Thursday, January 29, 2004

Hutton Report Summary

This one is via Jonah in the Corner. You remember. The Hutton Report? About the BBC claim that the British government "sexed up" (oh, how I hate that phrase) its claims about Iraq's WMDs? And then the BBC's source, David Kelly killed himself. And then opponents of the war claimed that the Blair government drove him to suicide by trying to destroy him in the media, if they didn't kill him outright? Right, that one. What was the verdict? Well, it wasn't good for the BBC.

A Good Summary of Kay's Report

A good summary in the Corner of what Kay's report about WMDs in Iraq does and does not say.

Boswell's Lesser Known Bio

A neat parody. You don't have to have read the original to appreciate this, but it helps if you know what the original was.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Special Effects Glut

An interesting article regarding the increase of and the rise in prominence of special effects in the movies. The article predicts a backlash against, or at least a move away from, over-the-top effects in movies. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Greens and the ban of DDT

An editorial from an Australian paper that discusses the deadly impact to the Third World resulting from the ban of DDT. It points to the incredible rise in the death rate from malaria because DDT was no longer allowed to be used to suppress the mosquitoes that carry malaria. It also references a speech by Michael Crichton that I linked here.

Insult Osama, Get Fired

At least this guy got a judgement that his firing was not legal. But it took 2 years and he got turned down twice by different review boards. Yeah, this is PC taken way too far. In Europe, of course. Where else?

Copyright v. CopyLeft

A good article on the issues around copyrights. I tend myself towards the positions of the CopyLeft (despite my political bent being to the right). I think a copyright duration of 56 years max was appropriate. It allows an author to retain the copyright for most of their life at least and then their work moves to the public domain where it can be even more widely disseminated.

The Kittens! Won't somebody think of the Kittens?!

We knew Dean was crazy, but...

Via the Corner.

Comparison of Tolkien and Jackson

An interesting comparison of Peter Jackson's movies and Tolkien's book. The author clearly gives the edge to the books, which isn't a surprise, but the reasoning isn't the typical "more detail, better story, deeper characters".

Via the Corner.

Clubbing Penguins

Oh, yes. It's not seals, but I'm sure it would still annoy liberals. You can do it here. Most important, it's fun! My best distance is up to 322.9. Found the link over at Steevak's blog.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Old Voices

A very interesting site. (Which I found because of a discussion in the Corner about the pitch of politician's voices.) You can listen to clips of 20 different US Presidents speaking. Some of whom I didn't realize were ever recorded. Very interesting to browse. It's a sample of the Voice Library at Michigan State University. After looking at the site, I actually remember hearing this story on NPR a while back. Very cool.

Gibson-Vatican-Passion Parody

If you've kept up with the news surrounding Mel Gibson's upcoming release of the movie of Christ's life, then you'll probably find this parody funny. If you haven't, then I doubt it'll be quite so funny. I laughed.

Saudis Kidnapping People Abroad

It seems the Saudis are kidnapping dissidents to bring them home from abroad. And yet, we persist in thinking this is a moderate, reasonable Islamic country with whom we can do business. This despite their support for Palestinian terrorists and murderers as well as their repression of their own citizens, the lack of freedoms for religion, the press, speech, etc. and other things that makes them far more similar to the former Soviet Union than to the US.

K-Lo linked this in the Corner

Football Coach Hiring

Roger Clegg makes a good point in the Corner that if the objective that the NFL has is proportional representation of black head football coaches, then they'd actually need to fire one of the current black head coaches. Either that, or institute a program to encourage the hiring of Asian coaches. Of course, the smartest thing would be to just let teams hire whatever coaches they want, since it's more than obvious that coaches are hired for their perceived ability to win games and little else.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The EU Strikes Again!

Yet another instance of madness emanating from our neighbors across the pond. The EU's regulations on noise levels threatens to restrict music in clubs, at concerts and even the pieces available to be played by symphonies.

An excerpt:
"The intriguing issue, though, is whether the directive will impose changes in the repertoire itself. The LSO [London Symphony Orchestra] says that this is a real possibility. Loud works like Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and the symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler may have to be scheduled more rarely and surrounded by quieter pieces. Look up the European commission's website and you will find a section mocking the idea that Beethoven's Ninth symphony - the EU's anthem - might even fall foul of the noise at work directive. But the idea is not so far-fetched."

Conspiracy Theories

Want to fit in with your liberal friends, yet can't string together a coherent Bush conspiracy theory? Well, fret no more! The internet and the ingenuity of its denizens rides to your rescue once more. You can find here a generator of Bush conspiracy theories that takes the effort out of concocting far-fetched theories involving our current president.

Frodo on the Internet

It's not well-known, but if you check the appendices to The Lord of the Rings there's an additional map that's reproduced here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Lawrence of Arabia

Saw it for the first time this weekend. Watched part on Saturday and part on Sunday. The wife was a bit tired Saturday night, so we stopped at the intermission and finished the next day. It's kinda interesting, before the movie starts and during the intermission, there is about five minutes each time where the screen is entirely blank and the orchestra plays. The movie itself was pretty good, but I have to say that Peter O'Toole was pretty fruity. Was T.E. Lawrence a pooftah? Huh. Omar Sharif was superb. I didn't recognize him at first. I'm not that familiar with Lawrence's story, so I'm thinking I'll have to read a book on the subject. I wonder if such a movie could be made today, and I'm not talking about the fact that it's around four hours long. The movie points out clearly that the Arab tribes were in no way successful in their war without assistance and leadership from the western powers and a western commander. It also makes clear that once the victory was won, the infighting among the Arabs kept them from being able to assert their independence because they needed the British to maintain their urban infrastructure. I imagine that would be a bit too un-PC for any movie studio now. Especially now. Anyway. It was pretty good.

Gadafi's Website

Who knew Gadafi had a website? I seem to remember hearing about this somewhere before, so my apologies if it was one of my blogging friends who found this first. But I just noticed this through New Criterion's blog and thought it was too funny to not mention. He has his proposals for solutions to the Kashmir conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict online as well as other things.

John O'Sullivan on Immigration and Bush

I don't agree with Mr O'Sullivan a lot of the time, but I think he nails it on the Bush immigration plan. He points out that Bush has "substituted daring for thought" with this plan. He makes an interesting comparison to Gorbachev and the end of the Soviet Union, and points out some of the worrisome aspects. A good read.

MRC Throws Down

The Media Research Center heard about Tom Brokaw saying that their claim of liberal bias in the media was spurious and couldn't be proven. Oops. So MRC issues a press release offering a bet of (in your best Dr Evil voice) one million dollars. I haven't heard yet whether NBC has agreed to the bet.

Linked by K-Lo in the Corner.

Space Elevators

Sticking with the space theme, here's an article that was linked by Jonah in the Corner. This is pretty cool. It's almost reached the point of feasibility, and because it would be such a cheap method it's well worth looking into.

Government in Space

Stanley Kurtz sums up about what I think about the "government v. private enterprise" question of space exploration here. I think that it's worth it to fund space exploration, and I doubt that it will be feasible for private companies to get into the space business in any sort of way that compares to what governments are doing now.

Wimps and Barbarians

Interesting article that was linked by Derb in the Corner. It discusses what it means to be a man and what the two extremes to be avoided are (Wimps and Barbarians). Worth reading.

An excerpt:

"Manhood is not simply a matter of being male and reaching a certain age. These are acts of nature; manhood is a sustained act of character. It is no easier to become a man than it is to become virtuous. In fact, the two are the same. The root of our old-fashioned word "virtue" is the Latin word virtus, a derivative of vir, or man. To be virtuous is to be "manly." As Aristotle understood it, virtue is a "golden mean" between the extremes of excess and deficiency. Too often among today's young males, the extremes seem to predominate. One extreme suffers from an excess of manliness, or from misdirected and unrefined manly energies. The other suffers from a lack of manliness, a total want of manly spirit. Call them barbarians and wimps. So prevalent are these two errant types that the prescription for what ails our young males might be reduced to two simple injunctions: Don't be a barbarian. Don't be a wimp. What is left, ceteris paribus, will be a man."

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Books and Music

Been listening to Ice Cycles. Like it, but don't have a firm opinion yet. Need to hear it a few more times.

Since the 6th, I've finished Mulliner Nights and The Name of the Rose. The Mulliner stories seemed to get a lot more funny near the end of the book. Good stuff. The Name of the Rose was good. It was not a conventional mystery. There was a lot more story to it and a lot of material extraneous to the mystery, but important to the story and the characters. I didn't know exactly how it ended, but kinda. I think I'll have to check out the Sean Connery movie of the same name to see how it ends and how it compares to the book in general.

Also zoomed through Hornblower During the Crisis, Hornblower and the Atropos, Beat to Quarters, Ship of the Line and Flying Colours. Solid installments in the Hornblower saga. Crisis is a fragment, however, that was unfinished at C.S. Forester's death, so it doesn't have a true ending, just some notes on what the author planned to write.

Read Wyrd Sisters as it came from the library (finally). Now I'll have to wait for the next couple books in the Discworld series to arrive. Have them on hold too. This one was pretty mediocre, but all the jokes can't be good. You've got to expect that sometimes.

The Tao of Batman

Okay, so maybe all of these weren't actually on the show. Or maybe they were. I don't know. I'm inclined to think not, but they are funny and sound at least reasonably like something from the old Batman show.

An excerpt:
Robin, looking at Batgirl: "You know something, Batman?"
Batman: "What's that, Robin?"
Robin: "She looks very pretty when she's asleep."
Batman: "I thought you might eventually notice that. That single statement indicates to me the first oncoming thrust of manhood, old chum."

Ah, Books

"In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you...And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them Too."
~Italo Calvino, If On A Winter's Night A Traveler

Aliens Caused Global Warming

Michael Crichton on the link between UFOs and global warming. He makes a good case, though perhaps not what you might think. It's pretty long, but it does a good job of showing the spurious nature of much of the "science" behind the claims regarding global warming.

Boredom Be-Gone!

Dalrymple writes on why he's never bored. It's an interesting article. I think it's rather more difficult to keep from being bored (for me, at least) than it seems to be for Dr Dalrymple, but on the whole I'd be in general agreement.

"Then again, a man who came to interview me for a publication the other day pointed out that I was never bored. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it’s true: I’m never bored. I’m appalled, horrified, angered, but never bored. The world appears to me so infinite in its variety that many lifetimes could not exhaust its interest. So long as you can still be surprised, you have something to be thankful for (that is one of the reasons why the false knowingness of street credibility is so destructive of true happiness). "

Quit Whining

I'd read about this guy before; he's agitating for a Nobel Prize. He's even taken out ads in newspapers to press his case. Good, short article telling him to shut his yap. Key line: "If you are indeed a genius, consider enjoying your genius and leaving it at that."

The Passing of Cash

I wasn't as big a fan of Cash's rendition of Hurt as the author seems to be, but it's still a good article. Worth a read for anyone who's a fan of the Man In Black.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Kimball on Cannibalism

He quotes John Stuart Mill and talks about how it's an indication of individualism run amok. He mentions the article that I linked to a couple days ago and adds a fair number of his own thoughts on the matter. An interesting read and about long enough to be a magazine article on the matter. Worth reading though.

Speaking of the New Criterion...

Started reading their blog (as evidenced by the post below) and discovered that I really like it. Probably start reading it on a regular basis. It's a nice blend of commentary and links (somewhat like the Corner, which I also frequent). I'll add it to my blog list at some point. When I feel like getting around to it.

"Fruit Police" or "Why Europe Will Never Have An EU Army"

A post from the New Criterion's blog about rules for fruit in the EU. It's ridiculous. What do they do with all that fruit that doesn't conform to EU standards? Throw it out? Prices must be exorbitant. What does it have to do with an EU Army? If they regulate produce to this degree, they'll never manage to put together an army that's worth a darn. And even if they did they'd never be able to put it to use. And even if they did manage to fill out all the right forms for deployment, it'd be about a year too late.

Truth Stranger Than Fiction

A 2003 retrospective of strange magazine articles from the Washington Post. They're all pretty funny or interesting, but below is excerpted the one that I liked the best.

O: The Oprah Magazine, whose "Founder and Editorial Director" is, of course, Oprah Winfrey, continued its tradition of putting a picture of Oprah Winfrey on the cover of every issue. The August issue contained a cover line I like to think was added late one night by somebody with a subversive sense of humor: "ME-ME-ME! How to deal with a giant ego."

Build A Wall

That's what I think we oughta do. One on the border with Mexico. Or something similarly serious. Either way it's up to the US to do something. Why? Kate O'Beirne points out that Mexico's government has been decidedly less than helpful about movement across our common border going in both directions.

Lincoln Had It Coming

Yeah, whatever. No one would think that. (Except some rabid disciples of Lew Rockwell and some kooky white supremacists in Idaho.) Guess again. Thomas Hibbs recounts his tour guide from Ford's Theater recast Lincoln's assassination with Booth as hero.

Michael Jackson... Feminist?

Interesting article from NRO by James Bowman positing that Michael Jackson's defense of his behaviour is informed by feminism. Interesting argument. Shows how social ostracism and the concept of shame need to make a comeback from their current atrophied state.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Chain Scale Movie Ratings

Toshi Station has a marvelous tool for determining how cool a movie is: The Chain Scale. An obviously highly scientific method. Described this way, "No longer must a film's merit be based on opinion or conjecture - here at the Chain Scale Institute we are all about cold, hard facts. Our team of acclaimed experts have extensively researched a formula by which the various elements of a film can be sorted, given a numeric or "chain" weight, and ranked."

Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Saw this linked in the Corner. Laughed a lot, though I was disturbed by it too. It's about a 4mb download to view. I'd say it's worth it, even on a 56k.

ESPN Ad Humour

Gotta love that ESPN ad that has the couple sitting on the couch kissing and murmuring sweet nothings to each other. The camera draws back and you see that he's wearing an OSU sweatshirt and she's wearing a Michigan sweatshirt. And then the caption is added, "Without sports, this wouldn't be disgusting." Never fails to draw a chuckle.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Dalrymple On Cannibalism

Dr Theodore Dalrymple skewers excess individuality using the recent case of cannibalism in Germany. The sub-head sums it up nicely: "If everything is permissible between consenting adults, why not?" Dalrymple is lucid and concise as always.

Via the Corner.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Books and Music

Ripped through another two C.S. Forester books. Finished Lieutenant Hornblower and Hornblower and the Hotspur in the last couple days. Good stuff. "Iron men in wooden ships" and all that. Still working on the other books I mentioned four posts down. Yeah.

Spent some Christmas money to order some more music. Hadn't bought any music in a while so I thought it was about time. Ice Cycles by Platypus (includes Ty Tabor, guitarist of my favourite band), Jughead's self-titled album (also with Ty), Testimony a solo project by Neal Morse, formerly of Spock's Beard, (I've never heard Spock's Beard, but they're a prog rock band that people whose opinions I respect raved about. And this got great reviews too.) and SRV's Live at Montreux 1982 and 1985. How can you go wrong with SRV?

Snow Day!

Yes, Seattle (the city woefully under-prepared for any sort of winter storm) is in the throes of "Winter Storm '04!™" We've got all of 6 inches of snow! Okay, so by any serious winter standards (Colorado, New England, Canada, etc.) this would be barely worth mentioning. But, because Seattle isn't prepared for this sort of thing, it's pretty much shut down everything. Which is cool, because I don't have to go to work tonight! I'm psyched. Spending this evening with friends playing games and watching movies. Oh, yes. I love winter.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame

So. Pete Rose has admitted to betting on baseball. I was already convinced that he did it, but now he's admitted it after lying about it for 14 years. The timing is even more suspicious. There are only two more writers votes before Pete is no longer eligible for being voted in by the writers and his candidacy (should it be allowed) would go to the Veterans Committee. Pete lied because he thought that would give him the best chance to get in the Hall of Fame. Now that he sees that wasn't working, he's admitting his betting because he thinks that's the best bet for getting into the Hall of Fame. Pete bet on baseball because he thought he was above the rules and he cared more about his own enjoyment than about the game. He lied because he was selfish and didn't care what it did to the game, and now he's telling the truth, not out of any remorse or desire to do what's right, but because he's selfishly trying to garner the one honor that he lacks.

I have no sympathy for Pete Rose's pleading for reinstatement. He bet on baseball. He bet on his own team. He was caught. He was punished with the penalty that was set up decades before and imposed on Shoeless Joe Jackson on the other Black Sox. And it should stay that way regardless of what Rose says now. Rose is banned for life and should never be employed by professional baseball again, nor should he be allowed into the Hall of Fame.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Music and Things

I'm not much of a music guy. Anyway. Got a couple new CDs. Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Live On, Leo Kottke's A Shout Toward Noon the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and Strong Bad Sings. So that's what I've been listening to lately. Good stuff.

Books and Things

Started reading the Horatio Hornblower books again. Read Mr. Midshipman Hornblower this past week. The next couple books in the series are waiting for me at the library and I'll pick them up today. Haven't been reading Terry Pratchett lately because the next in the series is Wyrd Sisters and there's only one copy in the KCLS. I put it on hold and have been waiting my turn for it for a couple months now. I'm next in line, but it may still be another couple weeks. I'm taking another stab at reading G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. Last time I tried to read it I got bogged down a bit and never finished. It's going much more smoothly this time. I'm also working on a novel by Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose. Never read it before, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit, but I think I know how it ends. Not because it's obvious, but because I think I saw part of a movie many years ago, when I was but a lad, that was based on this book. I think it had Sean Connery in it, but I haven't bothered to check IMDB yet to see if I'm remembering correctly. I'm re-reading Thomas Sowell's Inside American Education. A good book and worth a look to anyone interested in the US government school system. The last book I'm reading right now is P.G. Wodehouse's Mulliner Nights. Funny stuff, not as consistently good as Jeeves and Wooster, but still head and shoulders above other comedic books.

Back From Vacation

Well, sorta. Didn't really go anywhere, just took a long break for Christmas and New Year's. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody. Some nice swag from Christmas. (I think when one's family is on the other side of the country it may overcompensate for being far away by giving loads of gifts.) The upshot being a lot of new books to read.

Hope to be posting a bit more here now that we're past New Year's. Also, hopefully, work will be less crazy too. Been kinda shorthanded with people taking time off.