October 31, 2009

Gordon Brown and His Luddite Labour Government

I have to say I'm pleased when scientists so publicly rebuke the political pandering of politicians. And I am not going to miss Gordon Brown when he (and Labour) goes down in flames next year.

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October 28, 2009

Halloween, Music, Madness... Cops

Parts two and three here.

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Bright Star

I went to the movies with kikimonster this evening to see Jane Campion's latest, Bright Star. Honestly I think the praise for it is overdone. That's not to say it's not good. It's a good movie. I just don't get the Best-Picture-nominee praise for it. And I don't get the Best Actress talk for Abbie Cornish. However, I'll strongly support those who want to put Ben Whishaw in the Best Actor race - as unlikely as that might be. He was great. Also, nice hats, and it was good to see Thomas Sangster again (Tim from Doctor Who's The Family of Blood).

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October 27, 2009

Creepy Movies

So it's Halloween week, and that's got me wondering what you think are the creepiest movies you've seen. Personally I'd put some De Palma on the list (Dressed to Kill and Body Double) along with lots of Lynch (Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr., Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Inland Empire). And of course there are some generally well-known creeps from the likes of Se7en, The Sixth Sense, Halloween, Jacob's Ladder, and The Ring (its overall lameness notwithstanding). What else leaps into your head when you think of cinematic creeps?

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Cardinal Turkson - The New Leading Papabile from Africa?

With his new promotion Ghana's Peter Turkson may have become the most likely cardinal to become the first pope from Africa (not that the current pope is in poor health or that I think it's especially likely his successor will be from Africa).

Ordained archbishop of Cape Coast - the West African country's oldest local church - in 1992 and made a cardinal eleven years later, the rise of the 61 year-old returns an African dicastery-head to the ranks of the Roman Curia, which had gone without a top-tier presence from the continent since last December, breaking a nearly four-decade practice. Reportedly reluctant to leave home and accept the Vatican's social-justice portfolio, the move likewise brings to Rome the church's lone non-retired cardinal with an advanced degree in Scriptural studies.
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October 25, 2009

General Patton - Rescuing His Son-in-Law

Having to work with Gen. Patton must have been frustrating at times. Having to do it in a political context must have been extra-frustrating.

The upshot was that he got 25 prisoners back and lost a full company of medium tanks and a platoon of light tanks. Foolishly, he then imposed censorship on the movement, meaning to lift it later, which he forgot to do. The story has now been released and I hope the newspapers do not make too much of it. One bad, though Patton says accidental, feature of the affair was that his own son-in-law was one of the 25 released. Patton is a problem child, but he is a great fighting leader in pursuit and exploitation.
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October 23, 2009

Project Runway - Season Six; Around the World

I am not sorry to see the blonde gossip go (known to some as "fat Kurt Cobain"), and given those pants and the challenge I can certainly see sending him home, and Christopher seems to be a much nicer person and did some nice work early in the season. But really, after what he made last week and last night, how amazing is it that Christopher's still in the competition?

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Mike Oliverio, Brent Boggs and the Family Policy Council

Our state senator and the House Majority Leader were apparently getting important information from the most active anti-gay organization in the state (if they do anything else, I've missed those news stories) at Stonewall. Boggs is well-known as an ally of theirs, and Oliverio of course often leans right, though I'm not aware of him being quite as close to Jeremy Dys and his backers. Though that said, if the following is as critical as Oliverio is willing to be of Dys, it doesn't bode well.

The group generated several controversies earlier this year. In February, it ran an Internet ad that got national attention by comparing people who support gay marriage to snipers targeting families. Both Boggs and Oliverio said they didn't know about it. "They probably crossed the line in that regard," Oliverio said when the ad was described to him.

"Probably"? So maybe they didn't? Nice, revolting pandering there Sen. Oliverio.

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October 20, 2009

"Fewer suede dresses and more ruthless social victories!"

On Tuesday afternoons New York magazine, or rather one particular column, has come to rule my world. Make of that what you will.

Blair: "I am in no mood to hear you fawn over some girl with tacky accessories who likes to recycle." Plus 5, since this is immediately followed by Vanessa's appearing at the parent's dinner in her most ginormous and hideous turquoise necklace yet.

Minion: "Vanessa is giving the toast again, and she' got some big pink claw thing!" Blair: "Well, I don't know about that. However, phase one is complete."

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October 19, 2009

Super Link Dump

Just because.

A headline so good, I'll just copy it: If zombies attack, the University of Florida has a plan ready

On the superiority of the iPhone

Dirty money, WV style

I think Baltar can identify with this

Not sure you have H1N1? Try this handy quiz

That part about not ever ever putting toxic crap in our special expensive bottles? Well, yeah...

Super badass man of science still brings it, despite cancer and age

The Shrill One: Superfreakingmeta

Anyone leave academia and want to participate in a little survey about the whys and wherefores?

Data Liberation

Wonder what your workday would be like if you drank like Mad Men?

Also via Kottke, could you jumpstart history (I got 7/10) and earn this shirt?

I've loved The Pain for ages, but the NYT column is also great. Married friends and friends with kids, I did not think about you at all.

What to expect when you're expecting an adult.

And to send you off on a high note, Carl Sagan, autotuned.

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Where the Wild Things Are

Kiki might want to chime in here (I'm guessing with more negative comments), but personally I'd say it was a very good. Until Max meets the Wild Things I'd say it might be one of the best movies in recent memory. It captures Max and his "real" world brilliantly. And the land of the Wild Things is stunning. Technically this film is exceptionally well-made. But then there's the matter of the Wild Things themselves. Up through sleeping in a big pile ("I like to sleep in a big pile" - love it) all is well. And parts thereafter are very fine - for example, Carol's creation is so beautiful and moving, the big dog and Richard are funny, the voice work is great. But fundamentally the Wild Things are so depressed and depressing. And yeah I can get reasons for that, drawing from Max's world. But either because that's not the movie I wanted to see or because of personality/mood stuff I left the theater less pleased than I wish I had been when I left. I think this is a very good movie - but not everyone is going to enjoy it.

Posted by armand at 09:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 18, 2009

Archbishop Burke Joins the Congregation of Bishops

One of the most outspoken and controversial figures in the Church in the United States, the "chief justice" of the Roman Catholic Church, has joined one of the Church's most important and select bodies. Will there now be a Burke-effect on who is, and who isn't, selected to lead our country's dioceses?

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The Saints Offense Looks Like an Unstoppable Machine

At least if the first 17.333 minutes of the game against the Giants is anything to go by.

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October 16, 2009


This is worth six minutes of your time.

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Idiot Box

There are days when I'm happy as a pig in shit that I don't have a television. Yesterday was one of those. I completely missed all references to the Flying Balloon Boy (Who May Not Have Been Flying) all day. First I had heard about it was when I checked the news feeds on my RSS reader late in the evening and started finding odd references to a possible hoax (this was after the Larry King/Wolf Blitzer interview when the kid made his faux pas). I gather most of America was glued to the TV yesterday afternoon watching a homemade balloon float along, while police forces mobilized under it (in case it fell in their jurisdiction). I missed all of it.

I continue to remain blissfully happy in my ignorance. I haven't read more than a paragraph about it (and that mostly from gossip sites being snarky about the whole thing).

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October 15, 2009

Greatest Website Ever

No, I'm not kidding. You have to like snarkiness, but who doesn't.


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October 14, 2009

Get the Dead Presidents Off Our Money

I find our country's tendency to president-worship to be both moronic and out of step with what the country was designed to be. Furthermore I find it both appalling and nuts that our currency honors one or more presidents whose economic record left a lot to be desired (to put it very mildly). So it is with that in mind that I throw my full support behind this initiative. Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Jack Nicholson & the Overlook Hotel, Adam Smith, Corinthian columns, I'd prefer any or all of them to continuing the current system.

Posted by armand at 12:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 13, 2009

Will Senator Snowe Risk the Top Spot on Commerce?

Fearing being denied the ranking member slot on a major committee strikes me as a pretty good reason to think Olympia Snowe might well vote against any Democratic health care reform proposal. If they were to pass over her you'd think the post would go to the junior senator from South Carolina, right-winger extraordinaire Jim DeMint. Because while Jon Ensign sits between Snowe and DeMint in terms of seniority, I really can't see Ensign being entrusted with any new position of authority at the moment.

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How Fat Is Your Governor?

I think I might be very slightly impressed that Nate Silver was able to come up with so many modifiers for such a limited range of variation.

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Texas Gov. Perry Still Coving Up Death Penalty Error

If you haven't seen the story about Texas (likely) executing an innocent man, you should really read it.

What is becoming almost as interesting are the brazen attempts by Gov. Perry to bury the story.

I think I'm OK with the death penalty, as long as the guilt of the prisoner is clear and that the process (trial/sentencing/appeals/execution) happens quickly. The process the US has now, where it takes over a decade, is ridiculous. On the other hand, I'm not so attached to the death penalty that I would be sad to see it disappear. Anything is better than the system we have.

Posted by baltar at 08:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Update on Chinese Aircraft Carrier

The Chinese are moving forward in refurbishing the Varyag (bought from the Ukraine a few years back) and have started construction of what looks to be training facilities for carrier operations inland.

This won't give the Chinese full carrier potential for a few years (think of this carrier as a bike with training wheels), but does give some idea of where they might go. This could be the first of a program to build many carriers, or could just be a one-off experiment to see how they like naval aviation.

Worth watching.

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October 09, 2009

Review: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit @ 123 Pleasant Street

Short version: perfunctory.

Basically this was the same material they were playing two years ago when they opened for Son Volt at Mr. Smalls, but without a lot of development in the performance since that time. It was not the best circumstances: small crowd on a school night during midterms. They did two hours after a local opener and Sons of Bill who are their tour support, starting at midnght. That's a tough sell under any circumstances, however it seems like the sale is harder when the material feels stale. Isbell is too young and too good, as well as too early in his frontman gig, to be mailing it in. The good news is that the band's other axeman held his own. At times the flash and swagger peeked through, most notably on the encore closer, but it was kind of too little too late.

And regarding the question of the DBT split that wrought this, I remain firmly in the camp tha it was great for them, as they emerged fresh and full of new material. Hopefully Jason and the Unit rediscover their spark soon.

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October 07, 2009

The 3 Best Lines on Glee, 7 October 2009

#3 - "Also angels."

#2 - "I know how affected you were by Blood Diamond."

#1 - "Ginger pygmy with eyes like a bush baby."

And how funny was Sue Sylvester this week? And that bit with the nurse!?! I love Emma more and more each week. Rachael is growing on me. But Finn ... I still couldn't care less. In fact I might be ready to give up. How about we learn the story of that great back-up dancer instead?

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Salazar v. Buono

Chris Lund has two posts on what could be an important establishment clause case that the Supreme Court is hearing today.

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October 06, 2009

Nobel Prize Season, 2009

Who will join the list of winners for Literature? We'll find out on Thursday. The bookmakers include several Americans among the favorites, but this is such a strange prize one never knows who will emerge with the award.

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If You Needed Another Reason to Dislike Bobby Bowden ...

How dare that woman ask him a question.

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Mike Castle Endangers the Democrats' Hold on Delaware

Champagne corks are no doubt popping at the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee today as Delaware's veteran congressman and former governor has announced that he'll seek what used to be Vice President Biden's seat in the US Senate. Not only does this put a 5th Democratic Senate seat in jeopardy (joining CO, CT, NV and AR), at this point I'd actually favor Castle to swing this seat to the Republican column. It remains to be seen who Castle will face, but it's widely expected that Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the Vice President's elder son, will run for the Democrats.

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October 05, 2009

Things Learned/Remembered From a Weekend on the Sick Couch

So I woke up in the wee hours of Saturday morning, a few hours after concluding a quite nice Friday night, sick. So apart from a run to buy sickness supplies I spent the entirity of the weekend in bed, in the kitchen (for fluids and nutrients), or in front of the tv. In my hazy state I learned the following:

Until ESPN fire or retires Lou Holtz I don't think I can watch their college football "analysis" any more. I just can't take the combo of bias (in favor of mediocrity) and stupidity. How his set mates restrain themselves from strangling him ... well, they are stronger men than I am. I don't know what to make of the LSU Tigers. They are hugely talented, and yet something is a bit off. And I'm wondering if it's Les Miles. I'm wondering if Auburn is really that good of if Tennessee is really that bad. And I'm leaning toward the latter position, which makes me wonder if uneven LSU might not beat the Gators since the Gators had trouble with Tennessee. I can't explain exactly why, but I really love Frau Farbissina - thank you Mindy Sterling. I've become hooked on yet another Ben & Jerry's flavor - Creme Brulee. I'm still blown away by just how good The Talented Mr. Ripley is. It's a phenomonal achievement in film. The writing, casting, acting, lighting, photography, sets, costumes, music - and being able to maintain just the right tone throughout a long movie, even though it's a really hard tone to maintain. It's fabulous, and includes a lot of excellent work, though sure, Jude Law stands out. I'm also amazed at the Steelers' ability to give up fourth quarter points while still being a good team. And I'm wondering if there really are therapists like the one on Bored to Death. He's kind of scary - though he seems to be rather effective.

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October 02, 2009

Blanche Lincoln and the Republicans Vote Against Maria Cantwell's Washington Model

Look I'm not saying I want her replaced by a Southern Republican, but the senior senator from Wal-Mart (or should that be Arkansas?) is giving Democrats less and less reason to support her re-election. And given how she can't get out of the 40s in the polls these days, you'd think she'd care about that.

She was the only Democrat opposing the amendment though, so this interesting option passed 12-11 and will apparently be in the Finance Committee's bill.

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An Amendment That Would Allow States to Adopt Single-Payer?

If this amendment approved by the Finance Committee becomes law health care reform could vary widely by state - and get very interesting.

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