URLs du Jour

2007-11-27

  • Andrew Ferguson wins the coveted Pun Salad "Read the Whole Thing" Award for today. At the Weekly Standard, he reviews six books by presidential candidates (Biden, Edwards, Clinton, Huckabee, Romney, Dodd); the results are hilarious. From the Biden section:
    What does a discerning reader learn from Biden's book that we didn't already know? Perhaps not much, if you're a regular watcher of C-SPAN or a longtime resident of Delaware. But there is something unforgettable about watching the man emerge on the page. His legendary self-regard becomes more impressive when the reader sees it in typescript, undistracted by the smile and the hair plugs. Biden quotes at great length from letters of recommendation he received as a young man, when far-sighted professors wrote movingly of his "sharp and incisive intellect" and his "highly developed sense of responsibility." These qualities have proved to be more of a burden than you might think, Biden admits. "I've made life difficult for myself," he writes, "by putting intellectual consistency and personal principle above expediency."

    Yes, many Biden fans might tag these as the greatest of his gifts. Biden himself isn't so sure. After a little hemming and hawing--is it his intelligence that he most admires, or his commitment to principle, or his insistence on calling 'em as he sees 'em, or what?--he decides that his greatest personal and political virtue is probably his integrity. Tough call. But his wife seems to agree. He recounts one difficult episode in which she said as much. "Of all the things to attack you on," she said, almost in tears. "Your integrity?"

    But, really, read the whole thing.

  • Is Mike Huckabee a "false conservative"? Find out in Robert D. Novak's recent column headlined "The False Conservative".
    Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist, big-government advocate of a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses with the possibility of more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem on its hands.
    Unfortunately, Novak fails to use the word "phony", so this won't boost Huckabee's low standings in the ongoing Phony Campaign.

  • And in the Aieee! We're all gonna die! department, it turns out that we may be destroying the entire universe simply by observing it.
    Have we hastened the demise of the universe by looking at it? That's the startling question posed by a pair of physicists, who suggest that we may have accidentally nudged the universe closer to its death by observing dark energy, which is thought to be speeding up cosmic expansion.

    Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and colleague James Dent suggest that by making this observation in 1998 we may have caused the universe to revert to a state similar to early in its history, when it was more likely to end. "Incredible as it seems, our detection of the dark energy may have reduced the life-expectancy of the universe," says Krauss.

    "Oops. Sorry."

    Apparently there's no other intelligent life in the universe we could blame this on, either.

Black Book

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

This movie is set in the occupied Netherlands near the end of World War II (with opening and closing scenes set in a 1956 Israeli kibbutz.) The Netherlands is still a dangerous place to be Jewish at that time, and Rachel Klein is in hiding with a Christian family, who force her to recite from the New Testament in exchange for shelter.

Rachel, a somewhat spoiled free spirit, clearly chafes at hiding, but it's better than what comes next. The house is accidentally bombed by a careless Nazi pilot, and she decides to try to escape to liberated territory with her family. This has tragic results as well; despondent, she joins up with the Dutch resistance, and becomes a spy.

There's a lot of betrayal and danger involved throughout, and complications occur when Rachel falls for a Nazi-with-a-heart-of-gold played by Sebastian Koch. But the suspense is somewhat muted, because we've seen her in the 1956 kibbutz, and we know she survives.

This is directed by Paul Verhoeven, and it's a total change of pace from his American oeuvre (e.g., Starship Troopers; Total Recall; Robocop; Showgirls). There's no tongue-in-cheek here at all; but lots of (to quote from the MPAA) "strong violence, graphic nudity, sexuality and language." Quite a bit of general degradation is involved as well, which, even in these jaded times, can still disturb me.


Last Modified 2012-10-16 5:54 AM EDT