URLs du Jour


  • Stand Your Ground. We all know from the whole George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin saga that Florida is a gun-crazy zone, where all you have to do after shooting someone is to come up with a halfway-plausible self-defense yarn. And, via Florida's "stand your ground" legislation, that's a stay-out-of-jail-free card. Right?

    Jacob Sullum says: Wrong, hoplophobia-breath! He tells the story of Jacksonville resident Marissa Alexander who fired a warning shot, in a confrontation with her abusive husband. The conclusion:

    On March 16, after deliberating for 12 minutes, a jury convicted Alexander on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Although she injured no one, she faces a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence unless she can win a new trial.
    Just outrageous.

  • What political news can you safely ignore? Cracked provides a handy guide: "5 Ways to Spot a B.S. Political Story in Under 10 Seconds".

    It's Cracked, so beware: the language is a little rougher than (say) National Review. But it's mostly non-partisan, true, and funny. The warning signs:

    1. The Headline Contains the Word "Gaffe"
    2. The Headline Ends in a Question Mark
    3. The Headline Contains the Word "Blasts"
    4. The Headline Is About a "Lawmaker" Saying Something Stupid
    5. The Headline Includes the Phrase "Blow To"
    Follow the link for the whole story. Nevertheless, if I see a headline that reads
    Senator Shaheen Blasts Opponent, but will Stupid Gaffe Deal a Blow To Her Re-Election?
    … I will probably read the article.

  • In an old (i.e., funny) episode of The Simpsons, "Homer at the Bat", Mr. Burns found himself in charge of Springfield's baseball team and brought in pro ringers, including Daryl Strawberry, to play a key game. Key quote:
    Burns: You, Strawberry, hit a home run.
    Strawbery: Okay, skip.
    (hits a home run)
    Burns: Ha-ha! I told him to do that.
    Smithers: Brilliant strategy sir.
    Frank J. remembers that episode too. And you'll never guess what reminded him of it.

  • This story from last week has been tickling funny bones at work. We do crazy here in New Hampshire too:
    A driver waved a flare gun at another vehicle on Interstate 93 on Monday before the gun ultimately went off in his own car, narrowly missing a juvenile passenger, according to the state police.
    Thought he was Mel Gibson, turned out to be Moe Howard.

  • In other traffic news, I want one of these for my commute. It says it takes up more than one traffic lane, but somehow… given the right accessories, I don't see that as a problem.

Last Modified 2017-12-02 9:05 AM EDT

Puss In Boots

[3.5 stars] Puss in Boots (2011) on IMDb [Amazon Link]

This was nominated for Best Animated Feature Oscar, but lost to Rango. I don't disagree with that choice.

It's set in the Shrek universe, where fairy-tale characters walk around in vaguely medieval times. Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) finds himself at odds with an old childhood friend, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) who's in pursuit of some magic beans, by which he aims to filch a gold-egg-laying goose… you remember how that goes. Puss is intrigued by his female cat-burglar counterpart, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek!)

It's all pretty silly, and (for me) contained some amusement. If I were in a slightly worse mood, I'd take a hard, sour look at the folks trying to squeeze out a few more bucks from the Shrek franchise. But I'm not. And Puss does utter one of my favorite movie lines of all time: "Fear me… if you dare!" That never gets old.

The IMDB raters gave this a 6.7 score, under Shrek (7.9) and Shrek 2 (7.3), but better than Shrek 3 (6.0) or Shrek 4 (6.5). That sounds about right.

Last Modified 2012-09-23 11:17 AM EDT

The Hound of the Baskervilles

[Amazon Link] Consumer note (and reflection of our Modern Times): even though I own a dead-tree version of this book, I shelled out $0.99 for the Kindle version, simply for the convenience. No complaints.

Also a personal note: I read this a couple of times in the 1960s. The second time was for a high school English class. I was overjoyed: after the tedium of Dickens and Flaubert, here at last was a fun read, and one I'd read already. Easy peasy!

As it turned out I got lousy Hound-related grades. Reading for fun is not the same as reading for school. Don't get them confused, kids!

Anyway: Holmes and Watson are drawn to the mysterious case of the Baskerville noble family, which seem to have a long-running problem with a monstrous supernatural dog. In the 1700s, it allegedly did in Hugo Baskerville. And now it seems to have returned: the body of Sir Charles Baskerville was recently discovered outside the manor. Next to him were footprints. And, guess what:

"Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"

Next in line: Sir Henry Baskerville, recently arrived from North America. Holmes and Watson decide to take the case, and (hopefully) save Sir Henry from almost-certain doggy doom.

I see that Season 2, Episode 2 of the BBC's Sherlock is titled "The Hounds of Baskerville". Scheduled for May 13 American broadcast, and I am so there.

Last Modified 2012-09-23 11:17 AM EDT