We've been watching a number of movies around GateTree House in recent weeks. We're working through our 80's sci-fi lineup: Bladerunner, Alien (actually 1979), The Thing, The Terminator, & Buckaroo Banzai, with Brazil & maybe Aliens left to go. I'm sure there are a couple of others I'll throw in, Mad Max & a few more.
We've also been hitting the Christmas playlist this past week - Bing: Going My Way and Holiday Inn, A Nightmare Before Christmas, BlackAdder's Christmas Carol and The Grinch (the real one) among others.
We've also watched an odd assortment of other films - Soldiers & Saints - a good WWII story with reenacters that won a ton of awards (a little religious, but very good), Northfork - a surreal drama about death & leaving the heartland from the Polish Brothers, King Arthur, which was better than I expected, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is an odd combination of true science fiction and a love story. I probably shouldn't like it, but I really did.
The Devil's Excrement - "An undemocratic Government responds to the consequences of their own failures" & "This piece of (election) software and database demonstrates that we are living in a fascist state where the rule of law is non existent..."
This case come before the 9th Circuit this week - Gilmore v. Gonzales.
I'm concerned that we are allowing terrorists to change our way of life more than necessary.
Wikipedia and the nature of truth - Perspectives | CNET News.com
We may kill every Islamo-fascist terrorist, but we have let them have an effect on our way of life that will be hard to roll back...
One morning in late September 2005, Deborah Davis was riding the public bus to work in Denver, Colorado. She was minding her own business, reading a book and planning for work, when a security guard got on this public bus and demanded that every passenger show their ID. Deb, having done nothing wrong, declined. The guard called in federal cops, and she was arrested and charged with federal criminal misdemeanors after refusing to show ID on demand.
It was supposed to be a simple story about a mysterious senior-softball phenom whose legend was growing in America's heartland. Of course, nothing is simple. KnowledgePlex
Tasha Henderson got tired of her 14-year-old daughter's poor grades, her chronic lateness to class and her talking back to her teachers, so she decided to teach the girl a lesson. She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."
In the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, of all places, a great column - The riots in France put the apologist industry into overtime - the "disaffected youth" shout "Allahu Akbar" as they toss Molotov cocktails into churches and synagogues. They talk of turning Paris into "Baghdad on the Seine."
Saddam's 500-ton Uranium Stockpile * 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium *
1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents *
17 chemical warheads containing cyclosarin *
Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas * Roadside bombs loaded with mustard and “conventional” sarin gas
Free Movie and Music Fonts - TypeNow.net
Y'all may recall that I was a big fan of The ScreenSavers on TechTV before it was cannibalized by G4 and eventually transformed into Attack of the Show (man what a stupid name). I've watched it a little recently & it's better than it was but still not like the old show. Googling the old hosts revealed a cavalcade of video & audio webcasts that are much like the show I used to really enjoy - Patrick Norton's DigitalLife TV, Leo Laporte's this Week in Tech (with Patrick as well), and Kevin Rose has several projects and also backs digg - which is a great tech news source. These guys were like the 'tech evening news' & I'm glad to see they've adapted. I guess I will too.
The liner used a sonic blaster to foil the pirates. Developed by American forces to deter small boats from attacking warships, the non-lethal weapon sends out high-powered air vibrations that blow assailants off their feet. - Sunday Times Online
A Vatican cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.FOXNews.com.
Newt Gingrich was a great backbencher in the 80's and helped change America (mostly for the better) with the "Contract with America" congressional victory in 1994. He picked the wrong fights when he got in charge & he should have held off on the book deal, but he knows what he's talking about. (Unfortunately he does still believe government can solve problems.) Nonetheless he seems quite reasonable these days and voices my thinking on Bush's nomination of Miers quite succinctly. There is no way Bush will nominate a "Souter" - Newt G.
Here is an obsessive post of women in uniform by someone at an odd place called - Iran Defence Forum. Tobermory with a shotgun. That is an impressive (and scary) sight.
found while visiting a site gone by memepool.
Don Kirlin - Building Your Own Air Force, One Mig at a Time - Wired.
Farscape Links - I canceled my account & moved away over three years ago...
Leptoprin Woman starin' at me.
Leptoprin Woman, what do you see?
Leptoprin Woman close your eyes.
Leptoprin Woman, she never cries.
Leptoprin Woman, "You must be obese."
Leptoprin Woman, she gives me no peace.
(warbled in a honky-tonk singsong).
Comforting somehow. Malleteers get it and the University still doesn't - MontgomeryAdvertiser.com :: University destroys students' waterfall.
"Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control. "I just took the bus and drove all the way here...seven hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus." The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there - NEWSCHANNEL 5.
I hope all two of you have been entertained by my coverage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster movement - Pastafarianism. I've latched onto this because, well first because it's funny, but also because I see otherwise intelligent kids in my class every day who are being taught by their families/church that the earth is 6000 years old. I tell them that Asian hunters crossed into North America during the last Ice Age over 12,000 years ago and that the fossil rock on my desk is about 350 million years old and the kids with actual families, who feed them & take them to church, their little eyes boggle with cognitive dissonance. I explain (very briefly) the decay of Carbon 14 and how these things are determined, but I'm standing against the almighty. I wonder if the adoption of radical ideas by so many kids in college is aided by the fact that thier families fill them up with this ascientific claptrap before they get there. So useful ideas like reason, liberty, & patriotism, are tossed out when the kids reject the absurdities their parents foisted upon them. (Okay I'm definitely not getting a principal's job any time soon).
I read these this summer, all 3000 pages & now I'm at a bit of a loss. Stuart history is one of my favorite periods & Stephenson is one of my favorite writers. It will take a little while for me to go back to fiction. For now I'm reading Gladwell's The Tipping Point.
Coming soon to a school board near you, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). The latest attempt by fundamentalists to inject religion into science, this time in Kansas, has led to demands for recognition by the cult of the "Noodly Master".
The Original Open Letter
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Gotta research this. I spoke to teacher whose husband works for NASA. She said the problem with the foam coming off the tank began when they stopped techs from
cleaning the fuel tanks using foam made with freon! Interesting.
Update: Here's a NewsMax article with a similar, but slightly different, take.
And JunkScience two years ago.
Last Canadian Victoria Cross winner Ernest Alva (Smoky) Smith dies - "The pair were no sooner into a ditch when a Panther came toward them, firing all the way. Smith waited until the 45-tonne vehicle was less than 10 metres away before he jumped out from his cover, laid down and fired back. He scored a direct hit, disabling the tank."
Immediately, 10 German Panzergrenadier troops jumped off and charged him. "I killed four of them with my tommy gun. That scared them off. They were up close -- about 10 feet or so."
Another tank opened fire. More enemy began closing on Smith's position. Smith grabbed more magazines and "steadfastly held his position,'' said the citation.
"It was just a bunch of rocks,'' Smith said. "You're not fighting on the prairies, you know. You try and keep out of sight. You find yourself a hunk of ground you can hang on to. That's the way you win wars, I think.'' He fired another round at an approaching tank. It turned away. As each German neared him, Smith fired at them. The rest eventually turned and withdrew "in disorder,'' the citation said. "Even Germans don't like to be shot,'' Smith said.
Dead Germans lay strewn all over the road. "I don't take prisoners. Period,'' Smith said 60 years later. "I'm not paid to take prisoners. I'm paid to kill them. That's all there is to it.''
Just as we are getting more mobile access to information and communication as indivduals (with cellphones & wifi), the dueling banjos of Islamo-fascism and 'personal preference as public policy' self-righteous do-gooders seek to erode our way of life and our freedoms. Until the majority starts taking the war being waged against our system from the outside seriously and recognizes that our rights as individuals are being slowly eroded by the socialist 'love of banning things' at home, we're in trouble.
From a column in the Australian "With hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta's jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier. Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida... The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman...When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn't get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant's throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington - the White House, the Pentagon et al - and asked: "How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?" - (from Instapundit). Also - FrontPageMag, ABCNEWS.
A great short read on fighting against deliberate ignorance - "How the humanity is to defend itself against eco-swindlers and believers in supernatural phenomena".
Edith (Joy) Clement will be the President's nominee to replace Justice O'Connor on the Supreme Court - Hadley Arkes on the Supreme Court and Women on National Review Online. Update: I was ahead of the pundits, but we were both wrong - Bush Picks John G. Roberts for Supreme Court.
Column explaining exactly why Europe is in decline - too many government benefits from high taxes that slow economic growth coupled with low birth rates that aren't offset by immigration, that they don't want anyway - washingtonpost.com .
Although he lacked the soundbites
of Marx and the attitude of Sartre,
David Hume should be recognised as
the finest philosopher of all time - Sunday Herald.
"Oriana Fallaci, one of the most renowned journalists of the modern era, has been indicted by a judge in her native Italy under provisions of the Italian Penal Code which proscribe the "vilipendio," or "vilification," of "any religion admitted by the state." In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah." - OpinionJournal - Citizen of the World
A review of a new book on
the importance of coffee
to human advance -
"Brain Brew" by Brendan I. Koerner.
The information from the book is interesting,
the review itself, not so much.
Not many people know who Gen. Bernard Schriever was - Architect of Air Force space and missile programs dies. A tribute by the current Commander of Air Force Space Command says that without Schriever, "technologically, it's accurate to say, we would be decades behind where we are now." Here is a bio at The New Mexico Museum of Space History International Space Hall of Fame -
Bernard A. Schriever.
More: Neal Boortz is livid and spells out the problem with this decision.
You know we're space junkies around here. I can't believe it's already been a year since the first civilian space flight - SpaceShipOne. Things never go perfectly, & despite the failure of the solar sail launch (I wouldn't trust a Soviet ICBM with my spaceship), there is good space news from the Mojave - Rutan's White Knight Carries X-37 Space Plane Aloft. Data on the X-37 and a photoblog of this morning's activities.
This a new idea for launching rockets into space at high altitude. The rocket is released from the plane and falls into a vertical position before firing. Eliminating the need for wings (which are apparently more unstable), and the danger to the carrier plane that released the rocket. The SpaceShipOne guys are involved. You guys know this is one of our obsessions. The photo is a composite, showing how the rocket falls into takeoff position - Wired News.
By the way, if your not using del.icio.us to keep up with bookmarks & tag them by subject, you should look into it. It plays into my collecting & organizing of info mania. Here are my links. Here's a great way to see what's new & what's popular there - Del.icio.us popular sites.
Cory Doctorow is an interesting character. I first learned of him while reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction. (Yes PC, a book about writing a book.) He'd published a few stories by then, but now he has several stories & three novels published. My favorite story is 0wnz0red. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He is one of the members of the net's most popular blog - BoingBoing. His novels are made freely available under the Creative Commons Liscence and his really anti-DRM, anti-restrictions on tech advances for fear of copyright violation. I exchanged e-mails with him last summer when I told him I thought that bb was too pro-Democrat instead of pro-libertarian. I was impressed that he replied. His latest book comes out today & it's more odd than usual - Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. There was a lot of action on it over at del.icio.us, which brought it to my attention.
I'm not a big basketball fan. I love the NCAA Tournament for the brackets. I cheer for Alabama until we get put out. I have a soft spot for the Celtics, because of Havlicek and Larry Byrd. I pull for the Mavericks, because I find Mark Cuban entertaining. And I really like Tim Duncan. He went to school all four years. He's a good guy. He's well-spoken. He's won championships. He may actually be a role model. So I pull for him. I also always look out for Robert Horry. He was at Alabama when I was finishing there the first time and we had great teams, and probably should have gone farther. He's won two champoionships with the Houston Rockets & Hakeem, during the Jordan Interegnum and he also was on the three Shaq-Kobe championship teams, making some important shots along the way. Now he's with Tim Duncan and just pulled the Spurs out of the fire in Game 5. It's great to see an old Bama guy still knocking 'em down - Horry never ceases to amaze & Big Shot Bob bags another one.
dooce - there is some hilarious 'parenting humor' at this website that several of my procreating friends will enjoy (it's one of the top linked blogs on the internet) - and you must read this, which I got from her - I just have to figure out how he printed this.
update:main link went dead
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - Plus, Amnesty's amnesia By Christopher Hitchens. from Chronicles of Tobermory - which is outstanding today.
I'm implementing a personal organization system
based on the book Getting Thing Done by David Allen.
I read the book & have begun to apply the concepts to my personal stuff, house stuff, and school stuff. Now that I'll be taking classes as well I'll integrate that into the system.
I'm also making a wiki, Next Action, to examine & present the material in the book in summary form, mainly for my self, but for anyone else as well (using a cool new free webtool pbWiki). I'm half way through skimming the book a second time & highlighting the pertinent lists & ideas. We'll see how it goes.
To those of you who were crossing fingers for me: I used my bureaucratic fast-talk skill (actually e-mail) and resolved everything to get enrolled at The University of West Alabama to start taking online classes towards a teaching MA to add to my other MA and then I'll move on to various other educational certifications. Back in the saddle.
The information about the makeup of the electorate was good reading (& frustrating that Libertarians are not even part of the typology) - Link.
Memory Alpha is a collaborative project to create the most definitive, accurate, and accessible encyclopedia and reference for everything related to Star Trek. The database is organized in a WikiWiki structure, which allows an incredible level of interconnectedness and expansion.
Revenge of the Sith is simply outstanding. I've been waiting for this movie my entire adult life. Star Wars has permeated everything. It is our mythology. After reading Kevin Smith's review a few weeks ago I started to get excited again. The critics have been incredibly positive, and they usually don't get science fiction. I skipped school (easier when you're the teacher) & we went to the noon showing. It was well worth it. I haven't stopped smiling all day.
Victor Davis Hanson - VDH's Private Papers.
College course teaches students to brew medieval beer and make their own chain mail - The Johnsonian - History professor gets medival with hobby.
Surgeons implanted Artificial Silicon Retina (ASR) microchips in the eyes of five patients to treat vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa (RP) - link.
The Light Of Reason : explains about "Oxyrhynchus Papyri" & how our knowledge of the Classical World may greatly increase,
From my friend J.M., who teaches/coaches in Tennessee:
"http://mikeray.blogspot.com/ has been identified as inappropriate and blocked by your Tennessee Department of Education Internet Usage Policy. Access to web sites that have been identified as providing inappropriate content will be blocked. This determination is based upon various content categories. Content identified as inappropriate includes:
adult-oriented material, extremist-militant material, racist or hate-oriented material, and incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority (seditious material)." Could there be a more pro-American, pro-individual rights, historian in Alabama? Must be the sex toys...
From an email I sent to a few friends in response to media focus on the mundane, yet sensational (Atlanta Court Murders) as opposed to the potentially world-changing (Beirut demonstrations):
"There is little doubt that cable news, even my
sainted FoxNews is about ratings.
Why else would the last week (and in fact this is only
internet news, since the TV has been playing DVD's
like Fawlty Towers in a loop this week - spring break!
woo hoo!) the news has been swamped with Terry
Schiavo. Even such noted bloggers as
Paul and Ferlie and
Chronicles of Tobermory
have been on the story.
Does it really matter if some guy in Florida (it's
always florida, isn't it) pulls the plug on his
brain-damaged wife? Grandstanding congressmen
(steroids!, steriods? c'mon) and tearjerking newscasts
are why people like us pick & choose our news from the
With only my poli sci, history, and info junkie
experience to guide me, I think that there will be
change in a few places, like Lebanon, where the
baseless Syrian occupation has finally come under
scutiny, and I think you will see a loosening of
electoral freedom in largely westernized Egypt and
then a lot of lipservice and small, easily reversible,
reforms in the absolute monarchies. One can hope
that this will lead to democratic movements in Iran
(which has large democratic youth movement), and other
theocracies, monarchies & dictatorships (Libya
Sort of like Enlightenment era changes in Britain &
America & France (beware violent revolutions) and the
lip service that Prussia, Austria & Russia paid to
enlightenment reform, before reverting to a tightened
The more recent, and often cited examples, maybe the
Berlin Wall in a few places - Iraq & Lebanon - &
possibly Tiananmen Square in others - Saudi.
Westerners must remember that change like this can
take a lot of time. I just read an article about the
economic problems of Germany that stem from
reunification (& I suspect, largely socialist economic
policies). It has been 15 years & they are still
sorting it out.
I think it is arrogant to believe that becuase people in the
Middle East do not have a democratic tradition, they don't
want to be free. Sounds a bit like Hobbes
_Leviathan_, assuming that people cannot handle
freedom and must be ruled by a powerful ruler. If
Locke & the social contract has worked for the West,
why can't it work for the Middle East?
Our friends, Paul and Ferlie, are looking into the house next door - "Agents searched Ringman's 4407 W. Pleasant Acres Drive home and seized $8,000 in cash and more than a pound of marijuana" - Link. It has been privately owned since November 2002.
These guys - EFF Homepage - have been around since the early 90's, when the internet was The WELL and Compuserve and are in the middle of the Grokster Supreme Court case, which should update the 1984 Betamax ruling that legalized VCRs, establishing the legality of internet technologies, including file-sharing. Thank the Law of Averages for them.
Johnny "Vegas" Wales was a particularly smelly resident of The Mallet Assembly, the honors dorm I lived in and then was director of, at The University of Alabama in the late nineties. He left school to go work for his brother's internet company, which turned out to be Bomis. Now it seems that Vegas' brother is the guy behind Wikipedia - Wired 13.03: The Book Stops Here.
I am an info-geek - "We must have information". I have almanacs for the last 15 years, but I hardly use them anymore because I can find anything, anytime, on the internet. Of course, this can be a huge distraction from getting things done.
Of course this has meant less attention to my own link-blogging, especially since I have gotten CRL to give me the morning's best news/opinion/science at Chronicles of Tobermory. Also, our friends Paul and Ferlie have a newborn, Veronica & I have been keeping up with them on their blogs. Our friends Billy & Beth have a five month-old, Jack, who will one day be a Left Tackle for Alabama it appears. Billy came to visit a couple of weeks ago & we cooked huge steaks. My dad came to visit last Sunday & I cooked ribs & made my sauce. Company & cooking meat go together around here.
At work/school we gave the graduation exam, so it was unproductive all week teaching-wise. However I had drilled my 10th graders with the info necessary to pass the test. I expect to blow the top off of the test. It's not really that hard to pass, and I harrassed them with the info so much, maybe they can not have to deal with that one again. (I found an interesting dodge to the exam - in Maine.)
My home state may be taking a beating on sex toys, but at least the students at the University of Alabama are standing up to the Faculty Senate over free speech and "hate speech codes. Not the first time students have stood up - the University, more than once, has tried to stop the diplay of flags in dorm windows. The pictures are from the Mallet Assembly, in Byrd Hall, where we once lived and were a live-in advisor. Other links - here , here, here, and here.
Again...maybe those neocons had something there - Reason.
US Military is making it happen: Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends.
If Salon is shocked that Amazon.com might be using the website, 43 Things, to gather consumer info, will they also be shocked that the Amazon link on my blog post is actually a link that goes through my Amazon partner-store and that if you bought something using it I would get a miniscule cut? For an "internet-savvy webzine" they don't seem to understand how the web work$.
Home Design Shopping:
Design Within Reach: Modern Design, In Stock and Ready to Ship.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse, once seen as a costly impediment to development, is now viewed by the government as a critter that never really existed — and is no longer in need of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Yahoo! News
This really cool. Scientists actually saying, there's got to be something out here - Space.com.
"It takes away the ‘not invented here’ prejudice, pointing out that a ‘yes’ to ET visitation is exactly what side our current physics and astrophysics theories would come down on as the most likely situation," Haisch concluded.
CRL & I are making a push to increase our sci-fi consumption. I have been looking up info on the most well-known/successful sci-fi people. This site is more elaborate than most - Philip K. Dick - Science Fiction Author - Official Site.
Mudslide Madness: A boulder some 25 feet high blocks both lanes of the Topanga Caynon Road.
Sometimes you actually learn useful stuff in school: