Friday, April 29, 2005

Two articles worth reading.

A Private Obsession

Published: April 29, 2005

Our system is desperately in need of reform. Yet it will be very hard to get useful reform, for two reasons: vested interests and ideology.

The most striking inefficiency of our health system is our huge medical bureaucracy, which is mainly occupied in trying to get someone else to pay the bills. A good guess is that two million to three million Americans are employed by insurers and health care providers not to deliver health care, but to pass the buck to other people.

I am inclined to agree.

What, Me Worry?

Published: April 29, 2005

Bill Gates minced no words. "American high schools are obsolete," he told the governors. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed and underfunded. ... By obsolete, I mean that our high schools - even when they are working exactly as designed - cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

"Training the work force of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. ... Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting - even ruining - the lives of millions of Americans every year."

Let me translate Mr. Gates's words: "If we don't fix American education, I will not be able to hire your kids."

"For the first time in our history, we are going to face competition from low-wage, high-human-capital communities, embedded within India, China and Asia," President Lawrence Summers of Harvard told me. In order to thrive, "it will not be enough for us to just leave no child behind. We also have to make sure that many more young Americans can get as far ahead as their potential will take them. How we meet this challenge is what will define our nation's political economy for the next several decades."

This is for real. I swear.

Don't you hate it when you read something that starts out like that? I know I do. Immediately, my brains' reflexes go into action. I inevitably hear my brain tell me "Well, that's gotta be crap" and I move on to something else.

But this one is for real. I swear.

I got this email today. If your brain hasn't already told you "That's crap" keep reading. And even if it has, tell your brain to take 5 and read on.

As you may have known and participated in, Discovery Channel held a nationwide vote, working along with AOL, to find out who the Greatest American is of all time. With more than 500,000 votes and many nominees, the top 100 have been chosen and Joseph Smith Jr. is one of them!

Now that the nominees have been selected, the Discovery Channel and AOL are doing more intensive research into the lives of the nominees so that they can all be presented during a special program starting Sunday, June 5th called "Greatest American" which can be seen on the Discovery Channel at 8:00PM Eastern Time. (That means 5pm in Arizona; 6pm in Utah and Idaho)

So mark Sunday, June 5th in your calendars because it is during that program that you will have the chance to vote for Joseph Smith Jr. as the #1 greatest American via the internet, phone, or SMS.

The only way it can happen though, is for you and any LDS friends you have to vote for him. Please forward this email to everyone you know so that we can show the world Joseph Smith, Jr. is a "Greatest American" and truly made a difference in the world.

You can see more about the program and nominees by clicking the links below.

The following is from the web page. You have to go to the option "Salk to Truman" to see JS, Jr.

What you know:
Experiencing a series of visions from 1827 to 1830, Joseph Smith founded Mormonism, officially called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smith contended that an angel guided him to gold plates near his family’s farm; the plates contained writings that he translated into the Book of Mormon. Drawing converts rapidly but persecuted by outsiders, Mormons fled from New York to Ohio and Illinois.

What you don't know:
In 1844, Smith announced he was running for U.S. president. By then, he was a famous man in the West. However, his narrow base of appeal made a win doubtful, and his political ambitions actually increased the hostility of non-Mormons. Despite protection from the Illinois governor, a mob -- suspicious of the Mormons’ polygamy practices and Smith’s political aspirations -- assassinated him and his brother later that year.


As you may have noticed, I'm not a big fan of the UN. This was not always the case. I once shared the hopeful enthusiasm of the many naive idealists who still have it.

Two things happened to change this: the state of the world by the time I graduated high school, and the rank hypocrisy of the UN became more visible to me.

And now, another nail in the coffin. Zimbabwe was returned to the UN Human Rights Committee today. That would be the Zimbabwe that is oppressing the white farmers and seizing their land while the world stood by and watched. The Zimbabwe that, because of this land policy, has gone from Africa's largest exporter of food to unable to feed itself. Not to mention the totalitarian government that has been set up.

And yet they will advise the world on human rights.

Freedom Esoterica Friday

There's a new Victor Davis Hanson piece up at NRO.

In another startling revelation, it has been discovered (again) that...wait for and women are different! (Shock! Horror! Outrage!) Actually, this Scientific American article "His Brain, Her Brain," raises some very interesting issues - such as therapies for psychological problems may need to have sex-specific components.

A little Recommended Reading, if you have some spare time.

"On the night of May 10, 1941, with one of the last bombs of the last serious raid, our House of Commons was destroyed by the violence of the enemy, and we have now to consider whether we should build it up again,and how, and when. We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us. Having dwelt and served for more than forty years in the late Chamber, and having derived very great pleasure and advantage therefrom, I, naturally, should like to see it restored in all essentials to its old form, convenience and dignity."

Winston Churchill, 28 October 1943 to the House of Commons (meeting in the House of Lords).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I don't know if that's is noteworthy or not.

India will not get veto power even if it gets a seat in an expanded UN Security Council. The unambiguous words came from none other than the man who heads the world body — secretary-general Kofi Annan.

See the story here: Seat at UN high table minus veto

Nate's Next Project

A Solar Death Ray.

Don't laugh. He can do it.

(Found at The Corner.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Airbus A380 Completes Maiden Flight

Airbus' double-decker, 555-passenger (with capacity for 800 passengers) successfully completed its maiden flight this morning.

Monday, April 25, 2005



Some interesting (and seriously cheap) stuff.

We sell 1 item per day until it is sold out or until 11:59pm central time when it is replaced (see next entry for details). However, each item we sell is in stock and typically ships within 2-3 business days.

The Anglosphere Challenge

An interesting idea is floating around the internet, and now has materialized into a book.

Basically, the "Anglosphere" is the democracies of the British Commonwealth plus the United States: the UK, US, Canada, India, Australia, and New Zealand, among other successor states. The idea is that these nations, the heirs to British and American liberal political thought (liberal in the traditional, 1700s sense rather than the modern socialistic sense), need to band together to preserve those traditional ideals against ideologies that seek to submerge them beneath more absolutist forms of govenment in order to either serve God (see the Wahabist form of Islam) or enforce equality (see Communism or socialism, writ large). Interestingly enough, both opponents employ similar means to attempt their wildly divergent goals - a concentration of power in the state and the state's responsibility to a scant few "worthy" to employ that power.

I'm going to ponder this a little more in depth over on the Pacific Slope, but I wanted to call this to your attention first. I like to pretend I think great thoughts from time to time.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Freedom Esoterica Friday

New Victor Davis Hanson piece.

Jay Nordlinger gets angry - and frankly, I enjoyed the results.
Speaking of the stinkin’ U.N.: The vote on the human-rights committee to condemn Castro’s Cuba was 21 to 17, with 15 abstaining. That is, 21 countries voted for the resolution of condemnation, 17 voted against, and 15 abstained. Let’s have a look at the roll call, shall we? It makes for interesting reading. I’ll go alphabetically...Argentina abstained — bastards. Brazil abstained — ditto. (Lula really protecting his left flank, huh? His core supporters must love torture, murder, and total repression. At least Lula didn’t vote no.)...Congo voted no — beautiful. Cuba — guess what?! — Cuba voted no! (You knew that Castro sits on the human-rights committee, right?)

Get you hands off Cookie Monster, you [CENSORED]! Jonah Goldberg explains. Blasted PC-ers.

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."
Sir Winston Churchill

Friends, Bloggers, lend me your... um, fingers.

With graduation upon me, I expect to have a lot of free time headed my way. In an attempt not to get lazy after I graduate I have set a goal to read all the great stuff I haven't had time to read while working and attending school.

I have compiled a list of books I would like to read, but I wanted input from the rest of you. Send me lists of your favorite books, those you have found to be influential or intellectually stimulating.

Currently, on my docket to read are the following titles
Paradise Lost
The Canterbury Tales
My Name is Asher Lev (I want to re-read this one)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The list of books on my shelf that fall under the "influential and greats" includes, among many others, the following titles:
My Name is Asher Lev
Fried Green Tomatoes
The Screwtape Letters
Catcher in the Rye
Franny and Zooey
A Tale of Two Cities
Brave new World

Please comment and let me know what some of your favotires are; what you'd recommend as a "must read."

Thursday, April 21, 2005


I'm glad this site is causing people to think. I like the comments posted regarding the bankruptcy that have been posted. I had no idea it would elicit such great commentary.

Discord is a good thing (in my opinion). It causes us to analyze and think critically about what we're presented with. It also forces us to see other perspectives. And seeing from another perspective, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to truly learn. The trick is to learn to leave emotion at the door so that new ideas aren't filtered through a hazy lens.

Kudos to all y'all.

On Vengeance and Forgiveness

Okay, now we're going to talk theology/philosophy. Given the common grounding but divergent views of this group, I think this will be interesting.

Please excuse the sober post, but I was sparked to thought by this news item, on the murder of Jessica Lunsford, a young nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped, and buried alive.

Earlier this week, I was watching with my parents Larry King. He had as his guest, Cindi Broadus, a woman who suffered severe chemical burns when someone dropped a bottle of sulfuric acid onto her car - from a freeway overpass. When asked, she said that she forgave her attacker.

Now, I have to say Ms. Broadus is a better person than I am.

I (and I imagine all of you) have been taught that we should forgive trespasses against us, that "vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." That the desire for payback is wrong, and unproductive.

I think I could forgive a trespass against me - it's my place, and my duty. But what about attacks against your loved ones? Family and friends? I would find it very hard to forgive an attack against my sister, or my parents. I would think it would be even harder were the victim my wife or children. (No, I don't have a wife or children. Why do you think I post so much?)

Is my forgiveness required? I wasn't hurt, but someone I loved was. Or is it okay to descend like an avenging angel and exact retribution?

My thinking is, what do you seek to do to the perpetrators, and why? If you seek to hurt them in order to "make them pay," that's wrong. But if you seek to stop them from hurting others, and are willing to use force to do so, that's okay. But that's an extreme case. More likely, law enforcement will handle the bringing them to justice. Am I under a duty to forgive in this case? Again, I'm a third party here, in that I was not harmed, but someone I love was. (I can see the argument why, as justice is being served, assuming they are convicted and reasonably sentenced.)

Please discuss in the comments. Feel free to (politely) debate.

Some Math Stuff for You

John Derbyshire: Noether’s Novelty

" ...I got to thinking of Emmy Noether, who died just 70 years ago last week. I am going to leave you to deduce what, if anything, you can from Emmy Noether's story. It's a story worth telling, in any case, so here it is. Emmy Noether was the greatest female mathematician of the 20th century, and quite possibly of all time. "

"Hilbert and Klein had, of course, followed the development of Einstein's ideas with interest before he came to lecture in 1915. Now "convinced" (convinced, presumably, that Einstein was on the right lines), they gave their attention to the outstanding problems in the General Theory. They knew of some work Emmy Noether had done in the relevant areas, and invited her to Göttingen. Noether duly arrived at Göttingen, and within a matter of months produced a brilliant paper resolving one of the knottier issues in General Relativity. Einstein himself praised the paper. Emmy Noether had arrived."

Interesting story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

This is a good thing.

Bankruptcy was originally intended as a protection for those who legitimately need time to be able to figure out how to pay off debt... not as a "get out of debt free" card.

Bush Signs Big Rewrite of Bankruptcy Law

Poor Johnny Depp.

The guy just can't stop living in the past. Your heart really goes out to him.

It's not like I haven't tried to hone in on what made Jump Street such a perfect role. I did Nick Of Time and Secret Window because the characters solved mysteries, like we all did on Jump Street. But it just wasn't the same as when the Jump team took orders from hard-nosed but sensitive Capt. Adam Fuller, our multi-ethnic police squad's kindly African-American mentor. And that old feeling, like I was making a difference in the lives of millions of young viewers across the country by tackling important teenage issues like race, drug addiction, and AIDS—that feeling was just gone.

In this world, you only get one chance to play a member of an elite squad of young-looking cops who work out of an abandoned church, intervening in the lives of troubled teens before they grow up and become hardened criminals.

Read the entire heart-breaking and wrenching story here:
I'll never top 21 Jumpt Street

(this is the Onion, of course)

The Trouble with Capitalism capitalists.

William F. Buckley explains:
"The top three executives at Viacom received total compensation last year valued at about $52 to $56 million each in salary, bonus, and stock options."
"Viacom's share price, in the year of the gold rush for its managers, decreased by 18 percent."

I don't mind if these guys get paid so well if they are held accountable. But they are not, and this is happening all over the corporate world.

Nanoshells and Puppy-dog Tails...

...that's what little boys are made of.

The world of the small is becoming increasingly fascinating. Some researchers are developing what they call "Nanoshells". Essentially consisting of nano-sized silica coated with gold, these small particles can be fine tuned to scatter and absorb light at particular frequencies. Plus, because they are gold, they tend to be very biocompatible.

In a nutshell, or nanoshell if you prefer, these extraordinary particles can be coupled with cancer targeting molecules. Once adhered to the cancer, they can be illuminated with particular frequencies of light. Then a doctor can decide if the region is cancerous and should be annihilated. Then light of near infrared (NIR) can be used to induce the particles to heat up, thereby killing the cancer. NIR is cool because it has the most tissue penetration with least tissue damage. Only the nanoshells heat up in the light because they will be designed to absorb light at that particular frequency. This is a very noninvasive idea that could be used to avoid chemotherapy or radiation.

Sounds like fun. Hope it works out for them.

Followup to "This is the Way the World Ends"

I would like to followup on Tyler's emphatic attention grabber, "Hey, I know. Let's ship around some Ebola, too, just for the fun of it," from his post This is the Way the World Ends.

Crucell and NIH sign EUR 21.4 million Ebola Vaccine Manufacturing Contract

04/15/2005 - Crucell N.V. announced that it has signed a manufacturing contract with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC), part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for the manufacture of vaccines against Ebola infections. Under the terms of the contract, Crucell will manufacture up to ten batches of clinical material of the PER.C6®-based Ebola vaccine in its own manufacturing facility. These materials will be used for Phase I and early Phase II clinical studies in humans. Crucell will receive up to EUR 21.4 million (US$ 27.6 million) from the VRC for the manufacturing of these clinical lots. (

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

For the U2 fans.

The U2 Vertiblog

Looking like a manager

"Clothes make the leader. Employees probably won't ever respect you as a person, but they might respect your clothes. Great leaders throughout history have understood this fact.

Take the Pope, for example. If you took away his impressive pope hat, his authority would be seriously diminished. Ask yourself if you would take advice on birth control from a guy wearing, let's say, a John Deere hat. I don't think so.

You can learn from the pope's example. Wear impressive clothes. This will be the primary source of your respect, if any, for the remainder of your career." (Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook, section 1.4)

We have a new Pope.

VATICAN CITY, April 19 - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope today, taking the name Benedict XVI, then telling a wildly cheering crowd from a balcony on St. Peter's Basilica, "I entrust myself to your prayers."

He has been described as a conservative, intellectual clone of the late pontiff, and, as the dean of the College of Cardinals, he was widely respected for his uncompromising - if ultraconservative - principles and his ability to be critical.

As cardinal, he had shut the door on any discussion on several issues, including the ordination of women, celibacy of priests and homosexuality, defending his positions by invoking theological truth. In the name of orthodoxy, he is in favor of a smaller church, but one that is more ideologically pure.

Source: NY Times Article

April 19, 1775

From The Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

Ten Years Ago Today


Lest we forget.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Take Me to Your Leader, Earth-Boy

Baby Oc
Alaska Sealife Center/Associated Press

Ok, What Does This Mean?

Thousands Join Anti-Japan Protests in East China

In the third weekend of violent protests against Japan, thousands marched on the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, smashing its windows with rocks, pelting it with paint bombs and attacking Japanese restaurants along the way.
One banner read "Face Up to History." Another warned: "The anti-Japan war is not over yet."

Since I'm paranoid by nature, and as I'm of the belief that the only people who get to protest in China are the people the Chinese government allows to protest, what is the Chinese government saying with this? Why would the Chinese government be trying to pressure Japan?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Take the Internet IQ Test

I got 7/10. I missed questions 1, 3 and 4. Sorry, Mr. Gore. I just don't think you're that bright. Though, you must be be since you claimed at one point to have invented the internet and you have written many books (albeit through ghost-writers...).

Take the quiz here

Freedom Esoterica Friday

Victor Davis Hanson today on the critics:
"But too often we discuss the present risky policy without thought of what preceded it or what might have substituted for it. Have we forgotten that the messy business of democracy was the successor, not the precursor, to a litany of other failed prescriptions? Or that there were never perfect solutions for a place like the Middle East — awash as it is in oil, autocracy, fundamentalism, poverty, and tribalism — only choices between awful and even more awful? Or that September 11 was not a sudden impulse on the part of Mohammed Atta, but the logical culmination of a long simmering pathology? Or that the present loudest critics had plenty of chances to leave something better than the mess that confronted the United States on September 12? Or that at a time of war, it is not very ethical to be sorta for, sorta against, kinda supportive, kinda critical of the mission — all depending on the latest sound bite from Iraq?"

Rich Lowry on the dubious value of grief counseling:
"A 2000 study by University of Memphis researchers found that nearly 40 percent of those 'receiving grief therapy actually faired worse than a matched group not receiving treatment.'"


Churchill Quote of the Week (from the archives of the Churchill Centre):
"When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone, whatever they did, their Generals told their Prime Minister and his divided cabinet that in three weeks, England would have her neck wrung like a chicken - Some chicken! Some neck!" -- Speech made to the Canadian Parliament on December 30, 1941. Following this speech the famous Karsh photograph was taken.

A look at the trends that shape our world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

This is the Way the World Ends

Through pugnacious stupidity.

Scientists Scramble to Destroy Flu Strain
Scientists around the world were scrambling to prevent the possibility of a pandemic after a nearly 50-year-old killer influenza virus was sent to thousands of labs, a decision that one researcher described as "unwise." [Gee, ya think? -ed.]

Nearly 5,000 labs in 18 countries, mostly in the United States, were urged by the World Health Organization to destroy samples of the dangerous virus because of the slight risk it could trigger a global outbreak. The labs received the virus from a U.S. company that supplies kits used for quality control tests. "The risk is low and we've taken appropriate action," said Dr. Nancy Cox, chief of the influenza branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Her counterpart at WHO, Klaus Stohr, agreed but said, "If someone does get infected, the risk of severe illness is high, and this virus has shown to be fully transmissible."

The germ, the 1957 H2N2 "Asian flu" strain, killed between 1 million and 4 million people. It has not been included in flu vaccines since 1968, and anyone born after that date has little or no immunity to it.

Hey, I know. Let's ship around some Ebola, too, just for the fun of it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Google Sightseeing.

"Why bother seeing the world for real?"

Sightseeing with Google

Speaking of Spies...

Some intelligence news going on today:

A new Congressional plan for the structure of the National Intelligence Director's office is being discussed. It would place a four-star general in the directorate as the key liason between the intelligence community and the military.

There is some criticism of the latest report on the state of American intelligence capabilities -
because the report states what went wrong, but not why.

Quoting Mr. Meyer in National Review Online: "When we have an intelligence failure, it's because one of three things went wrong: The collectors didn't gather up the dots, the dots were collected but never reached the analysts, or the analysts were provided with the dots but then failed to see the pattern those dots formed. So every failure is either a failure of collection, a failure of organization, or a failure of analysis — or a combination thereof."

Finally, the biggest news is that an indictment has been made against three men, accusing them of plotting attacks against American financial institutions. (Remember that alert? Seems there was something to it after all...)

Monday, April 11, 2005

To Be A Fly On That Wall

Scientists Create Remote-Controlled Flies

What I want to know is how using lasers to control the flies' brains has anything to do with "a better understanding of overeating and violence in humans." It strikes me that they have succeeded more in creating the ultimate R/C toy.

More importantly, does any of this translate into possible nerve repair technology?

And are we closer to sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads?

Friday, April 08, 2005

This Just In

AP and UPI are reporting that the French government has raised their terror alert level, from RUN to HIDE. The only two higher levels in the French system are SURRENDER and COLLABORATE. The increase was precipitated by a fire which destroyed France's white flag factory, paralyzing the French military.

Chairman, Wasatch Front French-Bashing Committee

Freedom Esoterica Friday

New Victor Davis Hanson column on Geore Bush's domestic strategy - and its lack of success.

Our national intelligence apparatus needs to be fixed - but that's not the only problem. We need to be ready and willing to act on it, too.

Interesting (but negative) review of Sin City.

Picture from the Library of Congress online exhibition, Churchill and the Great Republic.

Churchill Quote of the Week: "War of the Unknown Warriors"
"This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this Island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war, but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a War of the Unknown Warriors; but let all strive without failing in faith or in duty, and the dark curse of Hitler will be lifted from our age."
- Sir Winston Churchill, BBC broadcast, London, July 14, 1940 (Courtesy the Churchill Centre)

A message from... John Cleese.

Ahh.... John Cleese. How we've missed you.

"I was just one little voice crying out in the high tech wilderness of
conventional wisdom destined, yet again, to be completely ignored."

"While treatment is not necessarily effective, it at least gives the
appearance that we have tried."

"It's the one with Thursday on it you stupid git!"

"...And see what response you get from Mr. John Q IT Manager with his Dilbert cartoons taped like wallpaper around his groundhog farm cubicle and diet soda cans stacked up like they're ****ing Martha Stewart design accessories!"

You have got to see this:

And whatever you do, don't press the third button. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I Sense Trouble

This is cool, but...
Hole Drilled to Bottom of Earth's Crust, Breakthrough to Mantle Looms

I've watched enough bad disaster movies to know what happens next. Isn't it about this point where we find we broke the planet, or unleashed Godzilla, or are slowing Earth's revolution or something?

A Movie Review (... kind of)

Alright, I admit. I haven't seen the movie. No one has. It doesn't come out until May 19th. This may be one of the most anticipated works of idiocy this year. And I'll still go see it with a gabillion other people, some dressed like ewoks, storm troopers, and hobbits (for those who think the thriftiness of reusing their Lord of the Rings costume for this premiere is a virtue).

I am speaking of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. I don't mean to sound critical because I really will go see it even though I'm not optimistic about Lucas after he tried to convince the world that we should be entertained by JarJar or JibJar or whatever the hell that leach was. I understand that he's lost touch with the human emotion in his isolated Skywalker Ranch that he has forgotten is still part of planet earth.

While all this is very fascinating and I am deeply curious to find out how Chewbacca's hair regeneration treatments went so horribly awry, there is another story that I am much more interested in: the story of a few fans who have shown the world they are committed, that they are loyal, and that they are idiots...

It seems that some of the fans have begun to line up in front of the historic Chinese theater to wait for the premier. The premier that is over a month away. That's not the problem though... the problem is that the studio has decided not to show the film at the Chinese theater and opted instead for another theater about a mile away.

Some people have left while 11 or so have decided to remain and wait it out... Wait what out?!? What are you waiting to see on May 19th, people? I've checked the calendar -- Big Bucket Head's: The Warehouse comes out that week but I don't know how much promise that has.

One longtime idiot and fan, Sarah Sprague, stated that she's heard these rumors before and they proved false before. That's right Sarah, it is a conspiracy.

I wish this story could have some sort of moral or ending that tied up all the lose ends and explained why people like Sarah are still on the streets but it doesn't. I can't tell you that it is safe to trust green lizard-like aliens with bad grammar or fat guys that speak klingon but I will say this, if ever you doubt that all bets are off and that we live in a world without rhyme or reason, realize that these 11 people somehow are capable of reproducing (in a human sense - not in some funky star trek fashion). If you can explain that then you've done more to explain the universe than you could by trying to explain why 11 people are waiting outside a movie theater for over a month for a movie that isn't going to be playing at that theater.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

View Number Two: Movie Review

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, and you can find anything.

--Marv, Sin City

Frank Miller's Sin City (Three Stars)

This visually stunning medley of stories, projected from the pages of Frank Miller's graphic novels, is deeply gruesome and engrossing. The thick, stylish noir of Sin City is certainly an entrancing experience, but I would not be surprised if someone somewhere vomited in the asile due to watching this movie. The characters are grim, the violence is gory, the subject matter is hefty, and the vile nature of some of the events can be mentally arresting. However, in defense of a well-told tale, the characters are deep, emotional, and well-portrayed, while the story is tense and enveloping as disturbing revelations unfold.

Sin City is a mixture of three stories involving Hartigan (Bruce Willis), an old but noble hard-boiled cop, Marv (Mickey Rourke), a maniacal human brick killing his way to ultimate vengeance, and Dwight (Clive Owen), a guy with a dark past willing to kill and die for old friends. Between these three tales we get a sordid glimpse at Basin City, a place seemingly constructed of the most vile and destitue of human qualities. The cops are crooked. The senator's family that rules the city is evil. Old town is run by a death squad of prostitutes. In the midst of this scenery our protagonists (it would be a stretch to call them heroes) battle rapists, serial killers, mercenaries, mob families, prostitutes, and cops. And when I say "battle," you need to include gut-flinching gore and vicious torture. Of course it is surprising how much emotional impact these scenes can have when most of it is in black and white.

Dispite my gruesome description of the film, I must say that I was impressed on many levels. The story was solid, the acting and characters were fascinating, and the style felt old and fresh at the same time. Bottom Line: Sin City is a good, thick, juicy piece of noir... if you stomach it well. For the talented mark of stylish storytelling that it is, I liked it. Overly grim? Yes. Definitely, not on my list of favorites, but I respect a well-told tale.

The Polyamory Movement

Riding the coattails of gay marriage advocacy, here comes polyamory.

Basically, it's group marriage, or at least group romantic cohabitation. The relationships therein can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.

And the idea has captured the attention of denizens of academe. As Stanley Kurtz has discovered, there is now a movement to mainstream polyamory, to make group marriage legal.

Hmmm. Of course, polygamy (plural marriage) is wrong, evil, threatens the social fabric, gives one warts and boils, etc., but polyamory, hey, it's just people living private lives, right?

Wrong. Start trying to redefine marriage, and you will find it impossible to get a definition all will agree on. You will find it hard to redraw the line at B after you just erased it at A. Why not draw it at C? Or F?

As to why polyamory is not the same as polygamy, I don't know. But in reading, there are different connotations. I guess I'm just not nuanced enough to see much difference between polygamy (plural marriage) and polyamory (group marriage).

P.S. Interesting discussion on marriage as an institution here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

See? I'm not on crack. Today, anyway.

I'm always saying that tomatoes are good for your prostate. People often look at me weirdly and say "Tomatoes are gross." I respond with something like, "Whatever. Enjoy your cancer."

Here's some proof. Finally. Vindication.

Research suggests that lycopene, a substance found in tomatoes, may play a role in lowering men's odds of developing prostate cancer. Cooked tomato products, such as tomato sauce, are particularly healthful. Cooking breaks down tomato cell walls and releases the lycopene, making it easier for the body to absorb. A 2001 study by the National Foundation for Cancer Research found men with prostate cancer who ate one entree with tomato sauce per day for three weeks before surgery had a significant decrease in prostate tissue damage after their operations.

So, when you get prostate cancer, don't say I never told you to eat tomatoes. Becaues I probably did.

(disclaimer: I'm not actually bitter.)

Why Mourn a Pope

Pope John Paul II passed away this weekend, and the attempts to define his legacy have begun.

It is safe to say that the Polish pope influenced history and helped hasten the collapse of Communist tyranny.
His alliance with Reagan and Thatcher in their position that Communism was wrong and immoral, not merely different, lent serious moral weight to their arguement. And in a war of ideals, such support was invaluable.

Pope John Paul II was steadfast in his beliefs, and believed that his church should remain steadfast. While the deliberations on the successor to to the throne of St. Paul begin, already there are calls from American Catholics to radically alter Catholic Church positions on a wide range of issues, from abortion and birth control to stem cell research. Schism and conflict are possible; certainly it is safe to say that the Catholic Church is at a crossroads.

As an outsider, I really have no insight to offer here. I know that John Paul's pro-life teachings were a welcome ally to LDS arguments against abortion; I hope that this continues.

Lots more good stuff on the pope at
National Review.

Also a good column by Charles Krauthammer.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

ESP? No, not a chance.

So, a few days ago I posted some stuff on how I think gambling is bad.

At the Priesthood Session of General Conference it was the focus of President Hinckley's talk.

Coincidence? Yes. Most definitely. Please do not contact me with questions about the future.

I'm usually WAY off on that type of thing. In fact, if I give advice, you would be wise to do the exact opposite of anything I recommend.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II is near death, and is not expected to survive the weekend.

He was a force for good in this world. The pope helped fight Communism, feeling that people should be allowed their religious freedom. He stood for that in a time when few did.

From Hugh Hewitt:
"Such an outpouring of deep sorrow I don't think the world will have seen since Churchill died.

"With Reagan and
Solzhenitsyn, John Paul II represents the three forces of opposition to communism that shattered the evil empire, the Soviet Union --the American-led West, the Eastern European resistance, and the Russian dissident movement. They also represented the three spheres of opposition: political, artistic and spiritual. Each man came into the field of his greatness later in life, and each has endured hard circumstances in their later years."

We are witnessing the final traces of a difficult age fading away, an age dark and heavy with oppression and with Armageddon waiting in the wings. The key figures of the final years of the Cold War are leaving the stage, leaving it to us; and leaving us to find our own way in this new wilderness of the post-Cold War world. They leave us, but they give us their examples.

Which are a pretty good foundation to build on.

Google. Gulp.

Think fruity. Think refreshing.
Think a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of your bottle reading all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time using our patented Auto-Drink™ technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter smart-drug stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex. Plus, it's low in carbs! And with flavors ranging from Beta Carroty to Glutamate Grape, you'll never run out of ways to quench your thirst for knowledge.

Keep reading. It gets better.

Google Gulp and Your Privacy
From time to time, in order to improve Google Gulp's usefulness for our users, Google Gulp will send packets of data related to your usage of this product from a wireless transmitter embedded in the base of your Google Gulp bottle to the GulpPlex™, a heavily guarded, massively parallel server farm whose location is known only to Eric Schmidt, who carries its GPS coordinates on a 64-bit-encrypted smart card locked in a stainless-steel briefcase handcuffed to his right wrist. No personally identifiable information of any kind related to your consumption of Google Gulp or any other current or future Google Foods product will ever be given, sold, bartered, auctioned off, tossed into a late-night poker pot, or otherwise transferred in any way to any untrustworthy third party, ever, we swear. See our Privacy Policy.

He's not quite dead yet.

Quoted from Reuters:
Pope Nears Death as Health Worsens Sharply
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul neared death on Friday as his health suddenly worsened, drawing anguished prayers from Catholics around the world reluctant to accept his historic pontificate was at an end.

The Vatican said the 84-year-old Pontiff had difficulty breathing and his blood pressure had dropped dangerously low.

But it denied Italian media reports that the Pope, who received the blessing for the dying after his health deteriorated late on Thursday, had died.

Freedom Esoterica Friday

"Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils."
- General John Stark

"We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."-- -Sir Winston Churchill, speech made to the Canadian Parliament, December 30, 1941. From The Churchill Centre.

New Victor Davis Hanson column is up at National Review Online. Great stuff - "Don't Stop Now." In short, the campaign to fight the War on Terror by draining the swamps where that malevolence breeds is gaining momentum. And according to VDH, the most dangerous thing we can do is quit now.

If you're not reading him every week - why not?