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Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
Thomas R. Pickering, you may or may not recall, was, among many other high-level ambassdorships, crazy leftist Ronald Reagan's Ambassador to Israel (1985–1988), and to El Salvador (1983–1985), exactly when America was supporting an El Salvadoran government running death squads. (To be sure, Pickering's role could be called ambiguous.)
Scientists who have been following families with a history of depression have found structural differences in family members’ brains — specifically, a significant thinning of the right cortex, the brain’s outermost surface. The thinning may be a trait or a marker of vulnerability to depression, the researchers suggested.
The cerebral cortex is the region of the brain centrally involved in reasoning, planning and mood, and thinning of the cortex may affect an individual’s ability to pay attention to and interpret social and emotional cues, scientists suggested.
“If you have thinning in this portion of the brain, it interferes with the processing of emotional stimuli,” Dr. Peterson said. “We think that’s what makes them vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression — it essentially isolates them in an emotional world.”
While thinning in the right hemisphere was not associated with actual depression, additional thinning in the same region of the left hemisphere was, and “seems to tip you over from having a vulnerability to depression to actually developing symptoms,” Dr. Peterson said.
UNFORTUNATELY I'm vastly too depressed to blog right now. [ADDENDUM, 3/30, 10:27 a.m.: I've decided to edit this post to remove mentions of another person, and be a bit more circumspect.]
My life has melted down again. I've been given an effective eviction notice, although yet without a specific deadline, and I need to find a new place to live very soon..
It's been suggested to me that I should look for a group home for people with mental health and other physical health problems, due to my major chronic depression, anxiety and panic disorders, my split diagnosis of bipolar (the psychiatrist things so, the therapist doesn't), and my other physical problems. Although I'm pretty sure there's no such place that will take in people until they're on SSI disability or Medicaid, I'm looking into it.
(On the SSI disability application front, I've made more progress, having had another interview just two weeks ago, but still have at least several months to go; long story short is that I had to restart my application again a while ago due to my own screwups due to my depression causing me to miss a vital appointment and deadline; this is not the first time this has happened.)
Anyway, I'm depressed beyond words, and currently feeling terrified, and, well, crying a lot, on and off.
If anyone happens to have a spare room for a few months, please do let me know via email. [ADDENDUM: I can pay around $250-$300/month -- this is not a problem.] This is a serious request.
Oh, and donations extremely welcome, to put it mildly.
UNTOWARD PERSONAL INTERRUPTION. I'm feeling all sorts of abandoned, and left alone, and lonely, and sad, and missing talking to friendly folk, particularly anyone who might in any way be feeling romantically inclined and open, and who would like to talk to me via either email at gary underscore farber at yahoo.com or via Yahoo messenger at gary underscore farber at yahoo dot com.
I'm feeling very lonely and abandoned and isolated and sad and that conversation would be good. I miss being loved. I'm full of love to give. Without any baggage or implications for the future, I could use some chat buddies for now, and am soliciting same, old or new. Just friendly talk from someone who knows me well enough to really like me, or think they might really like me, is good enough for now.
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5 if you feel like I'm a fascinating guy you'd like to know more about, and share more of yourself with, whether you're an old friend or new. Do be prepared for the possibility that I'm really really depressed and sad right now, but that might not be all I'm up for talking about. I'm surely also up for casual chit chat about all sorts of light conversation, from tv, books, politics, weird science, blogdom, sfdom, and the rest of the usual.
Use of Yahoo Messenger and "gary underscore farber" is also available."
ADDENDUM: Okay, this post is somewhat embarrassing in retrospect, but it's what happens when depression acts up. The mental illness of major chronic depression sucks beyond words. I wouldn't wish the pain and fear on anyone. Especially not for decade after decade.
3/22/2009 12:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
IN THE 21ST CENTURY, obsessives occupy themselves building copies of James T. Kirk's chair and the New York Timesgives it thorough coverage.
[...] “It’s not the most comfortable of chairs,” Mr. Veazie said. “The arms are too low and they’re too far apart. Now I know why William Shatner was always leaning forward in it.”
There is another possible explanation, suggested Eddie Paskey, who as Mr. Shatner’s stand-in on “Star Trek” spent much time in the chair during camera and lighting set-ups. “Early on, Bill sat down, leaned back, and it went over backwards,” he said.
You'd think that might have happened with all that throwing himself back and forth, imitating weapons hits, too.
[...] Bush said that he doesn't know what he will do in the long term but that he will write a book that will ask people to consider what they would do if they had to protect the United States as president.
He said it will be fun to write and that "it's going to be (about) the 12 toughest decisions I had to make."
"I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened," Bush said.
Indeed. (Italics mine.)
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.
As you probably heard, this also predictably happened:
[...] About 200 protested outside the event; four of them were arrested. Some protesters threw shoes at an effigy of Bush, a reference to the Iraqi journalist who tossed his shoes at the former president during a December news conference in Baghdad.
On March 17, there will be a "Battlestar" retrospective at the U.N. in New York and a panel discussion of how the show examined issues such as "human rights, children and armed conflict, terrorism, human rights and reconciliation and dialogue among civilizations and faith," according to Sci Fi.
UN representatives on the panel are Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, deputy director of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Robert Orr, assistant secretary-general for policy planning, executive office of the Secretary-General.
Faintly incongruous note:
The panel will be moderated by "Battlestar" fan Whoopi Goldberg.
The "Battlestar" contingent on the panel will consist of executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, as well as stars Mary McDonnell (who plays president Laura Roslin on the show) and Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama).
Where, exactly? This should properly intimidate the show folk:
The invitation-only panel will take place at 7 p.m. March 17 in the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council Chamber, three days before the Sci Fi show's series finale.
My favorite comment from the ensuing comment thread:
Of course the UN would select BG as a show to study: it humanizes terrorism, it presents the army as a bunch of emotionally bankrupt violent people, it mocks Christianity, monotheism and religion, it presents everything through the prism of moral equivalency. I was surprised that Noam Chomsky was not selected to play the captain's role, and Bernadine Dohrn to play the president.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. Some more Trib neo-BSGlinks.
ADDENDUM, March 18th, 10:16 p.m.: Admiral Adama addresses the UN on "race" as a social construct.
The adults will never be able to stop using the word "race" as a cultural determinant. [...] There's no such thing as a "Latino race." There is only one race, and that's the human race and that's what the show brought out.
And, indeed, that's been the theme, the story, and the plot of neo-Battlestar Galactica from day one, to last day.
Presidential candidates will do almost anything for publicity. But Ron Paul's appearance in Sacha Baron Cohen's upcoming Bruno movie suggests he draws the line at making sex tapes with gay Austrian TV hosts.
In a five-minute scene, comedian Cohen tries—and fails—to seduce the Texas congressman and former Republican presidential candidate in a Washington hotel room.
The scene with Paul, filmed in early 2008, occurs about halfway through the movie, after Bruno gets the idea that you have to make a sex tape to become famous. (Stop reading here if you want to see the movie unspoiled.)
Cut to a nondescript hotel suite where Bruno sits across from Ron Paul. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, a light blows out on the set. Bruno apologizes for the technical difficulties and suggests that he and Paul wait in the other room while the crew fixes the light.
The other room, it turns out, is a bedroom. The lighting is low, and the film is now grainy—not unlike a sex tape—as it cuts to a hidden spy camera. There's a spread of Champagne and strawberries and caviar on a table.
Bruno tells Paul to make himself comfortable. Paul sits down on the bed. Bruno turns on some music and starts dancing. Paul is visibly uneasy but doesn't say anything at first. He picks up a newspaper and pretends to read it. "You can tell at each weird gay detail, he [chalks] it up to, This guy is European," says one of the attendees.
For Ron Paul, that's probably the lowest blow of all.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.75 out of 5 if you want the conclusion. I want to see Ron Paul dance with Bruno, myself.
CALL SOME PROFESSIONAL VIDEO GAME DESIGNERS, D00DZ. And avoid this:
[...] Air Force officials acknowledge that more than a third of their unmanned Predator spy planes — which are 27 feet long, powered by a high-performance snowmobile engine, and cost $4.5 million apiece — have crashed, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pilots, who fly them from trailers halfway around the world using joysticks and computer screens, say some of the controls are clunky. For example, the missile-firing button sits dangerously close to the switch that shuts off the plane’s engines.
Later in the story:
[...] He said the service has been scrambling to train more pilots, who fly the drones via satellite links from the western United States, to keep up with a near-tripling of daily missions in the last two years.
So there's delay in the loop.
Try to shoot your alleged bad guys, and oops, crashing now!
Even better if for some reason you want to kill your engine, but missile someone by accident instead!
Pilots are also in such short supply that the service recently put out a call for retirees to help.
But military leaders say they can easily live with all that.
Yes, well, they're not at the other end of the missiles.
Also swiped from Mike: Guy Gavriel Kay talks about the problems of writers' fans getting too involved with their blogs.
And the National Library of Scotland is trying to track down fanzines. Regrettably, it's a pretty vague and clueless article, that skips from a mention of the 1930s to my old friend Paul Williams' Crawdaddy -- without mentioning Paul -- and jumping to British football fanzines. It's hard to tell if it's the article writer, or Professor Chris Atton, who is clueless.
The Door 1. Combination dial (0-99) 2. Keyed lock 3. Seismic sensor (built-in) 4. Locked steel grate 5. Magnetic sensor 6. External security camera
The Vault 7. Keypad for disarming sensors 8. Light sensor 9. Internal security camera 10. Heat/motion sensor (approximate location)
The vault was thought to be impenetrable. It was protected by 10 layers of security, including infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, and a lock with 100 million possible combinations. The robbery was called the heist of the century, and even now the police can't explain exactly how it was done.
In elementary school, he filched money from his teachers. As a teenager, he stole cars and learned to pick locks. In his twenties, he devoted himself to the study of people, tracking jewelry salesmen around Italy for weeks just to understand their habits. In his thirties, he began to assemble teams of thieves, each with their own specialty. He knew lock-picking experts, alarm aces, safecrackers, guys who could tunnel under anything, and a man who could scale the sleek exteriors of office buildings. Each job brought a different mix of thieves into play. Most, including Notarbartolo, lived in or near Turin, and the group came to be known as the School of Turin.
Notarbartolo's specialty was charm. Acting the part of the jolly jeweler, he was invited into offices, workshops, and even vault rooms to inspect merchandise. He would buy a few stones and then, a week or a month later, steal the target's entire stock in the middle of the night.
Antwerp provided a wealth of opportunity and a good place to fence hot property. A diamond necklace stolen in Italy could be dismantled and its individual gems sold for cash in Antwerp. He came to town about twice a month, stayed a few days at a small apartment near the Diamond District, then drove home to his wife and kids in the foothills of the Alps.
For an initial payment of 100,000 euros, Notarbartolo would answer a simple question: Could the vault in the Antwerp Diamond Center be robbed?
He was pretty sure the answer was no. He was a tenant in the building and rented a safe-deposit box in the vault to secure his own stash. He viewed it as the safest place to keep valuables in Antwerp. But for 100,000 euros, he was happy to photograph the place and show the dealer how daunting it really was.
So he strolled into the Diamond District with a pen poking out of his breast pocket. At a glance, it looked like a simple highlighter, but the cap contained a miniaturized digital camera capable of storing 100 high-resolution images. Photography is strictly limited in the district, but nobody noticed Notarbartolo's pencam.
He began his reconnaissance at the police surveillance booth on the Schupstraat, a street leading into the center of the district. Behind the booth's bulletproof glass, two officers monitored the area. The three main blocks of the district bristled with video cameras: Every inch of street and sky appeared to be under watch. The booth also contained the controls for the retractable steel cylinders that are deployed to prevent vehicular access to the district.
He took the elevator, descending two floors underground to a small, claustrophobic room—the vault antechamber. A 3-ton steel vault door dominated the far wall. It alone had six layers of security. There was a combination wheel with numbers from 0 to 99. To enter, four numbers had to be dialed, and the digits could be seen only through a small lens on the top of the wheel. There were 100 million possible combinations.
Power tools wouldn't do the trick. The door was rated to withstand 12 hours of nonstop drilling. Of course, the first vibrations of a drill bit would set off the embedded seismic alarm anyway.
The door was monitored by a pair of abutting metal plates, one on the door itself and one on the wall just to the right. When armed, the plates formed a magnetic field. If the door were opened, the field would break, triggering an alarm. To disarm the field, a code had to be typed into a nearby keypad. Finally, the lock required an almost-impossible-to-duplicate foot-long key.
But they got away with over $100 million worth of loot.
The percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians has dropped dramatically over the past two decades, and those who do are increasingly identifying themselves without traditional denomination labels, according to a major study of U.S. religion being released today.
The survey of more than 54,000 people conducted between February and November of last year showed that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has dropped to 76 percent of the population, down from 86 percent in 1990.
The only group that grew in every U.S. state since the 2001 survey was people saying they had "no" religion; the survey says this group is now 15 percent of the population. Silk said this group is likely responsible for the shrinking percentage of Christians in the United States.
Northern New England has surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country; 34 percent of Vermont residents say they have "no religion." The report said that the country has a "growing non-religious or irreligious minority." Twenty-seven percent of those interviewed said they did not expect to have a religious funeral or service when they died, and 30 percent of people who had married said their service was not religious.
I WATCHED THE.... I'm still mulling over Watchmen, the movie, which I saw this afternoon, but here are some quick thoughts:
Like so many things of a particular time, this movie should have been made and come out (though it wouldn't have been remotely possible) at the time the original was created, circa 1986. Most all of the work it does is dependent on that moment in comics history, and what would have been comics movie history. It was revolutionary then, and deconstructed the idea of the super-hero in a way that had barely previously had the surface scratched (and at that, mostly by Alan Moore's own Marvelman/Miracleman).
Now: not nearly so much. Ditto the social commentary context of the film, on the cold war, on the fears of the time (it's set, as is the original, in 1985, albeit an alternate 1985), on the social tensions of the time.
I'm inclined to be cautious, and suggest that if you're not much of a comics book fan, and not much of a fan of comics movies, it's probably not the movie for you. It's very long, and although the gory violence in significant chunks of the movie are there for a real purpose, they're there, and the characters aren't deep. I'm inclined to think that one has to be, if not a comics fan, at least a real fan of movies, to really enjoy the picture.
With the benefit of hindsight, I'd not have asked the woman who went with me to come see it, since she's not at all a comics, or sf, fan, and she mostly found it boring. (Which I'd have predicted if I'd seen it already.)
You may be more enthusiastic, and I'm being cautious here, but although the movie worked for me, because I am a comics fan, and had read the original back when it was 12 issues, I don't want to go out on a limb and suggest it's much of a movie for people who don't have an interest in takes the idea of what a "super-hero" might be, if dealt with at least slightly more realistically than comics up to 1986 had done, or than comic movies have done up to now.
Which is to say, the point of the original work, 100% retained in this highly faithful (overall) adaption, is that if, in real life, people wanted to dress up in masks and costumes, and go out and commit violence on criminals, they'd largely have to be pretty sociopathic, or have something wrong with them.
(That's the purpose of the graphic violence: to not shade over that, in real life, it would be that ugly).)
This was a pretty revolutionary idea, for the most part, in comics, in 1986, but less so now, and most of all, if you're not really a comics fan, probably you just won't care.
On the plus side, I'd definitely recommend the film to anyone who is a fan of the original, or to anyone who is a film buff: it's visually almost, if not quite, as dense as the original, with lots of stuff that one will have to freeze-frame on the DVD to actually spot all the details of.
I held off on rereading the original before seeing the movie mostly because I loaned my copy to someone who has yet to give it back. :-) But I'll be rereading it, certainly, now, to remind myself of what was left out (what, no giant squid?), and why some stuff was there that I no longer remember the significance of.
Oh, and I'll give one vaguely faintly spoilerish observation: there's a moment of real Super-villain Exposition Syndrome that made me laugh. (I'll put slightly more in the comments.)
P.S. Has someone been paying off users of "All Along The Watchtower," or is it just in the sf/comics zeitgeist right now for some reason?
ADDENDUM, March 8th, 7:51 p.m.: I've added a couple of spoilerish observations in comments. A non-spoilerish thought is that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight still remain, by far, my favorite movies-made-from-comic-books.
I prefer the unironic almost-reality approach, it seems, to the arch meta-commentary.
Watchmen is very interesting, and clever, but I didn't enjoy it a fraction as much as I enjoy Christopher Nolan's two films. I might pick X-Men 1 and 2, and Spider-Man 1 and 2 over Watchmen, as well, for watching-with-pleasure, rather than watching-to-analyze.
ADDENDUM, March 8th, 11:21 p.m.: This version is rather lighter. It's the Saturday morning cartoon version!
I CAN NEVER HAVE ANYTHING NICE. I have no possible hopes of winning, of course, given competition such as Pharyngula, Kottke, Bad Astronomy, and the like, but feel free to vote for me here, anyway. Exciting announcement here.
Hey, it's rare enough for me even to be nominated for anything.