Thursday, October 10, 2002

ZoNotes: Hay que lastima, que lastima, que lastima me da...

There was another shooting last night, this one at a gas station in Manassas, VA over in Prince William County. Although local law enforcement officials haven't made a direct link with serial sniper in this case, I opine that it is likely the ninth shooting victim in this rampage which has resulted in six dead and two wounded in the last week. All of this is rather disturbing, especially last night when I stopped at a gas station in Arlington to top off my car's fuel tanks. The attacker's "portfolio" indicates, I think, a desire to hit at isolated areas outside the Washington, DC area. For ZoNoters who reside in the local vicinity, I'd advise for you to look out, but if this sniper is hitting at an average distance of five baseball fields away, what exactly should you be watching out for?

The attacker has married his skill, weaponry, and an erstwhile unlikely "getaway" vehicle -- a white van -- to elude even a concrete sighting.

Something to take into consideration, and perhaps the combined DC area law enforcement people have done it already, is to have their own sniper teams trace this maniac down. The most effective profiling could come not only from the professional profilers, but from people who actually are snipers for a living.

Freedoms and Discretions
I'm sure that recording star and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is sincere in his opposition to any offensive operations against Iraq and would of course be critical of Bush Administration officials. But his remarks comparing SecState Colin Powell to being a slave are a bit much. Conversely, Powell's subdued and classy reaction to such an incendiary attack shows that sticks and stones still break bones, but words just show up on paper.

Again, as this is America, I could get on a stool and proclaim that I think that that pink polka dots on green wallpaper are a classy fashion choice for up and coming young suburbanites, and Mr. Belafonte was merely exercising his right in this country to utter complete inanities about the federal government. Now, if the same Mr. Belafonte was in, Cuba, Iraq, or North Korea, the reaction from Dear Leader or el Jefe Maximo or whomever held the big stick and sitting on the gold throne would be to send out the Revolutionary Guards and ensure that Mr. Belafonte enjoyed the sweet hospitality of the local intelligence directorate.

So, this episode is a solid example of why America is a great country. You have the right to stick your tongue out at the state and all the state will do is ignore you. What a great American export!

"If any cleric or monk speaks jocular words, such as provoke laughter, let him be anathema." -- Ordinance, Second Council of Constance, 1418.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

ZoNotes: Removing All Doubt

Buffy Recap: The Invisibles
Yesterday's episode was an innovative achievement and a novel way of dealing with Willow's return to Sunnydale after recuperating from her dance with the dark side in England. By making Willow invisible to Buffy and Zander, and vice versa, the show's writing team captured the awkwardness of Willow's arrival in a way that didn't trivialize what she did. As Buffy is the Slayer, and therefore responsible for protecting the populace from the demonically inclined, she naturally thought that Willow had slipped again to dark magic when the skinned corpse was discovered. Ah, but then we were introduced to Gnarl, the disgusting skin-eating demon. The repeating scenes that tracked Willow/Buffy and Zander, each garnering their own perspective on a particular development, were technical achievements worth noting. Indeed, the breakthrough moment came when Willow, Buffy, and Zander were talking to re-souled Spike, but could not see each other. Naturally, Spike could see both of them, but since the three couldn't see each other, it looked like Spike was talking to thin air. The scene displays the breadth that this series can tackle, and is the latest in a series of acting milestones that make Buffy the best show on television today.

Do note that Buffy's writing team created a gothic mythos and rules of vampirism that until the series started in 1997 did not exist. Thankfully, all the "usual" protocols of the series have remained consistent over the life of the show, which makes us understand Spike's current conundrum. Plus, something to pay attention to is the heavy pop cultural influence that the outside world has on the show itself. Willow's recovery and the ensuing "connection" with the world around us could easily be traced back to George Lucas and Star Wars, specifically the whole concept of the Force and light/dark sides. Many of the lines recited by the characters speak of references to Harry Potter and other icons. Many of Willow's lines in the last 3 episodes of the new season could easily have been quoted by Sir Alec Guinness as Kenobi or Frank Oz as Yoda.

Ok, you have your daily dose of geeky deconstruction and overanalysis out of the way. Aren't you happy?

Lockout Residuals
The 10-day lockout of dock workers on the west coast has already caused a logistical burp in the way the nation does business. As this was a lockout instead of a strike, it was interesting to see the Bush Admin. invoke the Taft-Hartley act to initiate a move to return to work. However, if you were planning on getting the latest DVD player or television for Christmas, you may not be getting it. The 10-day stoppage created a sizeable backlog on the thousands of goods sitting in port. Many of the perishable goods are now rendered useless as they are spoiled or rotten. So, it will take time for the dock workers to figure out what goes and what doesn't.

"The shortest distance between two points is usually under repair." -- Unknown

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

ZoNotes: Won't Get Fooled Again

Sitting Ducks...
Whoever this DC shooter/sniper is/are, he/she/they are eluding the area police with stealth and evasiveness that indicates to me that the attacker has some sort of background using high-powered weaponry. Yesterday's assault on a 13-yr.old Prince George's County resident was the most depraved of the attacks, putting the shoot count at 8. Thankfully, the aforementioned 8th victim is alive, albeit barely, after some timely surgical miracles at Washington Children's Hospital.

As it stands now, the sniper has all the advantages -- he can select the targets, his environment, and, evidently, has all the necessary tools to strike from a considerable distance. He may not even be using a silencer.

A Little Shop Talk
Thanks to the electoral goings on in Brazil, and the impact that those elections have on Brazil's F-X fighter competition, I've got the lead article over at my place of employment, Defense Daily.

You all should be reading fellow alum Hayden Hurst's (F'98) blog, A Quick and Dirty Guide to Arlington. A few years ago Hayden supervised some Model UN simulations, and one of them was an OAS gig that I chaired.

"Nice Guys finish last, but we get to sleep in." -- Evan Davis

Monday, October 07, 2002

ZoNotes: Celebrate Good Times Come On

Days of the Rifle
With seven victims, the DC-area shooter that has confounded police and investigators continues a murderous path. Whoever is committing these terrible crimes is creating a situation where the police can only react after he has struck. It has been unsettling that spokesmen for the various capital region police departments come up and provide all sorts of details instead of the one the populace is most interested in -- news that the perpetrator has been caught. The rest is just filler for the cable networks' profilers to break down for we the viewing populace.

The difficult thing is that in a city like DC, surrounded by suburban communities in two different states, it's easier than you think to hide a white moving truck and a high-powered rifle. The choice of targets for this killer don't seem to have any rhyme or reason.

Pass the fava beans...
With the Hannibal Lecter prequel Red Dragon dominating the theaters this past weekend, the Encore Channel showed the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs last night, featuring Anthony Hopkins in the role that catapulted him from just another actor with a distinguished accent to a bona fide cultural icon. The movie's plotting complexities are quite a feat even now, blending Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling character's innate sense of inadequacy with the twisted demonic rage of the Buffalo Bill killer. Lecter is a dark antihero, a villain who received thunderous cheers when he intends to devours his psychological warden at the end of the film. His true ferocity was not unleashed until Hannibal, but Lambs probes the homicidal genius of the character. Hopkins did a superb job not only making a seemingly outlandish character so real, but of displaying a pretty wide set of roles for Lecter -- of inquisitor, gentleman, maniac, and cannibal.

Silence is a true horror picture, one that scares you precisely because everything is within the grasp of reality.

"Hamlet as performed by the Brooklyn Shakespere Festival:
To Be, Or What?" -- Steven Pearl

And, remember ZoNotes' great Shakesperean lesson from Julius Ceasar -- Brutus was not an honorable man!