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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Crazy amount of snow

According to the NY State Golden Snowball Award, not only have we already exceeded our annual snowfall total of 121 inches, but we've almost lapped our annual snowfall to date total of 70 inches:

This Season - 123.8
Normal Average to Date - 70.5
Normal Seasons Average - 121.1
Last Season This Date - 69.5

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama signs his first legislation

This is why it matters who's the President: pro-worker legislation instead of our government only supporting the interests of corporations. Ms Ledbetter is the blonde woman standing behind the President's right shoulder.

Even better, Congress twice passed an expansion of SCHIP (healthcare for children) in 2007, but that bastard Bush vetoed it both times. Now it's slated to be on the floor by the end of the month. No doubt about a presidential signature this time around!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Survivor's Club"

This sounds like a fascinating book. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I'm one of those neurotic people they talk about, who stays overly focused - I've seen that basketball video and I totally missed the gorilla. But I don't think I'm part of the 10% that freak out (I certainly didn't do anything counterproductive when I burned my arm). In any case, it's all very interesting!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Avon and Mary Kay sales force is way up

Interesting report on NPR this morning - personal care products and makeup are the LAST place people cut back in a bad economy. At the website you can listen to the 4 minute report or you can read the transcript.

Ding Dong: New Sales Reps Answer Avon's Call
by Gloria Hillard
Listen Now [3 min 59 sec]
Morning Edition, January 27, 2009 · Avon was the perfect job for many of America's homemakers back in the bucolic '50s. Now, a new generation of women hopes Avon, as well as Mary Kay Cosmetics, will offer some financial stability in this hard-hit economy. During a downturn, customers still spend money on personal care items.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Out of the gate

I'm totally thrilled with Obama's initial executive orders~

Two days after his inauguration, Obama issued an executive order to close Guantanamo within a year. Another order formally bans torture by requiring that the Army Field Manual be used as the guide for terrorism interrogations, essentially ending the Bush administration's CIA program of "enhanced interrogation" methods.

In another reversal of his predecessor, Obama struck down a rule that prohibited U.S. money from funding international family-planning clinics that promote abortion or provide counseling or referrals about abortion services.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

"The Dying of the Light"

I read an excerpt of this article in The Week and found myself thinking about it so much, I finally went to the Washington Post to read the whole thing. Powerful stuff:

Sunday, January 11, 2009
Washington Post
The Dying of the Light
The Drawn-Out Indignities of The American Way of Death

By Craig Bowron

Among the patient-care team -- nurses, physicians, nursing assistants, physical and occupational therapists, etc. -- there is often a palpable sense of "What in the world are we doing to this patient?" That's "to" and not "for." We all stagger under the weight of feeling complicit in a patient's torture, but often it's the nurses who bear most of that burden, physically and emotionally. As a nurse on a dialysis floor told me, "They'll tell us things that they won't tell the family or their physician. They'll say, 'I don't want to have any more dialysis. I'm tired of it,' but they won't admit that to anyone else."

This sense of complicity is what makes taking care of these kinds of patients the toughest thing I do. A fellow physician told me, "I feel like I am participating in something immoral." Another asked, "Whatever happened to that 'do no harm' business?"

Everyone wants to grow old and die in his or her sleep, but the truth is that most of us will die in pieces. Most will be nibbled to death by piranhas, and the piranhas of senescence are wearing some very dull dentures. It can be a torturously slow process, with an undeniable end, and our instinct shouldn't be to prolong it. If you were to walk by a Tilt-A-Whirl loaded with elderly riders and notice that all of them were dizzy to the point of vomiting, wouldn't your instinct be to turn the ride off? Or at the very least slow it down? Mercy calls for it.

This isn't about euthanasia. It's not about spiraling health care costs. It's about the gift of life -- and death. It is about living life and death with dignity, and letting go.

In the past, the facade of immortality was claimed by Egyptian kings, egomaniacal monarchs and run-of-the mill psychopaths. But democracy and modern medical advances have made the illusion accessible to everyone. We have to rid ourselves of this distinctly Western notion before our nation's obesity epidemic and the surge of aging baby boomers combine to form a tsunami of infirmity that may well topple our hospital system and wash it out to sea.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love Lockdown

I have to admit that this guy makes some catchy songs. I can't get this one out of my head.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Doctor dilemma

Terrific Grey's Anatomy episode last night (called "Stairway to Heaven"), wherein the stalwart Dr Bailey, along with several of the other doctors, must confront her willingness to overlook the primary dictum of the Hippocratic Oath - First, do no harm - when circumstances seem to demand it. In this case, allowing a patient (who happens to be a death row inmate) to die so that his kidney can be given to a dying child. And it was especially weird because I just watched Episode 314 called "The Woman King" (great title) of Battlestar Galactica on DVD, which involved EXACTLY the same doctor dilemma. In BG, a doctor on the ship was withholding medicine from members of a religious cult because he said they wait too long to seek care and the medicine is wasted on them. Since they all die anyway, he wanted to save the limited supply for people it could really help (although he is giving them something which speeds their death, so the situation is more cut and dry). It was very well done (as are all the episodes). And it was fascinating to watch the same ethical dilemma presented on Grey's (which was solved by the expedient of another donor being miraculously available). Both shows, of course, ultimately affirm the Hippocratic Oath, in different ways. Very interesting and thought provoking.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Noms

Very white. Pretty predictable. No outragous oversights except Kristin Scott Thomas. Interesting that 4 of the 5 best pictures had adapted screenplays . . . what does that say? Only the 3rd time in 30+ years that the best directors and best pictures are the same 5 movies - since 1970, it has only happened this year, and in 2005 (the year Crash beat BBM for Best Picture, but Ang Lee got the Director statue) and 1981 (when Reds won Best Picture and Chariots of Fire got Best Director; also nominated that year: Atlantic City, On Golden Pond and Raiders of the Lost Ark - a very good year for movies).

This is just the main categories:

Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

Adapted Screenplay:
Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"; Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"; David Hare, "The Reader"; Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Original Screenplay: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"; Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges"; Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"; Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, "WALL-E."


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new day

Larry and I watched the inauguration with several hundred people on a HUGE screen at the Palace Theater on James Street near downtown Syracuse. The energy of the crowd was wonderful - cheering the Obamas whenever they appeared and shouting "goodbye" to Bush. I loved Obama's speech. Aretha rocked, of course, but she sang the song in a funky way that made the lyrics hard to understand, and that's a shame because it's a beautiful song. The poet, Elizabeth Alexander, was good (she got better after a boring start), but she was nothing like as memorable as Maya Angelou. Loved the benediction by Lowery and even tolerated Rick Warren, who included the Sh'ma (in English), which made all the Jews I was sitting with happy (and he included some words from Muslim prayer, though I don't know which). Only off-key note was the actual swearing in - Obama must have been so frustrated that this special moment was marred by Roberts' fumbling.

From NBC's Pete Williams:
The recitation of the presidential oath came in fits and starts. The Constitution prescribes the text: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.

First, Obama jumped in before the "do solemnly swear" phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as "that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully."

"That I will execute," Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: "The off ... faithfully the pres ... the office of President of the United States." The oath then got more or less back on track after that. Close enough for government work.

NBC's Abby Livingston adds the transcript:

ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack...
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully...
OBAMA: ... that I will execute...
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully...
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability...
OBAMA: ... and will to the best of my ability...
ROBERTS: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

ADDENDUM 1/21/09

Just to be safe, Roberts lead President Obama in the correct oath on Wednesday night.

Rick Warren's Inaugural Invocation

Text of the invocation by Rev. Rick Warren for President Barack Obama's inauguration, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

The Scripture tells us Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America's peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


Joseph Lowery's Inaugural Benediction

I'm not going to lie - I cried.

Text of the benediction by Rev. Joseph Lowery during President Barack Obama's inauguration, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.

Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.

We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.

He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.

Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

Elizabeth Alexander's Inaugural Poem

I bolded my two favorite clauses.

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self." Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Great quote

Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.

-Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Why aren't I my daughter's role model?"

I'm not sure why this mom doesn't "get it." Do any of us expect our teenage daughters to admire the many thankless roles that moms fill? Did we at that age? I would think we want our daughters to asprire to much more, and to find the pleasures in being a mom the same way we did - by doing it.

Settling for Second Best
By Tina Elmore

I cook. I carpool. I volunteer. I do everything for my daughter. So, of course, her role model is … her dad?

On my way to volunteering for PTA duty at my 13-year-old daughter's middle school, I saw a picture of her staring at me from the main school bulletin board, and it stopped me in my tracks. Marina is the school's student-body president, and she was featured along with the other council members. In the picture, she had a confident smile and that "I can do anything" look I've seen on her face so many times before. Curious, I read the profile below her photo and smiled at her answers. "Favorite food: sushi. Favorite sport: soccer." Then, "Role model: my dad." I did a double take and peered closer. Surely it said "my mom," too? Nope. Just two lonely words: "my dad."


Friday, January 16, 2009

"Survival of the Weak"

Fascinating article about how hunting is impacting evolution by culling the strongest and best looking animals and thereby allowing inferior animals to mate successfully. For example, in South Africa, tuskless elephants have grown from 2% to 98%, even though elephants with tusks are stronger and healthier. Very disturbing.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Everyone welcome, even now"

This beautiful essay, written by the minister of the Tennessee Unitarian church where a gunman killed 2 and wounded several people last July, made me cry. Here's the last 2 paragraphs:

Since that terrible day, people have flooded our church with immeasurable amounts of love. Postcards, letters, banners and artwork have come to us from across the nation and from many other countries. Our little town on the banks of the Tennessee River was once the site for the 1982 World's Fair, and it remains surprisingly diverse today. On the night after the violence there was a gathering in the Presbyterian church next door, where we were hugged and held by our neighbors of all faiths and convictions—Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, rationalists and more. For years, there has been a sign at the entrance of our church that reads EVERYONE WELCOME, and we do mean everyone. All God's children. The sign is still there.

Members of my congregation have been hurt. But we have also been healed by the feeling that there is a love greater than our theological differences, a compassion that is not limited by the boundaries of any creed. I firmly believe, now more than ever, that love is stronger than death. Love is more powerful than hate.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reader in Chief

Heard this terrific story on NPR this morning about how the publishing industry loves Obama because he not only reads*, he talks about the books he reads, and every time he does, the book sells tons of copies. This photo, on the site, shows that he's passed along his literary tendencies to his daughters.

*And he actually reads, he doesn't just have his henchman go around claiming that he reads, the way Bush has done - Karl Rove is doing the talk show circuit and claiming, among other things, that he and Bush have a book reading contest every year (as if such a thing were even within the realm of reality).

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"God and the Oath of Office"

This essay in Newsweek is quite thought-provoking. Here's the last paragraph:

What we think of, then, as the conventional religiosity of Inaugurations is conventional only by recent standards—and conventions, as Obama well knows, can change. According to an affidavit by Jeffrey Minear, chief of staff to Chief Justice John Roberts, who is the defendant in the lawsuit, Obama wants to say "so help me God"—and by all means, he should do so. The public prayers by two Christian ministers are more problematic. Today, the greatest threats to our safety come not from godless communists but from religious fundamentalists abroad. Our new president might use his Inauguration then to showcase the values that have made this country great: pluralism, moderation—and the separation of church and state. Though not as politically expedient, the better choice might be to pray in private.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Bitch-slapping liberal attorneys

Obama is busy making nice with high profile Republicans like Bill Kristol (I don't agree with a word he's ever uttered) - something that Republicans never do when they ascend to power. While this is going on, we're treated to the details of this pile of feces who ran a section of the Civil Rights Division:

The Civil Rights Division report focuses on Brad Schlozman, who worked in the division from 2003 to 2006. For the last year of his employment at Civil Rights, he was second-in-command to the man in charge of the division. The report portrays Schlozman as a brash, self-important manager who tried to build an ideologically pure team of conservatives.
[ . . . ]
The report quotes e-mails to colleagues in which Schlozman called civil rights attorneys "pinkos" and "commies." He bragged about hiring "real Americans" and "bitch-slapping a bunch of attorneys" he perceived as liberal.
[ . . .]
In one voice mail to a colleague, Schlozman tried to justify hiring people with no record of civil rights experience. "I just want to make sure we don't start confining ourselves to, you know, politburo members because they happen to be a member of some, you know, psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government," Schlozman said.
[ . . . ]
Joe Rich worked at the Civil Rights Division from 1968 to 2005. For his last two years running the voting section, he worked under Schlozman. Schlozman "had a disdain, a real vendetta, to get civil rights division attorneys," said Rich. Rich described Schlozman's goal as "to harass [career attorneys] and to drive them out of the division."


Sunday, January 11, 2009

I've seen 91 of the "Top 100 Movies of All Time"

From Facebook: Copy this, mark the movies that you have seen, and then post it yourself with the title "I've seen ___ of the top 100 Movies of All Time"

(x) Citizen Kane
(x) Casablanca
(x) The Godfather
(x) Gone With the Wind
(x) Lawrence of Arabia
(x) The Wizard of Oz
(x) The Graduate
(x) On the Waterfront
(x) Schindler's List
(x) Singin' in the Rain
(x) It's a Wonderful Life
(x) Sunset Boulevard
(x) The Bridge on the River Kwai
(x) Some Like It Hot
(x) Star Wars
(x) All About Eve
(x) The African Queen
(x) Psycho
(x) Chinatown
(x) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
(x) The Grapes of Wrath
(x) 2001: A Space Odyssey
(x) The Maltese Falcon
(x) Raging Bull
(x) E.T.
(x) Dr. Strangelove
(x) Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
(x) Apocalypse Now
(x) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
( ) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
(x) Annie Hall
(x) The Godfather Part II
(x) High Noon
(x) To Kill a Mockingbird
(x) It Happened One Night
(x) Midnight Cowboy
( ) The Best Years of Our Lives
(x) Double Indemnity
(x) Doctor Zhivago
(x) North by Northwest
(x) West Side Story
(x) Rear Window
(x) King Kong (1933)
(x) The Birth of a Nation
(x) A Streetcar Named Desire
(x) A Clockwork Orange
(x) Taxi Driver
(x) Jaws
(x) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
(x) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
(x) The Philadelphia Story
(x) From Here to Eternity
(x) Amadeus
( ) All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
(x) The Sound of Music
(x) M*A*S*H
(x) The Third Man
(x) Fantasia
(x) Rebel Without A Cause
(x) Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Vertigo
(x) Tootsie
( ) Stagecoach
(x) Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(x) The Silence of the Lambs
(x) Network
(x) The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
( ) An American in Paris
( ) Shane
( ) The French Connection
(x) Forrest Gump
(x) Ben-Hur
(x) Wuthering Heights (1939)
(x) The Gold Rush
(x) Dances With Wolves
(x) City Lights
(x) American Graffiti
(x) Rocky
(x) The Deer Hunter
(x) The Wild Bunch
(x) Modern Times
(x) Giant
(x) Platoon
(x) Fargo
(x) Duck Soup
(x) Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
(x) Frankenstein (1931)
(x) Easy Rider
(x) Patton
(x) The Jazz Singer (1927)
(x) My Fair Lady
(x) A Place in the Sun
(x) The Apartment
(x) Goodfellas
(x) Pulp Fiction
( ) The Searchers
(x) Bringing Up Baby
(x) Unforgiven
(x) Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
(x) Yankee Doodle Dandy

Total: 91


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Why are we bottling mother's milk?

Great article in the New Yorker that I heard discussed on NPR. Here's the final paragraph:

Pumps can be handy; they’re also a handy way to avoid privately agonizing and publicly unpalatable questions: is it the mother, or her milk, that matters more to the baby? Gadgets are one of the few ways to “promote breast-feeding” while avoiding harder—and divisive and more stubborn—social and economic issues. Is milk medicine? Is suckling love? Taxonomical questions are tricky. Meanwhile, mamma ex machina. Medela’s newest models offer breakthrough “2-Phase Expression” technology: phase one “simulates the baby’s initial rapid suckling to initiate faster milk flow”; phase two “simulates the baby’s slower, deeper suckling for maximum milk flow in less time.” These newest machines, the company promises, “work less like a pump and more like a baby.” More like a baby? Holy cow. We are become our own wet nurses.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Dark Knight

Watched this movie on video (Blu-Ray actually) with Matt, his 4th time. I couldn't believe how unrelentingly dark it was. It's long and filled with random violence and mahem. Innocent people are murdered for no apparent reason, a man is maimed, and child is threatened with a gun in front of his parents, due to a completely misdirected desire for vengeance. And there was no real point to it all. I'd heard that Batman was forced to face his own nature, but he's almost a secondary character in the movie, and his action, or lack of action, is barely relevant during much of the film. Heath Ledger's performance is of course impressive, but for what? There is no resolution at the end, no larger meaning. Just death and pain and misery for all concerned. Why this is entertaining to people is beyond me.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Purpose driven continent

This is a disgusting report on Rick Warren's involvement in Africa. Here's an excerpt:

Troubled by what he was witnessing in Africa, Rep. Tom Lantos led the new Democratic-controlled Congress to reform PEPFAR during a reauthorization process in February 2008. Lantos insisted that Congress lift the abstinence-only earmark imposed by Republicans in 2002, and begin to fund family planning elements like free condom distribution. His maneuver infuriated Warren, who immediately boarded a plane for Washington to join Christian right leaders including born-again former Watergate felon Chuck Colson for an emergency press conference on the Capitol lawn. In his speech, Warren claimed that Lantos’ bill would spawn an increase in the sex trafficking of young women. The bill died and PEPFAR was reauthorized in its flawed form. (Days later, Lantos died of cancer after serving for 27 years in Congress.)

With safe sex advocates on the run, Warren and Ssempa trained their sights on another social evil. In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Triple feature

Went to Albany this weekend to see movies with my friend Suzanne. We saw The Reader, Doubt and Seven Pounds. All good, all dark, all thought-provoking.


Friday, January 02, 2009

AIDS denial

My friend Janet sent me a link that leads to this website. I had no idea that there's a whole movement of people who deny that HIV causes AIDS. It's tied up in conspiracy theories about the CDC and big pharma, with a dollop of homophobia thrown in. Some of it is probably well-intentioned and some of it is just crackpot stuff. Deep. (This site also has a list of AIDS deniers who have died of, well, AIDS.)


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pleasant surprise

Yes Man is surprisingly fun. Zooey Deschanel is as adorable as ever and Jim Carrey is in top form without being over the top. And it's got a terrific message - live your life! Very much worth watching.


"There's no one as Irish as Barack Obama"

This is such a funny song!