Imitation of Turing

I watched The Imitation Game last weekend. Benedict Cumberbatch did a good job of not playing the somewhat autistic Alan Turing just like his somewhat autistic Sherlock Holmes. All the actors played their parts well, and the film was very believable, though not quite accurate.

more at my blog

Not Suitable For Balloon Lovers

Both my DSLR and my little digital portable camera are currently out of commission. The reasons are various and inconvenient and not worth mentioning here.

The reason that I am so bummed that both my DSLR and my little digital portable camera are currently out of commission is what drives me to write this post.

The reason being twofold. The reason being this:

There is a balloon bouncing in the breeze, nearby.

This balloon is silver, white and blue foil, partially deflated, and tied to a short but sturdy bit of ribbon which is, apparently, tethered to something on the ground. A dead branch, a rock, who knows what it is, but something is keeping the twelve inches or so of ribbon tied to the ground near a nearby neighbor’s tree and the balloon is bobbing up and down about a foot above the ground in the woods near my nearby neighbor’s property.

And the sight is arresting me, for two reasons.

One, it makes me immediately recall a scene from one of my favorite films, “American Beauty”, the plastic bag scene.

Two, it makes me want to film a short clip of the balloon and then make a mock ad that would go something like:

WARNING! This film is not suitable for Balloon Lovers. This film contains footage of an actual Balloon struggling to free itself from a trap. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOUR BALLOON. Balloon Lovers everywhere are encouraged to follow safe Balloon Loving practices and keep their Balloons indoors, loved and inflated and…free.

Losing It

There has been numerous mention of the Bush administration losing several billions of dollars in Iraq but to date nothing has come of it. Now I realize that everybody misplaces stuff on occasion and as we grow older this gets to be a bigger problem. But we’re not talking about some ocotgens or something here. We’re talking about the U.S. military flying several aiplanes full of $100 bills all packaged up nice and tidy into Iraq and then flat losing them. How do you do that? A whole fucking plane load of money? Just fucking disappeared?

I think that’s worth a look and maybe some followup. If I lost $6 billion I’d probabaly be looking for it. LINK

Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

Iraqi officials say it was the U.S. government’s job to keep track of the funds, which were brought in as an emergency measure to keep basic infrastructure going after Saddam Hussein’s ouster. House Government Reform Committee investigators found in 2005 evidence of “substantial waste, fraud and abuse in the actual spending and disbursement of the Iraqi funds.”

Witnesses testified that millions of dollars were shoved into “gunnysacks” and disbursed to Iraqi contractors on pick-up trucks, with what seemed to be little financial controls or accounting on the part of the U.S. government.

Think it was an accident? That all this plunder took place because of a lack of “oversight?”

Blade Runner

Futuristic settings have always been a popular vehicle of science fiction writes. H.G. Wells,  Orwell,  Huxley, Bradbury. And they seem to have become a popular film vehicle as well. Most ending with either the heroes finding hope and a new and better life or the beginning of the end. They usually involve some natural or man made disaster or a combination of the two. Some envision a world we humans have resin above there more darker traits to explore the galaxy with only a few bumps along the way.
Continue reading “Blade Runner”


Bedtime for Bonzo

Is it distinctly American to always ponder THE BEST?

Maybe not.

Pele was a God south of our borders.

I feel more comfortable with top ten lists but you miss so much even screwing around with these lists.

Matthews asked his panel this week:

Who was the best actor and actress?

And he chose Cary Grant.

I could not believe it.

Cary Grant never played anyone but Cary Grant.

Then it hit me.

As soon as someone gets into a discussion of the best, I get drawn in.

Continue reading “THE BEST OF THE BEST”

Cast Your Ballots

The Academy Awards are all over the place. HuffPo has the red carpet balloting up on the site. I would list my ballot choices here but I’ll not do that until everybody has cast theirs so I don’t bias your picks. Not that you care about my picks but hey, this is important stuff.

Check back here when you’ve cast your ballots and then when we’re finished we can reveal our picks. Tell your friends.

This oughta be good for a laugh. I already got a grin going.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Alas, tonight is the last episode of the PBS Masterpiece series, Downton Abbey.  Damn, I’m gonna miss watching this show.  Word has it that they’ve picked up another season in Great Britain, so it’s my hope that someday I’ll get to see more of it.  But that won’t happen anytime soon.

For those of you who haven’t been watching, it’s an amazing series.  It’s won all kinds of awards in the UK and has a huge following there.  As for what it’s about, picture an updated Upstairs Downstairs, full of intrigue and class warfare, but mixed with the genteel Edwardian manners that those Brits were so good at.

Women’s rights play a huge role in the series, and of course there’s also a lot of love, romance and passion.  Heh, now you know why I love it so much.

For a short while PBS Online will be airing episodes if any of you want to view it, and it’s also available on DVD.  (Now you know what to get me for my birthday this year, hint hint).

So, fare thee well to the folks at Downton Abbey, for now.  Rest assured they will all be in my thoughts.

Of Nature v. Nurture and the One Ring

More and more, I hear President Obama’s memorial address in Tucson as a wake-up call to take responsibility for ourselves in civic and personal life—a call worth heeding by all of us, starting with particular attention to the words and deeds of that person in the mirror.

Like everyone else, I have room in the arena of political debate for improvement. So I intend to watch my words more carefully, especially words designed to wound rather than heal. I can think of a few of my posts that I would repudiate today for their unvarnished anger and vitriol, particularly a post wherein I called Juan Williams a “bootlicker” to Fox News for reasons I believed justified at the time. I see now I could have made my argument without being so disagreeable. For purposes of keeping myself honest, I won’t remove these posts from the historical record here. They must stand as a reminder to myself, if no one else, of how we all can be tempted by righteous anger to use words badly, carelessly, improperly and yes, even brutally, just to make our points. Just to make my points.

Today, I watched three very instructive Sunday morning programs on the major broadcast networks. All were appropriately somber and serious discussions of the massacre in Tucson. “Meet the Press” dealt in a soul-searching but civil way with societal intervention for violently deranged individuals, the limits of gun access and the responsibilities that go with partisanship. “Face the Nation” was also along these lines.

The best of the programs today was “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, who stepped things up several notches by hosting a town hall meeting with Tucson residents and those hailed as heroes at the scene of the tragic carnage. I learned more about the American spirit in that hour than I have learned in many hours similarly spent in the wake of other tragedies. I saw how the impulse to help, to comfort and to sacrifice ourselves for others comes surprisingly naturally to most of us. And I saw how surprisingly cheap it came to Jared Loughner to sacrifice the lives of others as offerings to his demons.

We are left with weighty issues to consider. Guns rights versus gun safety. Patient rights versus societal rights. The individual versus government. Political power versus political restraint. Jared Loughner’s derangement versus society’s encouragement. These are conflicts we should debate as Americans, not as polarized enemies.

Somehow this morning, watching the last of the three programs, it occurred to me that all of the assertions about the lessons of Tucson boil down to the very oldest argument of Nature versus Nurture—that is, how our actions are a product of our innate beings versus a product of our environments and upbringings. My understanding is that, generally speaking, the jury is still out.

So what are we to make of the gunman’s role and ours? There is no bright red arrow that points from either the Left or the Right to the Safeway parking lot. No arrow of culpability and none of absolution. No sign of actions predestined by others and no indication that we can safely use words to impugn the character of our political opponents, our fellow Americans.

Evil is a mystery that neither science nor religion have fully explained, though its origin has been studied by scholars of both disciplines. Whether it is a neural spark or demonic influence, what ignites our fury to such appalling ends remains to us mythic, like the One Ring of Tolkien’s fabled Middle Earth. As a prism for understanding the mass murder of six people and the wounding of many more last week in Tucson, Tolkien’s tale of the One Ring (or Eden’s apple, if you prefer) teaches us that at its dark heart, evil is the absolute corruption of absolute power, a weapon none of us can use safely. That lesson was beyond Jared Loughner, who intended to kill as many people as he could in a fleeting spree of forbidden power over life and death. It is not beyond those of us in politics or media who teeter like Gollum on the edge of our soapboxes, tempted to wield the power of words at any cost.

*Cross-posted at Tripper John’s Big Tent


File:Rosewood Florida rc12408.jpg

The next time some jackass contends that the American Civil War had nothing to do with slavery; show him this:

More to the point, Confederate Vice President Stephens plainly asserted in March 1861 that the “present revolution,” which had brought about the creation of the Confederate States of America, “is founded … on the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

I vacillate from wishing to see a good and an evil to every situation; and from wishing to remain an observer.

As an observer, I can better discover what is and what is not. You cannot ‘fix’ anything until you arrive at some conception as to the status of something.

Continue reading “ROSEWOOD”