29 October 2007

The Spirit of 300, er, 1776, uh, ... whatever

Ever wonder what would happen if the folks who made '300' would make a movie about the American Revolution?

No, I didn't think so. Neither did I until I saw this over at Andrew Sullivan's blog.


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28 October 2007

The Money Vote and the Repubs

Most of us don't pay much attention to it, but there is a type of vote that takes place long before the actual elections and often determines the course of the election: the decision by people, businesses and organizations as to which candidate or party to support with money.

This time around it looks as if the money vote seems to be lopsidedly going towards the Democrats. Paul Krugman has a column on this that I think makes some interesting points. Here's one:
predictions that Mr. Rove and his disciples would succeed in creating a permanent Republican majority -- I have a whole bookshelf of volumes with titles like ''One Party Nation'' and ''Building Red America'' -- depended crucially on the assumption that the G.O.P. would have vastly more money than its opponents.

But something seems to have gone wrong:
According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, in the current election cycle every one of the top 10 industries making political donations is giving more money to Democrats. Even industries that have in the past been overwhelmingly Republican, like insurance and pharmaceuticals, are now splitting their donations more or less evenly. Oil and gas is the only major industry that the G.O.P. can still call its own.

That last sentence is telling, btw.

Krugman points out that much of this is simply driven by the polls (bad for the Republicans) and the weak field (worse for the Republicans). Who wants to spend money suuporting pols who aren't going to have the opportunity to return the favor? But there is also this:"disgust, even in the corporate world, with the corruption and incompetence of the Bush years." What upsets corporate America is that the scandals usually are about no-name companies that came out of nowhere to earn juicy contracts for very suspicious reasons. It's one thing to tilt the playing field, it is another when the tilt is away from powerful established businesses.

And then there is this:

In a classic 2003 article in The Washington Monthly, Nicholas Confessore (now at The New York Times) described the efforts of people like former Senator Rick Santorum to turn K Street into an appendage of the Republican Party -- not the other way around. ''The corporate lobbyists who once ran the show, loyal only to the parochial interests of their employer,'' wrote Mr. Confessore, ''are being replaced by party activists who are loyal first and foremost to the G.O.P.''

But corporations weren't happy. According to The Politico, ''many C.E.O.'s'' used the term ''extortion'' to describe ''the annual shakedowns by committee chairmen with jurisdiction over their industries.''

I have never had much of a taste for Krugman: I don't understand economics well and his TV persona is a little odd, but this has the ring of truth. In some ways the K Street project has been a "catastrophic success" for the Republican.s

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14 October 2007

Maori Wardance - the HAKA

While in Vietnam Maire reports that:

European sports are *very* popular here and so broadcast on tv. Marty's already watched part of a English Premiere League football (i.e. soccer) match, and a France vs. New Zealand rugby match. Did you know that New Zealand's team have a black uniform, and so are nicknamed the "all-blacks," or that they start every game with a Mauri war dance in order to intimidate their opponents? I didn't; I do now. For the record, despite the scary dancing, France won today.

That sounded a little odd so we did a You Tube search and found this clip of the All Blacks doing their haka war dance. It's very scary.

Carmen once spent a month in New Zealand and told me what handsome people the Maori are, so I searched a bit more and found real Maori's doing a real haka. Also very scary. In fact they look a bit like Samurai after downing a quart of testosterone.

Then I discovered the scariest haka war dance of them all. So scary that I can only warn you to think carefully before you click on this link. I've never seen anything like it and I once sat through Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" with a teenage boy and didn't flinch.

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Some personal stuff

Our friend Maeráed is in Vietnam meeting her new adopted brother. He's a cutie and Maeráed herself apparently is a big hit in Vietnam, what with her dark blond hair and pale blue eyes. Everyone makes over her. The Vietnamese love children of any sort.

Anyway, I have been posting about her and the trip over on Not Mayberry and everyone is invited to go over there and take a look.

Also, there is a post about Anactoria and her cinematic prescience.

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11 October 2007

Beowulf ... the motion picture

I am sure that Beowulf is everyone's favorite Dark Age hero. You probably loved having to read the poem in school, right?

Well, never mind. While doing some serious historical research on my lame Angelina Jolie allusion I discovered this link from Mediev-L, the listserver of serious medievalists. Check it out and tell me if Grendel and Grendel's mother don't look just like you imagined them, way back when you read Beowulf for class.

Some of the medievalists seem to think it is a parody and are planning to see it for giggles.


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Early Medieval Action Figures

Here it is, the ultimate action figure for a Medievalist or any sort. Here is what the ad has to say for it:

Hwæt! Hear me, Geats—er, geeks! When monsters threaten your mead hall, bare your warrior’s courage, travel to the toy store where you bought them, and complete the set with Young Beowulf.

You can also order Grendel and even Grendel's mom. Unfortunately the latter looks nothing like Angelina Jolie*.

Oh well.

*This is the picture I got when I did a Google image search for "Angelina Jolie Beowulf." Believe it or not. And I only did the search in the interest of historical research.

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10 October 2007

The Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris is a funny little car, just weird enough, and practical enough, for me to want one. But it just got a whole lot more ... interesting. At least according to this from the WaPo:

"Behold the Toyota Yaris. It's moderately priced, gets good mileage, and has a gun turret capable of destroying toasters and bike-riding sumo wrestlers as it cruises down a track."

Now I really want one.


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The Latest from the North Pole

Santa and his little reindeer are in deep trouble unless they want to take up water-skiing as a method of transport.

With thanks to Andrew Sullivan, here is a visual explanation of what is going on.


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05 October 2007

Serenity II ?

A few months ago Carmen brought a movie home from the library called "Serenity." She said it was based on a failed TV series but she thought the reviews of it had been good. It being a very small town where we live with not much to do on a Saturday night, we watched it.

And loved it.

Someone who is now on a slow plane to Vietnam loaned us a DVD set of the series it was based on, "Firefly." When Carmen is feeling a bit low or tired she pops one in the machine and watches an episode or two. I have to admit, they are fun.

So this news about a sequel to the movie might be of some interest. Believe it or not, I read about it and found the link on National Review Online.

I'm a bit puzzled though: I thought they had killed off most of the interesting characters in "Serenity I."


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04 October 2007

Peter Sellers Explains British Accents

As an international language there are countless varieties of English. Yesterday I listened to a section of Tom Friedman's The World is Flat where he describes visiting a class for Indian employees of a telephone service center where they were being taught how to imitate American, Canadian, or Australian accents. And thus hide their perfectly native "Indian accents."

These differences in English are fascinating. Just listen to this piece of You Tube video of Peter Sellers speaking English in all its British flavors.

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01 October 2007

March of the Emperors!

Do you remember "March of the Penguins?" Before they got Morgan Freeman to do the voiceover it was a French movie (see, them Frenchies CAN do something right) called "March of the Emperor." Which could lead to some confusion.

Courtesy of my favorite Francophile Bonapartist Historian.

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Miss Moneypenny is dead

Lois Maxwell, who starred as Miss Moneypenny in 14 James Bond movies, has died at the age of 80.

The Canadian-born actress starred alongside Sean Connery in the first James Bond movie, "Dr. No," in 1962 as the secretary to M, the head of the secret service. The last Bone movie she was in was "A View to a Kill" in 1985.

I've become convinced that the NEW James Bond is actually the Sean Connery Bond's love-child with Moneypenny, who is now 'M.'

No, think about it.

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