What are You Watching and/or Reading?

Discuss whatever you want here ... movies, books, recipes, politics, beer, wine, TV ... everything except classical music.

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Gary
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What are You Watching and/or Reading?

Post by Gary » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:47 pm

I'm very interested in knowing what CMG members are watching (non-classical music related), be it at a movie theater, DVD, or on TV. Rather than start a thread every now and then about what we're reading, we can post books here as well.


Here's what I watched last night.



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"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:53 pm

I liked that documentary. I briefed SecDef MacNamara way back when and have strong memories of that experience.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:01 pm

Picked up the Herzog-Kinski movie pack recently. Cobra Verde is next, then second season of The Shield.

I'm almost through Hans Urs von Balthasar's 7 volume The Glory of the Lord and R.T. France's commentary on Mark. Still have a stack of things to read and I'm already eyeing Guthrie's history of Greek philosophy.

Gary
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Post by Gary » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:01 pm

Ralph wrote:I briefed SecDef MacNamara way back when...
:shock:
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Gary
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Post by Gary » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:04 pm

You read a lot, Brendan! :)
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:08 pm

Due to inertia, I've been watching that series Cathedral that comes on after Mystery! It's had some fascinating stories - the role the Scottish church played in the English Civil War; the diver who single-handedly shored up the foundation of Westminster Cathedral with bags of cement when the bishop discovered that the Cathedral was resting on wooden columns under water; the nutcase that set fire to York Minster, which resulted in a restoration effort that uncovered the Norman foundations of the Minster.
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paulb
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Post by paulb » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:11 pm

I watched the All Star game last night. The AL , yet once again, won. They went into the top of the 9th down a run, and came back to get 2. The NL went to the bat agaisnt Mariano Rivera, the New York closer and he got em.

I find major league baseball much much much....more exciting that any soccor...ahh football...match. The last game in the world cup was won on a penalty kick. Most games end in only one goal or none.
And a few of the rules are stupid. I hate soccor. Its dull and boring.
major league baseball, college as well is the real deal.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by Haydnseek » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:12 pm

I'm recording the Tour de France on my DVR and watch it every evening. I see that I missed a documentary about Woody Guthrie on PBS this evening but I'm sure I'll get another chance to see it.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

paulb
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Post by paulb » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:25 pm

Brendan wrote:Picked up the Herzog-Kinski movie pack recently. Cobra Verde is next, then second season of The Shield.

I'm almost through Hans Urs von Balthasar's 7 volume The Glory of the Lord and R.T. France's commentary on Mark. Still have a stack of things to read and I'm already eyeing Guthrie's history of Greek philosophy.
Man you do read alot.
I have alot of books but never finish anything.
I may have the Guthrie book you are refering to, had it for decades, but never read it.
Maybe you can read it and tell me the important points.
btw I see Greg has not answered my request that he explains the vision that Jung had of the turd falling on the church. The Jung topic has fallen to page 4 of the Corner Pub. Care to bring it back up.
Lets see I'm trying to read alittle Jung /Visions Seminars that i got used from amzon the other day and starting into Dostoyvetsky's The Idiot.
I read slow, hope to finish both by end of august. Also just finished some books of the old testament, the jewish publication edition. Which is very close to the New American translation. Stay away from the catholic translation. Next to worthless.
I love the prophets and also psalms.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by miranda » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:27 pm

I've just started to reread Labryinths, a collection of short stories and some essays by one of the most amazing and brilliant fiction authors ever--Jorge Luis Borges. (Much credit must of course go to the wonderful and various translators, whom I'm too lazy to list here.)

Just finished Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friederich Nietzsche, a fascinating and compelling work.

I watch a fair amount of DVD's. Currently I've been watching Season Two of HBO's series Deadwood. Before that, I watched one of my very favorite movies, now finally out on DVD--Jean Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's Delicatessen.

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Post by Ralph » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:36 pm

I get through a lot of books every week. Starting "The Pirate Coast" about Jefferson and our problems in the Mediterranean.

The one TV series I watch, and am addicted to, is "House." Catching up on past episodes.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:41 pm

Gary wrote:
Ralph wrote:I briefed SecDef MacNamara way back when...
:shock:
You wouldn't know it from his modest demeanor, but Ralph is a celeb.
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Post by Ralph » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:44 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Gary wrote:
Ralph wrote:I briefed SecDef MacNamara way back when...
:shock:
You wouldn't know it from his modest demeanor, but Ralph is a celeb.
*****

Not these days, no. But there was a time...
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:54 pm

Ralph wrote:Not these days, no. But there was a time...
Gary may have missed your youthful adventures as a plaintiff against the SecDef. I was wondering sometime ago if you were a lawyer then, or did you go to law school after you got out of the Army.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:14 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Not these days, no. But there was a time...
Gary may have missed your youthful adventures as a plaintiff against the SecDef. I was wondering sometime ago if you were a lawyer then, or did you go to law school after you got out of the Army.
*****

I finished college and then went to law school after my Army life. One distinction is that I'm a co-author on a Supreme Court amicus brief in Laird v. Tatum before I went to law school. Ain't many who have done anything like that. [smug satisfied mien]

TheSecDef defendant in the ACLU case was Melvin Laird, not Mac Namara.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

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Post by Ralph » Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:28 am

This looks like some timely and interesting reading:


July 13, 2006
Books of The Times
Reflections on War, Detention and Rights
By ADAM LIPTAK

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Mamdouh Habib, an Australian who says he was tortured in Egypt before being sent to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for intense interrogation and indefinite detention, had reason to be wary when a man claiming to be his lawyer came to see him in the fall of 2004.

The lawyer, Joseph Margulies, had anticipated the reasonable fears of a client who for years had been tricked, disoriented, humiliated and worse. He had a letter of introduction from Mr. Habib’s wife, Maha. But American interrogators had once falsely told Mr. Habib that his wife was dead, and Mr. Margulies feared that his client would think the letter a forgery or the product of coercion.

As backup, Mr. Margulies came armed with a few memories Mrs. Habib had shared with him about her husband: “the location of their first date, the first gift he gave her, and the people who looked after their youngest son when their oldest boy was ill.”

“There is no reason to repeat those private reminiscences here,” Mr. Margulies writes in “Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power,” “but suffice it to say, they worked. When I shared that information with Mamdouh, he began to cry.”

The detention center at Guantánamo Bay, created in early 2002 to hold suspected terrorists, is still home to about 450 prisoners. Mr. Margulies filed suit on behalf of four of them, including Mr. Habib, just months after the first Guantánamo camp was built. For the next two years the Bush administration refused to let the four men know about the suit, much less meet with their lawyer.

It was in that case, Rasul v. Bush, that the Supreme Court in June 2004 landed the first body blow to the Bush administration’s assertion that it has the unilateral power to designate people as terrorists and then hold them forever without charges. Mr. Margulies’s meeting with Mr. Habib followed the Rasul decision.

Last month, in a kind of sequel to Rasul, the Supreme Court said the administration’s plans for trying Guantánamo prisoners using secret evidence offended both military justice and international law. The administration and Congress are at work recasting those plans, and the Pentagon announced this week that it will comply with an important provision of the Geneva Conventions, the one prohibiting “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

Mr. Habib was lucky in his lawyer, as Mr. Margulies is a resourceful advocate, a serious and sober legal analyst and a fine, sometimes luminous writer. In his new book Mr. Margulies weaves together a history of wartime interrogation, a consideration of the legal standards that apply to it and an assessment of the toll that Guantánamo has taken on the men and boys held there, and on the nation’s reputation and values.

The book’s title, with its dry allusion to the separation of powers, does not do it justice. “Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power” represents the best account yet of what Mr. Margulies calls “a human rights debacle that will eventually take its place alongside other wartime misadventures, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the prosecutions under the Espionage and Sedition Acts during World War I, and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War.”

The first problem in considering Guantánamo is one of metaphor. It is a prison, certainly, but not one meant to mete out punishment for past crimes. It is a kind of prisoner-of-war camp too, a way to incapacitate supposed combatants for the duration of hostilities so that they cannot return to the field of battle. But here the hostilities — the so-called war on terror — may last forever. And the battlefield is the globe.

Most crucially, Guantánamo is an interrogation chamber. To be effective, administration strategists said, it should operate outside the American legal system, “without the risk,” Mr. Margulies writes, “of interference by courts and counsel into the delicate ‘relationship’ between interrogators and prisoners.” And to be more effective yet, they went on, the prisoners had to be denied the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Until Guantánamo, the United States had an excellent reputation for the humane treatment of captured combatants. During World War II, for instance, Mr. Margulies writes, when more than 400,000 German, Italian and Japanese prisoners of war were held in the United States, their captors followed the Geneva Conventions “with an almost compulsive regard.” Because the conventions require that prisoners be afforded the same living conditions as their guards, for instance, American camp commanders ordered their own soldiers to sleep in tents until barracks for the prisoners were completed.

The Guantánamo prisoners, by contrast, were made to endure stress positions, extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, blaring music, strobe lights, religious insults and sexual humiliation. Three prisoners there recently committed suicide.

In “Oath Betrayed” Dr. Steven H. Miles, an expert on medical ethics, collects evidence that “armed forces physicians, nurses and medics had been passive and active partners in the systemic neglect and abuse of prisoners” at Guantánamo, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

In his short, passionate and disjointed book, made up mostly of information from raw documents, reports and news accounts, Dr. Miles allows outrage to substitute for analysis. Still, he collects countless examples of medical complicity in abuse that is all the more disturbing for the lack of any notable protest. Doctors have, Dr. Miles writes, certified prisoners as healthy enough to withstand harsh treatment, monitored them during interrogations and concealed evidence of their mistreatment.

“Enough practitioners complied when they should have resisted, or kept quiet when they should have spoken out,” Dr. Miles writes, “to allow abusive interrogational practices and a neglectful prison environment to operate largely without medical opposition or disclosure.”

Lawyers were also slow to rise to the challenge of Guantánamo. In the early days the establishment bar and even some of the major civil rights groups held their fire, leaving it to Mr. Margulies and a handful of other lawyers — notably those of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, Thomas B. Wilner of Shearman & Sterling in Washington and Clive Stafford Smith in New Orleans — to file the most important American lawsuits since the Sept. 11 attacks. In an aside on page 158 of his book, Mr. Margulies notes that he was not paid for his work on the Rasul case.

Inside the government, though, the situation was more complicated. Lawyers in the military and the State Department fought an honorable if largely losing battle to try to preserve the Geneva Conventions.

In 2002 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld described those held at Guantánamo as “among the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.” But a recent study prepared at the Seton Hall University School of Law shows that just 8 percent of the detainees were even said by the government to be Qaeda fighters.

More than 300 Guantánamo detainees have been released or transferred, Mr. Habib among them. The United States government never charged him with a crime, and he is back in Australia, a free man.
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Post by BWV 1080 » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:14 am

Just finished WG Sebald's Austerlitz, which is the finest book about the holocaust I have read.

Now I am about 1/3 through:


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From the NY Times review:
EUROPE CENTRAL
By William T. Vollmann.
811 pp. Viking. $39.95.

William T. Vollmann's 12th book of fiction, ''Europe Central'' -- almost a novel in stories -- is his most welcoming work, possibly his best book. Vollmann has often been an off-putting writer, sometimes intentionally so. There is the seamy (and admittedly autobiographical) subject matter -- living with prostitutes, using drugs -- of too many early works, and also of his novel ''The Royal Family'' (2000). There is the remote North American history of the four published novels in his ''Seven Dreams'' series. And, of course, there is his vaunting ambition: since 1987 Vollmann has released 14 books, 20 if one counts as separate works the seven volumes of ''Rising Up and Rising Down'' (2003), his valiant attempt to comprehend worldwide violence.

In ''Europe Central,'' the history he is dealing with is more familiar and more dramatic; most of the stories are set in Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II. The major recurring characters here are actual influential people -- artists like the German painter K* the Kollwitz, the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the Russian filmmaker Roman Karmen; military men like the Russian general A. A. Vlasov and the German field marshal Friedrich Paulus; and Hitler and Stalin, whom Vollmann calls ''the sleepwalker'' and ''the realist.'' Vollmann has previously entered his fictions as a poorly disguised character or an ironic editorializer, but here he restricts his appearances to some 50 pages of notes on biographical sources and his fictionalizing of them.

His writer's ambition remains intact. ''Europe Central'' gives us 37 stories, five of them more than 50 pages long, to represent Central European fanaticism and to recover little-known acts of conscientious resistance to Nazi and Communist totalitarianism. What sets ''Europe Central'' apart from Vollmann's other large-scale historical productions is its strong narrative lines. The pieces are dated and arranged chronologically to give the book a plot that arcs from prewar political machinations to Germany's surge east to Russia's counteroffensive, and that ends with cold war politics in divided Berlin.

Stories about Shostakovich and his intimates or rivals -- his lover Elena Konstantinovskaya; her husband, Roman Karmen; the poet Anna Akhmatova -- recur often enough to make the collection a suspenseful near novel about the composer and his times. Shostakovich is so fascinating -- in his musical ideas, his often failed defenses against Stalinist demands, his nearly suicidal wit and his bumbling speech -- that you may be tempted to skip the intervening stories to see how his treacherous life turns out. Vollmann's pell-mell telling of Shostakovich's last years -- 1943 to 1975 -- in the almost 110-page story called ''Opus 110'' is a tour de force. As the composer jams the horrible sounds of his life into his summary opus, Vollmann compacts the themes and motifs of his book into its emotional climax.

In his notes, Vollmann identifies Shostakovich as one of his two heroes in ''Europe Central.'' Like Vollmann, Shostakovich lived dangerously, wrote quickly and voluminously, rejected mainstream art and alienated many listeners. Soviet authorities censured Shostakovich for ''formalism,'' not a quality one associates with Vollmann's sprawling works. But ''Europe Central'' is carefully formed and tightly controlled. In the prologue, ''Steel in Motion,'' Vollmann introduces a telephone exchange -- ''Europe Central'' -- that appears throughout the collection, connecting the overheard voices of numerous narrators and providing a unifying metaphor of central authority that sacrifices peripheral and marginal people.

The stories come as ''pincer movements,'' as pairs that give readers manageable units to ponder between segments of the Shostakovich ''novel.'' The pairings are almost always set in the same approximate time and usually in opposing spaces -- Germany and the Soviet Union. Often one story sketches a minor political character or articulates an ideological position, and the paired story will be longer, more personal, more subtle. (Think of Hemingway's ''In Our Time'' with its alternating World War I brief interchapters and stories.)

In ''Zoya,'' Vollmann tells in five pages how the executed Russian partisan Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya became a propaganda heroine for her statement that ''you can't hang all 190 million of us.'' Vollmann pairs Zoya with Kurt Gerstein, a German SS officer whom Vollmann identifies as the other historical hero in the collection. ''Clean Hands'' devotes 55 pages to Gerstein's desperate attempts to retard the Final Solution by interfering with shipments of Zyklon B for the gas chambers and by alerting unbelieving officials from Switzerland, Sweden and the Vatican. Failed propagandist and tortured moralist, Gerstein commits suicide when accused of genocide.+

At the very center of ''Europe Central,'' Vollmann modifies the interchapter-story pattern with matched novellas, ''Breakout'' and ''The Last Field-Marshal,'' about the Russian general Vlasov and the German field marshal Paulus. Attempting to save their defeated men from massacre, both officers ignored their dictators' orders. Vlasov encouraged his troops to break out or escape in small units on the Volkhov front meant to liberate Leningrad, and Paulus surrendered at Stalingrad; both were called traitors. Captured by the Germans, Vlasov offered to lead disaffected Russians against Stalin; captured by the Russians, he was executed. Paulus survived the war but in disgrace. Vollmann's intimate, detailed and compelling portraits provide a moral center for his book and represent its achievement as heroic historical recall.

Although Vollmann has composed and arranged this whole opera of mostly doomed souls, he speaks in his own voice only in the notes. Like an intelligence agent tapped into the telephone exchange, he records narrators both sympathetic and repugnant, authentic and propagandistic, fumbling and crazed. This ventriloquizing creates a challenging disorientation when the narrator and the facts are at odds. Kurt Gerstein's heroic story, for example, is told by a condescending hard-core Nazi. Although in wartime Central Europe political bombast often drowned out the personal voice, Vollmann finds figures like Gerstein whose actions resist ideological blat and blather.

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Post by miranda » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:09 am

Next up on my reading list is this book:

Ryszard Kapuscinski's Another Day of Life.

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From the back jacket:

"In 1975, Angola was tumbling into pandemonium; everyone who could was packing crates, deperate to abandon the beleagered colony. With his trademark bravura, Ryszard Kapuscinski went the other way, begging his way from Lisbon and comfort to Luanda--once famed as Africa's Rio de Janeiro--and chaos.

Angola, a slave colony given over to mining and plantations, was a promised land for generations of poor Portugese. It had belonged to Portugal since before there were English-speakers in North America. Afrer the collapse of the fascist dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, Angola was brusquely cut loose, spurring the catastrophe of a still-ongoing civil war. Kapuscinski plunged right into the middle of the drama, driving past thousands of of haphazardly placed checkpoints, where using the wrong shibboleth was a matter of life and death; recording the impressions of the young soldiers--from Cuba, Angola, South Africa, Portugal--fighting in a nebulous war with global repurcussions; and examining the peculiar brutality of a country surprised and divided by its newfound freedom."

(Note: this book was first published in 1976. As far as I know, there is no civil war currently going on in Angola.)

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Post by jserraglio » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:38 pm

this is a very interesting topic, I'm taking note all that non-fiction stuff you guys read to look into someday myself, esp the ones on Am. history. Thanks a lot:
  • Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad (delightfully ironic, wickedly funny!)
    Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost (a lot better than I expected it to be)
    Christopher Ricks, Dylan's Visions of Sin (off the wall brilliant!)
    Richard Bradley, Harvard Rules (the 1st eBook I ever picked up and couldnt put down--read it as caricature, not fact and enjoyed it immensely)
next up: I want to sample the contemporary Irish playwright, Martin McDonagh.

Cosima__J

Post by Cosima__J » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:17 pm

I'm reading "Persian Fire" by Tom Holland. Against all odds, the Greeks turn back the invasion by the fiercesome army of Xerxes, King of Persia in 480 BC, thus saving the day for Western civilization.

The description of life in Sparta is absolutely fascinating. The Spartans were certainly a breed apart. Why would any group of people agree to live like that?

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Post by Ralph » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:21 pm

Cosima__J wrote:I'm reading "Persian Fire" by Tom Holland. Against all odds, the Greeks turn back the invasion by the fiercesome army of Xerxes, King of Persia in 480 BC, thus saving the day for Western civilization.

The description of life in Sparta is absolutely fascinating. The Spartans were certainly a breed apart. Why would any group of people agree to live like that?
*****

They weren't called "Spartans" for nothing. :)
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Post by Gary » Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:19 pm

Corlyss_D wrote: You wouldn't know it from his modest demeanor, but Ralph is a celeb.

And here I thought he was merely an expert on Dittersdorf. :)
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Gary
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Post by Gary » Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:22 pm

Cosima__J wrote:The Spartans were certainly a breed apart. Why would any group of people agree to live like that?

Ah, for the love of war. They desired nothing but...
If memory serves, the Spartans used stone as a currency.
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Gary
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Post by Gary » Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:24 pm

Currently watching the Globe Trekker--my favorite travel show--on PBS.
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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Post by Ralph » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:12 pm

Gary wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote: You wouldn't know it from his modest demeanor, but Ralph is a celeb.

And here I thought he was merely an expert on Dittersdorf. :)
*****

Nah, wanna discuss Kalliwoda?
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Re: What are You Watching and/or Reading?

Post by Madame » Fri Jul 14, 2006 8:39 pm

Gary wrote:
Here's what I watched last night.

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I own that documentary -- I saw it at Seattle's Guild 45th when it first came out. At the end, dead silence in the audience -- I think half of us forgot to breathe.

Brilliant production and character study by Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, 1988), who interviewed McNamara from off-camera. I'll never forget it.

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Post by Madame » Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:24 am

I just learned about Bill Bryson's books from an ardent fan, so that's probably where I'll go next -- problem is, where to start??? They all sound excellent. I'm leaning toward A Short History of Nearly Everything

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Amazon reviewer William Holmes :
Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is beautifully written, very entertaining and highly informative--and now, it is lavishly illustrated as well.

Bryson is not a scientist, but rather a curious and observant writer who, several years ago, realized that he couldn't tell a quark from a quasar, or a proton from a protein. Bryson set out to cure his ignorance of things scientific, and the result was "A Short History of Nearly Everything," which was originally published in 2003.

For readers who are new to science and its history, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" contains one remarkable revelation after another. It is amazing how enormous, tiny, complex and just plain weird the universe is. Learning about "everything" is a humbling experience, and I kept thinking of Stephen Crane's blank verse: "A man said to the Universe: 'Sir, I exist!' 'However,' replied the Universe, 'the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.'"

Just as engaging as Bryson's story of what we know is the parallel story of how we know it--from the first clever experiments to figure out how much the earth weighs to today's ongoing efforts to describe the origins of the universe itself, it becomes obvious that science is not an answer but a process, a way of learning about a world that always seems to have one more trick up its sleeve.

Whatever else may be said about the universe, Bryson explains that learning about its mysteries is a very human endeavor. The book is peppered with tales of the odd turns, like Percival Lowell, the astronomer who saw canals on Mars when in fact there are none (and whose initials figured in the naming of "Pl"uto, the ninth planet); the Askesian Society, a learned 19th century body devoted to the study of laughing gas; and the knock-down, drag-out personal battles between scientists whose genius was rivaled only by their lack of civility.

This is a superb book and a quick read despite its length. The illustrated edition makes the journey all the more enjoyable.

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:28 am

Bryson is fun. Start anywhere.
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Post by Madame » Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:37 am

Ralph wrote:Bryson is fun. Start anywhere.
Thanks! I've heard that from almost everyone.

4 minutes from my post to your reply -- can you see me? :)

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jul 15, 2006 1:35 pm

Madame wrote:A Short History of Nearly Everything
I got a big kick out of Simon Winchester's crack on his talk about his book on the OED. He said, "I wanted to title it A Short History of Nearly Everything, but that title was taken."
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Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:02 pm

The last month or so, I've been renting (from video emporium supreme Scarecrow Video) THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW--the early-60s TV edition of animation giant WALTER LANTZ's legacy, in a DVD set representing the only release of these films so far in this format.

Lantz's posthumous reputation has really suffered since his death in '94 (at the age of 94).....pretty unfortunate, as his was a very distinct brand of comedy entertainment.

Lantz's wife Grace Stafford--who did Woody's voice--passed away from cancer a year-and-a-half before her spouse died.[/url]
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:06 pm

Wallingford wrote:The last month or so, I've been renting (from video emporium supreme Scarecrow Video) THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW--the early-60s TV edition of animation giant WALTER LANTZ's legacy, in a DVD set representing the only release of these films so far in this format.

Lantz's posthumous reputation has really suffered since his death in '94 (at the age of 94).....pretty unfortunate, as his was a very distinct brand of comedy entertainment.

Lantz's wife Grace Stafford--who did Woody's voice--passed away from cancer a year-and-a-half before her spouse died.[/url]
*****

I liked Woody a lot (still do) but Bugs is better.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:11 pm

Ralph wrote:
I liked Woody a lot (still do) but Bugs is better.
EXACTLY--Woody mercilessly heckled his adversaries, often with no motivation whatsoever. You never felt he EARNED his victories as Bugs did.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Gary
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Re: What are You Watching and/or Reading?

Post by Gary » Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:43 pm

Madame wrote:
Gary wrote:
Here's what I watched last night.

Image
I own that documentary -- I saw it at Seattle's Guild 45th when it first came out. At the end, dead silence in the audience -- I think half of us forgot to breathe.

Brilliant production and character study by Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, 1988), who interviewed McNamara from off-camera. I'll never forget it.

I didn't see it at the theater. I found out about the film when I caught an episode of The Charlie Rose Show, in which Charlie interviewed Morris and McNamara.

I rewound the DVD during certain moments of the movie in order to catch everything McNamara said. An engrossing film indeed.
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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Post by Gary » Sat Jul 15, 2006 10:45 pm

Reading these.


Philo of Alexandria: The Contemplative Life, Giants and Selections (Classics of Western Spirituality) (Paperback)
by David Winston



Image

Book Description

Available for the first time in one volume is the basic vision of Philo, the greatest Jewish mystic, philosopher, and theologian of the Greco-Roman period. This book lets Philo speak in his own words. Since the corpus of his writings is immense and his style diffuse, no one treatise or small group of treatises exhibits his full perspective on any given spiritual theme; thus and anthology was necessary.

The volume is edited by David Winston, Professor of Hellenistic and Judaic Studies and Director of the center for Judaic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. In his Introduction he summarizes the latest findings of Philonic scholarship and offers a new and more balanced appreciation of Philo's thought than was available before, based on a new full-scale study of Philo's religious philosophy which he is now in the process of preparing. In this volume Philo's The Contemplative Life and The Giants are translated in full.

Selections from the other treatises are presented under the following themes: Allegorical Method; Creation, Time and Eternity; Divine Transcendence; The Mystic's Way to God; The Intermediary World; Logos, Ideas, Powers, and Daemons; The Soul; Preexistence and Immortality; Theory of Knowledge; Reason and Faith; Prophetic Revelation; and others. Professor Winston says, "Philo of Alexandria stands at the apex of the cultural activity of the Jewish-Alexandrian community, his literary work climaxing a long chain of Jewish-Hellenistic writings whose aim was to establish the validity and integrity of Jewish religious thought in the face of counter claims of the intellectually powerful Greek tradition."

John Dillon in his Preface to the book says, " This excellent selection of his works will give the reader a vivid picture of the essential Philo in all his aspects."


Philo in Early Christian Literature: A Survey

Author: David T. Runia


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Book Description

It is a remarkable fact that the writings of Philo, the Jew from Alexandria, were preserved because they were taken up in the Christian tradition. But the story of how this process of reception and appropriation took place has never been systematically research.

In this book the author first examines how Philo's works are related to the New Testament and the earliest Chritian writing, and then how they were used by Greek and Latin church fathers up to 400 c.e., with special attention to the contributions of Clement, Origen, Didymus, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, and Augstine.

Philo in Early Christian Literature is a valuable guide to the state of scholarly research on a subject that has thus far been investigated in a rather piecemeal fashion.


About the Author
David T. Runia is Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at the University of Leiden, and also C. J. de Vogel Professor Extraordinarius in Ancient Philosophy at the University of Utrecht.

Publisher: Fortress Press
Publication Date: Oct 1 1993
Format: hardcover
9.063 in. x 6.375 in.
320 pages
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

Lark Ascending
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Post by Lark Ascending » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:31 am

I am reading The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman, his memoirs of how he survived in wartime Warsaw (I haven't seen the film).
"Look here, I have given up my time, my work, my friends and my career to come here and learn from you, and I am not going to write a petit menuet dans le style de Mozart." - Ralph Vaughan Williams to Maurice Ravel

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Post by Ralph » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:35 am

Lark Ascending wrote:I am reading The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman, his memoirs of how he survived in wartime Warsaw (I haven't seen the film).
*****

The movie is very, very good.
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Albert Einstein

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:27 pm

Gary, are you sure you aren't Brendan? If you aren't, you two guys need to meet! :lol:
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Madame
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Re: What are You Watching and/or Reading?

Post by Madame » Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:29 pm

Gary wrote: I didn't see it at the theater. I found out about the film when I caught an episode of The Charlie Rose Show, in which Charlie interviewed Morris and McNamara.

I rewound the DVD during certain moments of the movie in order to catch everything McNamara said. An engrossing film indeed.
Engrossing on many levels -- marveling that this mid-octegenarian seemed to still be firing on all cylinders, once again seeing live footage of events almost faded from my memory, feeling I was watching a one-man production, and wondering ... where is this headed?

I've heard many say they refused to watch the film, on one principle or another, and I wanted to say "dare ya to go see it!"

IMDB has a great review that captures what this documentary was really about:
If you're like Errol Morris, and you want to make documentaries about unusual personalities, it's one thing to choose obscure subjects, people like Fred Leuchter (aka "Mr. Death") or men that excel in topiary hedge sculpture or the study of the African mole rat (two of the people interviewed in "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control"). Not many critics out there will be waiting to pounce if you don't get things just right about the likes of people like these. But it's quite another matter if you choose Robert S. McNamara, one of the last century's most towering, controversial, and - some would say - evil characters. "Fog of War" distills more than 20 hours of interviews that Morris conducted with McNamara over a span of two years, when McNamara was in his mid-80s, and the subjects - all various McNamara ventures - range from "his" World War II, through his days at Ford Motor Company, the Cuban missile crisis, and - finally and mainly - his views of the Vietnam War.

As a result, Morris now finds himself in a no man's land of critical crossfire. On the one hand, film critics - people like Steven Holden, Roger Ebert and J. Hoberman - uniformly praise this work. While political pundits of the left - people like Eric Alterman and Alexander Cockburn of "The Nation" - lacerate Morris, accusing him of being overmatched, manipulated, not doing his homework (i.e., being naïve and unprepared), and thus allowing his film to be nothing but a conduit for the formidably crafty McNamara's continuing campaign of self aggrandizement and distortions of history. Whew. I think the controversy here is based on a misconstruction of the film's purposes by the pundits. First, it is quite clear that McNamara, in full command of his fierce intellectual and interpersonal powers, is not about to be pushed around by an assertive interviewer. McNamara is gonna say what McNamara wants to say, period. To drive home this point, Morris gives us a brief epilogue in which he asks McNamara a few trenchant questions about his sense of responsibility for the Vietnam War, why he didn't speak out against the war, and so on. And McNamara won't bite. He stonewalls Morris absolutely, with comments like, "I am not going to say any more than I have." Or, "I always get into trouble when I try to answer a question like that."

More importantly, it doesn't matter very much if Morris or McNamara does not get all the facts straight. If the political pundits went to the movies more often, at least to Morris's films, they would know that his primary interest is in the character of his subjects - their integrity and beliefs and ways of explaining or rationalizing themselves and their lives: he's into people way more than into facts. "Fog of War" is not an oral history, it is the study of a person. For all that, in my estimation, Morris does get on film as close to an acceptance of responsibility for his actions in two wars as McNamara is likely ever to make, short of some dramatic, delirium-driven deathbed confession. He speaks of the likelihood that he and Curtis LeMay would have been deemed war criminals for the fire bombing of Japanese cities, had our side lost. And he speaks clearly when he says "we were wrong" in not seeing that the Vietnam War was a civil war, not a phase of some larger Cold War strategy by the USSR or China. What do the pundits want?

Nor was it Morris's purpose to use Santayana's lesson about repeating history to rail at Bush's preemptive war in Iraq. In fact Morris decided to make this film way back in 1995, after reading several books by McNamara and concluding that he was a quintessential man of the 20th Century, embodying all that was so outstandingly smart and sophisticated and ultimately destructive. The interviews wrapped sometime in 2001, the year before Iraq. As usual in Morris's films, the editing is superb, with seamless use of archival footage and special visuals created for this film. I do think Morris gratuitously flattered McNamara by organizing the film around 11 platitudes of his - many of them banal aphorisms known to most high school graduates, students of martial arts, or your grandmother (e.g., "get the data," "empathize with your enemy," "rationality will not save us," "belief and seeing are both often wrong").

Political pundits, mired in interpreting concretisms from the historical record, not only see too few films but also don't take seriously the symbolic visuals and sounds offered here. Philip Glass has created an edgy, anxious score that feels just right, just creepy enough for the macabre subjects at hand. I'm also thinking of the scenes when McNamara is recounting his pioneering (he claims) studies of auto safety. As we listen to him, Morris shows us human skulls wrapped in white linen being dropped several floors through a stairwell to smash upon the floor below, all in slow motion. The effect is chilling and speaks volumes about McNamara's famed passionless capacity to treat human carnage as a matter of statistical calculation. It is through such poetic characterization that Morris keeps the game with McNamara in balance.

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Post by Gary » Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:38 pm

Madame, thanks for posting that review!
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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Post by Gary » Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:38 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Gary, are you sure you aren't Brendan?
What makes you say that, Corlyss :?:
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jul 16, 2006 7:59 pm

Gary wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Gary, are you sure you aren't Brendan?
What makes you say that, Corlyss :?:
You two share a taste for readings in arcane early christianity. :D
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Post by Gary » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:04 pm

Oh, I see. :lol:

Yes, I'd love to meet Brendan. He reads Homer in Greek. Now, that's impressive! :)
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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Post by Ralph » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:44 pm

Gary wrote:Oh, I see. :lol:

Yes, I'd love to meet Brendan. He reads Homer in Greek. Now, that's impressive! :)
*****

Perhaps you too will meet at the first CMG International Conference at Rancho Corlyss next summer.
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Albert Einstein

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:07 pm

Ralph wrote:
Gary wrote:Oh, I see. :lol:

Yes, I'd love to meet Brendan. He reads Homer in Greek. Now, that's impressive! :)
*****

Perhaps you too will meet at the first CMG International Conference at Rancho Corlyss next summer.
No, we moved that to Westchester. Didn't you get the email?
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Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Thu Jul 20, 2006 4:01 pm

WELL! I spent an unexpected five hours in the clinic yesterday on my third follow-up visit since the operation. I merely lowered my head to look at the staple scars on my abdomen which the doc was checking, and passed out!

Ended up with another anemia report on my blood count and was wheeled to IV therapy where they injected a liter of saline into me, and I amused myself by discovering yet another judge-show on afternoon TV--Judge Mathis (Fox network--after watching an old Timon & Pumbaa cartoon on Disney).

And right after I'd reduced my viewings of Judge Joe & Judge Judy (CBS) to once a week (it became a daily habit since my initial hospital stay).
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Post by Robert » Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:38 pm

Fisk, Robert; Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon; Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books; New York; 2002.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:40 pm

Wallingford wrote:WELL! I spent an unexpected five hours in the clinic yesterday on my third follow-up visit since the operation. I merely lowered my head to look at the staple scars on my abdomen which the doc was checking, and passed out!

Ended up with another anemia report on my blood count and was wheeled to IV therapy where they injected a liter of saline into me, and I amused myself by discovering yet another judge-show on afternoon TV--Judge Mathis (Fox network--after watching an old Timon & Pumbaa cartoon on Disney).
Wall! You need to find that thread on your condition and post this there!
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Post by Ralph » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:51 pm

These setbacks are usually very minor and easily treatable. Sorry this happened but I'm sure you're getting better.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

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Post by Gary » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:04 pm

Wallingford wrote:WELL! I spent an unexpected five hours in the clinic yesterday on my third follow-up visit since the operation. I merely lowered my head to look at the staple scars on my abdomen which the doc was checking, and passed out!

Ended up with another anemia report on my blood count and was wheeled to IV therapy where they injected a liter of saline into me...
Oh my! Hope you get well soon, Wallingford.
"Your idea of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer; I may have to steal it."

--Stephen Hawking makes guest appearance on The Simpsons

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