Sunday, February 29, 2004

The "Lord of the Rings" swept the Academy Awards tonight.

(CNN) -- In an unprecedented sweep, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" set an Oscar record by winning all 11 awards for which it had been nominated, including best picture of the year.

I find it hard to argue with this. "The Return of the King" is a stunning movie. Those of use who have read the books marvel at how well they managed to distill the essence of "LOTR" in the three movies.

I read the books as a young man. Seeing the movies makes me want to go back and re-read them. The way Tolkien's characters come to life is incredible.

People keep trying to read today's politics into "LOTR". That is a mistake. Take the trilogy for what it is - a magnificiently told story from a very creative mind.

I just finished reading Greg Iles' "The Footprints of God"
I've been a fan of Iles' work for quite awhile and this book did not disappoint.

The central story of the book is a super-secret government effort to create a thinking computer. What if you could scan a human brain and graft it into a computer? After all, a computer is nothing more than (as one of the book's characters classified it as) a "glorified calculator". It can add, subtract, and carry out basic instructions at blinding speed. But there is nothing a computer can do that a human being can't do----it can just do it much faster. Remember when world chess champion Garry Kasparov defeated IBM's computer "Deep Blue"?
In spite of the fact that the computer could look at millions of possible moves and crunch the possibilities in a few seconds, Kasparov defeated the machine. How? A computer could not match his guts, intuition, flair, and unpredictability.

So Iles writes a story based on futuristic science in which a computer could achieve "consciousness" by having a human brain scanned into it. It would be able to think, reason, and perhaps even have emotions. This new computer (or is it a form of life?) would achieve a "Trinity" state.

Fans of science fiction will remember "2001 - A Space Odyessy" in which a computer named "Hal" takes over the ship. A similar thing occurs in this book. A "consciousness" with all the power of a super computer and the thinking processes of a human being could look at the world's problems and conclude that we humans are doing it all wrong. The "consciousness" would feel compelled to help us solve those problems. Would such an entity be a "God"?

Iles tells the story with flair and the characters are as believable as they can be in such a fancy flight of fiction. Is such a thing far-fetched? If you had told me when I was in college that scientists would be on the edge of cloning human beings I would have laughed at you. Will artificial intelligence sneak up on us the same way? My dad told me of reading comic books and stories during the 30's and 40's about people flying to the moon and in outer space. He lived to see that happen.

I enjoy books that both entertain me and make me think. "The Footprints of God" does both. I would highly recommend it.

Several French theater chains have decided not to show Mel Gibson's new film, "The Passion"

PARIS -- French cinema chains are refusing to distribute or screen Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ" because of fears it will spark a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.

For a people who claim to be so "sophisticated" they sure are hard on themselves here. ITS A MOVIE! I haven't yet seen "The Passion" so I can't comment on its contents. But I'm fairly certain that I am mature enough to be as anti-anti-Semitic coming out as I am going in. Are French people unable to do that?

I admire Gibson for taking on a project of this magnitude. I'm sure I'll see the movie at some point and will either like it or dislike it based on its merits.

Don't you ever wish that our politicians of opposite parties could work together for the good of the country? I get sick of partisan warfare sometimes. Then I read an article like this one and it warms my skeptical heart:

Stevens chairs not only the Appropriations Committee but also its Defense Subcommittee. Inouye is the second most senior Democrat on the full committee and is the ranking member of the Defense Subcommittee. Their friendship has “absolutely” helped them work together, Inouye said.
The lawmakers also serve on the Commerce and Rules committees, but said it is their assignment on the Defense Subcommittee where they work most closely together.
“We’re co-chairmen of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. It doesn’t matter who is chairman because the other person is equally involved in the decision making,” Stevens said.
Either Inouye or Stevens has chaired the subcommittee since 1981, and Stevens believes that bipartisanship is especially important on issues of national defense. The nation and its defense have benefited from the continuity and cooperation he and Inouye have provided, he said.
“When we agree, which is always, there are few people that can defeat us,” he said

Sometimes "old school" isn't such a bad thing.

My husband ... Brian.. my sweet, tolerant, smart, funny and dedicated Brian. I have been sick for about 4 days now.. I'm feeling better, but fragile and frustrated. You see, we have 8 puppies, a mama dog, 3 hamsters, 2 birds, a cat and 3 kids. Brian and I both work full time, and our house gets to looking like a crack house. Usually this happens around the time I have PMS, but this time, I couldn't blame it on that. Seems every time I turn around either the puppies have shat or peed on the floor or Patrick has created some kind of mess that makes me wish for a Calgon moment.

It started this morning around 7:30 when Wendy, mama dog, jumped on the bed, stepped on my head, lick my face and then whined at the door.... her typical morning "I-sure-could-stand-to-go-out-and-pee" greeting. What happens with that is that when the puppies, who all sleep under our bed, hear the commotion, they decide it's time to begin the peeing and pooing ritual that both precedes and follows breakfast. I don't do mornings well anyway. And being unwell and greeted with such enthusiasm isn't appreciated. OK.. so my morning is going to start early .. I'll catch a nap later!

I have been meaning for days to get to the kitty litter pan, but I have to pole vault over the laundry (mostly created by puppy messes) to get to the kitty litter. Once I got to the kitty litter, I discovered that the whole area under the stairwell needed to be cleaned in a big way .. so I did that.. but first had to search for the broom and dust pan. OK.. cool beans... kitty litter is clean, cat is fed. But, while I'm down there, I discover the kids (surprise, surprise) have trashed the TV room. There are McDonald's wrappers and fried everywhere, there are two very large cups of Kool-Ade that Patrick has spilled on the carpet and is now rolling around in with blankets and pillows (more laundry). As I bring up a mega-load of clean clothes from downstairs, I find a puppy pile with my bare feet ..... squish.. ewwwwwww!!! Re-group, clean up puppy poop, wash feet (again), and go in my room to collapse. Newspapers are shredded all over my bedroom floor with dukies sort of mixed in .... and so I begin to cry. If I'd had a hot tub I would have gone out and slid into it, and said "Fuck It!" .... I cried and cried.

I hate a pity party more than the next guy, but I slid into one quite readily this morning. I was ready to throw all kids and animals out the window, move me and Brian to a quiet condo overlooking the bay, and live in peace and cleanliness. Now I know that reality is where I am .... where I'm needing the Calgon moment.

Well, Brian, bless his heart, is still running wild with the new Swiffer Wet Jet, the vacuum cleaner, the dish gloves, and the laundry baskets. While I sit here garnering the oomph to do the bills, he continues to clean like a mad man. While I play Rocket Mania and Jungle Gin, he's chasing after puppies and kids, and cleaning corners I didn't even realize we had. I feel guilty but sane again. I have jumped up to scoop up a puppy pile here and there, but mostly I have sat and felt guilty ... and appreciative.

Sometimes I think he knows that all that action will make me feel guilty ... but he also knows it will bring me some bit of sanity. And I want Brian to know that above all that, I feel appreciation and humility .. because, I'm not all that! Thanks Baby :)


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The president announced his support for an amendment today to institutionalize a ban on gay marriage into the Constitution.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush called on Congress on Tuesday to approve a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as he leaped into a divisive issue that could bolster his support among conservatives in the November election.

I've thought for a bit about this issue and have come to these conclusions:

1) I don't support amending the Constitution. I can't think of a single conceivable amendment of any kind that I would support right now. The Constitution should not be trifled with to satisfy the prevailing winds of the day or to settle cultural arguments in society. The greatest document of self-governance in history is too important to clutter up.

2) The issue of marriage is one best left to state governments. The Constitution gave states the responsibility for marriage laws and I see no reason to change that. If the people of Vermont want to grant civil unions to gay couples, let them. If the people of Massachusetts want gay marriage, thats fine too. If the people of my home state Oklahoma want to allow neither, no one should stomp on their choice.

3) I personally see civil unions as a reasonable compromise. Gay couples should have the ability to have their legal rights respected in terms of taxation, inheritance, property, medical care, etc. Civil unions seem like a way to accomplish this without tinkering with a 3000 year old tradition.

Its unfortunate that this has to be an issue in an election year. Both parties will feel the need to pander to their base. I really wish the president had chosen a different path here.


Monday, February 23, 2004

I scored 76% Dixie on this quiz. That figures! We Oklahoma people are part southern/part midwestern. So what do you call fizzy soda in a can anyway? :) (Via Gut Rumbles)


Sunday, February 15, 2004

TIME magazine notes in this story that:

Dating services have blossomed over the past few years to become a billion-dollar industry. Though the Internet fueled that explosion, real-life matchmakers with names like Great Expectations and It's Just Lunch are popping up around the country like valentines in J. Lo's mailbox. The Matchmaking Institute, which offers the nation's first certification course for would-be Cupids, opened in October and is attracting students from as far away as Singapore.

There are so many people out there looking for that special someone. Dating services promise to find that person for you. People leading busy lives lack the time to prowl bars, clubs, bookstores, dance halls, hobby groups and the other places where you traditionally meet people.

The internet is playing a huge role in the way relationships are formed in this country. Go to any bar and you'll see email addresses exchanged as often as phone numbers. A huge number of people rely almost exclusively on chatting, "E-clubs", and internet personals to find a date.

How many people are sitting in front of a computer monitor right now browsing profiles, chatting with a cute little honey who lives nearby, or trying to write an electronic ad that shows who they REALLY are? How the hell did people meet before the internet?

I met my wife online and my personal experience is overwhelmingly positive. As in real life, you have to sort the wheat from the chaff. It may seem crazy to those who haven't experienced it, but in some ways the online way of meeting people potentially offers more intimacy than striking up a conversation at Barnes and Noble. My lovely wife and I chatted online and on the phone for eight months before meeting. By the time we met I would guess she knew as much about me as anyone on Earth. What you have online are your words and your thoughts to communicate. You exchange a pic or two but if you're gonna hook that guy or girl its going to be because they are attracted by the way you think....the way you listen...they way you express yourself. They can't sit and stare at your cute dimples or make judgements on the brand of shoe you're wearing. People who take the time to get to know someone online stand just as good..and I would submit better..chance to make a go of it in real life as those who meet in more "old fashioned" ways.

Hey, it worked for me! :)

The internet has been awash with rumors for several days about Sen. John Kerrey and an alleged affair with a young intern.

Alex Polier, the twenty-four year old journalist who could end Senator John Kerry's hopes of becoming the next president of the United States is alleged to have had a two-year affair with the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Last night the rumours were in danger of becoming a full-blown scandal.

"This is not going to go away," one American friend of Miss Polier said yesterday. "What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."

Oh boy. I have no idea if this is true or not, but if it is things are going to heat up quickly. Mega blogger Glenn Reynolds says that:

MORE: A guy from CNN emailed to say that they were working hard on the Kerry story. So I guess we can expect to hear more. That's certainly what this story promises.

On one level I don't really care about Sen. Kerrey's extracurricular activities. People cheat on their spouses every day in this country. Both people involved are consenting adults and this is normally the kind of thing to be resolved between the affected parties. The question is....are WE affected parties? Is it any of our business?

Sen. Kerrey wants to be the president of the United States. Presumably, he has wanted to be president for quite a long time. I don't think he awoke a year ago and discovered ambition. He was witness to the Lewinsky scandal. If he was really dumb enough to do this, is he smart enough to be president? Thats really the question that needs to be asked...does someone who engages in this kind of behavior have the judgement to be president? Lord knows the libido is a powerful thing and I understand that. But (once again assuming the story is true) this would be a shocking display of poor judgement.

Winsome, babalicious young woman sleeps with wealthy, powerful political figure. This story is as old as civilization itself. Why would she do it? Henry Kissinger said that "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac". A young ambitious woman may decide that a roll in the hay is a small price to pay for access to power, a forbidden thrill, and possible career enhancement. Why would he do it? Do you even have to ask?

Not long ago this would not have been touched by anyone in the media. Many major political leaders of the past century had well-documented affairs. The newspapers, magazines, and other major media often knew but didn't run the story. Like it or not its not that way today. Look at this Kerrey story. When it finally breaks it won't be a surprise to several million people who get their news from the internet.

He's also a fool if he didn't think she would tell someone. How is a young woman going to keep such a delicious secret to herself. She is going to tell someone...maybe many someones. Those "someones" are not all going to stay silent especially when the guy is running for president. All of you politicians who are cuddling with your honeys tonight, listen to me. They WILL tell someone!

If this is true it will hurt Kerrey dearly. One of his selling points has been as a "no special interest, decorated war hero, stand-up kinda guy". If he turns out to be just another sleazy politician who can't keep his hands off the help, its difficult to imagine voters rewarding him with the White House.


Sunday, February 08, 2004

Forty years ago the Beatles landed in America for their appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show".

It was all in the future then. At the time, on February 7, 1964, the Beatles were four young men heading across the Atlantic on Pan Am Flight 101. They were accompanied by their manager, Brian Epstein, and friends Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall; producer Phil Spector and his group the Ronettes; and a handful of journalists.
The Beatles were heading for New York for an appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," followed by a handful of concert dates. Then they'd go back home.

The Beatles influence on popular music was incredible. They didn't invent rock-n-roll. They didn't invent youthful rebellion. But they had more influence on music than any group in history. Elvis made it cool to rock and roll. The Beatles took this scandalous form of music and sold it to the masses.

A couple of things always stand out to me about the Beatles. First of all their music was FUN. "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", which was the song they sang on Ed Sullivan, was a simple little ditty. But it was "singable" and they looked like they were having so much fun performing it. All of their albums have "fun songs" as well as "deeper" lyrics. They sing about love..war..romance....hope...loss. McCartney and Lennon may be the best songwriting duo in history.

A few personal opinions on The Beatles:

1. Best Album - "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band". ...a helluva lot of fun. And the album cover with all those faces is interesting in itself.

2. Best lyrics - "Revolution" - a challenge to the anti war protesters of the day show that they were not afraid of offending their fans.

3. Prettiest song - "The Long and Winding Road" - seems to speak of life's journey...hope....triumph.

4. Most "singable" - "Hey Jude"..na...na, na, na...na, na, na, na, na!..Hey Jude..jude..judie...judie..judie. Love it.

5. Silliest song - "Octopus Garden"..hehe

6. Personal favorite - "Yesterday"...."Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be. There's a shadow hanging over me. Simple with beautiful lyrics, its McCartney at his finest.

I became a Beatle's fan in college and still never grow tired of listening to their music. When most of today's stuff is lying in the bargain bin people will still be restocking their shelves with some of the best music rock has to offer.

My hometown's high school girl's basketball team is currently ranked #7 nationally in U.S.A. Today's rankings. Nice honor! They have a good coach from what I understand and a group of very talented girls. Best of luck to them!


Monday, February 02, 2004

Now there will be an F.C.C. investigation of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl boob flash.

The Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation into Sunday's controversial Super Bowl halftime show yesterday and FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell telephoned Mel Karmazin, president of CBS parent Viacom Inc., to express his outrage, saying the entertainment giant should have known what was going to transpire during the show.

Whats to investigate? Boobs came..we saw boobs..boobs conquered. I would agree that seeing Janet in all her glory during the nation's most watched entertainment event leaves a little taste to be desired. But for the F.C.C. to huff, puff, and "investigate" strikes me as little more than posturing. Now there are talking about finining all the local CBS stations who didn't know this was coming and couldn't have controlled it if they did. The responsibility is really the N.F.L.'s. Its their product and they have the obligation to make sure it is suitable for public consumption.

The Super Bowl was a blast! It came out a little closer than my prediction but that just made it more interesting. What a fourth quarter! Both quarterbacks had gutsy performances just like their teams. Then of course there were those commercials!
Throw in Janet Jackson's boobs and you have a nice afternoon/evening of entertainment.


Sunday, February 01, 2004

Super Bowl prediction: New England 24, Carolina 15.

I'll come back and either crow about my accuracy or complain about the referees!

I love underdogs but New England's defense is very good and their offense is capable of putting some points on the board. Belichik is a master game day strategist.

New England will score a defensive touchdown and get at least one big play from their special teams. Carolina will mount at least one good drive but it won't be enough.


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