Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I always doubted the real-world credibility of The Godfather, because when hitmen go after a head mafia guy and shoot him repeatedly, they don't fail. Then I read this.

That's a report on an insider's view of Iraq. Back here in the States, we can try to imagine how bad life has to get to be willing to put yourself and your entire family at risk of not only death, but a slow, painful torture followed by death. Or we can carp about 16 political words in a State of the Union address because we happen to prefer one political party over another.

It is altogether possible that American and Britian intelligence were wrong about how many and what kind of weapons Saddam had. But I'll bet these two guys don't give a fried blini about phrases like "yellow-cake plutonium." Assuming time and evidence proves us wrong; what are we supposed to do now? Reinstate Saddam? Apologize? Paint him as mistreated and misunderstood? Angry radicals like to paint Bush one minute as stupid, and the next as a master of deceit. Maybe, just maybe, he's neither.

But admitting that's not as much fun, is it?

If someone tried to maintain that the will to live can't have any effect on biological processes, this article might give them pause.

Do they fry blinis?

Monday, September 29, 2003

I watched Lost In Translation over the weekend; it was time well spent. At first the movie seemed to convey a sense of the almost paranoia-inducing claustrophobia of extreme culture shock, and later settled into a resigned, amused alienation. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson end up sharing a relational connection that is greater than the more permanent relationships around them, but they both recognize that age and geography raise barriers that in the end will not be overcome. Still, they enjoy their time together as a brief, culturally-surreal hiatus. There’s chemistry created between the two that runs deeper than friendship but is constantly restrained.

Bill Murray has taken the acting he was most known for earlier in his career, and turned it down to such a muted level that all we have to do is observe him observe something strange and a lightly comic moment is created. Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray both agree on understatement for Bob Harris, and it works.

Some of the best contemporary movies seem to be more about a single chord than they are about telling a linear story.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Three ways of saying essentially the same thing:

1) "Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead."
--Nietzsche, The Gay Science

2) Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

3) "And the three men I admire most / the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost / they caught the last train for the coast..."
--Don McClean, American Pie

I bet Don McClean never imagined he'd be lumped in with Nietzsche.

Feel free to let me know I'm sacrificing accuracy for the sake of synthesis, or just that I have the interpretive skills of a half-witted Leicestershire workman.

Friday, September 26, 2003

I'm kind of a Luddite. Someone suggested I post more links. I do intend to add to the sidebar more, but in terms of just providing more things to do and see on the internet, I'm not sure there's any shortage. Using the internet can very quickly devolve into "better than boredom." Like I said, I'm a Luddite.

I like the bracketed part of my dictionary's definition of "Luddite":
"[...half-witted Leicestershire workman]"
That cool, leaf-painting chill is in the air, it’s a clean feel but brings to mind the cycles of nature, melancholy; it suggests faint hints of insecurity at the loss of warmth, I already set my sights on spring but appreciate the winter—cold weather helping us appreciate the spring weather, keeps our blood from getting so warm we spend our day in siesta.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

As of 23 September 2003, the word “ironic” is not to be used unless you apply for a license and show evidence that you will use the word responsibly (read: sparingly). Combining the phrase “sort of” with “ironic” will not be allowed, even with a license. You will be forced to decide if something is or is not ironic. No hedging.

if (sic) you are alanis morissette (sic), you will not be issued a license under any circumstances.
you (sic) are part of the reason the word had to come under licensing.

Tomorrow’s word to require licensed use:
Google seems to be temporarily down. Does that mean the world’s closed, or are there emergency procedures to handle this?

Monday, September 22, 2003

How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.
— Johnny Cash

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Peace does not always come peacefully.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

It is a wonderful moment when a child first begins to speak. You have this little person who has been thinking little thoughts, and for the first time ever you get to find out what they have to say.

So I sat down with my daughter last night, and interviewed her. "Tell me what your impressions of life on earth are up to now." She laid out her perspective on philosophy, ethics and politics, and I offered some feedback in a couple of places where I felt her thinking lacked coherency. Then she indicated she wanted more Teddy Grahams.

She still has a little trouble with the word "Weltanschauung."

Thursday, September 18, 2003

You know what show I hate, maybe the most?

The Jerry Springer show. I have never seen a more culturally bankrupt piece of television exhibitionism in my life, I don’t think. Maybe that goes without saying.

It would be nice to pretend that there are no relationships that have devolved to that level. But even if we acknowledge that some situations get that bad, what puts it in our head to derive entertainment value from them?

The show not only captures what we don’t need to see. It has educational value. It tells people, “This is how you should act if your boyfriend is leaving you for his mother’s Doberman.” Or, “If you are a guest on the Jerry Springer show, this is how you should behave.”

The show has created an actual social script. Almost any day you watch, the proceedings are as predictable as a prime-time sitcom. Witness the melodramatic theatrics of a jilted lover. The escalation of anger to a point only milliseconds shy of an actual blow. The hypocritical restraining actions of security guards with impeccable timing.

One of the few times I watched, a security guard told the person he had just grabbed, “You can’t act like that on this show.” C’mon. You picked the guy on the promise of such antics.

It is hard to watch this show and then try to make the case that the human species is basically good at heart.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Thanks to Doug Kenline for taking the time to create this blog.

A general trend in today's world is that words are undervalued, and data is overvalued. We place all of our confidence and hope in science, and other fields (like philosophy and history) get left behind. There's a joke there.

We give science godlike capabilities, and think that art is just pretty decorations to hang on walls. Literature is never anything beyond a temporary cure for boredom, and music is just background noise. Odd as Doug Kenline may seem to others, it's good to have people like him who think that the most valuable thing to be done is just to put words and ideas out into space.

This may be a once-only entry, but I at least wanted to say thanks.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Welcome David Ziegler

Message from Doug Kenline

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