Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The opening cut (which played over the opening credits of the show) is Tank!. If I could choose my personal theme music (you know, the kind of music you'd want to play behind you in a movie) it would be a close run between this song and the theme for Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo and Sanjuro. I also really like the songs Cosmic Dare [Pretty With A Pistol] and Piano Black. On the other hand, one of the real duds is Mushroom Hunting and Don't Bother None isn't that great either. That last song sounds like it was intended as a kind of down-on-my-luck style country song, but it isn't pulled off. Cake does a much better job with the faux-country downer song.
A word of warning to anyone who might watch these, one of these episodes (Jungle Cruise) that truly stands alone is rather disturbing. It concerns a killer who murders his victims in a particularly gruesome way. If you've watched the episodes up to this point and are really getting involved with the story and the characters, I would suggest watching this episode even if you feel squeamish because it does provide some insights in to Batou, but for the faint of heart (or stomach), you could skip it and do just fine.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
One of the reasons that this show is so enjoyable is that while it takes place well into the future, the technology is explained only just so much as is needed by the story. We don't get bogged down in techno-babble, nor does the plot usually hinge on our heroes needed to develop some technological advance in order to succeed. (As is the problem with such things as Star Dreck, uh, Trek.) Most of the time, our heroes simply use their advanced technology without explaining exactly how it works. And frankly, that's fine by me. Write a good story and the world will beat a path to the bookstore. On to the next!
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Not a bit. I'm as simple as I am clever--a lovable trait in my character. An actor in his dressing-room will thrill me to mincemeat. I shall sit and goggle at him, I promise you.The mystery itself was decent, though not inspired, but, as I noted above, it is apparent that it is not a mature work. I particularly dislike an author to call something "indescribable" and then proceed to spend a lengthy paragraph contradicting themselves. This is not, however, a fatal flaw. One of the greatest novels of all time, The Count of Monte Cristo, has this particular quirk all through it, and it still is what I would consider one of the five greatest books I've ever read.
"What's the matter with you?"
"I don't know. Got the ooble-boobles. Let's have a drink."
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
So that's what my blog would look like if it were a magazine. I'm pleased and concerned at the same time.
I really like that picture though.
Arevanye had it first. (Though it was on her friends-locked LJ.)
Make your own here. And you can browse covers that others have made.
Okay, fair enough. They will only warn people if the content is deemed to be "hate speech" and or if it is merely "objectionable", then it will only be "unlisted". But what sorts of things are objectionable? Does Blogger determine this, or is it determined simply by the number of times a blog is flagged? The latter seems to be implied in their Help article on flagging.
When a person visiting a blog clicks the "Flag?" button in the Blogger Navbar, it means they believe the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal. We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content they deem objectionable. Have you read The Wisdom of Crowds? It's sort of like that.But what if I'm posting political opinions? And people who disagree with my political opinions flag my blog in large numbers simply because they don't like the party to which I belong. Must I then be "unlisted"?
And what if it is the Blogger staff who are determining what is and what isn't objectionable? These guys are part of Google now, and I don't know that I trust Google to be even-handed. See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And LGF probably has even more examples that I didn't take the time to find.
Am I worrying unnecessarily? I don't think so. The section below is excerpted from their Terms of Service.
You agree to not use the Service to: (a) upload, post or otherwise transmit any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;It's that "otherwise objectionable". Blogger essentially says that "objectionable content" is anything and everything they don't like. I'm sure that's pretty standard for a Terms of Service, but from the above links, I'd guess their standards for "hate speech" are awfully vague too and I'm not confident in their ability to be objective and even-handed in applying them.
The system will also allow voice conversations via the internet, but I don't have a suitable headset or microphone, so even had one of my friends downloaded Google Talk, as it is called, I couldn't have tried out that feature.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Sunday, August 21, 2005
EDIT: Forgot a post title. Added subsequently.
A strategy deriving from the great medieval philosopher William of Ockham (c. A.D. 1285-1349) would take an entirely different tack. To put it as simply as possible, this argument begins be submitting that 'good' is to be defined as 'whatever God wills.' Thus
(A) God does good
(B) God does whatever God wills
express the same proposition. But (B) obviously expresses a necessary truth (derived from the quite general conceptual truth about the action of any omnipotent, omniscient being that no such being can be prevented from doing anything he wills to do). So (A) must express a necessary truth. But if it is necessarily true that God does good, it is impossible that God does evil. Whatever he does is, by definition, good. Thus, God cannot do evil. We have vindicated the conviction that divine goodness has the high status of necessity and have done so quite simply.
Or have we?
Ockham's strategy and resulting argument suffer from one debilitating problem: they establish the necessity of God's goodness only at the price of evacuating the claim that God is good in all of its rich, determinate meaning. Let us call this the vacuity objection. The vacuity objection first points out that most of us, when we call a person good in anything like a moral sense, mean to say that the person is, for example, a truth-teller and a promise-keeper. And this is a quite determinate characterization of a person. If we accept the Ockhamistic definition of 'good,' then to say of a human being that he is good is only to say of him that he does whatever God wills. Unless we also know what it is that God wills, the claim that a man is good will have much less content to it than the more determinate content most of us typically take it to have. And when applied to God, 'good' would lose all its determinate content whatsoever. 'God is good' would then be a vacuous statement and not the tremendously important substantive claim most of us take it to be. Its truth would be compatible with the claim that God is also sadistically cruel and a chronic liar. And that is utterly outrageous. Thus, the strategy suggested in the Ockhamistic argument exacts far too high a price for what it then makes an empty modal assurance about God.
Quite a thought provoking book. I'll have more to excerpt later.
Friday, August 19, 2005
I have given up reading PvP, for the most part. I haven't liked to do so, but I have become troubled by something that cropped up twice this year. I've thought about it for a while and come to the conclusion that I won't read PvP any longer. What has occurred twice are instances where Scott Kurtz wrote something that was intended to directly antagonise believers in orthodox Christianity. (That's with a small "o".) The first was his response on 02/15/05 to complaints he had received about having one of his characters use the Lord's name in vain. You can find that here (you'll need to scroll down to the post for that date since the link goes to the entire month of February). And the second was a similar situation except he responded in comic form on 06/28/05.
I've thought long and hard about whether or not to blog anything about these two instances and why they bothered me. I think the risk of misunderstanding is small as long as I take care to carefully explicate what exactly it is to which I object.
First, I do deplore the careless use of the Lord's name merely as a way to emphasise one's other words or as a throw-away exclamation. But if I were to try to avoid every single instance of that, I would have to walk around with my fingers in my ears and my eyes shut. It isn't feasible to try and not ever read it or hear it. And since Scott Kurtz is not a Christian, I do not know him personally, nor do I have any professional contact with him, I think it might do more harm than good for me to chastise him for an offence he doesn't understand. (As demonstrated by his response to those who have criticised him.) And because more than four months separated each incident, I think that he was legitimately ignorant of the offence he was to cause each time. That is why neither of those instances which preceded his intentional antagonism were sufficient to cause me to cease to read his comic.
"But mark the sequel, Jeeves." After each strip wherein a character used the Lord's name in vain, it seems Scott Kurtz received a large number of e-mails complaining about this. At this point, he had a multitude of options available to him. He could have apologised, he could have explained why he didn't think it was a big deal, he could have ignored them and carried on as if he had not been criticised or any number of other actions or combinations thereof that would have defused the situation or kept things on a civil basis. But instead, each time he chose deliberately to further irritate those readers whose convictions he had already disturbed. In each case, he mockingly intimated that he had a divine revelation which gave him sanction for what he had done. Deliberate blasphemy, with full knowledge of the offence he was to cause, I cannot accept.
PvP is a funny comic. I enjoyed reading it every day. I regret that I can no longer, in good conscience, do so.
1. a. Of belief, principle, thought, etc.: having no practical result; unfruitful, sterile; futile, pointless.
b. Having no practical function; redundant; superfluous.
2. At leisure; at rest; idle; inactive; indolent, lazy.
Simply a neat word I ran across in a book I was reading. No real reason or purpose for it, other than I think it's pretty cool.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I read another Ngaio Marsh novel last week called Death at the Bar, which sounds a bit like a mystery wherein a lawyer dies. But instead it was what the Brits usually call a "pub". I can only account for the oddness of mystery novel set in England using "bar" in this manner in a couple of ways. Either this is a US title that wasn't on the original book, or the author being originally from New Zealand didn't think to use the British term. But, since I don't know what a Kiwi would call such a place, I incline to the former view.
The book itself wasn't bad. It didn't hold my interest as well as some of the others have. The author seemed to be trying a bit of reverse psychology in trying to fool the reader, but it didn't work. I was right there every step of the way, and it didn't seem that difficult to me. The characters failed to grip and interest as well, and it was really rather dull. It almost seemed like a bad parody of another mystery or an attempt to write in another person's style. Worth reading for a fan, but for a casual mystery reader I'd suggest starting with something else by Marsh.
b. The plant which furnishes this fibre, or any plant of the genus Corchorus.
bastard jute, a name of Hibiscus cannabinus, the fibre of which is used to adulterate jute. American jute: see VELVETLEAF.
I was watching (not kibitzing!) a Scrabble game recently and I noticed a chance for one of the players to play "jute" across a Triple Word Score to cinch the win. He didn't see it, but he won anyway, so that was okay.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
A nonsense word used by Edward Lear in runcible cat, hat, etc., and esp. in runcible spoon, in later use applied to a kind of fork used for pickles, etc., curved like a spoon and having three broad prongs of which one has a sharp edge.
The illustrations provided by Lear himself for his books of verse give no warrant for this later interpretation.
My wife, who was reciting The Owl and the Pussycat to our daughter, used this word the other day and I expressed some mild disbelief that it was a real word. Turns out, as you can see above, that it is; the word was concocted by Edward Lear and the first usage was in the aforementioned poem.
My problem with Mickey has always been that he was so protected by his handlers he was never forced into any difficult roles. I had to train for six months on rolling with billiard balls before filming "8-ball Mouse". Mickey never had to do that much as far as stunt work. The hard roles were given to Goofy and he is such a company man he will never come public with his treatment. I wouldn't say Mickey is a no-talent mouse but he simply has not had to be talented for the roles he was given.Funny stuff.
Monday, August 15, 2005
The other lead, besides Toshiro Mifune playing the man who is asked for ransom, is the detective that is assigned to try and find the criminals and recover the kidnapped boy, Tatsuya Nakadai. I thought I had recognized him, so I searched his bio on IMDB, and sure enough, he not only was in Yojimbo, where he looked much the same, but he played the title role in Kagemusha (another excellent Kurosawa film!) about 20 years later.
Let me get on my soapbox (that's what Blogger is for, right?) about Kurosawa for a minute. This man was the greatest director, ever. Bar none. I haven't seen all of his movies, but every one that I have seen is at least good, and I'd say his movies would make up at least half of my top ten movies. Yojimbo, Sanjuro, The Hidden Fortress, Kagemusha, Ran, High and Low, The Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and Rashomon are the movies of his that I have seen, and I'd say that all of them are well worth purchasing. If you aren't familiar with his work, hie thee to a video store (or your local library) and let the enjoyment begin.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
I also watched an Inspector Alleyn Mysteries DVD that I found at random at the library. This particular one is Final Curtain. I wasn't impressed. The acting wasn't wonderful, the dialogue was stilted and the plot was plodding and dull. Though, to be fair, I haven't read that particular book, so that last criticism may not be a fair one to level at the DVD.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Most recently, I've re-read Master and Commander, The Colour of Magic, and The Light Fantastic and am working on The Surgeon's Mate.
I'd be interested in hearing what other people think about re-reading. If you do it and why or why not. If you do, what books do you re-read and other such-like things.
I also found a random DVD of Poirot mysteries while I was browsing at the library (and Kurosawa's High and Low, but I haven't watched that yet) and that was pretty good. Standard Poirot fare, not quite as good as the books because of the necessary simplification that is almost inevitable when text is translated to the screen. But the setting of 30's England is entrancing to me. The cars, the clothes, the social conventions; I love that stuff. I'd have to say that Edwardian England (as seen in Christie, Sayers, Wodehouse, etc) is probably my favourite location for fiction.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Marsh spent a good bit of time arguing that she had created someone unique and unusual in the area of detective fiction and that she didn't really in any way draw upon Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter in her fabrication of Inspector Alleyn. Which is so patently false as to be well nigh laughable. She also argues that she avoided the error that Sayers made in falling in love with her hero. Which statement I also have grave doubts about the veracity thereof. Granted, she hasn't written herself into her books as a romantic interest for her hero as Sayers did, (at least, she hasn't in the books I've read yet), but she did give the appearance of the wife of her hero a striking similarity to herself even if it isn't exactly a one-to-one thing.
A Clutch of Constables is one of those regrettable detective stories which feature a "criminal mastermind" and ridiculously large conspiracy (though not as bad as Christie's Murder on the Orient Express). It was told in an interesting fashion, however. Each chapter opened with a brief portion of the tale told in retrospect by Inspector Alleyn who was lecturing some police detective trainees. It was interesting, and the first time I had seen that done. Also of note was the fact that Marsh didn't introduce Alleyn (other than the brief paragraph or two at the start of each chapter) until the book was about two-thirds over.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
If I were to have a cell phone (which I will not), I would want it to be this phone. Yes, that really is a cell phone. Don't believe me? Click the link and be convinced. The best part? It's not really a one-off gag. If you were willing to part with a few hundred bucks, you could buy one.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Artists In Crime was one that I thought I should have tumbled to the solution much sooner than I did. It seemed a lot more obvious in retrospect than it did during the course of the book. Perhaps I was off my game, and perhaps it was a clever bit of misdirection. This book contains the first encounter between Marsh's hero, Inspector Alleyn, and his wife-to-be, Agatha Troy. For all the author's protestations to the contrary in an essay on the subject, I do think that she owes quite a bit of how this plays out to the writings of Dorothy Sayers in several of her novels, notably Strong Poison and Gaudy Night, but also Busman's Honeymoon and Have His Carcase to a lesser extent. (Though, since Alleyn and Troy have not yet even become affianced, a Busman's influence may be more noticeable in later novels.)
An interesting link at an interesting blog. Arevanye had a note up on her C.S. Lewis blog noting that there had been an influx of visitors from ThinkChristian.net. I've been browsing it the past few days and I noticed that there was a link to a survey about what one thinks makes a good Christian.
So I took the survey and I had some thoughts about it. You may want to go and take the survey first and come back to read this, if you want to take it fresh and without any of my thoughts influencing your answers.
The survey isn't bad, as surveys go. I think some of the questions suffer from infelicitous wording (what is a "faith community" anyway?), and others are difficult to not interpret through a political lens. ("Social and economic justice" is clearly a phrase used almost solely by those of a liberal/leftist persuasion.) Some major social issues that are often considered in moral terms are included (the death penalty and abortion) but others are not (homosexuality, for example.) Some vices are treated specifically (gossiping, cheating), but there is no specific question regarding obedience to law.
Lastly, I'm interested to know for what the results of the survey are intended and what they are intended to demonstrate. Internet surveys like this are notoriously unreliable and skewed, and while it may provide an interesting set of statistics for the visitors who ran across it, it cannot be in any way a representative sample of Christianity or Christians.