Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Kalahari Typing School for Men

The Kalahari Typing School for Men is book 4 in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I am continuing to enjoy this series, even though I've run across a couple of what look to me to be inconsistencies, including how long Mma Ramotswe's baby lived and whether or not her fiancé had been married before. I need to go back and check those things out sometime.... I like the writing style -the voice of the narrator.

from the back of the book:
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
For All Confidential Matters and Inquiries
Satisfaction Guaranteed for All Parties
Under Personal Management

The phenomenal success of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency continues with the bestselling Kalahari Typing School for Men, the fourth book in the series.

Mma Precious Ramotswe is content. Her business is well established with many satisfied customers, and in her mid-thirties ("the finest age to be") she has a house, two adopted children, a fine fiancé. But, as always, there are troubles. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has not set the date for their marriage. Her able assistant, Mma Makutsi, wants a husband. And worse, a rival detective agency has opened in town—an agency that does not have the gentle approach to business that Mma Ramotswe's does. But, of course, Precious will manage these things, as she always does, with her uncanny insight and her good heart.

Optical Illusions

Bad Astronomy has a link to a spinning girl optical illusion at this site. The comments to the BadAstronomy post have links to even more optical illusions.

The photo is from the wikipedia article.

Moon Illusion

Tonight's the night. Hope for clear skies.

There are more links at the wikipedia article.

Friday, June 29, 2007


#1 Son picked this one out for us. Entrapment is a crime thriller with a comedic sub-text. It was mindless entertainment with a high requirement for suspension of disbelief. This is another of those movies where I never got involved enough to quit raising my eyebrow and saying, "Oh, please...." I think Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones are mis-matched as a romantic couple. I got a big kick out of Maury Chaykin's role.


Tour Karnak

Take a virtual tour of Karnak. Not the same as being there, of course, but maybe vicarious travel is better than no travel at all?

Here's a video tour in 2 parts:

Online Etch-A-Sketch

Use the arrow keys.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Morality For Beautiful Girls

3rd in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, Morality For Beautiful Girls follows several interesting cases and further develops these characters. The writing is such that I can picture the characters and the African landscape, the houses and offices. I can imagine this series as a PBS Mystery program.

from the back of the book:

In Morality for Beautiful Girls, Precious Ramotswe, founder and owner of the only detective agency for the "concerns of both ladies and others," investigates the alleged poisoning of the brother of an important “Government Man,” and the moral character of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest, the winner of which will almost certainly be a contestant for the title of Miss Botswana. Meanwhile the agency is having money problems, and when unexpected difficulties arise at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, she discovers that her fiance, the reliable Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, is more complicated then he seems.

What's Your Global Literacy?

WorldHum has a link to a depressing quiz. Not just a quiz that makes me feel like I should be better informed, no.... but a quiz that's truly depressing. I got so depressed during the process of getting wrong answers that I didn't finish. Worldhum says:
I’d wager most Americans who’ve traveled out of the country will score much higher on the quiz than those who haven’t.

I'd wager it'd be more dependent on socio-economic level than having traveled out of the country. Or maybe the scope of the travel is what matters for the purpose of this quiz. I made a wonderful trip to Europe (one of those 7-countries-in-21-days whirlwind-type tours) when I was in college, and although it gave me a better appreciation of art and music and foreign culture I don't think it helped me know details of percentages of foreign trade and population growth figures.

The Hokey Pokey

Well, now I've lost the link to wherever it was I saw this video, but I seem to recall they asked the question, "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about?"

Anniversary of the Death of Jim Baen

Today is the anniversary of the death in 2006 of Jim Baen, science fiction editor and publisher. offers a library of free books here and a list of Baen books they consider appropriate for high-schoolers. Here's the list of their young-adult suggestions:

Lois McMaster Bujold:
Falling Free
Miles, Mystery and Mayhem
Young Miles

Dave Freer:
Pyramid Scheme
Rats, Bats & Vats
The Rats, the Bats and the Ugly
The Shadow of the Lion

Eric Flint:
The Course of Empire
Grantville Gazette Volume I
Legions of Space
Mountain Magic
A Plague of Demons
Pyramid Scheme
Rats, Bats & Vats
The Rats, the Bats and the Ugly
The Shadow of the Lion

Jody Lynn Nye:
The Planet Pirates

James P. Hogan:
Bug Park
The Cradle of Saturn
The Legend That Was Earth

John Ringo:
March to the Sea
March to the Stars
March Upcountry

Robert Asprin:
E. Godz

David Drake:
The Far Side of the Stars
Foreign Legions
Lt. Leary Commanding
More Than Honor
With the Lightnings
The World Turned Upside Down

James H. Schmitz:
Agent of Vega
Eternal Frontier
The Hub: Dangerous Territory
Original Edition of edited Schmitz Stories
T.N.T:Telzey & Trigger
Telzey Amberdon
Trigger and Friends

Charles Sheffield:
The Amazing Dr. Darwin
Borderlands of Science
Convergent Series

Harry Turtledove:
Alternate Generals

David Weber:
The Apocalypse Troll
The Armageddon Inheritance
Ashes of Victory
Changer of Worlds
Echoes of Honor
The Excalibur Alternative
Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile
Heirs of Empire
Honor Among Enemies
The Honor of the Queen
In Death Ground
In Enemy Hands
March to the Sea
March to the Stars
March Upcountry
More Than Honor
Mutineer's Moon
Oath of Swords
Oath of Swords and Sword Brother
On Basilisk Station
Path of the Fury
The Shiva Option
The Short Victorious War
War God's Own
Worlds of Honor

Steve White:
Eagle Against the Stars
Emperor of Dawn
Prince of Sunset
The Shiva Option

Mercedes Lackey:
Bedlam's Bard
Brain Ships
The Chrome Borne
Fiddler Fair
The Free Bards
The Shadow of the Lion

Andre Norton:
Darkness and Dawn
Time Traders

Elizabeth Moon:
The Deed of Paksenarrion
The Planet Pirates

Gordon R. Dickson:
Hour of the Gremlins

Jeffery D. Kooistra:
Dykstra's War

Spider Robinson:
User Friendly

Keith Laumer:
Bolos I: Honor of the Regiment
Bolos IV: Last Stand
Bolos V: Old Guard
Legions of Space
The Lighter Side
A Plague of Demons

John Dalmas:
The Lizard War
The Regiment

Robert A. Heinlein:
Beyond This Horizon
The Menace From Earth
Revolt in 2100 and Methuselah's Children

Rick Cook:
The Wiz Biz

Larry Niven:
Best of All Possible Wars
The Man-Kzin Wars

C. J. Cherryh:
The Paladin

Anne McCaffrey:
Brain Ships
The Planet Pirates

L. Sprague deCamp:
Lest Darkness Fall - To Bring the Light

Ellen Guon:
Bedlam's Bard

T. K. F. Weisskopf:
Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Far Futures
Cosmic Tales: Adventures in the Sol System

Jerry Pournelle:
Birth of Fire

Margaret Ball:
Brain Ships

Mary Brown:
Here There Be Dragonnes

Marion Zimmer Bradley:
The Fall of Atlantis

Christopher Anvil:
Interstellar Patrol
Interstellar Patrol II: The Federation of Humanity

Randall Garrett:
Lord Darcy

Murray Leinster:
A Logic Named Joe
Planets of Adventure

Tom Godwin:
The Cold Equations
Original Edition of edited Godwin Stories

Wen Spencer:

Travis S. Taylor:
The Quantum Connection
Warp Speed

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Anniversary of the Death of Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson, author of the Moomintroll books, died on this day in 2001. We have always been crazy about her books and are always surprised at how few people are familiar with them. Here's The Moomins and the Great Flood. The Moomintroll home page is here.

Dark Shadows

Today is the anniversary of the premiere in 1966 of Dark Shadows. They made being a vampire into a tragedy and made tragedy fun.

Here are some scenes from the series:

opening and ending:

scene with Barnabas Collins/Jonathan Frid:

Tears of the Giraffe

This book is the second one in Alexander McCall Smith's series on the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I re-read the first one recently. I like these books. I like the main characters, I like the episodic style, I like the set-up of the woman who uses her inherited cattle to fund the first detective agency in Botswana run by women, I like the descriptions of Africa....

from the back of the book:

Precious Ramotswe is the eminently sensible and cunning proprietor of the only ladies' detective agency in Botswana. In Tears of the Giraffe she tracks a wayward wife, uncovers an unscrupulous maid, and searches for an American man who disappeared into the plains many years ago. In the midst of resolving uncertainties, pondering her impending marriage to a good, kind man, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, and the promotion of her talented secretary (a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College, with a mark of 97 per cent), she also finds her family suddenly and unexpectedly increased by two.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Third Man

Spin Street had the Criterion edition of The Third Man in stock the last time I was there, and The Sons picked it for tonight. I'm sorry I hadn't seen this film before. Graham Greene wrote the screenplay. Starring are Joseph Cotton, Trevor Howard and Orson Welles. The Third Man is 3rd on imdb's list of top films noir and was on the last AFI Top 100 list but was removed from this one due to its lack of sufficient American credentials.

Roger Ebert

Bright Lights Film Journal


The Criterion Collection blog has a review.

1001 Flicks has a review.

Movie Zeal has a review as a part of their month of noir.

Noir of the Week reviews it here.

"What are you going to do with all those books?"

Matthew Cheney is trying to answer this question in the face of a move far away to smaller digs. It brings back so many memories for me of past moves -some to bigger spaces which I have bought book cases to fill and some to smaller spaces where I've been forced to make difficult decisions in answer to that very question: "What are you going to do with all those books?"

I've considered the value of keeping only The Classics, no matter how battered and even if the books in question are paperback ex-lib editions with underlined pages and missing covers. I've considered the option of keeping only those books that held sentimental value to me, like the copy of Michener's Hawaii that brings back that high school summer vacation like it was yesterday.

Both of those choices have since been rejected, and all of the books that fit those categories are gone.

But I still have more books than I have room for and a hard time culling the flock. I am at a point, with our youngest kiddo in high school, where I don't have to save all those homeschooling materials for the next child. This past year was our last trek through Ancient History, so I can pass along the old ex-lib editions of Greek plays, those falling-apart Viking Portable Reader paperbacks and other books which I don't foresee re-reading. But even so, I'm having trouble. Why do I want to keep books that I will most likely never re-read? Some are reference books of material not available on-line, so that's a good excuse. I love a good excuse.

Now that I've been trying to get to know mysteries I have a growing collection of (mostly) paperback mystery novels. They are taking up a growing amount of shelf space. I got rid of some of the science fiction books, but, even so, the amount of space needed for my sff books increases yearly.

It's easy on the one hand, because I'm not having to pack them up and move them.... Still, I can't help but ask myself the same question that Matthew Cheney has answered for himself: "What are you going to do with all those books?"

HE: sfsignal

Happy Anniversary, Dave Ramsey!

I'm a long-time fan of Dave, and he's celebrating his 15th anniversary of radio presence this week. Dave Ramsey has a message that is making a difference.

Here are his Baby Steps:
$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

Three to six months of expenses in savings

Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

College funding for children

Pay off home early

Build wealth and give!

He has written books, including The Total Money Makeover. We have a very old copy of The Financial Peace Planner.

Here's a sample of Dave at work:

3/10/2008: Moolanomy explains the process and offers links to other articles.

Penguin/Ostrich Race

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Machine Stops

This science fiction short story by E.M. Forster was first published in 1909. It is in the public domain and can be read online at several sites, including here and here, and it can be listened to here.

There was a TV adaptation:

R.I.P. Jan Romary, fencer

Janice-Lee Romary, Olympic fencer, died on May 31.

HT: BlogOfDeath

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I've read this book and one other in this series by Alexander McCall Smith before but wanted to re-read it before I got into the rest of the series. I really liked it the first time I read it and enjoyed it just as much this time.

from the back of the book:

This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with problems in their lives." Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.


HT: PeskyFly

Feast of John the Baptist

The Feast of John the Baptist is celebrated on the traditional date of his birth rather than on the anniversary of his death as is the practice with other saints. It is one of the oldest feasts of the Church and was always on the longest day of the year before the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar changed the date of the summer solstice.

Luke 1: 57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (KJV)

The picture above is of a statue of Saint John the Baptist by Donatello.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Mask of Zorro

#1 Son picked this movie tonight. It stars Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. We have seen and enjoyed The Mask of Zorro before, but it's been, I think, more than a year ago. We have never seen the sequel.



This book is the sequel to Chindi by Jack McDevitt, part of the Academy Series which began with The Engines of God. Omega was the Campbell Award winner for 2004. I've enjoyed The Engines of God, Chindi and Omega and look forward to reading the others. These books are right down my alley -readable space opera with 3-dimensional characters, believable women, plots that have some body to them and keep my interest high....

from the back of the book:

For a quarter of a century, humanity has watched as the malignant omega clouds have destroyed every civilization they have come across. Now, it's Earth's turn--but not for another nine hundred years. A cloud has switched direction, heading straight for a previously unexplored planetary system--and its living pre-technological alien society. Suddenly, the need to find a method for the omegas' destruction becomes urgent, as a handful of brave humans, scientists and military alike, try to save an entire world--without revealing their existence...

12 Books to Read

before you are 12 (from The Telegraph via sfsignal):

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
Cloud Busting, by Malorie Blackman
Dream On, by Bali Rai
Evil Inventions (Horrible Science), by Nick Arnold
Framed, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
A Dog Called Grk, by Joshua Doder
I, Coriander, by Sally Gardner Coriander
Journey to the River Sea, by Eva Ibbotson
Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve
The Ring of Words – An Anthology of Poetry, selected by Roger McGough
Saffy’s Angel, by Hilary McKay Saffy
Unbelievable!, by Paul Jennings

Call me an Old Fogey, but the fact that I've never heard of any of these books says something negative about the list as well as revealing the fact that I have no under-12 kiddies.

My attempt at a list of must-reads for the 12 and under crowd:

Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

Household Tales, by the Brothers Grimm

Moomintroll books, by Tove Jansson

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, by Howard Pyle

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

and at least 1 book on Greek/Roman and Norse mythology, such as Bulfinch's Age of Fable and Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian Folktales.

World to End in 2012

according to the Mayan calendar. Here's a Doomsday video:

Via: VideoSift

Here's a countdown. There's a graphic representation here.

Wikipedia says
Despite the publicity generated by the 2012 date, Susan Milbraath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, stated that "We [the archaeological community] have no record or knowledge that [the Maya] would think the world would come to an end" in 2012.[10]

"For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle," says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Fla. To render Dec. 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is "a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in."

But Wonkette has announced that our government supports the Mayan prediction. Plenty of folks are jumping on this bandwagon, including a Survive2012 website. (I wonder how one survives The End of the World?) GreatDreams has lots of photos and handy charts. offers a countdown (currently at 2008 days, 1 hour, 35 minutes and some seconds -my how time flies), T shirts, an article on how The End of the World will affect your credit and an article connecting Biblical prophecy to the Mayan calendar ("The Bible Codes hold cluster after cluster describing a nasty solar event, as well as a terrible disaster in 2012.")

7/2/2007 update:

PositiveLiberty links to this NYT article and closes their 2012 post with this:

Question: Is it fun to think that the world is about to end? Is it somehow validating or life-affirming or something? I have to admit I just don’t get it… But I’m more than content to sit back, open a beer, and watch the apocalypse. Twice, three times maybe. After that, I figure it’ll get old.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Princess Mononoke

Tonight we had a double feature, and The Younger Son picked this movie to watch next. We have seen Princess Mononoke (a 1997 Hayao Miyazaki film) as part of our desire to become more familiar with anime, but it's been a while. We like this one; so do other people apparently, since I've seen it on several lists of favorite anime films and top-10 lists. This time we started off using Japanese language with English subtitles for fun but switched back to English when the subtitles were too hard to read against the picture.

Here's the trailer:

Roger Ebert calls it a "great film" and says it "is a great achievement and a wonderful experience, and one of the best films of the year." praises it. BBC calls it "A mythic epic" "Unusual in its subtlety". Moria says it's "utterly dazzling". Moria gives it high praise. Anime Critic calls it "a wondrous work". StompTokyo:
the technical virtuosity of Mononoke is beyond anything he's ever done before, and the scope of the story is beyond that of all but a few films ever made, animated or live-action, Japanese or American

6/19/2009: The Younger Son and I watched this again tonight, this time sharing it with The Husband and The Daughter seeing it for the first time. Everybody likes this one.

Dr. Strangelove

Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. I've seen this movie several times over the years. #1 Son, who picked tonight's show, first saw it in a film class where he was the only class member who laughed. His report is that the other students not only didn't think it was funny but didn't understand how anybody could think something that dated could be funny. It just so happens that Dr. Strangelove is #39 on the new AFI Top 100 List. Peter Sellers is the star and plays 3 roles. George C. Scott and Slim Pickens are great, too.

My only question is this: Is this a comedy? Or a tragedy? Hmmm...


Mozart Flute Quartets

Listen online. Wikipedia has some general information on Mozart and tons of links.

Rating My Blog

For pity's sake.

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 -

Now, I ask you.... If I'm going to post about movies and include obituaries of folks that matter in some way to us here and blog about books I've read, how can I avoid this:
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* death (5x)
* murder (4x)
* suicide (1x)


opps! I forgot to give a hat tip to pharyngula for the rating site. _He_ gets to be a "G"-rated site. Humph!

Electric Sumo!

HT: ShoutFile

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Top 100 Films

according to the AFI. From slashfilm, cinematical and others comes the news that the American Film Institute has re-ordered their list for the list's 10-year anniversary. I've bolded the ones I've seen.

1. “Citizen Kane” (1941)
2. “The Godfather” (1972)
3. “Casablanca” (1942)
4. “Raging Bull” (1980)
5. “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)
6. “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
7. “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)
8. “Schindler’s List” (1993)
9. “Vertigo” (1958)
10. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
11. “City Lights” (1931)
12. “The Searchers” (1956)
13. “Star Wars” (1977)
14. “Psycho” (1960)
15. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
16. “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)
17. “The Graduate” (1967)
18. “The General” (1927)
19. “On the Waterfront” (1954)
20. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
21. “Chinatown” (1974)
22. “Some Like It Hot” (1959)
23. “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940)
24. “E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)
25. “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)
26. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939)
27. “High Noon” (1952)
28. “All About Eve” (1950), but I don't remember it. I guess I was in high school at the time.
29. “Double Indemnity” (1944)
30. “Apocalypse Now” (1979)
31. “The Maltese Falcon” (1941)
32. “The Godfather, Part II” (1974)
33. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975)
34. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
35. “Annie Hall” (1977), another that I remember seeing but don't remember much of.
36. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)
37. “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946)
38. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)
39. “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)
40. “The Sound of Music” (1965)
41. “King Kong” (1933)
42. “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967)
43. “Midnight Cowboy” (1969)
44. “The Philadelphia Story” (1940)
45. “Shane” (1953)
46. “It Happened One Night” (1934)
47. “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951). Yet another I've seen on late night TV many years ago but only remember pieces of.
48. “Rear Window” (1954)
49. “Intolerance” (1916), or at least I've seen the first half or so. It was so long, and we meant to finish it but never did.
50. “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)
51. “West Side Story” (1961)
52. “Taxi Driver” (1976)
53. “The Deer Hunter” (1978)
54. “M*A*S*H” (1970)
55. “North by Northwest” (1959)
56. “Jaws” (1975). Yes I know I'm one of the few people in the known universe who hasn't seen it....
57. “Rocky” (1976)
58. “The Gold Rush” (1925)
59. “Nashville” (1975)
60. “Duck Soup” (1933)
61. “Sullivan’s Travels” (1941)
62. “American Graffiti” (1973)
63. “Cabaret” (1972)
64. “Network” (1976)
65. “The African Queen” (1951)
66. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
67. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966)
68. “Unforgiven” (1992)
69. “Tootsie” (1982)
70. “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)
71. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
72. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)
73. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
74. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
75. “In the Heat of the Night” (1967)
76. “Forrest Gump” (1994)
77. “All the President’s Men” (1976)
78. “Modern Times” (1936)
79. “The Wild Bunch” (1969)
80. “The Apartment” (1960)
81. “Spartacus” (1960)
82. “Sunrise” (1927)
83. “Titanic” (1997)
84. “Easy Rider” (1969)
85. “A Night at the Opera” (1935)
86. “Platoon” (1986)
87. “12 Angry Men” (1957)
88. “Bringing Up Baby” (1938)
89. “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
90. “Swing Time” (1936)
91. “Sophie’s Choice” (1982)
92. “Goodfellas” (1990)
93. “The French Connection” (1971)
94. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
95. “The Last Picture Show” (1971)
96. “Do the Right Thing” (1989)
97. “Blade Runner” (1982)
98. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942)
99. “Toy Story” (1995)
100. “Ben-Hur” (1959)

I disagree with the list, of course, or I don't understand what they mean by "top" films. I'd definitely place a Star Wars movie on that list (edit: in the top 10), for example. Not a single movie in the top 10 was released during the last 10 years and only one was released in the last 25. According to Cinematical the following movies were on the last list but dropped for this incarnation:

Doctor Zhivago
Birth of a Nation
From Here to Eternity
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Third Man
Rebel Without a Cause
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Manchurian Candidate
An American in Paris
Wuthering Heights
Dances With Wolves
Mutiny on the Bounty
Frankenstein (1931)
Patton, The Jazz Singer
My Fair Lady
A Place in the Sun
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

6/22 update:

DailyFilmDose has a comment on the list, including how the voting is done and breakdowns by decade and director. They also reference the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound Top 10 poll, which includes foreign films. 6 of the movies appear on the AFI list.

GreenCine comments here. They have links to several other sites that are discussing the new list.

Film Experience Blog offers its take here. I do not subscribe to that blog feed but happened across it and noticed this post.

The filmsnoir blog has something to say about the neglect of the Film Noir genre in the list. According to their information 22 of the films noir on the ballot didn't get in. Including Laura. And Rear Window.

Summer Solstice

Today is the summer solstice, and it is our family tradition to eat donuts for supper while we watch the sun set on this longest day of the year. In years past the kids would take paper and colored pencils and draw their impressions, but they no longer do this. In fact, all the kids aren't still available to participate -I think The Daughter has to work this year. We continue the tradition with those who can come. It's an activity I look forward to and treasure the memory of. We haven't always gone downtown to watch the sun set over the Mighty Mississippi, but we have chosen that spot several times in the past and will probably go there tonight.

Photo from Flickr

update: This was one of the loveliest sunsets I recall -clouds enough to make for beautiful color and pattern without obscuring the sun, a pleasant breeze and cooler temperature than we've had some years, no mosquitoes.... Nice. Very nice.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Top 15 Very Long Books that teenage readers should read

Guest post from #2 Son:

James Blish - Cities in Flight [A very strange tale (or set of tales, technically) this is one of the more peculiar of the mainstream SF books. A bit slow to start out with, I’ll give you a hint about this one: Don’t go to a great deal of bother remembering every character; odds are you’ll never see them again.]

John Bunyan - The Pilgrim’s Progress [Ah, hard to get more classic than this. Not for atheists or the easily bored. This early English allegory is over 400 pages of Shakespearean English, with a potpourri of apocryphal conjectures; if you read it in under a week, you don’t have enough else to do.]

C. J. Cherryh - The Chanur Saga [More famous for her lengthy Invader series, this earlier work is a bit more Sci-Fi/action and a bit less anthropological dissertation. Six foot cat women, assault rifles, seven foot lizards and some really cool spaceships make it quicker reading than most of this list.]

Tom Clancy - The Hunt for Red October [Not quite as good as its accompanying movie, (With Sean Connery, James Earl Jones and some of the rest of the absolute best actors of modern Hollywood) this is still a superb book. Cold War espionage with a twist, it centers upon a Soviet submarine that may, or may not, be trying to defect. After Red October, Clancy’s books get steadily worse; Red Storm Rising, is quite good, though.]

Charles Dickens - Bleak House [Showing Dickens’ typical lack of delicacy, Bleak House draws the reader in to a truly tragic tale of murder, blackmail, and revenge. The narration stops in such unappetizing places as the Themes Suicide Room of the London Morgue, and the Opium dens of the East End. By far the most accessible of Dickens’ works, it is a classic murder mystery at heart.]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The White Company [Known for creating the doughty Dr. John Watson, and his nit-picking sidekick Sherlock Holmes, Sir Doyle was much more proud of his historical fiction. (They were what got him his Peerage, after all.) This is the first of several White Company novels, starring various characters. They all have the same sense of hearty humour and a disrespectful view of the Catholic Church in general. After all, the White Company is fighting the Hundred Years War, not the Second Crusade.]

Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers [A somewhat long-winded novel of honour, love and extremely good fencers. Athos, Porthos and Aramis (representing love, honour and food; they are ALL excellent fencers) accompany D’Artagnian on his expeditions.]

Frank Herbert - Dune [Somewhat over-rated as science fiction, somewhat under-rated as a novel, this is without a doubt one of the BEST SciFi books of all time. There’s this guy, see, and these huge... psychic... worms.., that eat people and stuff.., and this uber-cinnamon stuff that allows advanced telepathic contact with other people who use this spice... Trust me. No paragraph description can do this book justice.]

Homer - The Iliad, esp. Robert Fagles translation [Only for the truly dedicated, or the truly bored. But Fagles translation is amazing, reading more like Howard’s Conan books than the Encyclopedia most similar thing read like. An engrossing story, filled with politics, obscure historical references and lots, and lots of violence. However, you WILL be branded a die-hard dork if you admit to people you READ, much less LIKED The Iliad.]

John Katzenbach - Hart’s War [The only resemblance it bears to the movie is that there IS a character named Thomas Hart. The novel is a high-speed genre-buster. It has equal parts murder mystery, crime drama, racial commentary, WWII escape thriller and old-fashioned war-story. Set in a Nazi concentration camp, this book deals with race conflict, the KKK, the Gestapo, and a dozen other controversial issues. I.E not for the easily offended.]

Baroness M. Orczy - The Scarlet Pimpernel [A far better and far more interesting take on the French Revolution than the much-touted Les Miserables. On the Aristocrat’s side, as well.]

Howard Pyle - The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood [Based half on classic folk lore, half on Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, and the rest on historical fact, this isn’t as long as most of the rest on this list. As a matter of fact, it’s not very long at all. But quite good, all the same.]

Edgar Allan Poe - The Complete stories [Poe wasn’t as one-sided as most people see him. True, he was the undisputed master of Gothic honor. But he was also almost single-handed inventor of the Mystery, and the popularizer of the truly bizarre. He could terrify without a so much as a drop of blood, yes. But he was also possessed of (some would contend possessed BY) a remarkably sardonic sense of humour. After all, for every ‘Masque of the Red Death’, there’s a ‘Balloon Hoax’.]

Greg Rucka - Batman: No Man’s Land [Way stretching to put this on a list between Sir Scott and Poe but still. An extremely good book, it’s actually a novelization of a popular string of comics featuring the caped Crusader. An excellent intro, into the Batman novels, and quite enjoyable to boot. If you know Batman primarily from the 90s movies, though, this a much darker, much harsher version.]

Sir Walter Scott - Rob Roy [Och, laddie, dere was a tam when Schotl’nd were fdree. and a tam when broothers’d feet t’ keep it tha’ way. Hey, you try typing a Scottish accent. Anyway, this is Sir Walter Scoff’s most popular novel, and for good reason. A rousing tale of courage, hope and (surprise) fighting. Rather a lot of fighting, actually The only problem: it’s in Scottish. Readable. Certainly. However, frequent dialectical words will probably have to be looked up. Most versions have a handy phrasebook in the back.]

HT: Literary Compass for this list which inspired the response

Death of a Peer

I've seen some of the Inspector Alleyn Mystery episodes, but I don't recall having read any of Ngaio Marsh's books. Death of a Peer was an interesting read. I liked the way the characters were introduced and developed -we first see Alleyn towards the end of Chapter 7. The plot moves along nicely with some twists and turns and a bit of witchcraft to add an eerie tone. Alleyn is strictly a down-to-earth detective and cuts to the heart of the matter with ease.

from the back of the book:

The Lampreys were a charming, eccentric, happy-go-lucky family, teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Until the gruesome murder of their uncle-an unpleasant Marquis, who met his untimely death while leaving the Lamprey flat-left them with a fortune. Now it's up to Inspector Roderick Alleyn to sift through the alibis to discover which Lamprey hides a ruthless killer behind an amiable facade...

Death of a Peer is on the list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's online members.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Separation of Church and State

The United Methodist Church has an official position on the separation of church and state: they're fer it, saying

The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and state. In some parts of the world this separation has guaranteed the diversity of religious expressions and the freedom to worship God according to each person's conscience. Separation of church and state means no organic union of the two, but it does permit interaction. The state should not use its authority to promote particular religious beliefs (including atheism), nor should it require prayer or worship in the public schools, but it should leave students free to practice their own religious convictions. We believe that the state should not attempt to control the church, nor should the church seek to dominate the state. The rightful and vital separation of church and state, which has served the cause of religious liberty, should not be misconstrued as the abolition of all religious expression from public life.

From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2004. Copyright 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House.

In support of this view are others not connected to the UMC in any way but in favor of church-state separation. Among these are DefCon, which says
DefCon opposes efforts to dismantle the wall erected by our founders between church and state. Efforts to use the government to proselytize or to infringe on the religious freedom of any American are unconstitutional and we oppose them.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State concludes their Our Issues page with this:
Church-state separation, a policy forged by great leaders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, is the expression of a mature and confident republic. It represents a promise of freedom that few countries have had the courage to fully embrace.

But America had that courage, and the results of that embrace have been nothing short of remarkable. Today we are an open and free society of nearly 300 million Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists and others. All live side by side in harmony. All have the freedom to proclaim their views. All enjoy the right to worship or not worship unmolested by government officials or state-appointed religious leaders. All are equal in the eyes of the government.

That is the legacy of our Founders’ grand experiment with separation of church and state. That is the result of keeping an official distance between religion and government. That is the principle Americans United for Separation of Church and State upholds every day boldly, proudly and without apology.

The American Civil Liberties Union has a page devoted to the issue of religious liberty explaining their position:

The American Constitution and Bill of Rights introduced a new relationship between religion and government. Prior to 1789, almost every European country maintained a close relationship between church and state. James Madison, the principal drafter of the First Amendment, proposed that, unlike European states, the government should not tax its citizens to support religious activities, nor should it promote religious beliefs, and that all religious beliefs should be treated equally and fairly. He believed that religion would thrive best when the government did not promote some religious beliefs to the exclusion of others.

Madison’s ideals, now embodied in the Constitution, were exactly right. Americans enjoy more religious freedom than do people in any other country in the world.

Unfortunately, some people are now trying to use government power to promote religion in exactly the way the Constitution wisely rejected. The ACLU works to ensure that people remain free to chose which religious beliefs (or none) they wish to express and that governments, school boards, and legislatures do not become involved in deciding which religious beliefs should be promoted or in spending taxpayer dollars to support religious activities and symbols.

and offering information on current concerns and suggestions for individual action.

The United Methodist Women have numerous resources that deal with this topic, including a mission study which says

This may sound impossible for today but when we object to the separation of church and state, we undermine protection for ourselves and all citizens

and a public policy statement which talks about some of the concerns in regards to education, hospitals and public places.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shrek the Third

#1 Son gave the Dad tickets to Shrek the Third, and we went to see it tonight. It'd been a long time since I'd been to see a movie in a movie theater! Though we agreed the music in this one wasn't as good as what was in the last one, we all liked the movie. I had heard complaints from folks who said this 3rd installment lacked the humor and focus of the other two and that perhaps the franchise was getting old, but we think it makes a good addition to the series.


Father's Day

Hope you had a Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, APOD

Going at it since 1995. Check out the archive.

HT: SFScope.

Friday, June 15, 2007


#1 Son suggested Ultraviolet, which I had never heard of. The film is a sf action movie featuring a woman who is very good at killing -killing lots of men, by herself, in a short period of time, many times in a row. Mindless entertainment if you can let go of the major plot flaws. I have trouble not interrupting the film with, "But, but....".


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bram Stoker's Dracula

I'm speechless at how dreadful this movie is. It is the worst and most misogynistic Dracula film I have ever seen. I've not seen a Dracula movie less like Bram Stoker's novel than Bram Stoker's Dracula. And did I mention the misogynism? I won't even start describing it. This post would go on for pages....

Here's the trailer:

R.I.P. Ruth Graham

Ruth Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, died today.

The President made this statement.

GetReligion covers the coverage.


The Charlotte Observer

Pirate Phone

I must have one of these before Talk Like a Pirate Day gets here!

HT: Pharyngula

Recognize Sealand

Here is the online petition to recognize the sovereignty of Sealand. So far 49 people have signed.

Basso Profondo

From Father Stephen's blog comes a link to this video:

They are singing Pavel Chesnokov's "Do Not Reject Me in My Old Age". You can buy the cd at MusicaRussica.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil

I read the first book in this series some time ago and liked it. This one was much the same, and I can tell that it's not going to be a long-term attraction for me. It's just got too much romance-type elements in it, and I find myself mentally rolling my eyes....

Gimme That Old Time Religion

And I do mean old. The Fathers of the Church blog has a link to this song. The artist has a blog.

St. Anthony of Padua

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the elderly, among others. The Basilica of St. Anthony has a web site which includes a webcam. Links to online biographies, artwork and devotional and other articles are at the Franciscan Archive.

What If Jules Verne Had Written Star Trek

Literary Compass has a link to a youtube video:

that can be seen in full at this site. There's a Steam Trek blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monsieur Pamplemousse Investigates

Author of the Paddington Bear books Michael Bond has written a series of mysteries featuring a former detective for the Sûreté now restaurant guide food critic. This book is the 6th of them and the 2nd one I've read. I love Pommes Frites, Monsieur Pamplemousse's faithful dog. These have been light-humored distracting reads.

from the back cover:
Le Guide is plagued with mishaps: a false death announcement about le Directeur is planted in the leading newspapers, piranhas in the fountain outside the office are dining on the goldfish, and perhaps worst of all -someone has sabotaged the journal's new computer system, threatening to make it the laughingstock of France.

Culinary expert and food critic Monsieur Pamplemousse must find the fiend in three days or Le Guide will be forced to delay publication, an unprecedented disgrace!

Could it be the austere Madame Grante, head of accounting, with her strange bedclothes and even stranger habits? It's a mystery that will have Monsieur Pamplemousse wearing some very strange clothes himself, as he and Pommes Frites discover that the real solution is for the birds. And it's a rare dish indeed....

Death of Gaudi

Today is the anniversary of the sadly avoidable death of Gaudi on this date in 1926. Links to pictures of some of his works can be found here. His most famous work is the unfinished Sagrada Familia.

The Dufay Collective

Listen to the Dufay Collective, an early music ensemble, online here. One of the players is a trombonist.

Book Awards Reading Challenge

I'm in! The Reading Challenge starts 7/1/2007 and lasts a year. It looks like fun. I'll enjoy seeing which books the others pick.

Fancy Pants

Play it here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tetris Magnets

For your fridge. But I bet they don't play that cool music. (right click on "download to computer". choose "open link in new window".)

Philosophy Fun and Games

TPM Online has some games and interactive activities, including a chance to see if the god you construct makes sense and a chance to test whether or not your beliefs about God are rationally consistent.

In the first one, the Do-It-Yourself Deity quiz, which only has 1 question, my Plausibility Quotient = 0.6.

In the second one, the Battleground God quiz, I took slight damage and received their second-highest award.

Laura Nyro

I discovered Laura Nyro when I was in college in the mid-70's and spent many hours listening to LPs and cassette tapes of her wonderful voice. It was hard to lose her so young.

Here's her American National Biography page.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Anniversary of the Death of Charles Dickens

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1870 of Charles Dickens. His works are available online at many sites, including VictorianWeb and Great Books Index, and here are links to many other hosts.

There is a virtual tour of London's Dickens Museum here. Another virtual tour is of Dickens' birthplace.

Bleak House is often praised as Dickens' best work, and there are places devoted specifically to that book, including this page at Cornell College and David Perdue's page. Here's the wikipedia entry.

Dickens' works have been dramatized, and some are available on DVD.


Here's a sure-fire cure.

Bunches O' Puzzles/Games

Take your pick. I still like my old Mahjong game best.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Old Scores

I'm having a run of good luck with mysteries -I liked this one. Old Scores is the third in Aaron Elkins' Chris Norgren mystery series. The other 2 don't seem to still be in print. The art world is a foreign land to me, though I was familiar with many of the artists mentioned. There was a sub-plot involving his love interest, but I thought it detracted from rather than added to the book. I didn't find those sections interesting, and I didn't think it expanded much on the character, if that was the point.

from the back of the book:

It's an art world coup: the discovery of an unknown Rembrandt. Rene Vachey, the famed collector who made the find, wants to make it a gift to the Seattle Art Museum, but curator Chris Norgren is wary. Vachey is infamous in art circles for perpetuating scandalous shams. Thanks to a web of strings attached to Vachey's donation, even Rembrandt expert Chris can't be certain that the painting is genuine. But there's no doubt that the bullet soon found in Vachey's head is authentic. And there's no telling how much time Chris has to find the truth about the "masterpiece" -and the murder- before he's painted into a corner by a master in the art of killing....

House on Haunted Hill

#1 Son selected this one, thinking neither #2 Son nor I had seen it. I had seen it but long years ago on TV when I was young, and I had forgotten a lot of it. This is a fun flick with a priceless set-up. Vincent Price provides the solid ability to make the whole thing work. The review at says,
On a timeline spanning the entire history of the horror movie genre, there are certain notches delineating important steps for the genre. Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Exorcist among others will be noted. For the year of 1959, that notch belongs to The House on Haunted Hill. No other movie from this time period has been so remarkable, stylish, terrifying, and such an inspiration for new writers and directors of the genre. Flawlessly executed, this film is the quintessential reason why we love classic horror. Take it for a spin this season. Is the house on Haunted Hill really haunted? Is it not? Decide for yourself.

Star Trek connection: Elisha Cook, Jr., who plays the owner of the "House on Haunted Hill," also played Kirk's defense lawyer in "Court Martial".

12/19/2007: B-Movie Catechism has chosen this film for their monthly film club.

8/6/2009: The Vault of Horror has a review.

Good Copy Bad Copy

a documentary about the current state of copyright and culture:


Get Lost!

I used to be good at mazes, but I'm wondering if I won't spend a lot of time lost. I think I'll try a few and see. Here are the mazes.

The picture above is from Flickr.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Slow download

But what a download!

What was #1 when you were 18?

For me it was this one:

This was #1 when The Husband turned 18:

And #1 Son got this one. It starts automatically, so I'm just linking to the page.

And The Daughter got this:

#2 Son isn't 18 yet.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Booked to Die

Booked to Die is the first book in the Cliff Janeway series by John Dunning. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole idea -homicide detective turned rare books dealer, and I loved the book talk about editions and valuations and such. I liked the well-drawn characters. The plot was fast-moving with enough characters and goings-on to maintain interest but not so much so as to muddle and confuse. I couldn't put it down and read it in a day. I will be buying the others.

from the back of the book:

Tough, book-loving Denver homicide detective Cliff Janeway wants to nail Jackie Newton - a suspected psychopath who just barely beat the rap for a series of vagrant killings. Janeway is certain his sleazy, sadistic nemesis is to blame for the recent murder of a down-and-out rare book hunter - and treats Newton to a rather brutal helping of off-duty justice that ultimately costs the overzealous cop his badge.

A civilian once more, Cliff Janeway now has time to pursue his true passion - the buying and selling of valuable first editions - and to get to the bottom of the unfortunate bookscouts' still-unsolved slaying. For somewhere undercover, in the bizarre, cutthroat world of bookmen and collectors, someone is dealing death along with vintage Chandlers and Twains.

This book won the Nero Wolfe Award in 1993 and is on the list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's online members.

Family Movies

I heard this piece on All Things Considered yesterday afternoon. Ty Burr champions the old classic movies as great family fare, describing his 9-year old daughter's choice of the Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant comedy Bringing Up Baby as the theme for her birthday party. The parents were skeptical, but the kids had a blast. It's nice to have some bright lights spreading the good word about old movies.

The Battle of Memphis

Memphis was lost to the Confederacy on this date in 1862. There are descriptions of the battle, which only lasted 1 1/2 hours, at, Wikipedia, the National Park Service site and . has information in its A PATH DIVIDED: Tennessee's Civil War Heritage Trail, . There's a short history of Memphis at the City of Memphis' web site which includes Civil War dates of importance for the city. A description of Civil War sites of interest in Memphis, along with relevant photos, is here.

There are historic photos from Harper's Weekly here.

Here's a video:

of the Civil War in 4 minutes. A perfect graphical representation of the movements of the troops and locations of the battles.

3D Logic Puzzle

Can you find the path?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Inherit the Wind

In honor of the new creation "museum" #2 son and I watched Inherit the Wind tonight. It's proof that Darwin was wrong, since we haven't evolved at all since then. The very same court cases are making the news right now! I was too young to have seen this in a theater, but we enjoyed it on the small screen. Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized account of the Tennessee "Scopes Monkey Trial", stars Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan, Dick York and Frederick March.


and a short clip of the scene where they discuss the date and time of the creation:

The Sibyl in Her Grave

The Sibyl in Her Grave, by Sarah Caudwell, is the last of the 4 Hilary Tamar novels and was published in the year of the author's death. Professor Tamar is the narrator and "detective" of sorts, and most of the action is revealed by way of lengthy letters. This book was amusing, with a light sense of humor and plot twists. There are some convenient coincidences, but then, it's a mystery novel, isn't it.

from the back of the book:

Julia Larwood's Aunt Regina needs help. She and two friends pooled their modest resources and invested in equities. Now the tax man demands his due, but they've already spent the money. How can they dig themselves out of the tax hole? Even more to the point: Can the sin of capital gains trigger corporeal loss?

That's one for the sibyl, psychic counselor Isabella del Comino, who has offended Aunt Regina and her friends by moving into the rectory, plowing under a cherished garden, and establishing an aviary of ravens. When Isabella is found dead, all clues point to death by fiscal misadventure.

So Julia calls in an old friend and Oxford fellow, Professor Hilary Tamar, to follow a money trail that connects Aunt Regina to what appears to be capital fraud — and capital crime. The two women couldn't have a better champion than the erudite Hilary, as once again Sarah Caudwell sweeps us into the scene of the crime, leaving us to ponder the greatest mystery of all: Hilary, him — or her — self.

Incredible Mimic

Now here's a bird with mimicry skill. He imitates the sounds he hears and incorporates them into his mating call.

Wet Paint: Please Touch

Join the group art project; set your creativity free!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Bicycle Thief

#2 Son and I watched this during supper tonight. I must say I found this movie to be the very picture of despair. It is #87 on this list of 100 Top Spiritually Significant Films, but I'm not sure what makes it so spiritually significant. It is filled with growing desperation and we had trouble discerning anything redemptive, though it does provide a picture of a world in need of redemption. A tragic story.

Here's a trailer:


1001Flicks has a review.

Creation Museum Updates

I got tired of hunting back through old posts to find the one on the creation museum, so I'm updating here.

The Revealer is amazed at the oversight of Bible illustrators. After hearing all about the Creation Museum he expected pictures of dinosaurs in his illustrated Bibles, but found none.

6/8 updates:

from PeskyFly, who's just now noticing.

ArsTechnica has a review via Pharyngula. They include this statement: "Designed for a fundamentalist Christian crowd, the Creation Museum is no friend to those who do not hold to its creationist tenets." Surprised? One of the comments to that Pharyngula post has the url to an article that explains

A man who plays Adam in a video aired at a Bible-based creationist museum in Kentucky has led a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modelling for a clothing line that promotes free love.

After learning about his activities Thursday, the Creation Museum pulled the 40-second video in which he appears.

and the actor is quoted as saying

"But just because I'm Adam on the screen, that doesn't mean I'm Adam off the screen."

Bad Astronomy, where he talks about the Adam actor:

Today’s example is Ken Ham’s atrocious "creation museum", which is more akin to a funhouse full of warped mirrors that distort reality than an actual place to learn stuff. The situation: in a film shown in the museum depicting the Biblical account of creation, it turns out the actor playing Adam has, well, bitten off more than just a chunk of apple. He used to run a "sexually suggestive" website. Ham has taken down the video pending an investigation.

At Daily Kos there's a post commenting on the Ars Technica review.

And via a comment on this DefCon post comes a link to this Onion article, which quotes one person as saying, "It's going to face some tough competition when the nearby Flat Earth and Gravity Schmavity Museums opens up.".

6/9 updates:

from Dark Christian comes a link to a Flickr Tour of the museum.

Send a comedian to the museum.

6/10 updates:

This American Chronicles article calls it "A $25,000,000 Monument to Stupidity" and says,

Ken Ham might be a nice guy—I don’t know him personally—but scientifically speaking, he’s an idiot. The fact that he seems to have a legitimate scientific education makes him stubborn and willfully ignorant, as well. Consider that he’s just spent an enormous amount of money building a facility to proclaim his plainly wrong theories to potentially hundreds of thousands of gullible visitors a year, and we may also add “irresponsible” to the list.

The “science” presented at the Creation Museum is a feeble imitation of the real thing.

6/11 updates:

BlueGrassRoots went for a tour and responds with this:

Early in the museum, the visitor is given advice on the proper mind frame to have for your visit: “Don’t think, just listen and believe”. As you can see in the picture below, Human Reason is the enemy and God’s Word is the hero. Descartes represents Human Reason, saying “I think, therefore I am”. But God tells us there no need to waste your beautiful mind, for God says “I am that I am”.

So logic, reason and science are Bad; blind faith is Good.

The BlueGrassRoots review is the most snark-filled report I've seen so far.

EvolvingThoughts provides a link to a blog which has a round-up of articles.

SoMA Review comments on Adam's antics.

update 6/23:

Aetiology has gone on a field trip. She says, "My brain still hurts."

update 7/2/2007:

EvolutionBlog concludes a multi-post review and includes this general statement:

Is this the end of civilization as we know it? No. But it is one more symptom of the disease that has been growing ever since Ronald Reagan started making appeals to religious fundamentalists a standard part of Republican Party politics in the 1980's. Just ponder the fact that AiG had little trouble raising the twenty-seven million dollars needed to build this monstrosity. Consider that now everyone in the Cincinnati area has for a neighbor a professional propaganda factory spitting out some of the vilest and most vicious stereotypes of science and scientists that you will ever encounter. This is not a good thing for American civilization. And a culture that can produce such monuments to ignorance is a culture facing some serious problems.