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Groundhog Day (The Movie) and Buddhism

Welcome to another perennial item. I run this one every year in conjunction with Groundhog Day, (the 34th funniest American film of all time, according to the American Film Institute) since the Bill Murray movie of the same name is my favorite movie of all times. This is the fifth time I've run this item!

I went to a showing of Groundhog Day sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center on Friday, Aug. 10, 2001, held in the Trustees' Auditorium of the Asian Art Museum in Golden Gate Park (relocating in October 2002 to the old SF Main library in the civic center).

I have so much to say about this exciting, exhilarating, eye-opening experience that it is now a subsite titled Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me, which includes a description of that seminal showing, commentary, and links to other sites that deal with the connection. While noticing the connection between this movie and Buddhism is not particularly profound, it was news to me, and the nuances were explored in a particularly exciting fashion during the Zen Center presentation. My set of pages are rapidly gaining ground as the authoritative center for GHD/Buddhism commentary on the web. I brush it up and add new material regularly, so if you haven't been there in a while, take a look.

If you love the work of GHD writer Danny Rubin as much as I do, check out his web site which includes a bio, a list of his works in progress (exciting) and a list of his sold films (also exciting).

I can't wait for his next released film. Go Danny!

In the meantime, note that the University of California has published a Groundhog Day book, by Ryan Gilbey.

Bush Spying, Bush Muddled, The End Of The American Republic This Week, Internet Kind Of People: Do Dems Want Them?

U.S. accused of spying on those who disagree with Bush policies
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
[last paragraphs]
"Neither you nor anybody in that (Quaker) church had anything to do with terrorism," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. "The fact is, the Truth Project may have a philosophy that is adverse to the political philosophy and goals of the president of the United States. And as a result of that different philosophy, the president and the secretary of defense ordered that your group be spied upon.

"There should not be a single American who today remains confident that it couldn't happen to them."


No Comment Required:

Office of the Press Secretary: The White House. "President Discusses Strengthening Social Security in Florida." 4 February 2005.

Question: ...How is it the new plan is going to fix that problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)


Raw Story: No tomorrow.... If all goes as planned, in a week or so that Republic will finally escape our grip. When the Senate votes to affirm Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the central tenet of our government - the separation of powers - will take a blow from which it will likely never recover. In its place a de facto monarchy will solidify and expand, and our Constitution will join the Geneva Convention as a quaint anachronism. And the Republic we have kept for two hundred years will join its Athenian and Roman predecessors as good ideas whose time has passed.


Washington Post: Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center

It is possible that the real attitude of the people who have been running and ruining the Democratic Party was inadvertently revealed in this comment:

The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."

Here's the response from

I'm going to let James field this one. His comments are here:
If your name is accompanied by the words "Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign," then you deserve a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up.


Impeachment Watch

Alito Watch


by Craig Reynolds

Pixar takes over Disney: OK, I know that technically Disney purchased Pixar, but the way Pixar's brain trust ends up in several key positions at Disney its easy to see it the other way: Disney-Pixar merger pact lays out conditions.  Steve Jobs goes to the Disney Board of Directors.  Ed Catmull (who I'm proud to say I've known since 1978) goes from president of Pixar to president of the combined Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. John Lasseter will be Disney's Chief Creative Officer. "Jobs said that most of the discussions with Disney focused on managing the cultural issues between Pixar and Disney.... 'We think we understand how to keep Pixar being Pixar.'"  Some have compared the current situation to when to some extent "NeXT took over Apple".  In a related development, plans for a non-Pixar Toy Story sequel are scraped: 'Toy Story 3' to Be Retooled at Pixar-Sources.

Google news: after the Feds contend "all your query are belong to us": Senator seeks information on subpoena of Google.  Now everyone is talking about how to be more anonymous in your searching: Keeping Secrets ("A simple prescription for keeping Google's records out of government hands"), Privacy for People Who Don't Show Their Navels and How to Foil Search Engine Snoops.  But their short-lived reputation for sticking up for the little guy against government abuses dissolved: Google censors itself for China (see for example this image search for "tiananmen" on and Their rationalization was "While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no more inconsistent with our mission". Well, isn't that convenient?  At least they can still push around Baby Bells: Google to BellSouth: Go Tier Yourself a New One.  Google team with Lenovo Group and Sun: Tech Giants Take on BadwareGoogle News is "out of beta." Finally How to add a Google Map to any web page in less than 10 minutes.

DRM: the Broadcast Flag did not fly as an FCC rule, now Hollywood's lackeys are trying to push this nosebleed concept through the legislature: New Senate Broadcast Flag Bill Would Freeze Fair Use.  What do you expect in the The Year of Living DRMishlyJ. Alex Halderman and Ed Felten have been reverse-engineering the Sony BMG malware and report at Freedom to Tinker: CD DRM: Attacks on Disc Recognition (via).

Technobits: a schism in Open Source? I won't convert Linux to GPL 3, says Torvalds --- UN body backs $100 laptop for world's kids --- Internet serves as 'social glue' --- Can video iPod lead to DMCA reform? --- Not All Web Recommendations Are Welcome: Like This? You'll Hate That --- can't do better than a DVD in my living room?!  What Business are theaters in? --- internal surgical robots --- Intel shows test chips made on future processes --- Court Will Hear BlackBerry Case Next Month --- Demystifying the eBay Selling Experience --- Freezing cold Earth-like planet is discovered --- Strange setup: Andromeda's satellite galaxies all lined up --- Again?!  With all of their innovation in software and hardware, surely Apple need not produce lame derivative commercials?: Indie band cries foul over Apple's new Intel ad

The Top 16 Signs Your Showbiz Career Isn't Taking Off

As they say in the lottery, you can't win if you don't play. It has been a long time since I contributed to a list, and I made it… just barely.

16> People Magazine refers to you as a "simple man's Adam Sandler."

15> You only release one video every other year or so, and it's always from the same Tora Bora cave.

14> You've been crashing on Leif Garrett's sofa since 1997.

13> You let Tom Cruise knock you up.

12> Your Ruben-Studdard-in-drag *killed* in C-block, but those narrow-minded producers wouldn't let you get anywhere near Simon, Randy and Paula.

11> Sure, gay cowboy movies are the rage, but the shot-on-video one for which you're auditioning is titled "PokeBack Mountin'."

10> You're beginning to think Mr. de Mille wasn't serious about bringing you back on board for the "Ten Commandments" sequel.

9> Citing "chemistry," they team your dummy up with a different ventriloquist.

8> Tom Cruise: "Interview With the Vampire." You: interview with the floor manager at Bargain Barn.

7> Simon Cowell says, "You suck!" -- using his butt cheeks.

6> Your act? Covering Milli Vanilli songs at a karaoke bar. Your act's name? Milli Vanilli.

5> Best role on your resume: Homeless Man's Butt Double.

4> The producers decide that credibility dictates someone else play the part of you in "Andy Warhol's '15 Minutes' Theory: The Exception."

3> Despite your best attempts at conveying sincerity and honesty, your audience remains unconvinced that those are, indeed, today's specials.

2> The only people who want to record you are in the Bush Administration.

and's Number 1 Sign Your Showbiz Career Isn't Taking Off...

1> Your already-small role in "The Lance Armstrong Story" is being trimmed in favor of more shots of a cancerous testicle.

[ The Top 5 List ] [ Copyright 2006 by Chris White ]

Selected from 129 submissions from 46 contributors. Today's Top 5 List authors are: Brad Simanek, Cedar Rapids, IA -- 1 (37th #1/Hall of Famer)

Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 14

Bush Is A Saint

President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Methodist Church outside Washington. Karl Rove made a visit to the Bishop and said to him,"We've been getting a lot of bad publicity among Methodists because of Bush's position on stem cell research, the War, and such. I'll gladly make a contribution to the church of $100,000 if during your sermon, you'd say the President is a saint."

The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and said, "The Church is in desperate need of funds. I will do it."

Bush pompously showed up that following Sunday, looking especially smug, smirking for his photo ops, while strutting his way, cowboy-style, into the church.

As the sermon started, the Bishop began his homily:

"George Bush is a petty, self-absorbed hypocrite as well as a nitwit. He is a liar, a cheat, probably still a drunk, and a low-intelligence sneaky weasel. He has lied about his military record, and then had the gall to put himself in uniform on a military jet, landing on a carrier, and then posing before a banner stating 'Mission Accomplished.' He invaded a country for oil and money, all the while lying to the American people about the war, with nary a care for the thousands of lives it has taken and continues to take. He is the worst example of a Methodist I've ever personally known or known of.

But compared to Dick Cheney, George Bush is a saint."

Neal Vitale Reviews: Casanova, Constant Gardner, Hustle and Flow

Casanova - 3 stars

This lightweight, vaguely Shakespearean comedy of mistaken and misappropriated identities is a pleasant, pretty diversion that unfortunately devolves into slapstick and overly broad farce. While there are far worse ways to entertain yourself these days at the multiplex, Casanova is surprising in that it is the work of Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom. Perhaps setting a film in Venice was reward enough, as this film does not compare with his best work, The Cider House Rules and Chocolat.

--Neal Vitale

The Constant Gardener - 5 stars

I had the pleasure of watching this film a second time through, in its current release on DVD. The beautiful and subtle use of color that marked The Constant Gardener in its theatrical release seems a bit muted in home viewing, but other wonderful details stand out even more sharply. In particular, I appreciated the sensuality and vibrancy of Rachel Weisz's performance, and Bill Nighy shines in a small role as a conniving, high-handed British politician. Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) has made an absorbing, intelligent, and disturbing film from John le Carre's novel; it is my clear choice as this year's Best Picture.

--Neal Vitale

Hustle & Flow - 3.5 stars

I missed this film in its theatrical release, but watched it recently on DVD. Hustle & Flow was the big story at last year's Sundance Film Festival, and it is an impressive and accomplished film. High-energy, filled with fine acting, Hustle & Flow is the story of a Memphis pimp trying to make it as a rapper. Terrence Howard (Crash, Ray) gives a breakout performance as DJay, who tries every avenue to follow hometown boy Skinny Black (well-played by real-life rapper Ludacris) to success in the world of crunk/dirty south ("sex-obsessed, cuss-oriented Southern rap," per Anthony Anderson (Barbershop, Kangaroo Jack) and Taryn Manning (8 Mile, White Oleander, Cold Mountain) are very good in supporting roles, and Memphis-born Shaft-composer/singer Isaac Hayes has a nice cameo. Hustle & Flow is powerful, well-written, and eminently worth seeing, and you may find yourself singing "Whoop That Trick" for days. [Note - believe the ratings board when it puts an R on a film like this for "pervasive language."]

--Neal Vitale

Art House Problems, Some Canadian Links, Dan Grobstein File

Cinema Purgatorio: The horrors of art houses. Art houses, the sanctuaries of cinephiles, have their own peculiar horrors. Despite their noble commitment to the movies, what happens there on a nightly basis is far more absurd than anything that happens in the multiplex.... After years of intensive study, LA Weekly's Scott Foundas may have discovered the height of art-house snobbery: laughing at an unsubtitled bit of dialogue in a foreign film.

She and her husband Steve have laughed. So have I, in both French and German.

David Cheatley of Essential Computer Services in Canada noted a small error in a recent column, then went on to offer several interesting links:

Stephen Harper [the new Canadian PM] has been working for the last 2 years at looking less like a conservative academic and more like a person who can relate to normal people. Here's some links:

The good thing about [last week's] election is that the government needs the co-operation of 2 parties to pass anything. And the choices go from left to centre: NDP, Liberal, and Bloc Quebecois.

Do you ever read Ironic Times? Here are 2 gems from previous weeks that I particularly liked:

    • If we face up to reality, the realists will have won. 
    • A Year of Progress in Iraq: We've established democracy three times, stamped out all corruption twice, stopped abusing prisoners again and again, liberated Falluja repeatedly, trained Iraqi security forces successfully over and over, devised strategy for victory time after time and won the war on numerous occasions.

Dan Grobstein File

  • Talking Points Memo: Just a question. Back in 1988, then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) launched his jihad against House Speaker Jim Wright over his infamous book deal -- an arrangement which, while by no means kosher, seems almost quaint by today's standards. Wright was eventually forced to resign the speakership in May of 1989. Did Gingrich base his crusade on pushing for tighter rules on book deals?
  • Molly Ivins: Not. backing. Hillary. AUSTIN, Texas (Creators Syndicate) -- I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president. [be sure and check the end of the column]
  • The Late David Rosenbaum on Jack Abramoff. The late David Rosenbaum, the very well-regarded New York Times reporter who was murdered early this month near his home in Upper Northwest, wrote an excellent page A1 story about Jack Abramoff almost four years ago: back on April 3, 2002. "At $500 an Hour, Lobbyist's Influence Rises With G.O.P." By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM WASHINGTON, April 2 - In the last six months of 2001, the Coushatta Indians, a tribe with 800 members and a large casino in southwest Louisiana, paid $1.76 million to the law firm of Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist here. Last month, the Bush administration handed the tribe a big victory by blocking construction of a casino by a rival tribe that would have drained off much of the Coushattas' business.
  • Rules for Political Discourse, via Atrios.
  • Juan Cole: Top Ten Mistakes of the Bush Administration in Reacting to Al-Qaeda
  • Charles Pierce ad Washington's Worst. In their atrocious new book, Take It Back, James Carville and Paul Begala never go beyond the Beltway.
  • Search Alterman's column for the word "Gore" for a first-hand testimonial to Al's personal qualities.

New York Times

No News Is No News

I am not sure no news is good news, but it is certainly no news. So, instead of sharing some insight I gained this week playing the game of life, I will share my political and filmic opionions with you, as well as offering you a look at the opinions of some friends of mine.

Dumb Medicare Drugs, Noonan and GOP Values

This from Richard Dalton. I put it under politics because it makes you wonder if the Bush Administration made Medicare drugs stupid on purpose to make the government look bad--a popular theory about the two-cent stamp screwup.

You may recall I sent a polemic a few months back that showed some of the deficiencies and weaknesses of the Medicare Drug Plan(s), aka Medicare Part D.

No one can be unaware by this time, of the crazy choices seniors are being forced to make under the plan and how much turmoil this has caused. But an editorial in the Boston Globe by James Roosevelt Jr. points out the result of all this confusion.

Roosevelt says that a total of 11,6 million have enrolled since the plan started taking enrollments November 15, 2005. That sounds impressive until he adds that 10.6 million of those people were previously covered by Medicaid and were automatically enrolled (they were randomly assigned to plans which may or may not cover their drugs). Only one million non-Medicaid seniors have enrolled themselves in the last two months.

There are widespread reports of pharmacies being unable to fill crucial prescriptions because the insurers have been unable to reliably provide eligibility information. Other people have found that their medications are not covered by their plan's formulary--and each formulary is different. Worse, the plan can change the formulary any time it wants.

I doubt that anyone working for a sane employer has to make choices among 40-plus plans, but seniors have no choice unless they want to use a dart board for selection purposes. And then they still face uncertainty about each drug they need now and in the future, about deductibles, coverage gaps, and variable compensation rates.

Only the congress, the insurers, and the pharmaceutical companies could conspire to create a program that people over 65 desperately need, then make it incomprehensible and largely unusable.


Wall Street Journal: Not a Bad Time to Take Stock: Thoughts on the decline of the liberal media monopoly and the future of the GOP, by Peggy Noonan.

Peggy Noonan offers a veiled tribute to the arrival in Washington 25 years ago of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, of course, said under oath he supplied weapons to the terrorist nation of Iran --which weapons are, for all anyone in the United States knows, now being used to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. Reagan also sent money to a group of people the Congress viewed as terrorists in Latin America.

Noonan fails to note the appearance of a corporate monopoly (or oligopoly) of the means of mass communication in the United States. She is, of course, a paragon of virtue and a long-time barker and shill for what she characterizes as "traditional family values." She apparently takes a William Bennett "do as I say, not as I do" approach to the issue, given the way her social conservative brethren feel about single parenthood.

Single mother Noonan fails to note that it is the right-wing media oligopoly which is largely responsible for the Republican culture of corruption. The same concentration of the means of communication in the hands of a few conservatives also explains the failure of the corrupt party to adhere to what Ms. Noonan views as the "traditional" Republican values. Surely she cannot believe that today's GOP is, in any way, promoting limited government, a reduction in the size and power of government and government spending, and a healthy wariness of the military industrial complex.

After all, we were warned about said complex by one of Mother Noonan's Republican heroes, former five-star U.S. Army general and Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Given her opposition to just about every policy proposed by George Bush and Dick Cheney one wonders when she will be identified as a "defeatist" by Messrs. Bush and/or Cheney and/or their henchpersons. One might also wonder why the Cheney-Bush enabling editorial page of The Wall Street Journal distributed her column.




by Craig Reynolds

Jobs report: it looks like Disney has decided that there is only one successful feature animation company they decided to buy it: Disney Board Set to Meet Amid Pixar Merger Talk . The price being bandied about? $6.7 billion dollars. This would make Steve Jobs (of Pixar and Apple) into Disney's largest stockholder and a prime candidate for its board of directors. Talk about a tipping point in the convergence of computers, the Internet and the entertainment industry! Speaking of the Stevester, he had a message for Michael Dell: Apple v. Dell.

Google takes a stand: Privacy experts condemn subpoena of Google, Google Resists U.S. Subpoena of Search Data, Feds take porn fight to Google and this FAQ. This hare-brained scheme: Putting The Screws To Google make me wonder: even if the "Content Consortium" pulls it off, who would ever find the content if it wasn't indexed by Google? Other Google news: from the "MIT Advertising Lab": Advertising with Google Maps, update on Google Video and sorry to be late with last week's news: Google Earth now available for Mac.

DRM dos and don'ts: from the sublime: Chumbawumba: Why we don't use DRM on our CDs, to the ridiculous: DRM keeps Spielberg's Munich out of award-voters' hands. Lets not to forget our poster child of bad DRM: Sony Snafu Brings DRM to the Fore. For a serious issue like this, we will not stoop to using "plugging the anal hole" jokes here: Congress Takes Aim at 'Analog Hole'. While up north: Hollywood's MP caught lying on tape.

Image search, auto-edit: in PCWorld's New Ways to Wrangle Video and Photos one thing that jumped out at me was Pictureal which is apparently a largely automatic process for editing down your home videos.  You give them the raw video from your camcorder, they send you an edited DVD. Also using facial recognition along with text recognition is a new photo search service called Riya. Its currently in alpha test but opening soon: Riya photo search site open to public February. Along these lines AOL bought the video search engine Truveo which claims to find content from visual data.

New medical research: novel therapies and insights: Gene Therapy 'Turns Off' Mutation Linked To Parkinson's Disease, Researchers Find Another Origin for Alzheimer's and Utah Researchers Confirm Chromosome May Harbor Autism Gene.

Technobits: The Softening of a Software Man (Like the robber barons, Bill Gates has moved from trying to take over the world to trying to save it. No wonder no one’s afraid of Microsoft anymore) --- Apple to Sell S.N.L. Skits for iPod Use (its a nice idea, and while I like iTunes flat price for all songs, isn't $2 for a single SNL skit a bit steep?) --- Hey, Baby Bells: Information Still Wants to Be Free --- Math Will Rock Your World --- Science's 10 most beautiful experiments --- beautiful Hubble image: Best Orion Nebula Image Ever Taken --- Ants build their own medicine cabinet --- slide rule nostalgia --- Find Music You'll Love: Pandora --- Using Color Codes To Browse the Web --- Reboot your computer, be anonymous --- help analyze comet dust: Stardust@home --- artificial intelligence is 50 years old --- top ten reasons why nobody reads your blog.