Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clinton and Terrorism (Throw all the Bums Out)

Bill Clinton, as everyone knows by now, self-immolated during and interview with Chris Wallace on the Sunday Morning show on Fox this past week. By all accounts, he was surprised and upset that Wallace would deign to ask him about his record. This is surprising on two levels, first, ex-presidents alwasys get asked about their record and how they did and could or would they have done something different. This is part of what it means to be ex. Also, the Clintonistas have running off at the mouth for months about his record and the outrage they showed when ABC made a docudrama that did not canonize the lot of them certainly left the subject open for discussion.

The follow ups of charge and countercharge between the Bushies and the Clintonistas sound unmistakible like a group of fourth graders in a playground. "It's your fault!" No, it's your fault!" Nuh-uh! Uh-huh! and so on forever. These people are supposed to be the leaders of this country. Why oh why can they not just GROW THE HELL UP!!!!!!

Both political parties have become so enamoured of this garbage that I am desperately looking for a sane middle of the road person to put together a new party for the sane and rational. Then we can send Bush, Clinton, Kerry, Frist, ..............(the list goes on and on) to the unemployment line where they all so obviously deserve to be.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Variable Star

In 1955, Robert Heinlein wrote the outline for a book, one that would have been a juvenile in the same vein as Farmer in the Sky and Have Spacesuit Will Travel. He never actually wrote the book. In 2003, after the death of his wife Virginia, the outline was discovered in his papers. The Estate asked Spider Robinson to finish the work. Variable Star, just published by Tor is the result. It is the last Heinlein novel ever.

While is has the very evident structure of the Heinlein juvenile, with a young man setting out on his own and trying to make a success of himself despite the obstacles that life throws him. Without divulging to much of the plot, thereby spoiling it for any of you that should happen to read this, it follows a fairly predictable path. Robinson has put his own spin in here, as any writer would, creating a not quite juvenile juvenile. I was particularly pleased that he took pains to place it within Heinlein universe through the referencing of familiar points such as the Martians from Stranger in a Strangeland, and other references to the Lunar civilization from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. He does not however, try to cement it within Heinlein's timeline as the book suggests an ending that would have certainly bemused Lazarus Long.

If you are a fan of either Heinlein or Robinson, this should be a book for you to read.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Protector

Tony Jaa just might be the next Jet Li or Jackie Chan. Li and Chan have dominated the martial arts film genre world wide for three decades. (The US was the last part of the world to catch on and their best films do not include any of their Hollywood projects.) Both have stated that they are done with the genre largely because they simply can not keep up the level of activity necessary with their aging bodies. While they have physical skills far superior to almost anyone else in the world is beside the point.

With them stepping off of the stage, there is room for a new star to emerge. Tony Jaa just might be that guy. His physical skills are outstanding and in this film their are extended fight scenes that are shot with a single camera and without apparent cuts. He simply goes from opponent to opponent without break. His style (he is Thai) is also impressive. They demonstrate this against several different styles including an extended sequence against a Capoeira fighter (a Brazillian style) and a Wushu (Chinese) fighter with a sword that concludes with a HUGE western fighter (he looked like a professional wrestler) and it was interesting that he adapts himself to each fighter through the scene. It was very well done.

A very watchable film with some outstanding action sequences.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

World War Z

I have been commenting on movies rather frequently on this blog. I have decided to do so about books as well.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is by Max Brooks the author of The Zombie Survival Guide. His mode of storytelling is somewhat unique. What he has preported to do is interview survivors of the Zombie War and recount the tale through the recollections of these individuals. The war was the result of biological event where the Zombie Virus was first seen in China and then spread around the world.

Since anyone bitten by a Zombie became one, there was a rapic spread that took draconian efforts to overcome. By keeping the story personal, the grand scope of events was at times hidden within the local remembrances of each individual.

It was a very interesting book with a unique construction.

Have a good read.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I went and saw the new movie Flyboys yesterday after work. It was a pleasant enough movie though not outstanding. The flying scenes were so much better than the rest of the film that it led me to a certain conclusion. This is the nest Top Gun. I can remember watching Top Gun on Video where you fast forward through any scenes without airplanes in them (unless there were women in the room in which case you had to watch the volleyball game). Flyboys would be best watched in this fashion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sugared Ethanol

Thomas Friedman in his column in the New York Times asked if the 54 cent a gallon tariff that the US has placed on Brazilian sugar ethanol is stupid or really stupid. The answer he got (from the Brazilian energy secretary though Friedman is in complete agreement) is that it is really stupid. Sugar cane ethanol produces more energy and less green house gas than corn based ethanol but the first presidential caucus is in Iowa and no one wanting to be president can not do whatever the Iowa ethanol lobby wants. It is interesting that the only energy imports with a tariff as the sugar cane ethanol. Not oil or natural gas which compete with domestic producers very well but I guess we would rather pay Hugo Chavez and what's his face from Iran than some poor farmers in Brazil who may actually like us.

What is this might mean though is a windfall to Florida sugar producers who have been demanding federal subsidies in their never ending battle to destroy the Everglades. Now they have a new arguement. "Hey, we're making gas!"

I have not included a link to the column because the New York Times has it locked behind their subscription wall. NYT columnists are traditionally the most influential in the country so what does the paper do, severely restrict access to them thereby marginalizing them. It is only a matter of time before others will ascend to primacy in the national debate simply because more people will be able to read what they have to say.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New look stormtroopers

Taking body armor where it had never gone before.