


I watched Reservation Road last night. It was terrible. About halfway through, I said to Mrs Zen, this is really bad. And it then got worse. The acting was atrocious: they were aiming for stagey but hit wooden pretty hard. That's if you can consider high emoting wooden, but I can't think of a better word. If you are imagining wooden puppets with their mouths going clack clack clack and a highpitched shrieking noise emanating from their persons, you have it right.

I was openmouthed at some points, just astonished that the director had been satisfied with it. Its main problem is lack of narrative drive. Things happen, but there is no plot as such. There is a premise and a sort of unravelling, but that's the sum of it. (Okay, there's a twist but one so predictable, so leadenly foreshadowed, that it feels like it isn't even there.) At least an hour of its two hours is wasted on scenes that add practically nothing, if anything at all, to the story, to character development (well, let's be honest, nothing develops here: the characters are as static as the film).

Joaquin Phoenix is bad and Mark Ruffalo seriously miscast, but they are both topped by Jennifer Connelly, who struggles with a terrible part, which sells her very short, to the point where you want to beat her agent with a stick. Actually, the screenwriting is awful: the dialogue creaks and strains, often feeling underwritten.

Also, the death of children is never really watchable in a film. So I don't recommend it.


So Bush predictably robbed TARP to pay the automakers. I think that the American political establishment is between a rock and a hard place with the car industry, and it's somewhat reminiscent of the decline of British Leyland. Obviously, American automakers aren't making products that people want to buy, and should, in a free market, go to the wall. But that would mean a lot of people out of work (it's not just the guys who make the cars, it's people like the rubber firm that makes the trim for Ford cars: probably, over time, it will have shed other clients, so that now its whole capacity goes to Ford).

I note that Bush attached strings: exactly the kind of punitive treatment of carworkers that the Repugnicunts tried to stick the Dems with in Congress. The union says it will try to have Obama rewrite the agreement but I simply wouldn't expect him to: it's better with him to write your expectations down to, say, 1% better than Bush, and hope to be surprised.

Starve the world

Among the many interests President Obama will serve is the ethanol lobby, which will be pleased that he has put Vilsack in as agriculture secretary.

America's "green" policy is a parody of what is needed. Bush, like most Australians, favoured "clean" coal (which is as sensible a concept as clean mud), but other neocons have pushed ethanol hard. They see it as a route for America to become self-sufficient in fuel.

But ethanol is not green at all. Burning it emits more carbon than burning petrol, and the demand for corn has pushed prices up to the point that much of the world can no longer afford it. This, plus NAFTA, has devastated rural Mexico, helping to fuel the immigrant problem that exercises many Americans.

The more conservative Obama supporters say "don't judge him, he's not inaugurated yet", as he shafts the left again and again. But, you know, the time to judge these charlatans is before they do damage, so that they do not feel they have a mandate to pursue an agenda that will hurt us. These "Third Way" politicians are particularly dangerous, because they preach conciliation, bipartisanship, a "new politics", but what they pursue is nothing more than a new road to put the profits into the pockets of the rich. Tony Blair didn't renew the UK: he refreshed the bank balances of the super rich.

I hope I'm wrong about Obama, but I don't think I will turn out to be. He's not Bush, for which we can be thankful, but he's Blair. The day even the most fervent supporter should have woken up to the truth was when he voted for the new FISA.