Opinions, Etc: 5.05.04


Well, Happy Cinco de Mayo to everyone. Fuck the Mexicans.

Well, a few items of interest, then a lot of food-related stuff in Mailbag to close off. I don’t see why I should keep you from the good stuff, so start right in…


My God, Jackson is rocking the house! And just in time for E3, too! Don’t believe the retirement stuff either. He can’t live without some LUV from the audience. So give him some and keep his sad black ass doing the Down-Lo.

And do the same thing for Platt while you’re at it. And if you ever thought that Trip was hated among columnists, you should have been in our super-secret writers’ forum when we started discussing Bobby Flay.

Gamble pimps Ostermeyer and Gagnon in the teaser. I can’t beat that.

Coogs does more American Idol dissection. I passed on that and went to the good stuff, which there is always an example of in there.

Haley exposes his Little Things again. Someone should arrest this man.

Zucconi commutes in from Neptune to remind us that he exists. Regularity, Dino, that’s the key. But the last-second degree push thing, I can understand. And, personally, I’m taking my normal wait-and-see attitude toward Trip. I’m not anointing him or anything like some people are. As for why SD isn’t getting the IWC LUV that Raw is, despite IWC godlings holding the belt on each show, well, I think it’s more of the fact that everyone’s playing catch-up with how lousy SD’s been over the last six months. During the beginning of that period, Raw was worse. Now it’s becoming at least bearable, and it’s casting SD in a very bad light. At least Raw didn’t have the nerve to pimp Bob Holly and John Layfield as title contenders, you know what I mean?

Rutherford must have submitted before I was put up, but that’s cool. And keep Braga away from anything that requires a camera or script, please. If we can also get him away from Jeri Ryan, that would please me as well.

I was saddened by the Movie Gang not comparing Soul Plane to Gay Niggers From Outer Space, but I’ll live with it.

Did Physics, Misha, got the degree and everything to prove it. And I’d be at a disadvantage taking a British geek test.

No beef scare that I know of, Yeager. However, nobody’s been buying beef lately because the damn prices have been so high, so they were probably trying to either get rid of inventory or trying to get people back in the habit. Personally, I won’t recommend buying beef until, well, the middle of next month, because the God Of Inspection is coming back where he belongs, and he’s doing beef.

Will Morse ever be able to do a column without mentioning Green Lantern? I doubt it. But at least he mentions Archie Bell, one of the few artists of his period to serve in Vietnam (and it killed his career, because when “Tighten Up” hit big, he was sitting in a hospital in ‘Nam recovering from battle injuries and couldn’t record a follow-up).

And as for recidivism in the DCU, how about Star Sapphire, thanks to various and sundry writers trying to figure out a way to turn her into GL’s Catwoman and failing miserably?

Stevens has a case of Morse Disease.

And back to Morse, who can’t mention GL because this is a Marvel Universe column…no, he still does it. Dammit, Morse, stop it!


Spin control is now in full effect thanks to the revelations of US abuse of prisoners at various detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dubbaya went on a couple Arab radio stations to do the “we’re sorry” routine, but it isn’t working. The Army IG’s office has evidence that MPs have done such wonderful things as forcing naked prisoners into what’s euphemistically called “compromising positions” (come on, I want details; are they taking digital photos and putting them up on “Iraqi POWs Gone Wild” or something?), shoving chemical light sticks and broomhandles up their asses, threatening them with dogs, and using verbal abuse…

…well, they’re calling the prisoners faggots. Big deal. That’s one of the Army’s most popular words. If some soldier wants to come off as Harry Hardass, they call some subordinate a faggot. Anyone who’s been in the Army’s been called a faggot in a threatening and demoralizing manner at some point. So I’ll let this one go. The MPs are behaving like every MP I ever knew in that regard. However, it wasn’t the Iraqis shoving stuff up other guys’ asses, so they don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

The thing is, though, we’re supposed to be the nice guys. We don’t do things like shove broomsticks up guys’ asses when they’re our prisoners. We’re supposed to reserve that kind of behavior for our own people, like during the Gulf War, when soldiers were woken up at three in the morning, told to line up, then given injections. If someone asked what the injections were, or tried to refuse the injections after not being told what was in them, he or she was threatened with court-martial. This, by the way, isn’t bullshit. I was told the story by a number of people I served with when they got back from Saudi and Kuwait. Being Army Medical, my friends who went through this were naturally interested in what was in those shots, but the brass was bound and determined to keep it secret. I was the one in our group who eventually figured out that it was some kind of anti-biological-warfare serum (everyone trusted me because I was the one with the scientific background). And I was revealed years later to be right. It was anti-anthrax, and that serum is said now to be one of the main causes of Gulf War Syndrome. But that has no bearing on this. I just wanted to tell you what JJ’s employers are capable of so you won’t be too surprised at this whole story.

So we can abuse our people all we like, but we’re too good to abuse others. That’s the American way. Apparently not. And it wasn’t an isolated incident or two either. Since they committed what in the Army is regarded as the greatest sin of all, getting caught, someone has to get the blame. The commanding general of the MP divisions involved is saying that Intelligence gave his men their orders (JJ, tell us, were there orders floating around from your people telling MPs that they can shove things up prisoners’ asses?). The former head of the occupation government’s Department of Human Rights says that he was refused entrance to military prisons after he heard about the abuses and had to go to the Red Fucking Cross for help. Joe Biden wants Rumsfeld’s head for this, while Rummy is serving up a dozen soldiers who have been crimially charged or have gone through Article 15s for abuses. Like that’ll help. It hasn’t so far. cnn.com’s poll on the subject is evenly split on the resignation issue.

So far, fourteen prisoners have died under the watchful eye of the MPs, including at least one whose death is being covered up as “justifiable homicide”. And you know that some of the ultra-pseudo-patriots that are floating around are going to try to shove this under the rug (“Those towelheads deserve everything they get! 9-1-1!! 9-1-1!!!”). For the benefit of those assholes, I hereby provide you with this information, which is known to every person in the US Army. This is Article 3, Section 1, of the Geneva Convention Relative To The Treatment Of Prisoners Of War, 1949, which the United States is a signatory to:

Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Article 13 of the Geneva Convention:

Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

Article 14 of said:

Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour. Women shall be treated with all the regard due to their sex and shall in all cases benefit by treatment as favourable as that granted to men. Prisoners of war shall retain the full civil capacity which they enjoyed at the time of their capture. The Detaining Power may not restrict the exercise, either within or without its own territory, of the rights such capacity confers except in so far as the captivity requires.

Article 87:

Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishments, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden.

Article 121:

Every death or serious injury of a prisoner of war caused or suspected to have been caused by a sentry, another prisoner of war, or any other person, as well as any death the cause of which is unknown, shall be immediately followed by an official enquiry by the Detaining Power. (please note the “immediately” part; this situation was covered up, and there are internal enquiries which are almost certain falsified)

In other words, members of the United States Army have participated in war crimes, and the culpability for those actions goes all the way up to the Commander-In-Chief. After January 20th, I pray that his ass is arrested and hauled to The Hague. Maybe they can shove a light stick up him for good measure while they’re at it.


The Geneva Convention has a slightly weird exemption to it. Take a gander at Article 33:

Members of the medical personnel and chaplains while retained by the Detaining Power with a view to assisting prisoners of war, shall not be considered as prisoners of war. They shall, however, receive as a minimum the benefits and protection of the present Convention, and shall also be granted all facilities necessary to provide for the medical care of, and religious inistration to, prisoners of war.

They shall continue to exercise their medical and spiritual functions for the benefit of prisoners of war, preferably those belonging to the armed forces upon which they depend, within the scope of the military laws and regulations of the Detaining Power and under the control of its competent services, in accordance with their professional etiquette. They shall also benefit by the following facilities in the exercise of their medical or spiritual functions:

(a) They shall be authorized to visit periodically prisoners of war situated in working detachments or in hospitals outside the camp. For this purpose, the Detaining Power shall place at their disposal the necessary means of transport.

(b) The senior medical officer in each camp shall be responsible to the camp military authorities for everything connected with the activities of retained medical personnel. For this purpose, Parties to the conflict shall agree at the outbreak of hostilities on the subject of the corresponding ranks of the medical personnel, including that of societies mentioned in Article 26 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949. This senior medical officer, as well as chaplains, shall have the right to deal with the competent authorities of the camp on all questions relating to their duties. Such authorities shall afford them all necessary facilities for correspondence relating to these questions.

(c) Although they shall be subject to the internal discipline of the camp in which they are retained, such personnel may not be compelled to carry out any work other than that concerned with their medical or religious duties.

During hostilities, the Parties to the conflict shall agree concerning the possible relief of retained personnel and shall settle the procedure to be followed.

None of the preceding provisions shall relieve the Detaining Power of its obligations with regard to prisoners of war from the medical or spiritual point of view.

Nowhere in there does it differentiate medical care providers from medical support staff, no matter what their connection to medicine they might have. The Army vets know what I’m talking about when I say that I was a 91S…actually, they might not, because that’s one of the more obscure medical jobs in the Army. Essentially, my duties covered things like food inspection, insect control, telling people where to dig latrines (but not digging them myself), water purification, industrial hygeine, pecker-checking…nothing that dealt with treatment of the sick and wounded. Yet I was covered under this provision. I carried an additional identification card stating that if I was taken by enemy forces, I would not be regarded as a Prisoner of War. I would be considered “detained personnel” and would not be forced to do anything outside of my duties (and be at the top of the list for repatriation). So, as a “prisoner”, I would still be doing things like inspecting mess halls and such.

I don’t know why I brought that up, really. I’ve always thought it interesting.


Everyone knew a couple of years ago that Michael Moore was working on a documentary describing the connections between the Bush and bin Laden families. That documentary is now finished. It’s called Fahrenheit 9/11 and is set to premiere at Cannes (in the main competition, no less, something no documentary has ever done). But there’s one slight problem. It doesn’t have a distributor.

Moore’s documentaries are normally distributed by Miramax. Miramax is owned by Disney. Moore was told earlier this week by Miramax that Disney will not allow Miramax to distribute the film, and he broke the news immediately on his web site and to the normal media outlets, namely the Noo Yawk Times and Daily Variety. This is the first time that Moore has had any trouble getting one of his documentaries distributed. Miramax loves him, because his documentaries are cheap, but make big bucks thanks to his notoriety (take Bowling For Columbine; it cost US$3M to make and hauled in about US$120M at the box office and from video sales).

Now, I am NOT a Michael Moore defender. I think he’s strident, overbearing, and tends to draw attention away from issues. In other words, he’s a bit of an embarassment to us liberals. But this is one time I’m going to have to take his side. It’s just too easy for me to do so given the people involved.

We’re talking Disney, folks. We’re talking Andre the Giant. And we all know how I feel about him and them. It’s bad enough that they decided to use their pet politicos to destroy copyright laws to such an extent that nothing will ever become public domain again (and helped to usher in the current era of **AA repression). Now they’re f*cking with political speech. And they’re doing it at the worst time.

First of all, the Weinsteins’ contracts with Disney are currently being renegotiated. Miramax has been a rare bright spot for the Mouse. Just look at all of the Kill Bill money and positive glow that Miramax has been able to contribute. Harvey Weinstein is going to bat for Moore, if only on the basis that Moore’s a profit machine. If Eisner insists on not distributing Fahrenheit 9/11, this might cause him to lose the Weinsteins. Without them, Miramax is a shell. Without Miramax, Disney loses another crown jewel. Coming on top of the loss of Pixar, the near ouster of Eisner at the stockholders’ meeting a month and a half ago, the smearing of Disney’s rep by Comcast when the purchase fell through, and the box office failures of The Alamo and Home on the Range, the loss of Miramax as a viable entity could be the final straw for Disney.

And then there’s the issue of political censorship. That was brought up immediately by Moore’s agent, who pointed out very nicely that the Walt Disney Company gets a great many tax breaks from the State of Florida, whose governor happens to be a subject of Moore’s documentary, and is not painted very well in it. Of course, that didn’t need to be brought up. The ass-licking from Eisner is obvious, so obvious that there are senators who realize it. Frank Lautenberg wrote a letter to John McCain in McCain’s capacity as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, essentially saying, “Look, this is a company that distributed Kill Bill for Miramax, one of the most violent films ever made, and they’re clamping down on this? It’s GOT to be because of the Bush family’s portrayal.” Disney’s spin on this? “We don’t want to take sides in a political argument.” Uh, excuse me? You have no choice. You have a political documentary on your hands, and there is no way that you can justify clamping it down for financial reasons. It’s going to make money, and you need money right now. So you have two choices, Disney: you release it and spin the release as a fiscally sound decision, all the while looking good in the eyes of people who still believe that there’s a thing called the First Amendment, or you say no and look like the tools of Jeb Bush that you are, with no way to spin it in your favor.

Doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me. Fuck Disney, yet again.


So three little bombs outside Athens police stations are putting people into a tizzy. All of the freaks who are still getting off of their orgasmic highs by pointing out, “The bombings in Madrid took place 911 days after September 11th” (not thinking, of course, that in Europe and in most countries, the day comes first, then the month), are now screaming, “The bombs went off 100 days before the Olympics start!”, causing everyone and their mother to Chicken Little. Dark thoughts of 1972 are entering everyone’s heads…

…lay off, people. Greece has some domestic problems right now that can easily account for this. Take the situation in Cyprus, for one, where the Greek half of the island got a case of the stupids which cost them hundreds of millions of euros in EU funds because they couldn’t swallow their pride and live with their neighbors. Consider that the country had a recent and very bitter change of government. Consider that there are remnant of radical groups still around from a crackdown a couple years ago.

Remember that there’s a massive amount of money going into security for the games. Of course, that won’t stop a lone weirdo with an axe to grind (see Atlanta, 1996), but it’ll help prevent more organized actions. Also consider that Barcelona went off without a hitch despite similar conditions in 1992 to today in re the Middle East and homegrown terrorist threats.

In other words, ignore it.


Memo to Semi-Regular Raffi Shamir: I know that Likud put the axe in Sharon’s plan. However, I was extrapolating the nature of the Israeli parliamentary system. Likud forms the majority of the Knesset in coalition with smaller parties, so for all intents and purposes, a vote among Likud is essentially a vote in the Knesset. Some Americans do have an understanding of such matters. Also, we Americans tend to name our scientific research facilities after nearby locations, and if they’re not, we often tend to refer to the nearest locale as shorthand for that facility. Just as an example, the University of Chicago has deep connections to two Chicago-area federal laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. When discussing them, instead of using their names, we referred to them as “Lemont” and “Batavia”. I just carried that habit over with Dimona.

Joe Brosseau gave me a nice comparison between Iron Chef and wrestling:

I haven’t seen a character comparison between Iron Chef and the WWE yet. It just seems so obvious. Starting at the top, you have Chairman Takeshi Kaga matched up with Vincent K. McMahon. Both men are all-controlling visionary owners who establish the various gimmick matches for the combatants. Their younger relatives, Mark Dacascos and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, also call the shots, but are much less respected than the Chairmen. I resisted the physical comparison for Mr. Dacascos to a skinny version of you-know-who.

Agreed on all points there. Continue.

On to the Iron Chefs. Original Iron Chef Japanese, Rokusaburo Michiba, was the original Champion. He brought Iron Chef out of obscurity, and put it on the map. Sounds like Hulk Hogan to me. Michiba was replaced by Masaharu Morimoto, an Iron Chef known to fuse traditional tastes with modern techniques – a real student of the culinary game. Not the most popular Iron Chef, but he is considered the current champion. Morimoto has been known to stray from the secret ingredient in order to push his own theme. No doubt about this one – HHH.

Ah, but you missed someone. Iron Chef Nakamura came between those two. Let’s see…Nakamura. Traditional Japanese, but with twists that showed a definite bridge between classical and modern. The standard-bearer for the powerful and influential Nadaman. Definitely Bret Hart.

Next is my personal favorite, the Zen master, Hiroyuki Sakai, Iron Chef French. He’s long past the age when a lesser chef would retire, but he can still bring it with the best of them. His mastery of a multitude of styles allows him to elevate his game no matter what the ingredient. He makes his competitors look better, and nothing fazes him, in every kitchen stadium match. Yup, you guessed it, the Nature Boy matches up here – woooo.

Anyone less and you would have to die. Major Sakai and Flair mark here. But I’m still trying to find a fit for Iron Chef Ishinabe. Left the show before his star really was given a chance to shine. Solid, respected competitor who can make an occasional comeback. Nick Bockwinkle?

Iron Chef Chinese, Chen Kenichi, has also been around for years. He keeps to the same old school formula, but keeps right on winning. He may take some time off on occasion, but always comes back with success. Known for his shark fin soup(bones), bong the wok slowly for the Undertaker.

No. You’re taking the wrong approach to Chen. Second-generation star who admitted that he needed the gimmick of IC to get out of his dad’s shadow. Tends to stick close to the family tradition. Lots of flamboyance but gets lost when he tries something too radically different. Dustin Runnels.

Finally, we have Iron Chef Italian, Masahiko Kobe. Truly a forgettable competitor – The Portuguese Man O’ War, Aldo Montoya, quickly comes to mind.

Except that ol’ Aldo won a world title. Young, mega-pushed before he was ready, but eventually came through like a trouper. Often underestimated. I’d go Kurt Angle if you want to be positive or Brock Lesnar if you want to go negative.

On to the Americans – Bobby Flay, the man with the Southwest cuisine, can be downright egotistical and annoying at times. But he sure can cook, and is especially motivated when he’s going against his friend, Chef Morimoto (HHH). There was a time when Chef Flay lost his smile, but he seems to have regained it. Yes, it’s cooking’s equivalent of Shawn Michaels.

Plus he doesn’t want to do the job. Sounds like Michaels to me.

Next, Wolfgang Puck, the originator of California cuisine. He seems to have lost a step, and relies on others, but he’s still the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be – the Hitman.

My ass. Makes people believe that his “pizzas” are actually pizza, overbearing, domineering, gets pissy when people get out of line…he’s the Undertaker.

Last, but not least, we have Mario Batali – Super Mario. A super-heavyweight competitor, he can be dynamite when he’s properly motivated. Unfortunately, he usually isn’t – well it’s the Big Show.

Surprisingly, it was TBS who pimped pasta products while Batali gets to do Glad Wrap.

The comparisons could continue – I see Fukui as the best announcer – maybe Joey Styles?

Ross in his prime would do. But not Styles, because Styles could handle a one-man booth, unlike Brown.

Ota, the kitchen stadium reporter, is a Mean Gene Okerlund in his prime.


Lest I forget, Alton Brown is, without a doubt, the Mr. Know-it-all of cooking. His role screams fat Tony Schiavane. What do you think?

Let’s see, a good announcer ruined by idiots screaming the wrong thing in his ear…yeah, that’s Fat Tony. Nice work, but it could use those improvements I mentioned.

By the way, Food Network wants to do more episodes, and so do the chefs, so there will be more on the way. And Memo to Slick Rick: the Chairman was not played by the same actor who played Kaga’s nephew/replacement in Japan. The Japanese nephew was Masahiro Motoki, the American nephew was, of course, Mark Dacascos.

Memo to Kyle McCowin: the “freshness dot” on ground beef is actually a pretty good idea. Because of the grinding process, especially with coarse grind, the age of the beef can’t be distributed uniformly, and the stores always put the freshest-looking area on top. The slightly grey Prime is always a better selection than the fresh Choice (less fat and blood in the Prime). That’s why USDA hires and trains graders. Also, ignore Alton Brown and listen to someone who actually knows something about meat, namely me: there are three basic types of ground cow that you can buy. There’s ground beef, hamburger, and beef pattie mix. Ground beef is the best, since it’s a piece of cow shoved into a grinder with nothing else. Hamburger contains added fat, while beef pattie mix contains all sorts of crap. When you see something like “ground sirloin”, that means that the package contains only beef sirloin that’s been ground. You then have to get into the quality of the particular cuts. Sirloin’s the best cut that usually goes into ground beef, followed by chuck. So, in other words, buy ground beef of at least Choice quality, preferably sirloin.

And on that subject, yet another Memo to Jake Gnosis: if you have a reputable sausage maker, no beef CNS tissue is used in the making of what we in the biz call comminuted meat products (and if you’re under inspection, the inspectors will monitor that you’re not using CNS tissue explicity). The spinal cord is normally removed during sectioning, and the head is inspected for cheek meat use only. The brains are discarded. The reason why USDA only went after cows that were showing visible signs of illness in trying to isolate BSE is that prion testing is very difficult and very expensive (you have to have brain tissue cultured in order to determine whether or not a cow is infected), especially given the extremely low chance of actually contracting BSE through meat products as they’re processed in the US. In other words, don’t freak.

I’ll end that off here so I can get this in. Enjoy yourselves this weekend, and I’ll see you back on 411 on Tuesday.