Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jerry Pournelle is Safeguarding my Freedom

This is cool. It's cool because government is always in need of ideas and these are idea folks:

Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described "deviant" thinkers: science-fiction writers.

"We spend our entire careers living in the future," says author Arlan Andrews, one of a handful of writers the government brought to Washington this month to attend a Homeland Security conference on science and technology.

Those responsible for keeping the nation safe from devastating attacks realize that in addition to border agents, police and airport screeners, they "need people to think of crazy ideas," Andrews says.

The writers make up a group called Sigma, which Andrews put together 15 years ago to advise government officials. The last time the group gathered was in the late 1990s, when members met with government scientists to discuss what a post-nuclear age might look like, says group member Greg Bear. He has written 30 sci-fi books, including the best seller Darwin's Radio.

Now, the Homeland Security Department is calling on the group to help with the government's latest top mission of combating terrorism.

Jasper Fforde

I was sent this interview with Jasper Fforde in Newsweek asking him about his favorite books:

#1 "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. At the age of 7 or 8, I was swept away by Alice's madcap escapades and respectful irreverence of established nursery characters and situations.

#2"Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome. Fresh and joyous self-deprecating humor of lazy Victorian gentlemen going for a cruise on the Thames in the late 19th century.

Not mentioned but a heavy influence in his books are Edward Lear's nonsense poems, but not his most famous, The Owl and the Pussycat which only gets an fun sidebar.

It also asks him:
A classic that, on rereading, disappointed: "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë. I had thought it was deep and full of painful unrequited love, but on rereading I think it's a bunch of very drippy people who accept being bullied for no very good reason.

Fforde's delightful books savage Wuthering Heights even as they are reletively affectionate when they satirize everything from Barbara Cartland to Kafka. The only other books he is cruel to are Ulysses by James Joyce and Spencer's Fairy Queene, Joyce for pretension and Spencer actually kills a character through boredom. Wuthering Heights comes in as a punching bag for a whole subplot in Well of Lost Plots from therapy sessions to assassination attempts to a Hollywood style awards show, the scorn heaped on Heights is palpable and hilarious.

I eagerly await Fforde's next book, First Among Sequels.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Clone Wars

A look at the new Star Wars animated tv show:

Friday, May 25, 2007

I've got Rhythm

Quote of the Day:
This bit caught my eye: “To be honest, we don’t really know what Gregorian chants sounded like. Probably the ones you hear today are not rhythmically correct,” Howell said. My first thought was "Rhythm? They have rhythm?" and my second thought was something along the lines of "Oh my God, what if they rapped them???"

Econ for Dummies

Why using simple language in textbooks is never going to happen:

I think it ought to be:

1. people are stupid
2. governments are stupider

Funny stuff.
via Jules Crittendon

Monday, May 21, 2007


I preface my following remarks by saying that I enjoy TV and movies alot. I think it is funny to see the backlash against electronic entertainment that is gaining ground. In this article the opening salvo bristles with hostility against electronics:
well armed in the battle against childhood boredom, with a bedroom arsenal that includes a computer hooked to the Internet, a DVD player, two Game Boys, as well as an Xbox and a GameCube.

It is not the fault of electronics; it's the fault of disapprovniks who shrill at you for letting your kids run around your yard or neighborhood and parents who knuckle under to them. Conn Iggulden, whose book is sweeping through my various reading circles, says this:
Conn Iggulden said in an e-mail message that he routinely received correspondence from parents who yearn for a “return to simple pleasures,” which seems to stem from “potent forces, like the realisation that keeping your kids locked up in the house on PlayStations isn’t actually that good for them; or the appalled reaction of many parents to a health-and-safety culture that prevents half the activities they took for granted as kids — and that they know were important to their growth and confidence.”

Sis and I were talking about this the other day, about how we ran around everywhere together on our bikes as kids - without helmets. I was letting my own children ride their bicycles and tricycle and scootie-scoot around the flat part of our driveway. The sun was shining and the breeze was blowing and they were having a grand time. A adult from down the (dirt) road where our house is situated filled me in on her disapproval that the kids were helmetless. It was as if I were telling my kids to walk through a construction site without a hard hat, or ocean kayaking without a life vest.

Ann Althouse references the skads of outdoor games she used to play:
Here are some of the thing we found to do outside (none of it taught by an adult): octopus, swinging statutes, tag, freeze tag, two-square, four-square, "Mother may I," red-light-green-light, Chinese school, monkey in the middle, leap frog, jump rope, Chinese jump rope, hopscotch, hide and seek, crack the whip. We also invented our games that we played at recess. I remember one called "jail." There was one called "Horsemasters," based on the Disney show. And I somehow got a lot of people to play a game I came up with based on a book I liked called "The Little Witch."

Sis and I played Statue Store, kind of a cross between freeze tag and used car salesman lot.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

100, movies, 100 quotes

This is fun. I tried to identify each movie and I think I did pretty good. If my Dad can not get 88, 11 and 1 before they come up I will be heartily disappointed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I thought Ron Paul was running as a Republican!

"Nutter Wins in Democratic Primary"--headline, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 16

ht: Best of the Web, WSJ

SCENE: Olive Garden

When the Minneapolis Star Tribune decided to move their best known columnist, James Lileks, to local beat reporting even the great Dave Barry, patron saint of humor columnists, chimed in with a WTF post. From that imbroglio Iowahawk has found parody gold a few times. His latest is a imagining of literary greats covering the local beat including Raymond Chandler
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon and I had just placed my size 11 EE brogues on my desk in the City Room. I uncorked a fifth of Old Crow I keep in the Steelcase’s third door left, hoping to cure a bad case of sobriety that had been nagging me since breakfast.

That’s when she walked in. Five feet two inches of trouble in sensible shoes with a master’s from Missouri J-School. Nancy Barnes, my editor.

“Got a light?” she purred, thumbing through her copy of Editor & Publisher.

“Sure, dollface,” I answered, handing her the hot end of my Lucky. “Your butt or mine?”

“Douse it, sleuth,” she sneered. “The Strib maintains a smoke-free environment. And call me ‘dollface’ again I’ll have the Harassment training boys downtown work you over.”
Hunter Thompson
We were on the 494 en route to Wayzata when my Samoan photographer handed me a plastic bag with the psilocybin. I gulped a mouthful of the acrid fungus and washed it down with chaser of Wild Turkey to take the bitter edge off. God knows we would need it. We were on a brutal odyssey into the maniacal heart of suburban pee wee baseball.
Sylvia Plath
There is a low pressure system
A grey wall, purple specked, black
In Canada skies descending, incandescent
Approaching, radiant, spasmodic
Doppler detected
and William (Bill) Shakespeare (wedding announcements):

Two Households, both alike in dignity
In Edina where we lay our scene,
At the Olive Garden where rehearsal supper wends
Over plates of Pasta Florentine.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


We just changed some of the lightbulbs in our living room ceiling fan to those new(ish) compact florescent bulbs. With nice bright light without being harsh, I recommend the GE brand. Really though it's an excuse to post this snippet:
In the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, Sen. Barack Obama was asked what he personally was doing to save the environment, and replied that his family was “working on” changing their light bulbs.

Is this the new version of the old joke? How many senators does it take to “work on” changing a light bulb? One to propose a bipartisan commission. One to threaten to de-fund the light bulbs. One to demand the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for keeping us all in the dark. One to vote to pull out the first of the light bulbs by fall of this year with a view to getting them all pulled out by the end of 2008.

As the man says, read the whole thing.

"Complaining that Women are Dressing Like Fashion Models"

Cover the dangerous and Sexy allure of the forehead!