URLs du Jour


  • It's like blind men describing the elephant, although they don't actually have the excuse of being blind:

    • "Hooray for Obama! His shift in Iraq policy shows sensibility and that he'll be an effective commander in chief!"

    • "Hooray for Obama! He has the guts not to shift his Iraq policy!"

    It's a safe bet that we'll see this sort of thing repeated over the next few months. He's large, he contains multitudes.

  • We've been dumping a lot on Senator Obama recently, but still see indications that a McCain administration would not be particularly scrupulous about Federalism and limited government.
    Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief who is now the Republican National Committee's "Victory Chairman," was discussing consumer-driven health insurance at a breakfast with reporters when she proposed "a real, live example which I've been hearing a lot about from women: There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won't cover birth-control medication. Those women would like a choice." For effect, the woman frequently mentioned as a possible McCain running mate repeated: "Those women would like a choice."

    Silence filled the meeting room at the St. Regis Hotel. "I don't know where I go after that," said the moderator, Dave Cook of the Christian Science Monitor.

    Me neither. Bob Barr, I think. (Via The Right Coast.)

  • It's an article of faith among some that Karl Rove is a demon spawn from Hell, but I think he's an okay guy.

  • Don't say Pun Salad never points you to practical advice to improve your life: over is better. (Via BBSpot.)

Vantage Point

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

Why yes, this is the third movie I've seen with Sigourney Weaver content in the space of roughly a week. Good catch.

This thriller is about a plot to do serious harm to the President of the United States during his visit to Spain. There's a gimmick: at points, the movie "rewinds" to its beginning, and you see the same timespan following a different character. For the climax, this gimmick is dropped, but while it's in operation, it's pretty clever: each iteration shows you something different, and more information is revealed about what's really going on.

I liked it considerably better than most critics. Although I was left asking Hey, what happened to Phil?

Trivia: Although they have no scenes together here, I was almost sure that this was the first time Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt appeared in the same movie since 1981's Eyewitness, one of my alltime favorites. Nope. Thanks to IMDB magic, it turns out that they were also both in The Village, which I've seen, but almost totally forgotten. ("Let's see… it was about… a village, right?")

Last Modified 2012-10-11 4:20 PM EST

Old Man's War

[Amazon Link] I don't read a lot of science fiction any more, but multiple web-huzzahs for this one caused me to buy it and put it in the reading queue. It's good!

It's about John Perry, a 75-year-old man who's recently buried his beloved wife. He would ordinarily be looking at a normal old age on Earth—this still involves the prospect of depressing diseases, breakdowns, and death, sudden or slowww—but in his time there's another option: you can sign up for the Colonial Defense Forces, go offworld and be (somehow) rejuvenated for the (very) dirty work of defending human space colonies against the hosts of bugeyed monsters that desire those worlds for themselves. (A distressing number of the aliens have developed a taste for humans, even featuring recipes on the Alien Food Network. Yeesh! Alien Rachael Ray! Yummo!)

Many people have remarked on the similarity of Scalzi's work to that of Robert A. Heinlein, and that's certainly true. Scalzi even makes a note of his obvious debts to Heinlein in the acknowledgments at the end. Like RAH, while the novel is set in the far-flung future, there are still recognizable features of the present. (When all the geezers gather together for a meal during their flight out from Earth, one character remarks "It's like Wednesday morning at the world's biggest Denny's.")

Quibble: It's difficult to buy the underlying human-vs-alien conflict in the book. Given the realities of the timing of stellar and biological evolution, how likely is it that multiple species will find themselves simultaneously in competition for the same planets in the same corner of the galaxy? Think about the likelihood of your entire kindergarten class showing up by coincidence 50 years later in line for It's a Small World at Disneyland. The book's scenario is way more far-fetched than that.

So you need to do that whole suspension-of-disbelief thing, OK? No problem here. Maybe it's explained in the sequel. Or explained away. I'm cool with that too.

Is it unforgivably old-fashioned to like an author mostly because he writes like an author you revered in your younger days? Guilty as charged.

Last Modified 2012-10-11 4:09 PM EST