“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Wishing Upon a Star - hattip Allen

Allen posted a link to LGF on what is a superb rendition of a sentimental classic. What a joy. What a pleasure. A memory of the famous children's book by Carlo Collodi and the Disney cartoon. Scroll down. Start it. Play it while you read. A little tear will work just fine.
- Deuce
This film is undoubtedly the most perfect example of cartoon work ever seen on the screen, and is a great advance on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with which comparison is inevitable. The characters, to all intents and purposes, "live and breathe", and, with very rare exceptions, there is none of the jerky flicker in their movement which has hitherto been characteristic of such pictures.

From the first it is difficult to realize that the scenes on the screen - with their delicate nuances of shade and their illusion of depth - are only drawings and not colour photographs of actual events. Only in the music, which, with the exception of a cheerful marching song "Hi-Diddle-De-Dee, an Actor's Life for Me", seems pedestrian and uninspired, does Pinocchio fail to excel Disney's best work to date.

Of the characters, Jiminy Cricket, with his dry, matter-of-fact humour and complete resourcefulness, takes his place with Dopey, Mickey Mouse and FIeischer's Gabby as one of the immortal screen drawings. Figaro and Cleo follow him closely, while the three stages in Pinocchio's life - from puppet to living doll and finally to little boy - are cleverly contrasted. There is only one scene which might frighten a very nervous child, when, in the deserted and desolate Pleasure Island, a small "tough guy" is turned into a donkey among the ruined merry-go-rounds. Otherwise, in technique, wit, humour and poetry it is difficult to see how this adaptation of a fairy story could have been bettered.

Jiminy Cricket, a philosophic little insect, one night finds himself in a strange town, and, peeping through a lighted window, sees Gepetto, the kindly old-woodcarver, putting the finishing touches to a new marionette. Gepetto names the puppet Pinocchio, much to the disgust of his two pets, Figaro the kitten and Cleo the goldfish, and prays on the wishing star that the little wooden figure may be given life.

When Gepetto, Cleo and Figaro have gone to sleep, Jiminy makes himself at home by the comfortable warmth of the fire. But he spends a disturbed night, being woken up first by the ticking of Gepetto's innumerable clocks, then by Cleo's watery snores, and finally by the arrival of the Blue Fairy.

Because Gepetto has given so much happiness to others, the Fairy grants Pinocchio life and appoints Jiminy Cricket as his conscience - "Lord High Keeper of Knowledge of Right and Wrong". The job is no sinecure, and Jiminy has to rescue Pinocchio first from the clutches of Stromboli, a rascally puppet-master, and then from Pleasure Island, a fun fair to which naughty little boys are enticed in order to be turned into donkeys for sale to the mines.

When Jiminy, exhausted, finally gets Pinocchio home, it is only to find that Gepetto, Cleo and Figaro - who have set out to search for him - have been eaten by Monstro a huge whale. Pinocchio and Jiminy determine to rescue them, and, after much danger, succeed in doing so. For their unselfish courage the Blue Fairy rewards Pinocchio by turning him into a real little boy while Jiminy Cricket receives a huge gold medal of which he is inordinately proud.

-Synopsis and Review from Monthly Film Bulletin Vol.7 No.75 1940 p.41

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Fate is kind
She brings to those to love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true


  1. Often at The Elephant we practice a rather brutal form of stream of conciousness. It is disconcerting to those putting up the post. But it is the way it goes here at the EB.

    Allen is one of the sage posters, of which there are others here at the Elephant. His well written and thoughtful posts often contain within them the early leads to important events and stories. A recent one was the story on the appalling conditions at some of the rehab centers over at Walter Reid. Maybe because of good reporters, sharp eyes and wits, some off-topic comments and the ping and the pong of the internet we get things like this:

    from the BBC:

    Bush intervenes in army scandal

    Mr Bush said the soldiers deserved the best care America could provide
    President Bush has intervened in a scandal over the way wounded American soldiers were treated after they returned home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
    In a radio address on Saturday, Mr Bush will say he is deeply troubled by the treatment of some military veterans in a Washington medical centre.

    He is forming a cross-party commission to oversee how they have been handled.

    Army Secretary Francis Harvey and the medical centre's commander were sacked over the allegations.

    The move follows critical reports in the US media about the care of troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq at Washington's Walter Reed hospital.

    The Washington Post said last week that some of the soldiers lived in buildings infested with rodents and cockroaches.

    'Deserve the best care'

    In his radio address, already released on the White House website, Mr Bush will say the treatment of some wounded veterans is unacceptable.

    This is unacceptable to me, it is unacceptable to our country, and it's not going to continue
    President Bush

    "These servicemen and women deserve the thanks of our country, and they deserve the best care our nation can provide,"

  2. "iOften at The Elephant we practice a rather brutal form of stream of conciousness. It is disconcerting to those putting up the post. But it is the way it goes here at the EB."
    My nickname on these Islands is "Pinochio"

    The women who give that appellation speak not of my nose, but some other woody they have the pleasure to observe and enjoy after listening to one of my captivating "true stories."

    Carry on.

  3. We will believe that when and we I hear it from Sonia.

  4. To the promoters, this is now known as the "Magic Island"
    (previously, the "Valley Island,"
    ...of which I approved.)
    After reading your account, I will tell they girls that they have my permission to refer to the "Pleasure Island" IN memory of the moments they stole for themselves w/me.

  5. Sonia has a "special" name, which I have sworn not to reveal.
    ...after she revealed all.

  6. We will believe that when we hear it from Sonia.

  7. He's stuck in an endless loop, folks.
    Forgive him, for he is obsessed w/my relationship w/Sonia.

  8. Here's a nice video of a Master Sergeant and his young Iraqi informer
    ...and to the point: Soldier's Angels.

    I liked Red River's comment on Allen's Blackfive link:
    Said they ALWAYS fixed up whatever place they were posted to, and that even someone in a wheelchair could wield a paintbrush, and that it was therapeutic to be doing that rather than moping around about their mutilated bodies.

  9. NOTHING compares w/the Wizard of Oz.
    (the girls sometimes throw that nick around when in my company)

  10. "Stay behind the curtain!
    Please, just Stay behind the curtain!

  11. Mr Bush does NOT seem to care about the Tens of thousands of innoncent American Citizens MURDERED and raped, and pillaged, at the hands of his warmly welcomed Illegal Amigos.
    Dishonorable Bastard.

  12. Tancredo for President!
    The longer he is allowed to speak with this pack of GOP phonies, the more truth will be revealed.

  13. While thousands of Americans have died in Iraq, tens of thousands have died at the hands of Bush's buddies doing what most Americans won't do.

  14. 1. With Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley commanding Walter Reed, supporting our troops meant letting them recover from their honorable wounds in a run-down moldy ward infested with rats and cock-a-roaches and drug-dealers right outside an unmonitored door, such that the injured men were pulling sentry duty every night just to give each other a sense of security! And none of these men ratted out their commanding officer.

    2. Six months ago, Major General George Weightman takes charge of Walter Reed. Apparently he does not conduct a zone inspection before, during, or after the change-of-command ceremony, because even a blind man would give BLDG 18 a hit.

    3. The Washington Post comes around to check on the men, finds the appalling conditions they are recuperating in, and writes it up. The blogosphere and MSM runs with the story, and it even flushes the floaters Zsa Zsa, Britney, and Anna Nicole Smith down the news cycle toilet.

    4. Francis Harvey, the US Army Secretary
    fires Weightman. Well and good, a CO is responsible for everything that happens at his command, including any bad publicity that bubbles up to the top of the FOX News/CNN/MSNBC 24 hour wringer.

    5. Harvey appoints Lt. General Kevin Kiley as CO of Walter Reed again. The families of the silent men in Ward 19 are outraged, because Kiley knew about the problem for years and did nothing about it.

    6. Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defense, fires Francis Harvey and names Major General Eric Schoomaker as permanent commander of Walter Reed, simultaneously putting the rest of the brass on notice that after the passing of Don "Vito" Rumsfeld, the new Don of the Corleone Family (so to speak) isn't just some weak college boy who never got mixed up in the rackets.

  15. Nice post, Ms T:
    The "blogosphere" loves looking down their noses at the lowly MSM, but as Allen and you point out, here they have performed an invaluable service.
    I have seen it happen again and again, but then my bread is not buttered by the blogosphere buttkissers inc.

  16. One thing about Walter Reed. Was it not announced that it was to be closed by The Pentagon?

    That being the case, assume some facilities manager announced a six million dollar renovation program.

    Headlines: Washington Post

    "Taxpayer Money Wasted on Pentagon Renovation of Axed Facilities."

  17. Thought and comment provoking....I am still wishing upon a star.

  18. Hopefully Trish will chime in about "Don "Vito" Rumsfeld," and not with one of her semi-opaque comments that exceed my ability to translate.

  19. Deuce,
    Belmont used the MSM defense for Bush so many times that Trish and I got nauseated by it.
    They are who they are.
    He is who he is.
    Anything but a great leader, no matter how many apologists say he could not do this or that because of the MSM.
    Patton would have slapped his skull down to the bones.

  20. bobal,
    That wage structure is caused by somebody other than the patient paying the bill.
    Well proven in Socialist societies worldwide.

  21. Doug I know you enjoy Hugh Hewitt as well as do I, but did you listen to the interview with General Odum. The ol general got Hugh stammering a bit.

  22. The President hobbled by the MSM?

    The Surge goes forward, if Presidental power was constrained by public opinion and the famed MSM, the Surge would be a purge.

    j willie asked why I quoted that Ignatous fellow, yesterday, about Global Warming. It seemed clear to me. The Earth is warming, the cause is under debate, but not the trends.
    The sky is falling predictions made by David concern not the US, but the great unwashed of the World. Those less than equal to Mr Cheney in importance to the futuure of humanity.
    Hundreds of thousands pershed in a single event, one big wave. A good storm surge and Bangladesh could disappear. Tens of millions of lives, with it.

    Between that and the Maya predictions of the World's current phase ending on 21 Dec 2012 ...

    As to the internet in Latin America...
    Wired phone service is dismal, not enough handsets. Wireless is making inroads, but is costly.
    Especially in societies where $400 USD per month is "good money".

  23. What a nice post. I caught up on the comments while listening to "Wish Upon a Star" in the background.

  24. Dr said, As to the internet in Latin America...Wired phone service is dismal, not enough handsets. Wireless is making inroads, but is costly. Especially in societies where $400 USD per month is "good money".

    The Philippines is a Latin American country in Asia, and $200 USD per month is "good money" there. Everyone communicates by pre-paid text messaging. In fact, the place is considered the world capital of that low broadband method, with message length limited to 160 ASCII characters. They just can't send FAXes of each other's butts like they do Stateside, that's all.

  25. Wireless technology is making giant strides in cities that lack wired infrastructure.

    I must admit that text messaging is not my mental image of internet technology. While the cutting edge of Palm Rockets provide a myriad of features, the costs are not inconsequental, especially at $200 per month income range.

    I imagine the Philippine tech is more like a fancy pager, than a video phone.

    The "internet", that is such a wide net.

  26. Desert Rat wrote, I imagine the Philippine tech is more like a fancy pager, than a video phone.

    But it transparently integrates with the global e-mail system, so it's not a little information cul-de-sac. You just have to learn the little shortcuts, like "pls" for please, etc, omitting the vowels. What is Occupation and Allen would be right at home.

  27. j willie is a publisher or editor, a reader of Editor & Publisher. A periodical I have cracked more than a time or two.
    It was from that perspective I was viewing his reference to the internet.
    La Voz online, so to speak.
    In the low income stratas, you'd have to be able to foresee the technology step beyond the enhanced pager and be ready.

    Current Web technologies have limited market penetration in low income societies.
    YouTube not yet well known in Panama.

    There are 6 million people, combined, in Costa Rica and Panama.
    Same as Arizona.
    The Phoenix metro area, Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe's jurisdiction, is as populated as either of those two Countries.
    In the US, Phoenix is a contiguous market of 4 million, well wired and ready. Panama or Costa Rica, markets of equal size are not contiguous, are not well wired and have much less connectivity.
    Both are website exporters, rather than user markets, today. Panamanian and Costa Rican websites are aimed at the US & European markets, much more than their internal ones.

    Mexico, now there is a Country with real hidden wealth, if only the Mexicans were not already there.

    Talk about a place with piss poor performance. They may be making IMF headway, but for the man on the street ...
    It's still better to take El Camino Diablo norte, than stay home and stagnate.

  28. bobalharb,

    re: the David

    I failed to mention that when Michelangelo released David from the stone, it had been nearly two thousand years since an artist of the West had so unabashedly glorified the human form for the sheer pleasure of it. The David startled and continues to do because of its unadorned simplicity of message and form. What you see is what Michelangelo intended, IMHO.

  29. teresita,

    Phonics opened literature and literacy to non-specialists. The priests of esoteria always hate that sort of thing. One can almost hear them decrying the terminal deterioration of culture. I mean, what sort of world is it, where any Tom, Dick, or Harry can read the road signs to glory?

  30. One should remember to check your saddle and mount before you tilt your lance at Allen.

  31. Deuce,

    As my wife tells me, tongue-in-cheek (I think...hope?), "Old soldiers NEVER die."


  32. DR,

    Re: Ignatius's column, it ASSUMES global warming as a fact; as noted in scientific opinions I previously posted re: the global warming NONSENSE, consensus only exists among the liberal left media, academic, grant-seeking non-climatological scientists and and political institutions, and it has been established there by elitist manipulators with other agendas. Among climate scientists, there is NO consensus regarding either the existence of global warming or its cause. Here are a few of the links I previously posted - there are plenty of others for one who wants to find them:

    His piece remains a "sky is falling" call to do something about potential and highly debatable consequences for a problem not yet proven to exist. He might as well be talking about preparing for the prospect of the often-fantasized prospect by Hollywood of a super asteroid crashing into Earth.

    Re: Latin American telephony penetration - like most of the Middle East and Africa, Latin America is skipping the 100% wired stage of telecoms. Governments in those countries were too financially unstable &/or corrupt to mandate buildouts beyond the wealthy enclaves and business districts of their major cities. The beauty of wireless is that it is so much less capital intensive. Consequently, wireless telephony penetration in LatAm now approximates 60-70%. Moore's Law continues to reduce the cost/increase the functionality of handsets (and you can have either, but not both, as a consumer). In LatAm, prepaid service is a much bigger mode of payment for service, as it facilitates budget management. Also, calling party pays, not the one called. Finally, network convergence is driving all the margin out of the historically high margin voice telecom service (in late nineties 45% OPERATING profit was the norm), whether wired or wireless.

    The Internet is in the process of aborbing wireless telephony. The constantly improving economics of optical and/or digital networking infrastructure and innovation enabled and fostered by entrepreneurs leveraging of IP (Internet protocol) internetworking technology (browsers, hyperlinked web, free email, graphic design, etc, etc,) has and will continue to drive the merging of all heretofore physically discrete analog networks (each being a separate business unto itself) into a single interconnected set of commonly structured and operated digital networks, all of which transport and connect video, voice and data applications - the "converged network". Text/sms messaging is but one of thousands of applications that operate on and interconnect through the Internet. It is, in fact, the highest revenue /bit form of communications service for which consumers pay (by a factor of 1000), primarily because of the telecom operators end-to-end control of that network. For details see The evolution of price discrimination in transportation and its implications for the Internet. The author, a mathematics/computing professor at U of Minnesota, is widely regarded for his fact-based approach to the economics of telecommunications networks.

    Despite the convergence phenomenon, the US lags Europe and Asia in its usage of mobile telephony and mobile Internet (you can mostly thank the FCC's bureacracy's money-grubbing wireless spectrum lotteries for that). Nevertheless, US usage of wireless Internet will pick up dramatically in the next couple of years, as ATT/Cingular, Verizon and Sprint/Nextel have deployed their 3G (they call it broadband, but its really medium band) networks. (Europe/Asia finished theirs 3-5 years ago). Here is a chart showing Internet enabled mobile phone penetration as of a couple of years ago.

    Neither an editor nor publisher am I; currently involved in business of delivering software-as-a-service (aka application hosting) over the Internet, but formerly worked at BellSouth in developing new businesses/markets/products. At that time, it owned wireless operations throughout LatAm, including Panama. Panama, as always due to its strategic geography, possesses the enviable (among LatAm countries) advantage of being the site of interconnection between most networks circumnavigating LatAm and North America. [Talk about points of vulnerability, a single building - 60 Hudson St., the former hq site for Western Union, is the oldest and largest interconnect site for the US and Transatlantic telecom networks. Taking that building out would cause as much or more economic disruption as the WTC; take it and three or four others out in SF, LA & DC, and you are talking about an economic disaster.] Anyway, back to Panama - the country has access to the most and the cheapest bandwidth of any LatAm country. The lack of a viable web market there can only be attributable to corruption, which is pandemic all over LatAm (a fourth generation Argentine lawyer named McGillicuddy told me that it was the Arab/Moor influence over Spanish culture that made it so corrupt!)

  33. DR
    re: I must admit that text messaging is not my mental image of internet technology. While the cutting edge of Palm Rockets provide a myriad of features, the costs are not inconsequental, especially at $200 per month income range.

    Interestingly, as my team traveled throughtout LatAm doing research on the markets, we met with an economist/futurist/professor in Sao Paulo, Brazil who had written Brazil's equivalent of Megatrends. He encouraged us to forget American value-added notions in conceiving products for LatAm, and to focus instead on how to strip costs to the bare bone and how to sell in countries where consumer credit is nonexistent. He gave us an example of how useful the lowly pager was as an agent of economic development, by facilitating communications from those who had phones in Sao Paulo, with those who did not, which at that time was like three out of four.

    Similarly, see this article regarding impact of cell phones on Africa.

    Although the ridiculous cost of SMS on a per bit basis, pisses me off to no end (knowing that the incremental operating margin earned from it by the telco's approaches 100%), its relative cost and ultimate convenience (accessible through a device that is always with you and almost always on) drive its utility. Many websites (Google Apps for one) are now authenticating users via an SMS message, instead of an email, as SMS is less susceptible to third party interference. American teens use SMS more than any of us used the phone at their ages (my two teenagers each use several hundred /month). Finally, just dug up this info via Frost & Sullivan regarding LatAm SMS usage - in 2005, SMS represented 97% of all data messages (which would include email) in Latin America.

  34. Well, willie, seems we are basicly in concurrance, other than you not being in the printing business.

    The SMS messaging an indication of what I was thinking of, as the Inet, lack of market penetration.

    So it seems to remain, as the definition of the Net expands or until my technical understanding is comenserate with the realities.

    As to the Global Warming, the Detroit glacier has already melted, as has the one in New York.

    The Earth warms and cools, cyclicly. It does seem to be in the midst of a warming trend.

    The people of Bangladesh are screwed, in the long run, regardless of the cause of the warming.

  35. DR

    It [the Earth] does seem to be in the midst of a warming trend.

    As my earlier comment noted, climate science has reached no consensus on the subject, so that is your opinion, nothing more.

    The people of Bangladesh are screwed, in the long run, regardless of the cause of the warming.

    How do you know that?

  36. Because, j, the history of Bangladesh foretells it's future.

    From the International Herald Trib

    Floods in Bangladesh last year killed 1,000 and left one million homeless. And the appalling Indian Ocean tsunami death toll is probably still less than the 300,000 who perished in Bangladesh's typhoon-driven floods in 1970, or the 140,000 who perished in the 1991 floods, ..."

    So, like Mt Rainier or Popocatepetl, the natural disaster will occur, property will be lost, people will die.

    If, when, Bangladesh is hit by the "perfect storm" a million could die. Global warming or not.

    The sea level has raised about 300 feet, in the last 18,000 years, as it's gotten warmer, things have changed.

    The Earth is nearly the end of it's 28,000 year orbital "wobble". Those Mayans were smarter than they knew.

  37. The Feds gave out 6 BILLION in grants last year to "support" Global Warming research.
    Quite an incentive to insist on it's existence.