Friday, December 21
1. Strengthen citizen participation in our political economy. Enact legislation that mandates publicly-financed public elections and broad reforms of the electoral process so that votes count far more than dollars.
Maybe it's not campaign finance reform as currently conceived, but we need something.
#s 2 and 5: Why can't we make more of a dent in poverty? Many Western democracies have done so. It means they're not the only remaining superpower, but is that necessary or desirable compared to raising the standard of living for everyone? I, for one, would be willing to give up some power and money to even things out in this regard, or, if you will, to raise the standard for the poorest people.
3. Issue environmental protection standards to systematically reduce global warming, and other damaging environmental toxics and promote sustainable technologies.
#4: Why can't we improve national healthcare? Why can't more people have basic health insurance?
#6: Why can't our national security policy mirror such concerns by focusing on helping other nations and engendering good will instead of resentment at unilateral action?
#7: Do we want cheap goods and services at any price? Are we willing to build on the back of cheap Latino labor, both at home and abroad? Or can we reconceive fair and free trade?
#8: Does our legal system work the way we want it to? Does it promote justice? Do prisons reform, or just incarcerate? Is reform possible? If so, how?
9. Defend and strengthen civil rights and the civil justice system, apply criminal laws against corporate crime, and fully prosecute consumer fraud and abuses. Expand consumer, worker and children's health, safety and economic rights.
10. Strengthen investor-shareholder rights, remedies and authority over managers and officers and boards of directors so that those who own the companies also control them. End the massive corporate welfare schemes that distort and misallocate public budgets. Reintroduce the historic function of corporate chartering as an operating instrument of insuring corporate accountability and the sovereignty of the people.
What do you think?
It was wonderful. It really was. It stands on its own as a work inspired by the book.
However, to the purist, it must be regarded as separate from the book. It is not a faithful rendition of Tolkien's story. Surely it is not meant to be. I can understand that. Peter Jackson gets to take some liberties. He had to do what he could commit to and what he thought would sell.
But a lot of people are going overboard in their gushing.
I did a quick scan of the Daypop links for the website, and it seemed to me like a lot of people who gushed about it said things like 'I haven't read the books since sixth grade.' This is indicative of the distinction.
I don't think of Roger Ebert as an authority, but he got it right when he said "A true visualization of Tolkien's Middle-earth it is not." (via The One Ring).
Wednesday, December 19
Here's my first review:
I'm a Tolkien purist, as you know, so there are a lot of things I could pick out that I didn't like as well as the original. But I'm going to wait on those things, at least for a while. I'll start by talking about some of the many things Peter Jackson did well (this requires discipline for me. I naturally go to criticism. But I think this is worth it. I want to enjoy it for what it is.)
Note: no spoilers.
First of all, let me just say, if you have thought about reading the book before you see the movie, or have even started it, you should finish it first. The movie is different enough from the book that I, for one, would certainly want you to be exposed to Tolkien's original first.
Second, I'm certainly planning on seeing it again. It was very good and there's so much to see and take in. The vistas and action scenes, especially, demand repeated viewing. Christine expressed it well: We wished we could stop and look around more, but we had to move faster than that. Guess that's what the DVD is for.
There is a lot of really good acting. Ian McKellan (Gandalf), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Ian Holm (Bilbo), and Sean Bean (Boromir) stand out to me as nearly flawless. Elijah Wood does a credible job, and maybe even better, as the protagonist, Frodo. Christopher Lee (Saruman) had really great moments (and probably acted his direction exceptionally).
Peter Jackson can obviously do great effects. The lidless eye and the world seen by the wearer of the ring were very well done.
The action scenes were awesome, with Legolas coming off as the coolest by far.
If you care to check it out, the Salon review calls it 'the movie of the year' (warning: infernal pop-up ads).
Secondarily: a lot of the previews really sucked. However, Tom Cruise's 'Minority Report' looked cool, and the 'Spider Man' preview was thrilling and sold me.
Tuesday, December 18
Consumers will get customized products - like selected songs on a burn-your-own-cd. Right, and good.
Napster-like services are the future - Gnutella and TiVo. Right, and good.
This will further the 'Balkanization' of our popular culture, without cultural icons than cut across subcultures, like Michael Jackson did in the 80s.
Now, draw your own conclusions.
Plus, commentary over on the Filter.
Now I know my Santa might have purchased the gift and it just didn't register on Amazon. We'll see.
In some ways, it doesn't matter, because my friend, Joyce, unexpectedly got me Shakespeare's Complete Works off of my wishlist, and that's a lot more that the Secret Santa 15$ limit.
My idea for next year is to do online Secret Santa, but maybe more as a cohort - maybe set up a Yahoo Groups list and then I'd do the assignments or something. I'd run it off of my site. Maybe other could pick it up. It might be fun to have a little more of a known group do it, especially if you figure Thinkblanks site will be even bigger next year. Who knows, maybe I'll do both. It was fun to get to know Erin and to gift her. Maybe Thinkblank could add this kind of functionality - the ability to do Secret Santa subgroups.
(and she's where I got that 80s music link, which ended up being pretty indicting. Little did I know that she was one of the first people to link it. I just assumed it was going around. But she picked it up from the author and he later analyzed the traffic flow. So I was trying to be all secretive and stuff, but she probably knew what was coming anyway.)
Anyway, Erin seems pretty cool: Irish, a standup comic, artist, educator. Check out her site.
Monday, December 17
The electron is the thing that’s wiggling, and the wave is the electron. It is its own medium.
The quantum world isn't necessarily microscopic, it's just different.
A 'photon' is not a particle but a field described by a wave function of the interaction of two atoms.
The quantum world is a world of waves, not particles. So we have to think of electron waves and proton waves and so on. Matter is “incoherent” when all its waves have a different wavelength, implying a different momentum. On the other hand, if you take a pure quantum system—the electrons in a superconducting magnet, or the atoms in a laser—they are all in phase with one another, and they demonstrate the wave nature of matter on a large scale. Then you can see quite visibly what matter is down at its heart.
The problem with reconciling gravitation and quantum mechanics comes from viewing matter as made up of point particles.
Quantum orthodoxy has led us to wrong conclusions about the fundamental nature of reality.
I'd really like some diagrams to go along with this. Maybe I need to get Mead's book.
I'm no physicist, but this stuff makes sense to me intuitively as plausible explanations. I like this guy's reasoning.
You especially might want to read his lengthy discussion of the problems of foreign aid to developing countries. Steven makes a good case against much of foreign aid, and for debt relief. Another item on the liberal agenda is probably worth considering too: reform of Western involvement. Our corporations and institutions like the World Bank have some pretty shady involvement in developing countries. I think that would be another critical place to work, instead of just dumping in money that might simply be wasted.
I posted this basic idea to Steven's bulletin board, and others posted comments.
See also, on Steven:
Google, the desktop metaphor, and the future of computer interfaces.
Steven has a point: the Palestinians are badly led, or not led at all. This is a major problem. I still think Israel ought to take that into consideration more, but there's enough guilt to go around.
Friday, December 14
All except the 'Arwen' video, of course. Better to call it the Liv commercial. She will save him my eye. Bahh. I'm a purist. We didn't need this meddling. I hope we've got the option of choosing the real thing when the DVD comes out.
The way my mind works...
Wednesday, December 12
: Hi Sean, how's things?
: Here's a link I thought you might find interesting:
: An interview with Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic
: "Around 1979, I began to question the utility of manned submarines and felt
: that we should shift to robotics. I took a sabbatical to Stanford and I
: began to design the Argo-Jason system--that was the first tele-operated
: robotic system. Ironically, my first test expedition was the Titanic. . . .
: Quite honestly, the Titanic was a cover for classified military purposes: to
: go inside the Thresher [a lost U.S. nuclear-powered submarine] and find the
: nuclear weapons that were on it. Little Jason Jr., which went inside the
: Titanic, was really designed to go inside the forward torpedo room of the
: Scorpion [another lost U.S. submarine], but they kept it under wraps."
I did find it interesting, so here it is.
[Many] terrible deeds...are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.
You might say 'Christian teaching, too.'. But not orthodox Christian teaching. Aberrant Christian teaching. Check out Islamic orthodoxy:
The brutal, dehumanizing treatment of women by the Taliban has been well-documented and internationally condemned. However, the abusive treatment of women in most Islamic countries is nearly as draconian and falls far short of the dignity, respect, and protection almost universally given to women and mandated by the United Nations.
The persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. The Koran provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world. Conversions from Islam to any other faith are often punishable by death.
One example is the treatment of non-Muslims by the Islamic government of Sudan. In the past year, our hospital in southern Sudan was bombed seven times by the Islamic regime in Khartoum. These bombings pale in comparison with the two million Christians and animists killed, and thousands more enslaved, by the regime in recent years.
In most countries where Islamic law dominates there is practically no freedom of religion (not to mention freedom of speech or the press). In most Islamic countries, including so-called moderate Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, it is a crime to build a Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or any other non-Muslim house of worship. In contrast, there are about 3,000 mosques in the U.S., with new ones being built every week.
Muslims are free to worship Allah in the U.S., but Christians are not free to worship Jesus in most Muslim countries. There has not been a single church in Afghanistan since the exiled king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, destroyed the first and only one in the history of the country in 1973.
I think they said on 'The West Wing' that The Taliban is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity. That is not true. Ask basically traditional Muslims around the world how far the Taliban is from their beliefs. I don't think it's going to be very far.
Tuesday, December 11
You are The Smiths: You were a peripheral player in the eighties, people thought it was cool to be your friend, but they never really wanted to spend time with you. Go watch Twin Peaks reruns.
Yeah, the Smiths rule. And I really liked 'Twin Peaks'. People did too want to spend time with me.
I can't tell you where I got this link because I'm the person's Secret Santa.
I don't agree with all of his conclusions, that these people were innocent victims of war, and so innocent in attacking him. But this is a powerful experience, and he tries to wrestle with its meaning.
the ironic thing about funerals is there's this great gathering to observe a loved one's life that that loved one would have really enjoyed. too bad we can't do such things more often prefuneral.
Friday, December 7
The Dark Knight Strikes Again
If you're as big a fan as I am, you will go and read everything.
How did this slip by me? Why didn't I see this before? I'm not into comics any more, but it's already on the streets and I don't have it?!? Must. remedy. immediately.
I mean, just look at the sketches. Wonder Woman. as amazon. with rope as hangman's noose. Frank Miller rules the world.
That wasn't near enough. So I went back to Daypop where I found it, and found a MetaFilter thread. That linked an Onion article. It talks about screenplays and a possible Batman: Year One script. It mentions 'Batman: The Animated Series' in Dark Knight style. Anyone know how to get a hold of such a thing?
OK, I think that about covers it for now.
Wednesday, December 5
Should we rule out use of nuclear weapons? Never. We sent a clear warning to Saddam before the Gulf War that if he used chemical or biological weapons against us we would retaliate in a way that, in the words of envoy Jim Baker, "would take Iraq 100 years to recover from." The implication of that threat was unmistakable. The same warning will have to be given again before we deal with Iraq this time around. The problem is that this time Saddam knows that the destruction of his regime is our prime war aim. In the Gulf War, he knew that we only intended to eject his troops from Kuwait.
I suspect that this time Saddam will be told by Israel that any imminent chemical, biological, or nuclear threat perceived by Israel may result in an Isreals first strike nuclear obliteration of Iraq or at least of those places in Iraq where such weapons are suspected to be located. Israel lacks the luxury of "defense-in-depth." It cannot absorb a first strike secure in its ability to survive and retaliate. I suspect that lights are burning late in Washington as these "next step" issues are pondered.
If I were a work of art, I would be Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
I am extremely popular and widely known. Although unassuming and unpretentious, my enigmatic smile has charmed millions. I am a mystery, able to be appreciated from afar, but ultimately unknowable and thus intriguing.
Which work of art would you be? The Art Test
How can you do better than that?
With just one little change, I could have been Piet Mondrian's Composition A.
I am rigidly organised and regimented, although my cold and unapproachable exterior hides a clever way of thinking and a rebellious and innovative nature. A lot of people don't understand me, but I can still affect them on an emotional level.
(By the way, if you're wondering, I found these tests on the Daypop top 40).
Exploring a little myself, I think Rivendell's too busy. I'd like less art and a more minimal approach, but that's just me.
Tuesday, December 4
kennings, including the top result for 'kennings today'
Major League Baseball Contraction (29th result)
'I protect those who come here.' (only result!)
opinion of Roy Lichtenstein (105th result (how'd someone get that far down?))
(note: this is my redaction of the article.)
'Israel launched the assault after one of the most deadly waves of Palestinian suicide bombings inside the Jewish state in years.'
'Israel began a second day of air strikes after the government's classification of Arafat's Palestinian Authority as a supporter of terrorism paved the way to harsher retaliation.'
'Making his first public comments since the Israeli offensive began on Monday, Arafat hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Arafat told CNN television: ``He doesn't want a peace process to start.'''
'The decision at a government meeting to attack, and brand the Palestinian Authority an organization which supports terror, prompted a walkout by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' Labor Party which widened cracks in Sharon's broad coalition.'
Monday, December 3
Another complaint: It's really not about any 'New Jedi Order'. It's mostly about the same characters, with extra focus on the Solo kids.
I did like the focus on Anakin in this one. I suppose I'll read the next one. Like I said, I'm a sucker. It's really only a couple of hours of my life. This one was a lot less painful than many of the others.
Wait, one more thing: I didn't specifically mention how tired I am of the practically invulnerable Yuuzhan Vong. And now there are hints that's what going to bring them down, to some degree, is their own religious fundamentalism. Yawn.
Okay, one more thing (with no promises that this is the last): The review for the next book on Amazon actually says:
But even in the midst of despair, while the fiercest battle of all looms on the horizon, hope arises with the birth of one very special child....
Haven't we done this plot in Star Wars, like about 6 times before (Anakin 1/Darth, Luke, Leia, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin 2)? Sheesh.
If my wife, Christine, were a character in The Lord of the Rings, she would be Galadriel, Elf, Queen of Lothlorien, wife of Celeborn and grandmother of Arwen.
In the movie, she is played by Cate Blanchett.
Galadriel and Faramir aren't ultimately matchable. He is far below her station, immeasureably far. That fits.
The most important characteristics of heavy bombers are, in order, range, accuracy, and bomb load.
No amount of technical intelligence gathering [Signal intelligence, or SigInt] can completely replace spies [Human Intelligence, or HumInt].
Sometimes coalitions and alliances are liabilities.
Aircraft carriers continue to be valuable.
Diplomacy can't solve some problems.
"Smart" munitions are worth what they cost.
So are "improved" munitions (e.g. cluster bombs).
Air power alone still cannot win a conventional war, though it can make it much easier.
Specialized weapons (e.g. C-130 gunships) can be very valuable. Not everything has to be multirole.
Aerial tankers and cargo planes are as important as combat aircraft.
Mobility is a force multiplier.
Training is a force multiplier.
Communications is also a force multiplier.
Now, Rob notes that Google might have prompted some of this, but i'm giving the props to Matt!
Anyway, the textad is a much preferred form to any other previously encountered.