'Twas in Another Lifetime


… one of toil and blood:

  • David Friedman is employed by an institution of higher education that's currently riding the "sustainability" bandwagon. (As is the University Near Here.) But:

    I responded to an email urging faculty members to introduce sustainability into one of their classes by asking if it was all right if I argued against it in mine, and suggesting that a program which consisted entirely of presentations on one side of an issue looked more like propaganda than education.

    The result was a talk titled: "Sustainability: Empty Rhetoric or a Bad Idea?" (available as an MP3). Haven't listened to it yet, but I'm dying to find out the answer to the question.

  • Michael F. Cannon notes another example of Hayek's timeless perception: inside every leftist is a little authoritarian dying to get out.

    (By the way, thanks to whoever it was used a Pun Salad link to order Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty. It's not exactly a page-turner, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.)

  • Don't mouseover if you're sensitive to bad words, but otherwise: here's a useful book for new parents. For the next time you're invited to a baby shower!

  • Some gorgeous animated GIFs. You won't be sorry you clicked.

Last Modified 2012-09-26 12:54 PM EDT

10 Items or Less

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The title makes my inner pedant grumble: "Shouldn't that be '10 Items or Fewer'?" There is a Wikipedia page devoted to the controversy; it comes down pretty firmly on the anti-prescriptivist side. For what it's worth, my local supermarket uses "fewer", probably because they don't mind catering to grammar nannies like me.


10 Items or Less was released back in 2006 to negligible box-office business. (This despite the fact that its star, Mr. Morgan Freeman, had just won an Oscar for his supporting role in Million Dollar Baby.) It had been in my Netflix queue a long time, and finally wiggled its way up to the top, the Netflix algorithm (correctly) predicting that I'd find it to be pretty darn good.

Mr. Freeman plays an unnamed actor, teetering on the edge of has-beenosity, preparing for a possible role in a shoestring movie as a supermarket night manager. This involves him showing up at a seedy supermarket in downscale Carson, California. He roams the aisles, soaking up the atmosphere, but pretty quickly zeroes in on Scarlet, the cashier working the guess-what aisle. (Scarlet is played by the extremely easy-on-the-eyes Spanish actress Paz Vega.) Scarlet has car problems, boyfriend problems, and job problems. The actor needs to find his way back to Brentwood. The movie soon becomes an odyssey as they team up to solve their mutual problems.

Both Mr. Freeman and Señorita Vega are fine actors, and they're given a lot of clever lines. The movie's not really about much except their characters, so a lot is on their shoulders, and they carry it off. Mr. Freeman especially seems to be having a lot of fun.

It's a short 82 minutes, and (to quibble) it kind of dragged at a couple points. Nevertheless, a worthwhile rental.

Last Modified 2012-09-26 12:55 PM EDT

Star Island

[Amazon Link]

Carl Hiaasen's first adult novel since 2006's Nature Girl. It's his usual funny mishmash of Florida lowlifes, perverts, nutjobs, and criminals, seasoned with one or two essentially decent folk. Some might say he's settled into a formula, and—well, yes he has. But it's a formula he executes pretty flawlessly. Nevertheless, I decided to save a few bucks on a gently-used hardcover at Amazon instead of buying new.

The book revolves around celebrity culture, focusing on Ms. Cherry Pye (previously Cheryl Bunterman) a huge star with minimal talent, but a prodigious appetite for indiscriminate sexual encounters and ubiquitous ingestion of non-nutritive substances. She is pursued by paparazzi, most notably Bang Abbott, whose previous claim to fame was getting a Pulitzer for photographing a shark attack against a hapless tourist. (The scurrilous rumor that Abbott had been scattering chum in the waters just before? Absolutely true.)

Cherry Pye's parents are concerned about their daughter, but almost all of their concern centers around the decline in the revenue stream if the truth about either (a) her sordid activities or (b) her total lack of talent becomes known. To this end, they hire a double, Ann DeLusia, to show up when Cherry's too wasted. (She's pretty much the only sane, decent major character.)

They also engage a bodyguard, known as Chemo, to protect Cherry from the public. And vice-versa. (Chemo is a returning villain from a previous book, where his arm was bitten off by a barracuda and replaced with a commercial-quality weed-whacker. Nice to see him back again; his luck is better here.)

Anyway: Ann is abducted, first by Skink, an ex-governor of Florida turned reclusive environmental guerilla. Then by Bang Abbot, who holds her hostage in order to arrange for an exclusive photo session with Cherry. And then things get really weird.

Hiaasen gets in his usual bashing of everything he sees as wrecking his beloved Florida: tourists, real-estate speculators, conservatives, etc. At some points it feels like he might have been padding to get up to a contractually-agreed page count. But that's OK.

Last Modified 2012-09-26 12:54 PM EDT