Upon picking up Connie Willis's The Doomsday Book I couldn't help noticing the text above the title: "Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards" and thinking that's pretty impressive.
You want impressive? If I had an award-winning record like Willis, I'd be tempted to rest on my laurels. Thankfully she is emphatically not doing that; she just published Blackout, part one of a two-parter; the second volume, called All Clear, will be published later this year.
The Doomsday Book itself is remarkable, as it describes the plight of a college history student sent back in error to 1348 CE to a village whose inhabitants are dying of plague. It's a story of courage, empathy, and caring. I strongly recommend it.
Blurb: Sun and Jin continue to search for each other; Locke confronts his enemy.
Er, which one of his many enemies does Locke (presumably unLocke) confront?
EW pre-game blather
Question #1: Why didn't Widmore's crowd just kill the Losties outright rather than dart them with some kind of drug?
Question #2: Who is it being dragged up on the pier at the end and why did Sayid appear to recognize him? Ah, the consensus seems to be that it was Desmond. Dammit. I was hoping he and Penny were completely out of it, living a nice uncomplicated life together.
Hold the sideways-in-LA questions, like how come neither Jin nor Sun speak English, how come they're unmarried, and how come Jin isn't as domineering as he was portrayed in their original marriage.
Also, there seems to be quite a bit of anger toward ABC for putting that damned "V" bug and time clock on the screen so frequently during the show. Fortunately I had read about it and was prepared, so I was able to read Sun's note to Jack that said of unLocke "I don't trust him."
When I was growing up we had some form of chicken as the main course every Sunday evening. Fried, baked, roasted; you name it, we had it. I got really really tired of chicken, although it may have been as much because of the uniformity of the Sunday menu as because of the entrée itself. So when I became the principal cook seven or eight years ago chicken fell off the menu.
Well, Mom loves chicken, so I recently started cooking it again. As I recall, one of the reasons Dad gave for eating so much chicken, beyond the fact that both he and Mom loved it, was that it was the least expensive meat in the grocery. Not any more. I just paid $4.69/pound for a package of six boneless skinless thigh fillets, but even the bone-in thighs are about $3.99/pound.
When did chicken start getting expensive?
What's basketball doing on so early? This is Week Two!
Well, okay. A 70 - 69 game is worth waking up for.
Now if Baylor beats Duke it would mean 3/4 of the Final Four would be virtual newbies to that exalted level. That would be kinda fun.
I went down the hill to the store with 10 minutes left in the Butler-Kansas State game and got back home when there were still 3 minutes left. Considering it took me 25 minutes in real time, that says something about television timeouts.
I had the game on the radio in the car; I was reminded of another big game I had to listen to on the radio, since a) I was working and b) I was in Yokusuka, Japan. It was the 1974 Semi-final game between UCLA and North Carolina State.
N.C. State erased an 11-point deficit midway through the second half and a seven-point deficit in the second extra session behind David Thompson's 28 points and 10 rebounds to halt UCLA's string of seven consecutive NCAA championships.I was crushed. I'd lived in UCLA's home town, Westwood, while Mom attended grad school there and was a huge UCLA fan. That double-overtime loss was devastating.
And nobody I worked with cared! In 1974 the term "March Madness" hadn't been invented, only conference champions went to the tournament, and there were only 25 teams involved. Most of the guys in the Navy enlisted ranks with whom I worked had no rooting interest in college teams. In fact, I think there were only two of us in an entire shift of 25 guys who had even attended college.
There I was, dying of anguish as David Thompson, Monty Towe and Tommy Burleson beat Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes. I was off in a corner of the room, surrounded by a dozen rattling teletype machines, and I had no one around who'd even say "hey, better luck next year."
That was a bad sports day.
Basketball or Wait Wait? Basketball or Wait Wait?
K-State over Xavier in double-overtime. (Caution: audio. More caution: it includes Dick Vitale's blather.)
I delayed serving dinner to see the end of that. How about that kid calmly draining three free throws to tie the game at the end of regulation? "Go ahead, young man, nothing riding on these shots but keeping your team alive for the Final Four."
I'm hoping Northern Iowa can keep going by defeating Michigan State this evening, but I'm not holding my breath.
Okay, I admit I have Syracuse over Butler today, but I had New Mexico getting past Washington and then beating WVU, too. Obviously I don't know what the heck I'm talking about.
I'm really hoping Cornell beats Kentucky and Northern Iowa gets past Michigan State. Since my bracket got smashed, why shouldn't everyone else's?
"Lost" fans, remember two weeks ago the Sideways script had Miles and Sawyer as partners in the LAPD?
From Losties with Jed & Cara comes this wonderful title sequence of a short-lived TV show featuring our two heroes: (Note: Turn your speakers on but low)
At least two Congressional district offices were vandalized and Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a senior Democrat from New York, received a phone message threatening sniper attacks against lawmakers and their families.
Ms. Slaughter also reported that a brick was thrown through a window of her office in Niagara Falls, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, said Monday that her Tucson office was vandalized after the vote.
The Associated Press reported that the authorities in Virginia were investigating a cut propane line to an outdoor grill at the home of a brother of Representative Tom Perriello of Virginia, after the address was mistakenly listed on a Tea Party Web site as the residence of the congressman. Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and a central figure in the measure’s abortion provisions, reported receiving threatening phone calls.
Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the House, said he received an anonymous fax showing the image of a noose.
Yeah, yeah. The Republican politicians themselves aren't doing this, I'm sure. But their rhetoric has gotten so overheated (Armageddon if the bill passed? Really?") that their more rabid supporters have concluded that threats against Democrats are just fine with them.
Dentist: "Your teeth are in good shape except for that one we're watching."
Hygienist: "You need to floss more here in the back." (Not the same location the doc is talking about.)
Do they never talk to one another?
Blurb: Richard must make a difficult decision.
EW Pre-show psycho babble
Well. Some explanations finally begin to appear.
I thought that was one of the best episodes in a long time, if only because it was one easily followed continuous narrative. I quibbled a little about the shipwreck's lack of realism, but hey, Lost has never been very focused on special effects anyway, so I'll give 'em a pass.
Poor Richard. Faced with very little choice but to stick with Jacob once he was shown he couldn't defeat the man in white, here he is 140 years later, not knowing how to go on or why he should after Jacob's (presumed) death.
And how about that Hurley, suddenly showing magical powers of his own? Whattaguy!
We've all heard that the vaunted exchanges from which insurance buyers can pick and choose health insurance plans don't go into effect until 2014. What does this legislation do this year? From money columnist Jane Bryant Quinn:
And it paid off in spades.
Now some people say that you shouldn't tempt fate
And for them I would not disagree
But I never learned nothing from playing it safe
I say fate should not tempt me
I take my chances, I don't mind working without a net
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get
If all goes well, in a couple of hours the House of Representatives will pass a bill that essentially declares that all American citizens have a right to health care. This action will sit alongside FDR's establishment of Social Security:
". . .we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age."Universal health care was first suggested by Theodore Roosevelt: "in 1912 Theodore Roosevelt’s insurgent Progressive Party included a health insurance plank in its campaign platform."
Finally, today, we will have reached the goal TR first enunciated in 1912. As Jim Fallows says:
For now, the significance of the vote is moving the United States FROM a system in which people can assume they will have health coverage IF they are old enough (Medicare), poor enough (Medicaid), fortunate enough (working for an employer that offers coverage, or able themselves to bear expenses), or in some other way specially positioned (veterans; elected officials)... TOWARD a system in which people can assume they will have health-care coverage. Period.It's something the Representatives and Senators who voted for it can be proud of.
And, by heaven, they did it. Begone, rescission! No, no, pre-existing conditions! College kids, you're still covered!
I mostly had hope, but seeing it actually done is still amazing.
This has been reported in numerous MSM places as well as blogs. Here's the NYT Prescriptions blog:
. . . there was an ugly tone to comments made by some demonstrators against three black lawmakers: Representatives André Carson of Indiana, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and John Lewis of Georgia, all Democrats.As the battle gets closer to a climax, the true colors (in their sheets of white) come out.
An aide to Mr. Lewis, a leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, said that as he walked to the Capitol, Mr. Lewis was called racial slurs. A spokesman for Mr. Cleaver said that a protester spat on the congressman as he was walking to the Capitol for a vote.
Democratic aides said some demonstrators made anti-gay remarks to Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who is gay.
Update: Holy smokes, they did hold on. That gnashing sound you hear? Every member of every office pool in the country grinding his or her teeth.
If Northern Iowa somehow holds on to beat Kansas, there won't be a clean bracket left in this country. A 9-pt lead with 8:30 to go in the second half? Amazing!
With Villanova's loss, that's two members of my Final Four selections gone in one day.
So does Joe Klein describe "the froth-at-the-mouth-rabidity [which] seems to be increasing across the board...and the reason for this is the probable passage of the health care reform legislation on Sunday in the House of Representatives."
Klein goes on to enumerate several of the things the bill will do, and then says:
This is a big deal.I hope Speaker Pelosi has the votes on Sunday.
And a big problem for Republicans who, yet again, have chosen not to participate in the extension of a basic human right to all Americans--the right to health care--a right that is common throughout the rest of the civilized world. There is talk of the GOP starting a "Repeal Health Care" campaign as soon as the bill is passed, but that's not a likely scenario. Indeed, Democrats are salivating over the notion of such a campaign. They'll be able to run for Congress next fall, saying: "We made sure no one can ever take away your health insurance...and the Republicans want to repeal that right."
I've already got two losses. Murray State over Vanderbilt? A thirteen-seed beating a four-seed?
The other loss? Old Dominion over Notre Dame. I didn't put any thought into any of these choices; if I had I might have been torn about this one. Yes, I'm a lapsed Catholic with residual good feelings about Notre Dame, but I'm also a former Virginia resident, although Norfolk is about as far south as you can get from where I lived in Annandale.
Update: Oh fer cryin' out loud, Georgetown! Obviously a three-seed put you way too high in many people's estimation, including mine and more importantly Ohio's. UNLV losing to Northern Iowa, meh. An eight losing to a nine isn't that unusual. Washington better come back on Marquette or I'm gonna stop bothering to look at my brackets for the next two weeks (well, not really).
Yes, really. Every "3 X walked into a bar" construction you've ever wanted to see, along with other forms of wisecrack.
This one's not new, but for some reason it really struck me funny when I read it this morning:
A grasshopper hops into a bar, says "Gimme a beer." The bartender serves him and says, "Y'know, we have a drink named after you!" Grasshopper goes, "Really? You have a drink named Larry?"Click the first link and read for a while; you'll find your funny bone tickled, I gua-ran-tee it.
Blurb: Locke assigns Sawyer a mission.
Sheesh. Could that be any more vague?
EW Pre-episode blather
Special bonus! A Playlist of 71 of the songs used in Seasons 1-5, downloadable!
Until it turned out that Zoe and her mob were Widmore's crowd I was ready to throw something. No more new characters, please! There aren't enough episodes left!
Sawyer had me halfway persuaded that the deal with Widmore was straight. Then he spilt the beans about said deal to unLocke immediately upon returning to the larger island, so I'm a sucker.
I'm trying to remember here; as far as Sawyer knows the only Losties he can get off the island via the submarine are Kate, Jin, Sayid and Miles, right? Or does he know where to find Jack, Hurley, Frank, Ilana and Ben, too?
Side note: Michael Landon? Little House on the Prairie? What sort of red herring is that?
The Navy Exchange Pharmacy has a late lunch hour. Get there before 2:00pm or after 2:30pm. Do not get there at 2:05pm.
This is the second time you've done this, idiot. Get it through your head.
I love baseball and I love the Dodgers. I have since 1959, when we moved south from Monterey to San Pedro just in time for the newly-arrived Dodgers to beat the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. I've always wanted to go to spring training at Vero Beach to see the team play someday. One reason: the atmosphere is more relaxed than that of a regular-season game (unless you're a player trying to make the team). Another reason: to travel around and see lots of different teams.
Well, the Dodgers moved to Camelback Ranch in Phoenix last spring, and it looks like they've got lots of company. More than that, the travel distances are far shorter than they are in Florida, and Phoenix is 3,000 miles closer to me than Florida, too.
Someday just got a little sooner.
We've had HBO off-and-on ever since we first got cable. We'd get it, pay for it for months, realize that we never watched it or any of the other premium channels with which it was bundled, and cancel it. We've done that at least twice.
We're in an "off" period at the moment, and that's kind of a shame, as we'd both kinda like to see its new 10-part series The Pacific. We've been living on islands in that ocean since 1968, whether Guam, Japan or Hawai'i, so we know a little about the locale.
We'll just wait for the DVD, I guess.
In an ordinary world, this behavior by Pawlenty would badly damage his political chances, even with Republicans.
Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, told City Pages’ Matt Snyders on Thursday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has diverted funds from the “Support Our Troops” license plate program to his Governor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, an office that works to connect religious organizations with state funds.If those funds really were mandated in law to be used solely for the purpose as stated and instead were shifted to another purpose, that's criminal behavior.
Betzold says that $30,000 from the license plate program was supposed to go to the Department of Military Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs, but instead paid for a position at the faith-based office which is part of the Pawlenty’s office. The funds, writes Snyders, “by law, were supposed to go to the Department of Military Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
It used to be that veterans were the one group Republicans didn't dare muck with, because too many of their supporters are vets themselves. We'll see if this story gets any legs and what harm it might do to that slick so-and-so.
via Balloon Juice
And why are the trees standing straight up? For the past ten days they've been leaning over at 45-degree angles.
'Twas a great day for going to the library, parking in its lot in an illegal space and paying $2 in overdue fines. Then for going over to the barber shop and paying $13.61 for a haircut which took the barber 5 minutes. If the shop were busier that would work out to $163.32/hour. Nice work if you can get it.
Unfortunately for the barbers, I was the only customer in the shop.
In particular, the State Board of Education qualifies as my candidate for "dumber than a box of rocks."
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”
Ahem. Mr. Bradley? Meet the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
For much much more, you can read a liveblog of the goings on at that meeting by the Texas Freedom Network. Be forewarned; it's nauseating.
Why on earth would anyone want to live in a city where this could happen spontaneously?
I've only been to NYC once, for our senior class trip in 1968. Seeing this makes me wish I'd had more chances to spend time there. Via Making Light.
So, what was Aragorn's thinking when he looked into the palantír in Chapter 2 of "The Return of the King?"
Kate Nepveu says "Me, I can’t get particularly passionate about it: he did it, it worked, so he was correct that he was able to do it." Her commenters suggest he was claiming his kingship before Sauron and not incidentally distracting Sauron as Frodo got closer to Mordor and Mt. Doom.
I think the argument that he's saying "Hey, Sauron, I'm Elendil's heir, and I'm right here, buddy!" has more merit than the distraction one, mostly because I don't think Aragorn knows precisely where Frodo is. But he recognized the risk that he wasn't quite up to facing Sauron down; he says to Legolas and Gimli: "Nay, my friends, I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted. The strength was enough--barely."
If you've got the time, you really should do a re-read with Kate; it's a lot of fun. The chapter index is here.
"The filibuster has been abused. I believe that the Senate should be different than the House and will continue to be different than the House," Reid said. "But we're going to take a look at the filibuster. Next Congress, we're going to take a look at it. We are likely to have to make some changes in it, because the Republicans have abused that just like the spitball was abused in baseball and the four-corner offense was abused in basketball."
Senator Harry Reid, today.
Every year when Congress convenes it can change its rules, which is why this might be significant come January 2011. Let's hope so, for the sake of the country. When the majority is faced with a united minority bent on obstructionism rather than good governance, there has to be a way to get around that minority. "Majority rules," we were taught in high school; the government teachers didn't bother to tell us about the filibuster because it happened so rarely back in the 1960s. Not anymore.
Blurb: Ben deals with the consequences of an uncovered lie.
Huh? Ben's entire life is a lie! Which one's been uncovered?
EW's theorization that "Lost" is an allegory for man's search for spirituality (a theory about which I'm agnostic at best -- it's a TV show, Doc!)
Man, Michael Emerson can act. Ben goes from conniving high school teacher in the LA timeline to remorseful killer (although he only exhibited such for killing Jacob, not Locke or any of the others he's had a hand in murdering) in the island timeline, and makes his character believable in both. The guy's got chops.
I'm still trying to figure out Ilana's role in all of this. Jacob appeared at her hospital bedside and asked for her help, but why? What special gift does she have that Jacob knew he could use?
Widmore and the submarine was a bit of a surprise, although if you show me a picture of rolling ocean for more than 10 seconds like they did I've learned to expect a periscope.
Nine episodes left plus the finale. I don't see how they're going to tie all of this together.
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen.Red Wind -- Raymond Chandler, 1938
If you've ever lived in Southern California, you recognize that atmospheric condition.
No, not the ornithological ones. It's a term in Irish history for the Irish soldiers who served in foreign armies from the 17th to 18th centuries. I've also seen it used to refer to Irishmen serving much later than that in the French army in Sedan in 1870 and the Sino-French war in 1884-1885.
Why am I thinking about this? Easy. On NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday today I heard Ry Cooder and the Chieftains' Paddy Moloney talking about a battalion of Irish-American conscripts who deserted the US Army and joined the Mexican Army during the Mexican War in the 1840s to fight against the invading Americans. Cooder and the Chieftains have released an album commemorating their efforts. You can hear the entire album for a limited time at the NPR website. If you like the kind of music the Chieftains have been putting forward for the past fifty years or so, I'm betting you'll like this. I did.
Not content with eating socks, now our appliances are eating washcloths. For several years we've had more than enough to last a week until the next washday, but now we're coming up at least one short the day before.
Somewhere there's a planet run by textile overlords, and socks (and now washcloths) are periodically beckoned home.
Here are five heroes in popular fiction. For an undetermined prize, name the book in which they appear:
Answers below the fold.
(An animated cartoon from Mark Fiore with audio)
Wow. Via TBogg, a very pregnant Emmylou Harris singing one of my favorite Beatles songs.
It's so much fun to find a cover song you didn't know had been done. Recently I also ran across concert footage of Linda Ronstadt singing the Cat Stevens song "The First Cut is the Deepest," which has never appeared on any of her albums.
I don't remember what prompted me to look, but the other day I was reminded of Desmond Bagley, who wrote 16 adventure novels in the 1960s and 1970s. I quickly did a search in Library Thing for the ones I own and went over to my local library's website to request the ones I haven't read. They are all tales well told and heavily researched, and most have an educational component subtly placed within. Reading "Night of Error," for example, will tell you a lot about the geology of undersea manganese nodules and their economic value. "The Enemy" delves into genetic engineering (in 1977!). "The Snow Tiger" is a complicated thriller involving the structure of snow crystals and what happens during avalanches.
Bagley's books are often compared to those of Alistair MacLean; indeed, there's a blurb on one of Bagley's books as follows:
"I've read all of Bagley's novels. I think he's better than I am."Who said that? MacLean himself.
That, I submit, is pretty high praise, since many of MacLean's early books were tops in the class. He fell off toward the end of his life, but "HMS Ulysses," "The Guns of Navarone," "South by Java Head," "The Golden Rendezvous," "Ice Station Zebra" and "When Eight Bells Toll" are among the best adventure yarns of the 20th century.
If you're looking for good adventure novels, try Bagley. Many of his books are now being reprinted in trade editions containing two novels each, which is convenient. What's inconvenient is that the dual-book editions are only released in the UK; try Amazon UK if you must have those. Otherwise I recommend your library first, then your neighborhood used bookstore.
Blurb: Sayid faces a difficult decision; Claire sends a warning to the temple inhabitants.
EW, stretching to find connections between "Lost" and "Alice in Wonderland"
Alas, poor Dogen. We didn't know him very well, but he'll live on in memory.
At the end of this episode we seem to have Claire and Sayid suborned to unLocke's will. I don't think we know whether Kate has succumbed to unLocke. Hurley and Jack are still off by the Lighthouse, Sawyer is back in Otherton, and Jin is presumably still at Claire's camp resting his leg.
The appearance of the group led by Ilana with Frank, Sun, and Ben surprised the heck out of me. At some point we'll (maybe) be told just how it is that Ilana knows so much about the island, such as how she knows which stone to press in that wall to open it to a hidden room or passageway.
That last scene with unLocke was very reminiscent of "Night of the Living Dead."
I had to renew something from the City and County today, and figured "hey, why waste a stamp; there's a satellite office right down the hill, so I'll walk it in."
Error, dog breath. There must have been 75 people in line at the place. On the 2nd of the month? I wonder what that was all about.
I walked downstairs in the mall to the satellite P.O., bought a $0.44 stamp and mailed it.
I've mentioned Jo Walton before, referring to her wonderful story of Joseph's reaction to the birth of his immaculately-conceived son, but I'm doing it again. She's written an essay titled The Joy of an Unfinished Series. It's well worth reading in and of itself, but what I really liked was her poem written back in 2000:
I dreamed I went to Heaven, once, and in the bookshop there
I went, the way I always go, to R.
Even though I've all the Renault, even though it isn't fair,
Even though I know there won't be any more.
And there were six new Renaults, six new books I've never seen,
Six unknown books she'd written since she died,
And I picked them up and held them feeling happy as a queen,
And a voice said, "Have you looked the other side?"
"There are four new Tolkiens waiting, he could never write them fast,
There are thirty Heinleins, written at his best,
There is Piper, there's Dunsany, there's more Sayers here at last,
And O'Brian, and Zelazny, and the rest."
And I staggered there in Heaven, as my arms and eyes spilled o'er,
And I said "Now where to start I just don't know,
I am rich in wealth of Heaven's books, here gathered on the floor,
And four hundred years of Shakespeare still to go!"