Wendy Crewson - can she explain that magic production?
I spent the academic year 1976-1977 at Queen's University in Canada.
During that year I went to see a student production of 'The Cherry Orchard'. It remains in my memory as the best theatrical production I have seen (and I have spent a good time in London's West End, in New York, and in the delights of Toronto's theatre scene).
One of our morning news shows here has revealed that Wendy Crewson (whom I consider the most attractive actress period anywhere, flat-out, no question) was a student at Queen's, and studied drama. Her birthdate (according to IMDB) suggests she might have been a student when I saw this production. Could she have been in it? No wonder I thought it was so good!
One less hour of daylight?
The local news report tonight featured some delight at the lovely weather today (the swan in my earlier picture was not shivering), and included the comment that we should enjoy this good weather all the more because we now have, with the change back to standard time, "one less hour of daylight".
I guess I should infer that whoever wrote than cannot imagine waking up before 6:30am. Perhaps a graduate student on an internship.
The swans were washing as I visited the waterfront this morning - I now regularly see two swans and have no idea what has become of the other seven; they may have migrated, and this always makes me wonder how an individual bird decides whether to be a snowbird or stick around and risk the winter here.
Migrations are clearly happening (surprise!), as there were buffleheads among the mallards; we don't see thim in the summer. The oldsquaws are not yet here; there is nothing quite like having the inner bay full of them chattering away.
Who are these guys?
It is a great line from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", honoring the unexpected competence of the enemy on the trail of the bandits in that story.
I have used it internally in my job, refering to the surprising ability of our competitors to compete.
Having spent more time on Sullivan Ballou's letter to Sarah, I really wanted to know what fed his skills - and now I learn it is Andover and Brown. But it is still beyond anything I readily imagine:
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure -- and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows -- when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children -- is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?
Surely there continue to be people this good.
I was in a discussion tonight about the lost voices
I mentioned in my earlier posting.
Both of us in the discussion remembered the letter of Sullivan Ballou to his wife, featured in Ken Burns' Civil War series.
Ballou says much what was said by the soldier I quoted in the other post:
I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.
Could I see things this way? I am not sure but I certainly wish I could.
And our hearts break as we read (and watching the show hear it read):
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours -- always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
I'll wipe away some tears. I do not know what more to say.
Typical Childish Canadian enthusiasms for oppression
Abiola Lapinte's Foreign Dispatches
has become one of my favorite blogs; I look forward to my next trip to London as I would love to meet him.
This post of his
filled me with embarrassment - one night on the CBC 'Overnight' show I heard a report on this appalling UNESCO resolution and heard the report say that it had been masterminded by France and Canada. What an ignominious role for my country. The whole thing just sickens me, from my point of view as a basic 18th-century liberal. And someone who despises the notion that collective interests should overrule individual freedoms in areas like this, of taste.
He documents marvellously in the linked post one of many reasons why we as individuals should not accept the likely constraints prescribed by this nonsensical UNESCO policy. I am not sure I can find a better argument. :-)
The value of nature programs
I am watching a National Geographic special on emperor penguins. The great value of these shows is to come to appreciate being a member of my species. The horrid and arbitrary brutal cruelties of their life challenges make almost all of the complaints I hear from people about their lives seem like very bad jokes. We have been lucky enough to make our lives pretty smooth.
But what does strike me is that these creatures must have their moments of great elation when things go right, just as they may well feel grief when things go awry. And there are a great number of things that can go badly awry!
I think I shall stick with being a human.
In an earlier post
I made passing mention of the tendency of much of our media to pay no attention to the voices of American soldiers in Iraq, at least when those do not fit the bill. Certainly Casey Sheehan gets less press than Cindy.
Michelle Malkin posts with a very specific and shocking instance of this behaviour
. It is difficult not to regard this as extremely dishonest behavior, and at the very best it is showing a complete lack of respect for the voice of the soldier in question, who wrote in a letter he left for his girlfriend on his laptop in case he should be killed:
I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.The NY Times chose to omit this from their story on him, their poster child as the 2000th American soldier victim in Iraq (to give them some credit, the article does mention that he was a supporter of the war he was engaged in). His words I find heartbreaking, as I would never have the courage to have been in his position with his views on it.
I wish there were a better way to get biweekly acrostic puzzles than paying for the Sunday NY Times.
Why did you use the past perfect then?
If only people really spoke that way. In the process of working through old videos, I am watching "The Last Days of Disco", the last of the three films made by Whit Stillman, documenting a particular set of privileged and fairly wealthy young people, as they attend school ("Metropolitan"), begin careers ("Barcelona") , and experience the disco era as they struggle in early careers ("The Last Days of Disco"). A friend of mine who was a student at Princeton tells me the first film got the people exactly, and a trade representative who spent a lot of time in Barcelona claims that "Barcelona" got that environment perfectly, and anyone who has spent time in Europe will recognize how uncannily he captures the endemic anti-Americanism.
The films are all deeply about friendships and the stresses on it. He often reminds me of Jane Austen with his delicate humour. And even pays some tribute in a slanted way in "The Last Days of Disco" with this delightful exchange between two female characters: "I'm beginning to think that maybe that old system of people getting married based on mutual respect and shared aspirations and then slowly over time earning each other's love and admiration, worked the best." "Well, we'll never know." That last throwaway line encapsulates the fim beautifully.
Stillman finds just the right actors; his writing is so tight and erudite that one needs someone very special to deliver the lines and make them seem credible - Chris Eigeman seems so at home delivering lines of staggering pomposity, but apparently naturally, in all three films, and Taylor Nichols dominates "Barcelona" with his delightfully naive and thoroughly convincing belief in self-improvement. He featured Mira Sorvino, Chloe Sevigny, and Kate Beckinsale before they were Mira Sorvino, Chloe Sevigny, and Kate Beckinsale.
There are moments of loony brilliance in each of the films - a discussion of black ants versus red ants in "Barcelona", for example, and a dissection of the movie "Lady and the Tramp" in "Last Days of Disco". "Isn't the whole point that Tramp changes? OK maybe in the past he stole chickens, ran around without a licence, and wasn't always sincere with members of the opposite sex, but through his love for Lady. and the benificent influences of fatherhood and matrimony, he changes and becomes a valued member of that ...rather ... idyllic household." (And as amusing as this is, it is precisely relevant to the plot and characters at that point.)
But the language - it is such a pleasure to listen to. Where does my subject line come from? An exchange between the money-laundering crook owner of a disco and the manager of the disco, the latter admitting that "a sort of acquaintance of mine ... approached me ... just now ..." ..."Why did you use the past perfect then?" "I used the past perfect?" "Yeah - 'I was approached' - sounds like a while ago". (And even more mischievous, he had not said 'I was approached'.)
We don't speak like that. But in each film one can spend a couple of hours in that dreamworld where we all do speak that way.
The sad news is - I don't know how to tell you to easily go off and see these films! I note that a DVD of "Last Days of Disco" now costs over 90 Canadian dollars at Amazon.ca from a supplier of used DVDs!
My goal with this post is to drive demand up sufficiently that some company might put out the whole trilogy on DVD and I won't have to mortgage my house to enjoy these films in the future!
Brian Dennehy?- Barrel-Chested??
Hmmm - this
shatters my self-image. (Ok I bluster, and feel a bit bloated, but partly from food.)
I do want to add though that the discussions of the reason for a war against Saddam Hussien captures how I think about that issue. And it is something many people forget - WMD was never the whole story.
What - not an atheist?!
Wow. I am surprised. Now many of the questions were a problem as they asked me about my spirituality and I have never in my life been able to figure out what that means. So maybe this quiz goofed up there.
Go try this yourself : This is at QuizGalaxy
. (h/t Pharyngula
You fit in with:
Your ideals mostly resemble those of an Agnostic. You are fairly ambivalent towards any religion or spiritual connection. You lead a very busy life and find that religion and spirituality are unnecessary to your life.
Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com
I love that word. And yesterday I discovered an instance.
Early in the day I found this wonderful article
in the Times (h/t Harry's Place
), specifically about the proposed religious hatred legislation in the UK., but with much larger implications about the insidious effects of such legislation. The best summary paragraph, responding to claims that the law will not have a serious impact because charges will rarely be laid:
Of course it will. It will have an impact every time the the local arts centre decides that perhaps it had better not book a certain act, or a cinema chain decides not to show a certain film, or a school decides not to hire out its hall to certain speakers. It will have an impact every time the wording of a council leaflet is changed or the local church changes its mind about the topic of its study evening.Or perhaps a school board gets nervous about some of our traditional fun holidays! Later I stumbled across this article in The National Post (h/t Peaktalk).
Teachers should forego traditional classroom Halloween celebrations because they are disrespectful of Wiccans and may cause some children to feel excluded, says a Toronto District School Board memo sent to principals and teachers this week.
"Many recently arrived students in our schools share absolutely none of the background cultural knowledge that is necessary to view 'trick or treating,' the commercialization of death, the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs, as 'fun,' " says the memo.
It is impossible to parody this; perhaps it was a parody. Or just some runaway earnest bureaucrat. And I have clearly missed some key cultural history, as I have failed somehow to recognize either the Christian or sexist elements of Hallowe'en. (OK the witches are somewhat stereotyped, but it seems to me this is somewhat of a forced way of looking at things.)
In any case it is a perfect illustration of the point of the first article.
What is coming next?
I am delighted (and it is consistent with my earlier post
a) to have 'Overnight' back on my radio. The CBC replays news reports from other public radio networks to fill the hours during the night. I must say I never understood why this show vanished during the CBC lockout - it seems to me it should have been easy to produce; surely even managers could do it. Perhaps there is some deal among the various unions?
b) to have Don Newman back. He stands so far above the standard mediocrity that the CBC offers. Mischievous, funny, bright, probing, engaging - he has the great skill of being able to get along with all the various political party shills, while he still punctures their silliness. What is troubling is that I see nobody likely to replace him when he decides to retire. He is special.
On the other hand I miss the managers who replaced Andy Barrie's show. They were excellent and he remains Andy Barrie.
A stupidity that crosses political boundaries
In the midst of the impact of Katrina and Rita, as gasoline prices rose dramatically, I recall reports of a 'study' in Canada that purported to map per-barrel crude oil prices to corresponding 'just' gasoline prices (the word 'just' was not used but there was a pretence of science, to mask the reality that it is exactly someone's (silly, in my view) notion of 'just' that was being discussed).
I never bothered to find or investigate this study, as its premiss was so laughable. Now I had expected those who view themselves on the 'left' to take these notions seriously.
But things are worse than that. Heavens to Betsy it seems even Drudge falls into the trap. Russell Roberts delivers the education
There's no understanding of the role of high prices in motivating beneficial behavior on both sides of the market--for consumers to find ways to get by with less gasoline and for oil companies to be motivated to find and bring more oil to the market. Economists of the world, unite! Help the world understand the role of prices.
I said it in an earlier post - I will conserve when I see higher prices. And I know they will encourage someone to bring me what I am willing to pay more for.
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Arrows? Not
I love the History Channel and do not watch it often enough (we have our own in Canada - it is not the same as the US one).
Tonight we have a somewhat forensic examination of the Battle of Agincourt.
Already wonderful themes show up. The human drive to bureaucracy is stunning - even in 1415 there are apparently lists of all the individuals who went with Henry to France, and of all those who returned! So some poor historian can plough through the apparently 7000 names and figure out who did and did not make it back. If she can decipher all that strange writing. And the likelihood that the names on the two lists are spelled differently.
Another - this show is characterizing the English forces as a motley array of paid soldiers, the French as a largely aristocratic crew, numbering 20,000. Seems like a lot of aristocrats to me.
Now, apparently, the archers had to be paid for, and there was a contract for the services provided. It lays out in detail what services would be rendered to Henry. So as it turns out there were 5500 archers and only 1500 knights. An impressive gamble?
But it turns out when one examines the pay rates, archers cost half of what the knights cost. And Henry had pawned the crown jewels to fund his exercise, and so was constrained financially. So archers were more cost-effective.
A scientific analysis (must be, they use computers) seems to show that the English arrows would NOT have penetrated the French armour. Now this IS interesting. It rather shatters my understanding of how the English prevailed. They do grant that the arrows would have killed the horses of the cavalry.
And the show asks the cruel question. Not how the English won, outnumbered 3-1. But .... how did the French lose?
The bottom line seems to be that the muddy conditions were very unfriendly to the French armor, causing the knights to bog down, not so much because of the weight, but just the stickiness of the contact between the mud and smooth surfaces of their outfits. The English were not in armor and this did not pose the same problem. Moreover, the terrain forced the battle to be conducted in a narrow funnel commanded by Henry's forces, neutralizing the advantage of numbers.
I do wonder how right all this is. But the show is well worth watching, so look out for it on your History Channel! I love to have the things I once knew turn out to be wrong.
On that one day around 4000 French soldiers died (almost no English). A grim milestone in one day! It seems from much of what I read that people today have no sense of what battles and costs have preceded and made our world. Not that this battle sounds particularly productive.
Many of the dead were apparently prisoners of war, that Henry ordered killed. The historian being interviewed thinks it may have been tactically necessary as he had too many prisoners in hand with the battle still not decided.
On the other hand there is some great spin, the greatest spin ever, perhaps: We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Despite my taste for Statistics Canada information, the Toronto police reports continue to fascinate. This one seemed rather special.
Arrest - 42 Division
Male suspect, 34
Male suspect, 48
Charge(s): October 25, 2005 – Break and Enter Commit (3 Counts), Possession of Burglars Tools (3 Counts), Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5,000.00 (3 Counts).
Arrested and investigated by Members of No. 42 Division.
During the months of September and October 2005, three commercial break and enters occurred at DGM Sales Limited, 80 Nashdene Road. Three male suspects (one still outstanding) removed a large quantity of designer fragrance perfumes from the premises. As a result of investigation, the above two suspects were arrested on October 25, 2005. Charged accordingly. No recovery has been made. Investigation continuing.
I have some questions. Is this a team of three who repeatedly, and therefore stupidly, burgle the same place over two months? (I am guessing they are a team - hence the three counts.) Or is it three burglaries, each by a different suspect?
And designer fragrances? 'No recovery has been made.' I wonder if there are very pleased girlfriends somewhere, or whether there is a designer fragrance fence at work somewhere.
"Meanwhile, domestic slaughter has declined modestly this year."
I have developed an enthusiasm for Statistics Canada's daily reports.
The subject line comes from today's, in an article on Hog Inventories
I try to convince myself that if I can understand everything in the report, it will make me much better informed in very valuable ways. I am still struggling with this line:
Prices for hogs weakened in 2005, even though anti-dumping duties were lifted following an April 6, 2005, negative determination by the International Trade Commission.
So let me try - someone thought we were dumping hogs and so applied duties (the US?); the ITC decided we were not, and the duties were dropped. Why should the prices increase? I guess we could get better prices as the buyers in the US would not have to pay the duties, and we would get some of the money that went to duties back. OK that makes sense. Maybe? (Hmm - how does this differ from softwood lumber?)
Even more fascinating is this tidbit:
Information (jointly published by Statistics Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture) indicates that the combined Canada-US hog inventories on September 1, 2005, rose marginally over the year to a record 76.4 million animals.
Now I would guess there are about 330 Million people in Canada plus the US (30 Million in Canada means 10 times that in the US roughly) - so there is one hog for every 4.5 people, roughly. That is a heck of a backlog of bacon and butterfly pork chops.
Seems like an overestimate to me
I decided to see how much this blog is worth
It made me wonder what it would be worth if I really worked on it.
I think I will stick with what I think I know how to do.
Rosa Parks - one suitable tribute
Others have said all that need be said.Athena
makes a good point and directs us to think about those following Parks' path in her tribute to Parks
Cannot stay totally depressed - there are real reporters
Even reliving Matt Frei's efforts depresses me. If it does the same thing to you, I recommend you read the work of a real reporter - Michael Yon, on the voting on the referendum in Iraq
P Z Myers certainly deserves this link
Well worth a read
(go follow the link to the ugly web Powerpoint presentation) if only for the amazing quotation from St. Augustine on Slide 3 (which is making me rethink some of my views about how the problem with Islamism is just that Islam is running 700 years behind Christianity), and the laugh out loud slide 57 gave me. 'Stork Theory' beats the dickens out of the flying spaghetti monster.
Well at least the BBC did not choose to surprise
'The grimmest of milestones' - Matt Frei is so delighted tonight to be able to mark the death of the 2000th US soldier in this campaign in Iraq. The glee is palpable and he goes through the usual litany of his own opinions, with no major concern for whether what he thinks is particularly right or valuable. He manages to find a mother of a soldier to speak to, though oddly she says of her son only that he thought he was making the world a better place - perhaps she said she disagreed (I was not paying close attention), but her views are clarified as she is shown hugging Cindy Sheehan, whose son also disagreed with his mother's views. Matt is convinced the young men who paid with their lives were wrong (well, he does nothing to treat their views seriously), and their mothers are right (he is practically sycophantic with them).
Why is this so depressing to watch? Partly because it is so formulaic. Frei is no analyst - he parrots the same things every report. Can his editors in London have such low expectations? Why can he find no way to give a voice to the views of the sons who paid with their lives? Perhaps he knows his editors in London would not welcome that. Or would welcome it only if he made fun of the views or dismissed them in some other way - and that would be awkward, given their sacrifice.
I do not know this answers. I do know that Frei is a perpetual disappointment to me. The BBC does some things well, and has somewhat of a proud history; I will be greatly surprised if their reports from the US in these times will be part of a proud history in 20 years from now.
Maybe not entirely silly
Statistics Canada made a very interesting-looking study
available this morning; the bottom line of it can be summarized in a couple of paragraphs:
The earnings of second-generation Canadians is only loosely tied to the socio-economic status of their parents, according to a new study that investigates the link between the socio-economic status of immigrant fathers and their Canadian born sons and daughters.
Second-generation children in Canada are more educated and earn more on average than Canadians of a similar age whose parents were both born in Canada, according to the study.
and (ok, three paragraphs, and three is possibly 'a couple'))
The study also found that even though paternal earnings were not strongly associated with the adult earnings of daughters, the fathers [sic] education was an important influence. Fathers from immigrant communities with high levels of education are able to promote the education and labour market success of their daughters.
So far I have read only the summary of the paper - the full report is 44 pages so it may be a while. I do have a personal interest as half a second-generation Canadian (one parent born outside the country). The link above also leads to a free download of the whole paper. Looks as if it is worth a read.
TV Ontario had an interesting segment on some new burdensome regulations being applied to butcher shops in Ontario. It confirmed to me that the current provincial administration loves meddling and seeming to do useful things (it is not hard to find evidence of this). The government spokesman, Tom Baker, said the following wonderful thing:
Some people feel that as many as one in four Ontarians may be affected
What he thought they were affected by was possible food poisoning. The show does a nice job of documenting the costs being imposed on small businessmen.
But to think one would cite evidence for imposing these regulations that would include what people 'feel'. Aargghh. And I will bet these same people make fun of Bush's 'faith-based' decision-making (which is a concept I think is dense too).
Maybe these guys are well-meaning but it seems increasingly unlikely they can do much good.
Fair Weather Fans
I was once a fanatical baseball fan - I played a lot in my teens - I lacked some physical skills so had to apply my brain, becoming a decent first baseman (I was a tall kid), and as a fan developed a great taste for defensive play and what we now call 'smallball'. This worked well for me, as the vagaries of AM radio reception meant that I could receive KMOX from St Louis clearly in the nighttime in the Ottawa Valley, and became quite a fan of the St Louis Cardinals in the early1960s, a team that through most of its history has lived by eking out runs.
In recent years I have lost interest in baseball - home run derbies are not attractive to me.
But my oh my - has this year's post-season play been sweet! My sleep schedule has been thoroughly disrupted. The top of the ninth inning of the fourth Houston-St. Louis game was one of the finest pieces of baseball I have seen, featuring a wonderful Houston defensive play at the plate, followed by a mental lapse by the same player key to that play, allowing a witty advance to third by Larry Walker, and capped by a magnificent double play to save the game. And I speak as someone wanting St Louis to win - but, really, who can deny such great play!
And now I have survived the fifth game, which did feature home runs, if not a derby, but also featured some incredibly intelligent and aggressive 'smallball'. It is worth noting that the Houston manager played for the Cardinals during one of their heydays.
And by the way, the ALCS games I watched seem to have the same flavour. So for the first time in years I am excited about the World Series this year, whoever makes it through the NLCS. Late nights ahead!
But I wonder - I keep reading stories about how baseball recovered its audience during the McGwire-Sosa duels - a period when I totally lost interest. So this may be a bad omen for the game.
Teaching Intelligent Design
As somewhat of an Americophile, I have found the various initiatives to impose the teaching of 'intelligent design' in science classes in the US as at best embarrassing. So imagine my shock this morning to find in the Globe and Mail
by Michael Valpy describing how this nonsense is in fact part of the prescribed curriculum for a broad spectrum of Ontario high school students! This summarizes it best.
The Catholic system's course profile says evolution is to be taught according to the "Darwinian . . . theoretical framework . . . within a Catholic context, which views reality through the eyes of faith and challenges students to grow in a fuller understanding of their faith."
One so-called teacher is quoted in the article as syaing:
"How did the eyeball develop? How do you make an eyeball from no eyeball? Three-quarters of an eyeball is no good. There are things the experts [who hold that Charles Darwin's theory of evolutionary natural selection accounts for the state of all living organisms] can't answer."
Now this is truly a howler. I have a cataract in my right eye so I would be willing to say I have three-fourths of an eyeball in some sense. This is vastly more useful than no eyeball! How anyone capable of thought could take the statement above seriously baffles me. Moreover, as anyone with the smallest knowledge of the evolution literature would know (and it is interesting the Catholic school board seems not to expect that of its science teachers) 'the eyeball' has evolved several times independently, and nobody with half a brain would find it hard to imagine the value of merely partial vision compared to none., The phrase 'irreducible complexity' is brought into play (seems odd to me it is applied ot the eyeball), and of course all the arguments around that notion are nonsense too.
Curiously, Valpy presents the facts of his article pretty flatly, without pointing out how completely stupid the views he is reporting are. I am not sure why.
I am grateful to him, though, as the next time one of my acquaintances goes into some anti-American rant, and picks on the intelligent design nonsense, I will be happy to point out that Ontario's educational system has institutionalized teaching this blather.