Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
4. The Fountain
6. Children Of Men
8. Star Trek
9. Minority Report
10. 28 Days Later
I've only seen #6, #8 and #9, but Children Of Men is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen. Here's what Techland's reviewer said:
When Alfonso Cuarón says apocalyptic thriller, I bet he puts the emphasis on apocalyptic.
I can't conceive of a more hopeless future than what we see in Children of Men: Infertility has ravaged humanity, bringing out the worst in us all. The youngest of society are treated as royalty, while poverty and lawlessness run rampant among the rest of society. Clamping down on the unrest, the government has allowed fear to mature into xenophobia, establishing an elite ruling class and rounding up all others through martial law. This has led to all-out war between immigrants and government forces, a battle that ensnares Theo (Clive Owen) who is protecting a pregnant woman - the first in decades - so she can reach a safe zone and preserve the human race.
All these subplots are captivating, but it's the way Cuarón structures his story that is perhaps most memorable. Using long, unbroken takes that are immersive and hypnotic, Cuarón leaves the exposition to the background details, lining scenes with context clues as to how this world is falling apart and why. As this sci-fi fantasy plays out in hyperrealistic fashion – the shootout in the refugee camp has to be one of the most visceral gunfights ever filmed – Cuarón creates a rolling hellscape that seems to have no end.
Strip clubs, hurting for business, waive cover charges and discount drinks to appeal to a downscale clientele. At the same time, club owners say that because of widespread layoffs in nearly every other industry, it's never been easier to find beautiful women eager to work as exotic dancers.
Quote from somebody affected: "It's not quite the elite crowd that used to come in."
These and other tales of "recession porn" from Time Magazine.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Knowing that we would not be able to drive to work Sunday morning, the company put us up in a hotel two blocks away, so we could walk to work.
Nice place, full of leggy supermodels and Eurotrash.
And so, at 3:15 the next morning, we walked to work. It was still snowing.
Check out the headline:
A little bigger:
But I did find this interesting plaque near 7th and F Streets:
Meanwhile, up on U Street, I was missing all the fun:
h/t Roberta X.
UPDATE on the snowball fight: WaPo covers it.
During Washington's record-breaking snowstorm on Saturday, a massive snowball fight was taking place at the corner of 14th and U streets that had grown men and women laughing and hurling fresh-fallen snow at one another in the middle of the street. Good-natured, wintertime fun, according to participants.
Then a D.C. police officer happened by, and the event -- filmed by amateurs and a local television station -- suddenly became more serious.
Videos and photos show a D.C. police detective unholstering his gun (and admitting to it) during a confrontation with a group of snowball fighters. The video is making the rounds on the Internet and national TV stations. The detective, who authorities have not identified, on one such video says: "Yes I did," apparently referring to the fact that he drew his gun, "because I got hit with snowballs."
Friday, December 18, 2009
Once, just once, I'd like to see a prosecutor step in front of the press and say:
"Yeah, we tortured the little f***er. And we'll torture him him again if he doesn't shut the f*** up!"
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The diarist and author Anaïs Nin was married to a French banker, Hugh Guiler. She also had several lovers, including (but not limited to - not by any means!) Henry Miller, Edmund Wilson, James Agee, Gore Vidal and Antonin Artaud. Who he? The name was vaguely familiar. Artaud was an avant-garde French actor who played the treacherous priest in The Passion Of Joan Of Arc, one of my favorite flicks, that I blogged about here.
Anaïs Nin was also a bigamist, having married her second husband without divorcing her first. Her second hubby, Rupert Pole by name, was a California forest ranger (!) and sometime actor. She commuted between husband No. 1, who lived in New York City, and husband No. 2 in California. She told Guiler that she needed to take a "rest cure", and she would head west for six months and live with Pole; then she told him that she had a writing assignment in New York and would spend six months there with Guiler. Neither man seems to have been aware of the other until after Nin's death in 1977.
Rupert Pole died in 2006. His main claim to fame is that he arranged to have Nin's unexpurgated diaries published. Pole's obituary in the New York Times contains this howler:
... Mr. Pole is survived by his companion, Kazuko Sugisaki, a translator of many of Nin’s works into Japanese. His fellow husband, Mr. Guiler, with whom Mr. Pole became cordial after Nin’s death, died in 1985.
"Fellow husband?!" I like that! I bet the obituary writer had to consult the society columnist about how to refer to the decedent's bigamous wife's other husband. Simple! "Fellow husband!" (I would have chosen "co-polyandrist", meself.) Although I think it is interesting that the men "became cordial" after her death. Love is strange, isn't it? Strangest of all is that Nin had an intense sexual relationship with her father when she was 30 and he was 54.
The movie Henry And June covers this time period in Paris. Anaïs Nin was played by the actress Maria de Madeiros.
Nice bit of casting. Maria de Madeiros also played Fabienne in Pulp Fiction.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Here is more of his work. Hi-rez versions are available on his website.
How about a nice Steampunk lighter-than-air ship?
I know there are some airship privateers out there who will enjoy this.
This must be the first class cabin:
I like the ship's anchor; nice touch!
The man has a deft touch with a Wacom tablet.
Jim links to a blogger who wonders exactly what kind of adjustments were made to the raw data in order to "homogenize" it. So he made a nice series of graphs showing the raw data and the adjusted data and calculated the adjustment factor from the former to the latter.
The results are disquieting. The raw data shows a slight cooling trend of 0.7 degrees Celsius per century. The adjusted data shows a warming trend of 1.2 degrees Celsius per century. The difference is entirely due to the "homogenizing" adjustments.
The graph of the adjustments shows some unusual changes in 1920, 1930, and especially 1940. The average "slope" of the adjustments from 1940 to about 1995 is actually greater than the slope of the warming trend, almost as if the scientists added a larger and larger adjustment to each year's data - preferring consistency over accuracy.
I'm an agnostic about global warming. But one thing I learned in college was the difference between temperature and heat. Trying to measure warming of an entire planet is a huge challenge. Close to Chaos Theory.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Shown here fully armed with a dozen 12" guns and eight 5" guns, the K-7 would have been a formidable weapon in an infantry-support role against armored targets.
Or, as shown here, in an air superiority mode, shooting down Nazi flying saucers.
Yeah, it's just a Photoshop fantasy, but what a nice one!
Monday, December 7, 2009
We've already had the Swinging Sixties, The Me Decade (1970's), The Big Eighties, and so forth. But what do we call the current decade? The Zeros? The Nulls? The Big Nothing? The Big Gooseggs? Double-Zed?
Front-runner seems to be "The Big Aughties". Yuk. I had elderly elementary school teachers who used the term "aught" for zeros. Now I might end up the same way. Pain.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
An Affair To Remember? Not even close.
Now, Voyager? Oh, please!
Sleepless In Seattle? Nice try!
The Bridges Of Madison County? Close, but no cigar!
And the musical score? Pianist Eileen Joyce played Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the National Symphony Orchestra. Also peerless.
The story begins in an English railway station and is told in flashback, narrated by the heroine, Laura. Telling the story in a flashback is always difficult to pull off in a movie because the audience has already seen the end of the story and they think they have a pretty good idea of what will follow. But in this case, they are very wrong, the real story is hidden from them and, at the end, they will see the first scene played out again with unexpected poignancy.
For example, when we see Laura enter the train station cafe at the beginning of the movie, it doesn't make much of an impression. But at the end of the movie we see the same shot again and we know that Laura has just tried to throw herself in front of a speeding train.
Directed by David Lean (Great Expectations, Laurence Of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago). A former film editor, his family were Quakers, and watching movies was forbidden.
Celia Johnson (1908-1990) played Laura. A fine actress, she also played Mrs. DeWynter in the stage production of Rebecca, the part played in the movie by Joan Fontaine.
Noel Coward wrote the play ("Still Life").
Another favorite of mine, Harold And Maude, was also directed by a former editor, Hal Ashby, and also written by a gay man, Colin Higgins.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
h/t Clue Meter, who remarks:
Lieutenant Colonel Allan West, US Army, got in trouble in Iraq because he fired a round from his M9 sidearm into the wall next to the head of a Tango, in the course of interrogating same.[Is he wearing a piece?]
[No, I do not mean a hairpiece.]
Three Things You Absolutely Must Know About ClimategateMe, I'm an agnostic on this global warming thing. There's a lot of political theater going on around it, and that's unfortunate. But maybe it would be a good idea if the data used by these scientists were to be audited by an independent agency as part of "due diligence".
First, the scientists discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results.
Secondly, scientists on several occasions discussed methods of subverting the scientific peer review process to ensure that skeptical papers had no access to publication. [...] If you are saying on the one hand that you will not take notice of someone until they have been published while on the other you are working behind the scenes to stop any such publication, I would venture to suggest that you are not operating with any degree of bona fides either towards the media or the legitimate scientific process.
Finally, the scientists worked to circumvent the Freedom of Information process of the United Kingdom. [...] There appears to be a prima facie case that there was a conspiracy to prevent the release of information subject to FOI.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In a very interesting section, Kates discusses pro-gun-control academics whose research led them to change their minds, among them Professor Hans Toch of the School of Criminology at the State University of New York (p23):
But, Prof. Toch continues, subsequent research has progressively impacted this: “rates of male firearms ownership tend to be inversely correlated with violent crime rates, a curious fact if firearms stimulate aggression. It is hard to explain that where firearms are most dense, violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest.”Good point!
Toch further notes that in contrast to male ownership, women’s gun ownership is very low where crime rates are low, but high where crime is prevalent. But “[t]his does not imply that urban women are responsible for the urban crime problem” writes Professor Toch; rather “it demonstrates that when violent crimes are high, women arm themselves for protection.”
Dave Kopel has more at the Volokh Conspiracy.
And lo, they didst install adjustable sights, which are an abomination unto the Lord. For they doth break and lose their zero when thou dost need true aim. And those who have done so will be slain in great numbers by their enemies in the great battle. And they didst chamber it for cartridges whose calibers startith with numbers less than the Holy Number 4. And lo the Lord did cause great grief amongst these men when their enemies who were struck in battle with these lesser numbers didst not fall but did continue to cause great harm.
h/t Say Uncle.
Daley is going to lose this one and lose it badly. But by golly, he's going to spend tax money defending this hill until the very last Indian scalps his still twitching corpse.I like the image of 38 state AGs in full warpaint galloping over the crest of the hill, briefcases in hand, and bearing down on the beleaguered Daley.
Actually, that's kind of a pleasing image.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Here's what ABC News said:
What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform? Here's a case study.
On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for "certain states recovering from a major disaster."
The section spends two pages defining which "states" would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that "during the preceding 7 fiscal years" have been declared a "major disaster area."
I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.
In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)
Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana's Mary Landrieu.
How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.
That may also explain why the healthcare bill is such a budget-buster. Legislation is like sausage...
As an aside, notice the use of Sneaky Journalistic Trick #27: the phrase "I am told..." in the fourth paragraph. What's that supposed to mean!? Not that what follows isn't true, mind you!
UPDATE: Make that $300 million, not $100 million.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This is about 6 miles from the White House.
The trail passes under a highway and then through a (gulp!) tunnel.
The other side.
I like to find places like this: out of the way Jeep trails, two-tracks and service roads.
This is staghorn sumac.
I've got your "affordable health care". Right here!
And more fall colors:
The National Weather Service publication Storm Data recorded a total of 449 deaths from lightning strikes between 1998 and 2008. According to the National Weather Service, lightning causes an average of 62 deaths and 300 injuries in the United States each year.
Elsewhere, the intolerable Josh Sugarmann at the Violence Policy Center claims that in 2007-2009, holders of concealed handgun permits murdered 85 people. That's an average of 28 people a year.
The point is clear: you are more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than you are to be murdered by a CHP-holder. Twice as likely.
I should point out that not all of the 85 deaths have been fully investigated or adjudicated yet; some may turn out to be self-defense or accidents. And not all of the slayings involved guns.
Monday, November 16, 2009
The Constitution of the United States . . . provides that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” But this restriction is . . . a restriction upon the power of the United States alone, and gave to James Lewis [a Union veteran] no protection against the law of Mississippi, which deprived him, because of his color, of a right which every white man possessed.Mr. Browning’s Letter and Judge Handy’s Decision,
It is against just such legislation and such judicial decisions that the first section of the [14th] Amendment is designed to furnish a protection.
N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 28, 1866, at 4, col. 1
From McDonald vs. Chicago opening brief.
h/t Of Arms And The Law and the invaluable David Hardy.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Totally worth the loss of sleep. Although, in truth, I have edited harder projects under worse time pressure for more difficult producers. So it was easy to say, "Aw, shucks! 'Tweren't nuthin'."
One good day at work can make the rest of the week a pleasure.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
One of the Japanese craft, the I-201, was capable of speeds of about 20 knots while submerged, making it among the fastest diesel submarines ever made. Like other Japanese subs, it had a rubberized coating on the hull, an innovation intended to make it less apparent to sonar or radar.
The other, the I-14, was much larger and slower and designed to carry two small planes, Aichi M6A Seirans. The aircraft, which had folding wings and tails and could carry a torpedo or 1,800-pound bomb, were housed in watertight hangars inside the submarine. They could be brought onto the deck and launched by a catapult. (The only existing Seiran is in the hands of the Smithsonian.)
DC: Defendant never even applied for a [nonexistent] permit, therefore he has no standing.
Court: The Defendant's conviction gives him standing.
The license required is also prohibited:
In light of the handgun registration and licensing scheme in effect at the time of the incident in this case, Mr. Plummer could not have registered his handgun, but registration was a prerequisite to obtaining a license, despite the Second Amendment right to keep a handgun in his home for defensive purposes.
The court seems reluctant to allow D.C. to keep people in jail for a "paperwork felony" resulting from D.C.'s "too-clever-by-half" gun registration scheme: require registration, prohibit any new licenses, restrict renewals to previous licensees only, require annual renewals, and pretty soon there will be a defacto handgun ban in D.C.
So the court sent Plummer's case back to the lower court to see if he could pass muster as a licensee (adult, no criminal record, no mental health history, no vision impairments) and presumably if he qualifies, his conviction could be overturned.
h/t Arms And The Law.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Buck Rogers Atomic Disintegrator Pistol Gold Deluxe Edition $174.99
Star Trek Classic Captain Kirk Chair Prop Replica $2,199.99