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Showing posts from September, 2007

Amazing article

The New York Times has dropped its "Times Select" subscription nonsense and, as an added bonus, opened up its archives. Which means I can finally link to an amazing article from 2005:To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind BarsWhich contains this fascinating insight:Indeed, in just the last 30 years, the United States has created something never before seen in its history and unheard of around the globe: a booming population of prisoners whose only way out of prison is likely to be inside a coffin."Unheard of around the globe"? And precisely what is a "life sentence" supposed to be if it's not life imprisonment? Last, doesn't this undercut the entire argument that life imprisonment is the humane alternative to the death penalty?I was amazed when I first read this and felt compelled to share.

Never Forgotten

POW's Prayer
By Jean Ray and L. Vancil

Your own Son was a prisoner.
Condemned, he died for us.
Victorious, He returned to bring us the gift of life everlasting.
Comfort us now in our longing for the return of the Prisoners Of War and those Missing In Action.
Help Us Father;
Inspire us to remove the obstacles.
Give courage to those who know the truth to speak out.
Grant wisdom to the negotiators, and compassion to the jailors.
Inspire the media to speak out as loudly as they have in the past.
Protect those who seek in secret and help them to succeed.
Show us the tools to do Your will.
Guard and bless those in captivity, their families, and those who work for their release.
Let them come home soon.

Thank you Father.

(For more information, click here.)

Who is Paul Haggis and why should I care?

Actually, I don't and there's no reason I should. I'm just marveling at how well regarded he is and comparing that to how mediocre his work is. Maybe I'm jealous.Haggis makes Message Films, and he makes them like that, with capital letters. He's like the noob who discovers the rocket launcher in Quake and that's all he'll ever use. He's like someone who has just discovered all the font possibilities within Word, so he uses all of them.Consider Million Dollar Baby, written by Haggis. He got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay and the film went on to win the golden guy for best picture. Now I was attracted to see it because a) it was directed by Clint Eastwood and b) I find Hilary Swank to be very gentle on the eyes, even when she's all buffed up as an unstoppable female boxer. That this film should have been great was a no brainer.Instead, the film literally had no brains and, much worse, assumed the audience had none.I can't authoritatively c…

Maintaining Focus

Mary Katherine Ham remembers September 11, 2001, in visceral terms: On that day, 19 young men--inhabitants of our country, recipients of our hospitality, beneficiaries of our prosperity, wearing modern clothes to cloak a primitive hatred--turned planes into missiles, passengers into war casualties, and a beautiful Tuesday morning into a day that changed the world forever. They were driven by a radical ideology, a charismatic leader, the funding of villains, and the protection of rogues. They killed 3,000 people that day.Anna Quindlen remembers to takes advantage of the sixth anniversary of September 11, 2001, to attack Bush. As is the norm, she does so in haphazard fashion, but it was this bit that caught my eye: Instead of trying to understand and therefore counter the mind-set of those who hate us, and to rally our allies in their communities, American jingoism has produced an ugly strain of anti-Muslim thought and chatter.For myself, I'm tired of being told that I must try an…


There's something about date/day anniversaries that always haunts me. It's one thing to recognize the date; it rolls around every year. But when the date corresponds to the day of the week of the event, the memory is somehow stronger.Thus, when December 7 rolls around on a Sunday, Pearl Harbor takes on greater meaning. And today is the sixth anniversary of September 11, 2001, and it's on a Tuesday, just as then.The casualties should have been worse. There have been so many complaints about things that went badly that day, yet the simple fact remains that over 50,000 people could have died, yet so many were saved by planning and training, and quiet acts of anonymous heroism.The office where I work sits under one of Sacramento International Airport's departure routes. There's always something flying overhead. And that morning I looked up into empty, blue, silent skies.Evil visited the United States that day, and a clear line was drawn. For over 30 years the United St…

Brian De Palma, BDS victim

Right off the bat I have a confession to make: I think most of Brian De Palma's films are crap. They stink, they're horrible, they're ungood and unwell made. When he makes a good one, it's generally very good, but they are rare exceptions. For every good De Palma film there are several that suck. For every The Untouchables there's...well, everything he's made since, and that's been twenty years. His latest film, Redacted, premiered at the Venice film festival and left audiences sobbing. What is the source material for this inspirational presentation? The story of several US soldiers in Iraq kidnapping, raping, and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl. As De Palma puts it, he read that account and knew he had a story. Isn't that nice? On the surface it sounds like a thin re-tread of his snoozefest, Casualties of War. It, too, involved rape, torture, and murder. It painted the picture that one good soldier comes forward to confess and he's the villain t…

The Smugness of Apple

Steve Jobs danced across the stage today, introducing a new collection of iPods. There weren't many surprises. Actually, were there any surprises? Well, yes. The prices were surprising. First, wow, what a slap to anyone who ran out and bought an iPhone. A wait of 69 days saves you a cool $200! At $399, the 8GB iPhone begins to look attractive. It's biggest failing, for me, is the inability to create Word or Excel documents. You can look at them, but don't touch, let alone create. This is just a software revision away, but since the iPhone is a closed development environment -- unless you want to hack it open and risk voiding warranties, etc. -- I'm not holding my breath. Still, even lacking that the iPhone is now a serious contender as Bob's Next Phone. I gave up on Documents to Go on my Treo 650 since it was the source of almost every problem I had on the Treo. Since then, I haven't edited much of anything on the Treo. If the iPhone has some basic editor, some…