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Everything posted by JJPierce

  1. Well.there have doubtless been a number of good films made by lesser directors, but I don't think anybody could say that the director is "one of the least important components" of the classics of Alfred Hitchcock or David Lean. And notice, I didn't say "name director," but "the equivalen of Peter Jackson." Jackson indeed wasn't well known before LTR, but he was in love with the story and would spare no effort to do it justice. That was what counted. Among other things, he knew how to do the necessary compression: the scene where Frodo and Samwise are seated on thrones as hosannas are sung to them, for example, would have dragged on too long for a movie. But Jackson conveyed the meaning of it with the scene at Gondor where Aragorn tells the hobbits, "You bow to no one" -- and all the knights bow to THEM.
  2. An ATLAS SHRUGGED movie looks even iffier now. Not only is Angelina Jolie taking a year off, but a cover story for one of the tabloids shows her looking now as if she'd just stepped out of Buchenwald -- yeah, anorexic. Indeed a frail reed to cling to. I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again: what this project needs is the equivalent of Peter Jackson in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Name stars, even if any could be found who are sympathetic to Objectivism, aren't going to mean a thing without someone at the helm who believes in the story as a story.
  3. My Al Gore YouTube video

    Was that rabbit named Harvey?
  4. Jokes

    What kind of shoes do politicians wear? Flip-flops, of course!
  5. 24 (2001)

    So how come they didn't think of this at the outset? Why DIDN'T they know where the arc was going? It's something writers MAKE UP, for goodness' sake -- not something handed down from some high Hollywood heaven!
  6. 24 (2001)

    Not only that, but there was practically no emotional impact. Remember how we felt when George Mason or Edgar Stiles died? Nobody felt that way about Milo; his character was never developed enough to make us care about him. I'm sure it's been addressed somewhere in this thread, but I'll mention it anyway: CTU seems to be the LEAST secure place in L.A.: three attacks so far. And the CTU geeks can call up detailed diagrams of every building in town, but never notice the sewer under their own building?
  7. Speaking of Swindles

    Lots of Orren Boyles, though, to judge from this story that appeared in the New York Times. --J.J.P. Lawmakers Push for Big Subsidies for Coal Process By EDMUND L. ANDREWS Published: May 29, 2007 WASHINGTON, May 28 — Even as Congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming, a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels. Richard A. Gephardt, a former Democratic House majority leader, has been hired by Peabody Energy to help make the case for liquefied coal. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, is drafting a bill to promote renewable fuels, but not liquefied coal, for electricity. Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big government purchases for the next 25 years. With both House and Senate Democrats hoping to pass “energy independence” bills by mid-July, coal supporters argue that coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline and potentially greener than ethanol. “For so many, filthy coal is a dirty four-letter word,” said Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “These individuals, I tell you, have their heads buried in the sand.” Environmental groups are adamantly opposed, warning that coal-based diesel fuels would at best do little to slow global warming and at worst would produce almost twice as much of the greenhouse gases tied to global warming as petroleum. Coal companies are hardly alone in asking taxpayers to underwrite alternative fuels in the name of energy independence and reduced global warming. But the scale of proposed subsidies for coal could exceed those for any alternative fuel, including corn-based ethanol. Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel. Coal companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying on the issue, and have marshaled allies in organized labor, the Air Force and fuel-burning industries like the airlines. Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest coal company, urged in a recent advertising campaign that people “imagine a world where our country runs on energy from Middle America instead of the Middle East.” Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat whose district is dominated by coal mining, is writing key sections of the House energy bill. In the Senate, champions of coal-to-liquid fuels include Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Larry Craig of Wyoming, both Republicans.
  8. Solace from music

    With all the terrible headlines from Blacksburg and elsewhere, it helps to remember that there are still beautiful things in the world. These are a few piano selections I found surfing at YouTube, two classical, one pop. But then some pop works ARE classics, after all Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto (1) Heitor Villa Lobos: A Lenda do Caboclo James P. Johnson: Carolina Shout
  9. Jokes

    CONGRESSIONAL CALL CENTER You have reached the office of Rep. Henry Sludgepump. Please listen carefully, as our options have changed. If you wish to make a legal campaign contribution, press 1 If you wish to make an illegal campaign contribution, press 2 If you have a pork project to add to the military spending bill, press 3 If you wish to have your ex placed on the terrorist watch list, press 4 If you wish to have a business competitor put out of business, press 5 [Feel free to add more options]
  10. Should we laugh or cry?

    This from the BERGEN RECORD in my home state: 'Re-created' McGreevey still a joke Thursday, April 26, 2007 By MIKE KELLY RECORD COLUMNIST Just before he told us he was a "gay American" and about to give up his governor's seat, Jim McGreevey talked to another lame Democratic politician who left office early. "If you do this right, you can re-create yourself," McGreevey says he was told by former California Rep. Tony Coelho, who resigned amid accusations that he took a questionable loan to buy junk bonds. Well, McGreevey is back and not just as a best-selling author. He's teaching ethics and leadership to college students -- at a state university. Which means, your tax dollars are paying for part of this re-creation. The saga of Jim McGreevey is not funny anymore. We watched this confused man become a governor who told lobbyists they could get a private meeting with him if they forked over $25,000. Then we discovered that one of his buddies allegedly developed a code word -- Machiavelli -- for McGreevey to use as a signal that a sleazy deal was in the works. Then we watched a string of his buddies hauled off to prison. And that wasn't the end of the story. We learned ethical questions have been hanging over McGreevey for years. We also learned McGreevey and his Democratic hacks did not stand for the ideals of the Democratic Party. McGreevey's main priority was himself. So how is it possible that a man with this kind of questionable history is now teaching ethics? And why is this man who continually displayed such shallow, cowardly leadership now teaching leadership? How did Jim McGreevey re-create himself as an "executive-in-residence" at Kean University, with a salary of $17,500 to teach one course each term -- a re-creation that will ultimately pad his pension. Say hello to Dawood Farahi. He's the president of Kean University and he seems to have a big smile on his face, knowing that he has secured the incredible talents of Jim McGreevey. Pay attention to Farahi's choice of words as he explains himself. "For a university like us to have the ability of a former governor -- for what we pay him -- it's an opportunity for our students we shouldn't miss," Farahi said. Ability? Opportunity? Was Dawood Farahi in a coma when McGreevey was governor? McGreevey was elected in the months after the 9/11 attacks. The nation -- and New Jersey -- feared another terrorist attack was coming. McGreevey's solution was to appoint an unqualified Israeli public relations flack who was his alleged gay lover as the state's homeland security adviser. What ability was involved in that decision? What will students learn from that? The spin from Kean spokesman Dan Higgins is that McGreevey's course is a "tremendous success" and that "students learned a lot" and offered feedback that was "extremely positive." Really? Were these students also in a collective coma during the McGreevey years? This story is not about re-creation. This is about altered reality. And that reality is about to go global. McGreevey is advising Kean about opening a satellite campus in China. Quick: Somebody warn the Chinese. We don't need another billion people cracking bad New Jersey jokes. As for New Jersey, we need a warning too. Re-creation can be a beautiful thing. Not stupidity.
  11. Should we laugh or cry?

    Next: a course by foxes in poultry management I see McSleazey's predecessor Christine Whitman has denounced him. Of course, she was the one who had the "brilliant" idea of floating a bond issue to finance state pensions -- thereby seemingly solving the state's budget problems. Only taxpayers are getting soaked for the interest payments, and it looks as if they'll get soaked even more for a growing shortfall in the pension fund. McSleazey has become a hero to some gays. I don't know why. If he'd been straight, and put his dumb girlfriend in charge of Homeland Security, nobody would have thought that was a cool move.
  12. Saddam's WMD

    What I'm wondering is, why nobody's following up on this. Sure, the mainstream press might avoid it, but I'd think some maverick crew would want to go to the scene with cameras and geiger counters. The residual radiation would presumably still be there. Of course, what's ironic is that Bush's people apparently don't want to touch this with a 10-foot pole.
  13. Lisa Binkley isn't an Objectivist, and probably never will be -- not in the sense of joining a club, taking courses sponsored by ARI and the like. She might disagree with Ayn Rand on any number of specific issues. But in her review of ATLAS SHRUGGED for SFReader.com, she got the point: http://www.sfreader.com/read_review.asp?ID=510 There must be a lot of people like her out there.
  14. 24 (2001)

    Yes it is. But even though the remake had better production values, I prefer the original -- it was simpler and starker, without irrelevant complications. One of the best episodes of THE X-FILES, "SR 819," was also inspired by D.O.A.: http://www.insidethex.co.uk/transcrp/scrp610.htm Walter Skinner's monologue at the beginning of the XF episode has the same kind of seriousness as George Mason's dialogue in the 24 episode. Of course, there's no mystery about why Mason is dying. Or is there? The real cause is that he was a coward -- he'd never have been exposed to plutonium if he hadn't been trying to flee LA pn a bogus mission. And yet he redeems himself -- as you know, he dies a hero.
  15. 24 (2001)

    My wife and I were watching a Season Two DVD tonight, and were really touched by this exchange: <<George Mason: Believe it or not, I used to want to be a teacher. A long time ago. You know why I didn't? DOD offered me more money. That's how I made my decision. So I made myself miserable. And I made everybody else around me miserable. For an extra five thousand dollars a year. That was my price. Michelle Dessler: I'm sorry. George Mason: You know, Michelle, I'm not a big advice giver, but under the circumstances... Don't wait around for your life to happen to you. Find something that makes you happy, and do it. Because everything else is all just background noise.>> It's an action show, sure, but these extras are part of what made it great.
  16. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    Looks as if the Lewis reference has been zapped, perhaps for that reason (Shoshana is presently out of the country at a literary conference scheduled long before.). But I would like to point out that Cho seems to have been on the path to destruction even before he came to college. While it is possible that something he was taught there gave him a bogus rationale, I think he would have gone on his rampage anyway -- just like the pair at Columbine. Moreover, it is typical of left-wing students to engage in collective action. like disrupting speakers and programs they don't like. Cho was a loner to the end.
  17. Saddam's WMD

    Hadn't seen anything about this. But David Kay, a UN weapons inspector, said years ago that he'd seen calutrons (used in uranium processing) being taken out the back of one site while his team was held up at the front entrance. Kay also said that supplies of anthrax were removed from another site before the UN was able to blow it up. Wonder who got this stuff, Iran or Syria?
  18. Solace from music

    Well, here's another hand. Or most of a hand. The guy's camcorder must have run out of tape. Poulenc delighted in what he called "l'adorable musique mauvaise," and incorporating it into classical music. This is most of the third movement of his Concerto for Two Pianos.
  19. Solace from music

    WOW! I guess I must have seen these guys ages ago when I saw the movie, but I don't recall them. Now I'll never forget them. I do remember Cab Calloway, though. He was still performing late in life, and as energetic as ever I recall. Hey, was Minnie the only moocher an Objectvist could love?
  20. Solace from music

  21. Solace from music

    One of the best sf intros ever: Third season of BABYLON 5, with a kind of Beethoven feel: resolute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ77Hwq20hM
  22. Solace from music

    And maybe you'll get a chuckle out of this: http://fernandel.online.fr/films/cinq_sous_lavarede.htm Not a video, but at the bottom of the page are links to two cheesy but charming songs from LES CINQ SOUS DE LAVAREDE, a 1939 French film starring Fenandel. Its based on an 1894 novel by Paul D'Ivoi about a man who, in order to get his inheritance, has to start a journey around the world with only five cents in his pocket. D'Ivoi was the leading writer of a school of Vernean adventure/sf that also included Maurice Champagne, Georges Toudouze and Louis Boussenard. More about him here: http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/pauldivoi.htm
  23. Solace from music

    And to put a song in your heart, there's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cl5wuToI1Q From Alexander Korda's version of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940), one of the most lushly romantic movies ever to hit the screen. Music by Miklos Rozsa, lyrics by Sir Robert Vansittart. And the spoken dialogue is by Miles Malleson, who plays a doddering old sultan -- the princess' father. Michael Powell, one of several directors involved with the movie, told me once that Korda staged a contest to see who could come up with the most romantic dialogue, and Malleson won.
  24. France Wrestles With Its Own Decline

    I'm reminded of a scathing review by Garrison (PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION) Keillor of a stupid book by a Frenchman, Bernard-Henry Levy, about America, which he considered a land of vulgar fat peope. The URL's too long to post here, but you can find it it you Google Keillor Levy and NYT. Here's how Keillor ended his review: <<Thanks for coming. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. For your next book, tell us about those riots in France, the cars burning in the suburbs of Paris. What was that all about? Were fat people involved?>>
  25. License to Kill in Iran

    From today's New York Times. Speaks for its disgusting self: Iran Exonerates Six Who Killed in Islam’s Name By NAZILA FATHI Published: April 19, 2007 TEHRAN, April 18 — The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.” The reversal, in an infamous five-year-old case from Kerman, in central Iran, has produced anger and controversy, with lawyers calling it corrupt and newspapers giving it prominence. “The psychological consequences of this case in the city have been great, and a lot of people have lost their confidence in the judicial system,” Nemat Ahmadi, a lawyer associated with the case, said in a telephone interview. Three lower court rulings found all the men guilty of murder. Their cases had been appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned the guilty verdicts. The latest decision, made public this week, reaffirms that reversal. “The objection by the relatives of the victims is dismissed, and the ruling of this court is confirmed,” the court said in a one-page verdict. The ruling may still not be final, however, because a lower court in Kerman can appeal the decision to the full membership of the Supreme Court. More than 50 Supreme Court judges would then take part in the final decision. According to the Supreme Court’s earlier decision, the killers, who are members of the Basiji Force, volunteer vigilantes favored by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, considered their victims morally corrupt and, according to Islamic teachings and Iran’s Islamic penal code, their blood could therefore be shed. The last victims, for example, were a young couple engaged to be married who the killers claimed were walking together in public. Members of the Basiji Force are known for attacking reformist politicians and pro-democracy meetings. President Ahmadinejad was a member of the force, but the Supreme Court judges who issued the ruling are not considered to be specifically affiliated with it. Iran’s Islamic penal code, which is a parallel system to its civic code, says murder charges can be dropped if the accused can prove the killing was carried out because the victim was morally corrupt. This is true even if the killer identified the victim mistakenly as corrupt. In that case, the law requires “blood money” to be paid to the family. Every year in Iran, a senior cleric determines the amount of blood money required in such cases. This year it is $40,000 if the victim is a Muslim man, and half that for a Muslim woman or a non-Muslim. In a long interview with the Iranian Student News Agency, a Supreme Court judge, Mohammad Sadegh Al-e-Eshagh, who did not take part in this case, sought Wednesday to discourage vigilante killings, saying those carried out without a court order should be punished. At the same time, he laid out examples of moral corruption that do permit bloodshed, including armed banditry, adultery by a wife and insults to the Prophet Muhammad. “The roots of the problems are in our laws,” said Mohammad Seifzadeh, a lawyer and a member of the Association for Defenders of Human Rights in Tehran. “Such cases happen as long as we have laws that allow the killer to decide whether the victim is corrupt or not. Ironically, such laws show that the establishment is not capable of bringing justice, and so it leaves it to ordinary people to do it.” The ruling stems from a case in 2002 in Kerman that began after the accused watched a tape by a senior cleric who ruled that Muslims could kill a morally corrupt person if the law failed to confront that person. Some 17 people were killed in gruesome ways after that viewing, but only five deaths were linked to this group. The six accused, all in their early 20s, explained to the court that they had taken their victims outside the city after they had identified them. Then they stoned them to death or drowned them in a pond by sitting on their chests. Three of the families had given their consent under pressure by the killers’ families to accept financial compensation, said Mr. Ahmadi, the lawyer. Such killings have occurred in the past. A member of the security forces shot and killed a young man in 2005 in the subway in Karaj, near Tehran, for what he also claimed was immoral behavior by the victim. A judge caused outrage in 2004 in Neka, in the north, after he issued a death sentence for a 16-year old girl for what he said were chastity crimes. After the summary trial, he had her hanged in public immediately, before the necessary approval from the Supreme Court. Neither man has been punished. “Such laws are not acceptable in our society today,” said Hossein Nejad Malayeri, the brother of Gholamreza Nejad Malayeri, who was killed by the group in Kerman. “That means if somebody has money, he can kill, and claim the victim was corrupt.”