URLs du Jour


  • A sign of the times:

    A bust of the former prime minister once voted the greatest Briton in history, which was loaned to George W Bush from the Government's art collection after the September 11 attacks, has now been formally handed back.

    The bronze by Sir Jacob Epstein, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds if it were ever sold on the open market, enjoyed pride of place in the Oval Office during President Bush's tenure.

    But when British officials offered to let Mr Obama to hang onto the bust for a further four years, the White House said: "Thanks, but no thanks."

    "Do you have anything in a Chamberlain?"

  • I've been a Virginia Postrel fan ever since she was editing Reason magazine. Recently she fought breast cancer; among the weapons used was an expensive drug, Herceptin. She has a great article about it in the current issue of Atlantic, and it's also online. The opening is a grabber:

    If I lived in New Zealand, I'd be dead.

    That's the lead my editor wanted me to write, and I have to admit it's great. Alas (for this column, at least), it's not exactly true. But neither is it false. And the ways in which it's partly true matter greatly, not just to me or to New Zealanders but to anyone who might get cancer or care about someone who does.

    What follows is an interesting discussion of how government-run healthcare works. As they say: coming soon to a country near you.

  • The good folks at National Review have compiled the 25 best conservative movies. And supplied 25 also rans. I've seen 20 of the 25 best, 16 of the also rans; I thought I'd do better. How about you?

    Their number one is The Lives of Others; and, yeah, it's really good. I blogged about it here.

  • And, well, this is Pun Salad:

Last Modified 2012-10-08 7:52 PM EST

The Prisoner of Zenda (1952 Version)

[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

As I noted a few days back, the 1952 version of The Prisoner of Zenda tags along "for free", literally, on the back of the 1937 version.

Differences: it's in color. Some of the details are changed: the climactic swordfight is longer and covers more ground than in 1937; instead of getting out of one tight situation by using a tea table as a battering ram, the hero escapes through a hole in the roof. Other than such details, it's remarkably similar, sometimes line-for-line, shot-for-shot. I think they may have reused some of the 1937 sets.

And, of course, the actors: Stewart Granger takes over the "Rudolf" roles played in 1937 by Ronald Coleman, and, well, he's not as good. James Mason plays psycho Count Rupert, and he seems a really strange choice to replace Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. However, Deborah Kerr is really quite good as Princess Flavia; she seems like she's on loan from an actual royal family somewhere.

But (bottom line), if you rent this disc, you're not missing much if you just watch the "real" 1937 version and skip the flip side.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 7:52 PM EST

Stranger in Paradise

[Amazon Link]

The newest entry in Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series showed up in paperback, an easy, quick, fun read.

Things start off by recycling a bad guy from a previous book in the series: Wilson Cromartie, aka "Crow", arrives back in Paradise (a thinly-disguised Marblehead, MA), sent on a mission by a South Florida gangster to find his (the gangster's) estranged wife and daughter. Crow's previous visit was years ago, and most of his illegal activities at that time have been rendered moot by the statute of limitations, and the surviving witnesses are unwilling to testify against him on the rest. So all Jesse can do is watch and wait.

Crow is (however) a bad guy with a code of honor: there are some things you just don't do, and if you say you're going to do something, you do it. That's not much, but it does lead to an interesting semi-alliance between Jesse and Crow when the business arrangement with the Florida hood breaks down.

There is also a subplot about a bunch of Hispanic kids bused into Paradise from nearby disadvantaged neighborhoods. A group of concerned citizens get ostensibly concerned about property values, but are really just bigots. Or is there more to it than that?

Last Modified 2012-10-08 7:51 PM EST