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Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't be surprised if Rick Santorum finishes a strong second to Romney in Iowa

suggests Stephen F. Hayes in The Weekly Standard.

Apparently that very prospect prompted the Perry Campaign to attack the Senator in a recent ad.

If Santorum does pull off an upset--which is what second place in Iowa would be--at the expense of Ron Paul, that would be good news for the GOP.

Ron Paul's baggage is far heavier than Newt Gingrich's, and would prove fatal not merely for Paul as the GOP's Candidate for President but for the rest of the Party at all levels.

Meantime Santorum would represent a true alternative to ex-Governor Gumby--I mean, Romney--and the Senator's continued strong presence in the primaries would ensure a vigorous continuing debate.

What's Ron Paul's baggage ? Check out James Kirchick's opinion piece in The New York Times.

As for the source of Paul's recent bump in Iowa polls, Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal warns
It's in fact the Republican Party protest vote. Since summer, this block of votes has jumped from one candidate to another, desperate for an anti-Obama champion whose anti-Washington intensity matches its own.
In July the Republican protest vote fixed on Michele Bachmann, who materialized in the No. 2 spot.  
In September it became the Perry vote, cresting at 31%. He couldn't debate, so in October it became the Cain vote. When he collapsed, the "left for dead" Gingrich candidacy miraculously rose to 35%.
With Newt carpet-bombed and again left for dead, the GOP protest vote mounted its last pony, the Ron Paul campaign.
The policy set of any of these candidates has been of minimal importance to voters who've boiled down their beef with Washington to one idea: Attack.
Meanwhile Mitt the Whale swims serenely onward at 25%, month after month, dipping occasionally to feed on these pilot fish. But the whale should be worried. These Republican protest fish have sharp teeth. Unless fed something soon, they may tear the Romney campaign to pieces. And there are a lot of them.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Key to Greece's long-term economic survival, if not revival : Energy

An enhanced and expanded energy industry could buoy Greece economically in the not-too-distant future. In DER SPIEGEL, Paul Hader surveys a number of energy-related initiatives in Hellas, from Project Helios, which would turn the country's 300 days of sunshine into 10 gigawatts of power, to wind-farms in the Aegean, offshore oil-drilling, and finally serving as a major natural gas hub between suppliers to the east and energy-hungry Western Europe. Some excerpts from Hader's report follows.

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In a September report called "Greece 10 Years Ahead," the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. suggests that the energy sector could provide some relief. Jobs in the sector should rise to 360,000 by 2021, up from 240,000 in 2010, the study forecast. It also said that energy would be the second largest growth opportunity behind tourism in a scenario which foresees the country adding $59 billion worth of annual GDP to its economy by 2021. Such development, the report notes, won't make Greece an energy behemoth but it would still go "a long way towards curbing the large deficits currently crippling the economy."

Beyond oil, however, Greece is hoping to become a major natural gas hub in coming years. There are currently several oil and gas pipelines in the works that would traverse southern Europe from the Caspian Basin and western Asia to consumers in Europe. Such lines would bring transit fee revenues to Greece, maintenance contracts, cheaper oil and gas prices, while also improving the country's energy security. "We are making a very strong push to make Greece a hub for gas," said Papaconstantinou.

As different pipeline projects jockey for position, Greece is aligning itself with the ITGI (Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy) gas pipeline that would move roughly 11 billion cubic meters of largely Azerbaijani gas to southern Europe as early as 2013. It already moves about 750 million cubic meters of gas from Turkey to Greece. New pipelines, storage facilities and natural gas shipping will expand the infrastructure to transport gas to and through Greece.

Furthermore, many believe the country could also build on its expertise in shipping and its geographic center as a regional port between Europe, Africa and the Middle-East, re-inventing itself as an energy transit hub. Greece has a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal operating from the Revithousa Island, 45 kilometers west of Athens, which is currently being upgraded and expanded. Compressed Natural Gas, which involves transporting gas by ship rather than by pipeline, may also have a future in Greece say analysts.

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The Mismanagement

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Directors' Cuts Not Always Better Than Theatrical Releases

Recently I had the chance to view the Director John Frankenheimer's cut of one of my favorite Xmas (as opposed to Christmas) movies, REINDEER GAMES, starring Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, and Gary Sinise.

While this version was, as advertized (on the slipcase), sexier and edgier than the theatrical release,  it was not better.  To be sure, I had no issue whatsoever with the reinstated sex or violence scenes. They didn't add much, but neither did they take away from the overall product. However, the additional subplot twist Frankenheimer included in his cut added nothing but confusion. In short, this is one example of a studio's being smarter than a director.


* * *
Another example ? Ridley Scott's cut of BLADE RUNNER seemed  more plodding and less atmospheric than the theatrical release.
I may well be the only fan of BL who believes that the theatrical release benefited greatly from Dekker's interior monologue, which so eerily evoked memories of Raymond Chandler's PI Philip Marlowe. Sans the monologue, the director's cut seems flat.

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By contrast, Sam Peckinpah's cut of THE WILD BUNCH is not simply longer but superior to the theatrical release. From the latter, Warner Brothers excised scenes which either vividly illustrate the relationship between Deke Thorton and Pike on the one hand, or create a more rounded characterization of the Mexican warlord Mapache on the other.

* * *

Similarly, the recent "restoration" of Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL, masterminded by Walter Murch and based on Welles' own 58-page memo to RKO--decrying the studio's mismanaged edit--is clearly superior to what audiences of the day experienced in theatres.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blogger DJ's Wicked '70's flashback...

...was triggered by his friend Candace's recent photo post on Facebook.

King Harvest - Dancing in the Moonlight
Looking Glass - Brandy
Player-Baby Come Back
England Dan & John Ford Coley - Nights Are Forever Without You
Hot Chocolate - You sexy thing
Dr Hook - When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman
Eddie Rabbitt - I Love A Rainy Night
Three Dog Night - Mama told me not to come
Eric Burdon & War - Spill The Wine
Gary Wright - My Love is alive
10CC - I'm Not in Love
Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
Al Stewart - Year of the cat
Peter Frampton - I'm In You
Badfinger - No Matter What
Badfinger - Day after Day
Harry Nilsson - Without You

Check out Blogger DJ's Christmas Pageant (of sorts)...

Saint Nicholas Poster, courtesy of Saint Nicholas Center Website
...a selection of yuletide carols and videos on his Youtube Christmas playlist. Enjoy !

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Newt's Progress Not Unstoppable

While moderate to conservative columnists rake Gingrich as being temperamentally unfit to hold the presidency, or as having served as an unapologetic mouthpiece for financial plunderers, Rhodes Cook of University of Virginia Center for Politics CRYSTAL BALL website tells us it's not to late for the GOP to find a different antidote--oops, my bad, I meant 'alternative'--to Romney.

Cook argues that," the elongated layout of the nominating calendar this time provides the opportunity for a late-starting candidate to emerge. Should Mitt Romney stumble badly in the January events in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, another establishment Republican could enter the race in early February and still compete directly in states with at least 1,200 of the 2,282 or so GOP delegates. Many of them will be up for grabs after April 1 when statewide winner-take-all is possible."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blogger DJ - I'm a Believer !

...at least when it comes to the early works of Neil Diamond, like I'm a Believer--which has been covered artfully by The Monkees and much later by Smashmouth--and Solitary Man, which Chris Isaak and Johnny Cash both covered with varied success. 

While the above originals stand up well against covers, the same cannot be said of Red Red Wine, whose reggae version by UB40 is far superior,  in my judgment.

Tonight's bonus link : Cherry Cherry.