Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
It's been a wonderful 6 years and I hope to be blessed with 10 times as many to come. I couldn't be more pleased and proud of her and I thank God every day for permitting me to be her husband.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
[A]bove all his greatest creation, perhaps the most formidable, extensive, complex, subtle, and penetrating work of art ever carried to perfection, making the works of Leonardo and Michelangelo, Beethoven and Mozart, Dante and Goethe seem inferior by comparison — Hamlet.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Still, the serious tone, the quality of the animation and the stories (despite not being as good as before) and the lack of "face-faults" make this series far and away better than almost all others. (Cowboy Bebop despite the occasional face-fault, had stories, characters and especially an ending of such quality that it rose above its faults. No pun intended.) I've got DVDs 3 and 4 from the second season now and I'll watch them and comment on them later in the week. 5 and 6 are on hold at my library, but they don't even have copies available in the system yet, so I don't know how much longer it will be before I can watch them.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
But Toni Morrison's books don't suddenly become worth reading because they were banned somewhere. Maybe they aren't particularly dangerous, but they aren't particularly good either. In fact, they're bad. (Okay, I haven't read them all, but Song of Solomon was just plain awful.)
There is a world of difference too, between a private school banning a particular book and the government banning a different book. If a Catholic school thinks that The Last Temptation of Christ doesn't belong in their library because it's blasphemous, that's worlds away from the government banning a political book because it criticises current policy decisions. (Not that the latter happens.)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The other book was fascinating. Paul Johnson (whose writings I am going to have to seek out since they seem to be so interesting) wrote a book called Intellectuals (and followed it up with Creators, which I'm reading now). It's a study of various intellectuals since Rousseau, who Johnson considered the first intellectual. A simple working definition of intellectual that Johnson uses through his book is a person that considers ideas more important than people. And he examines not only the ideas of these various people to some extent, but also investigates to see if how they lived, both publicly and privately, reflected the ideas that they wanted all of mankind to accept. To a man, they all flunk horribly. Some of the intellectuals, like Sartre, I was already pretty well aware of their lives, ideas and hypocrisy, but others, like Tolstoy, came as a surprise to me. It's quite an interesting, if somewhat depressing, book. An interesting fact that cropped up was that significant numbers of these intellectuals were filthy in a quite literal sense. Marx, Sartre and others listed rarely bathed and had disgusting habits and households. It made me wonder if there was some connection there.
Sword of the Beast is a movie about a samurai running from the vengeance of his other clan members who gets caught up in a plot to steal gold from the Shogun. There aren't too many twists, but the story is an enjoyable one and seems pretty well acted to me. It wasn't a stellar movie, but a solid period samurai movie. A few good fights, decent plot and a little bit of tragedy and comedy.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll was an okay Perry Mason story. The murder itself should have been a lot more obvious to me and most of the clues were out in the open, fair and square. The premise and set-up was rather too far-fetched and detracted a bit, but still a solid entry. The Mysterious Mr Quin mixes Christie's penchant for both murder mysteries and ghost stories and most of them are interesting, though as with most Christie also rather subpar. One of the stories (I believe the last one) didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but the book was worth reading.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The other movie I saw recently was Brick. This was a darn good movie. It's rated R for a reason; there is a fair bit of rather bloody violence and some themes and discussion inappropriate for the younger set. But I do not recall much profanity, none of the words that will garner an R rating on their own (or used to, at any rate) unless they were whispered. (The speakers weren't very good when I watched it.) The best I can do to describe the plot is that it all takes place in a high school context and the main character is contacted by an ex-girlfriend (for whom he still carries a torch) who asks for his help. She isn't able to tell him why she needs help and so the rest of the movie is his attempt to figure out what's going on and do something about it. If I tell you more than that, I'll give too much away. Do yourself a favor and don't go looking for longer plot descriptions and spoilers elsewhere, you'll enjoy the movie so much more not knowing what's going to happen next. You'll probably be able to figure some of it out before it happens, but for me that didn't detract from the enjoyment. The movie has the snappy dialogue that I love which is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler mysteries and Bogart films. Parts of the movie are a bit corny, but it really is consistent with kids, high-schoolers, trying to act like adults. It's a bit silly, but when high school kids try to act hard boiled, that's what happens.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
On the down side, I had to re-enter all my links and my book list, and I'll have to find a way to get my Library Thing widgets back onto the blog too. The HTML code being used now exceeds my quite limited expertise and so I'm stuck using the WYSIWYG layout editor that the beta has. This was a serious pain for the book list. Each entry had to be put into the layout editor individually and each one entered went onto the top of the list. Okay, no problem right now, I just did the list backwards. But in the future, I'd have to click the button to move the entry down the list some 130 or so times to get the most recent book to the bottom of the list where it belongs. Then I figured I should just make a separate list for each month. Yeah, I thought of that after I finished entering all the books. So I just deleted September and re-did that one as a different list. I'll carry that on with October, but if anyone wonders why there's a bigger gap between August and September than between any other months, that's why.
Even with several posts today, I'm falling behind. I have a couple movies I want to mention, but I'm need to go to bed. I'll try to get to them tomorrow. Last point of note today: Blogger's spell-check finally recognises "blog" as a word. This will be your last update on that topic.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
What is Randy Johnson's problem this year? His numbers are up (or down, depending on the stat) right across the board. Higher ERA, higher WHIP, higher BB, higher BAA, lower IP, lower SO, etc.
His ERA, however is one of the few numbers dramatically out of line with his career averages. The ERA is more than 1.6 runs higher this year. WHIP is only up .08, and the BAA is up .030 and walks are going to be lower than his career average, though up from the past two years. The real key here is two-fold, I believe. This could well be the first season in 16 years (not counting injury shortened seasons) where Randy has finished under 200 strike-outs for the year. The lower strike-out total means more balls in play and, I suspect though I do not have access to the data, more sacrifices to score runs. I don't think that is the primary reason, however. I find it hard to imagine that teams are managing to sacrifice enough to score an additional 1.6 runs or so every nine innings.
A bigger reason probably has to do with the patterns and types of hits that Randy allows. There are currently about 23 pitchers who have higher WHIP but lower ERAs, some as much as one or one and a half runs lower. Because there is not a large disparity in home runs, I would speculate that for some reason Randy is giving up more multi-base hits that are not homers, or for some reason he is not spreading out the hits he allows as effectively as other pitchers for some reason.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The most recent book I've finished is Do As I Say (Not As I Do) by Peter Schweizer. It wasn't bad, it read quickly and would probably be most useful as ammunition when debating with a leftist. It makes the very good point that though liberals profess one thing, they often do another and, differing from conservatives, usually make their lives better as a result. When conservatives stray from their principles (Rush Limbaugh addicted to OxyContin, for example) their lives take a turn for the worse. The question then is, if leftists don't believe their ideas will do them any good (since they won't practice what they preach), why do they want the rest of us to adopt them?
So I went online today prior to visiting the library to see if I could renew some DVDs that I had checked out. Instead of finding out if someone else had them on hold, I was told that my library card was "blocked". That was it, no explanation, just "blocked".
When I arrived at the library I went to the desk and inquired, politely, why my card was blocked. I was told that it was because I had never checked out two of the books I had placed on hold, though I had taken them home and so they were now "missing". I explained that I found this odd, since I most certainly had checked them out and, in fact, returned them a week earlier. The librarian then condescendingly informed me that sometimes the self-checkout at the library didn't function properly and I probably didn't notice that they hadn't been checked out. I swallowed any reply I might have made about how I am not a complete buffoon with technology and asked for the block to be removed from my card. The librarian kindly acceded.
Thinking that this mess, while annoying, was through, I wandered a bit and found some books I wanted to check out, and decided to search for a few more. A book that I thought I would like to re-read was indicated as being on the shelves at that branch. Yet it was not. I looked in several places, the sci-fi/fantasy shelves, regular fiction, etc, but it was nowhere to be found. When I inquired about it, I was told that it was probably missing and did I want to put it on hold. No interest in finding the bloody book supposedly inhabiting their library, nor in changing the status of the book from present to missing (I watched her screen as she checked and then cleared it to deal with another patron).
Right then, I'm already over my quota of incompetence for the day. I'd like to just take my books and go home. But wait! I need to see if my DVDs can be renewed. I log in to a computer, punch in my card number and PIN and... "information is invalid"? I must have mistyped something. I try again. Nothing. I get my card out (despite my confidence in having memorised the number) and carefully type it and my PIN slowly and with deliberation. Same result. So I make my way again, more with anger than with trepidation, to the front desk and inquire why my card no longer seems to exist in their computers? After some footling about the librarian (each encounter has been with a different person) discovers that in removing the block from my card, her colleague has deleted my barcode from the system. Another few minutes of messing about and I can finally check out my books and escape.
As an epilogue, I glance at a scrap of paper I am using as a bookmark when I get home and discover, lo and behold, the receipt clearly stating that I did check out the two books that got my card blocked. And since I know I returned them, whoever was supposed to have checked them in was the one guilty of gumming up the works.
Frustrating, in the extreme. But I have a plan. Both to protect myself from further aspersions on my character and competence, and as a fringe benefit, sure to annoy the self-righteous librarians who have caused such problems for me in the first place. No more self-checkout for me, oh no! Even be it only one paperback, I will wait in line and have them check it out themselves, and of greater effect in both areas of import, I will bring every item in to the desk to be checked in by hand so I can get a receipt for that too. And should they dare to complain, I will be willing, nay, eager to relate this story at length and with flourishes to emphasise my resolution in this matter.