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Archive for April, 2012

I believe evidence. I believe observation, measurement and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers.  I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild or ridiculous, if there is evidence for it.  The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
  —  Isaac Asimov
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 Waiting to go inside…  Is that camera still on me?
 Did someone say,
“Squirrel”?
 British gardeners
require constant
supervision…
 Hey Youse,
give us a treat!
 Just a little shade…
 In yer face training…  Are you ever gonna
get a life, Dad?
 The kennel never
said my new home
was a fixer-upper.
 I’ve gotta do
everything myself
around here…
 Yeah, the garden’s ok now,
but wait until I’m done with it…
 A quick pause
between
making trouble.
 That’s right – I’m gorgeous!  Not quite enough shade…
 She’s not fully trained,
but I like blonds.
 There’s like
NO privacy
in this house-hold!
 Squirrel???  Someone please
take that camera-phone
off him!
Introducing “Shiva” – the newest member of the Barrett Family.
75 pounds of Anatolian Shepherd and Golden Retriever.  Two years old and compliments of Tony La Russa ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation).
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The trouble is you think you have time.
  —  Buddha
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Gentle Reader, place all myths and legends of the human race at my disposal; give me leave to choose those which I want to use and allow me to make changes where necessary, and I will undertake to prove anything you wish proven.
  —  Isaac Asimov
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To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
  —  William Blake
From:  “Auguries of Innocence
[World within worlds and time without end…   —   KMAB]
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Fire from the rear is more deadly and three times more effective than fire from the front, but to get fire behind the enemy, you must hold him by frontal fire and move rapidly around his flank.
  —  General George S. Patton Jr.
[When I first read this quote as a child, I wondered how someone would KNOW how much more effective fire from a given direction would be.  Then I learned to play chess.  Upon a lifetime of reflection, this philosophy (engage and maneuver) has proven true in even the most unlikely of situations.  Success frequently goes to those who approach indirectly.  —  KMAB]
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The mind earns thanks by doing.  The heart earns thanks by trying.
  —  Anonymous
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Never yield ground.  It is cheaper to hold what you have than to retake what you have lost.
  —  General George S. Patton, Jr.
[The next time things NEED to get done by the government and Progressives feel the urge to compromise because the Conservative side won’t, remember this quote…  The next time you hear about the 1% getting more while the 99% get less, remember this quote…  The next time you have the opportunity to vote, remember this quote…  —  KMAB]
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The 6 most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.
The 5 most important words: “You did a great job.
The 4 most important words: “What do you think?
The 3 most important words: “Could you please.
The 2 most important words: “Thank you!
The most important word: “We.
The least important word: “I.
  —  Author Unknown
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Surely if the species must die, let it die while leaving behind a greater species that can take up more effectively the eternal struggle with darkness and stride to the kind of victories we can’t even imagine today.  Properly viewed, to such a species death is no death at all, but another step toward the only worthwhile immortality – that of life and intelligence in the abstract.
  —  Isaac Asimov
[This was written in my journal with no reference.  Looking it up, the one notation states it is from a 1967 article arguing against the value of individual / personal immortality.  I cannot speak for the species, but I will die contented if I pass believing I left my children better off than I was, in a world better than the one I have enjoyed being in.  —  KMAB]
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If we don’t know when we will be used by God as witnesses, then we have to live our lives the best we can, so that at any instant, God can use us.  We’re never going to be worthy – it is GOD who makes us worthy.  I don’t mean sitting at the edge of our seats 24/7, or putting on an act and trying to be holier-than-thou.  No, what I mean is something very basic, something very simple.  Whatever we do, let’s do it well … whatever we do, let’s do it well.  If we work at home, or work away from home, let’s work with ethics.  If we meet with people and interact with people, let’s be as genuine and sincere as we can be.  Whatever we do, whoever we are, let’s strive to be the best that we can be.  Let’s strive to be as honest, as genuine, as sincere, as human as we can be.  Just by doing that, we become witnesses of God, witnesses that Jesus is alive and well and is among us.
  —  Written by:  Father Joseph N. Goh
From his sermon for:  “Third Sunday of Easter, 2012: Witnessing
(click through to see the full sermon)
[Father “Joe” was a visiting priest at our parish for several years.  He has a ready smile and an open heart.  He also has one consistent message in each of his sermons:  God (Jesus) loves us all – each and every one of us.  Simple, yet profound.  —  KMAB]
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I conquer, and look for greater battles.
I toil, and look for greater tasks.
I solve, and look for greater mysteries.
I hope, and look for greater ideals.
I love, and look for greater beauties.
I am a fool;
But that he or she too,
Could be such a fool as I,
Is the dream of every person’s soul.
  —  KMAB
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Today’s blog is a review of one book (“The Bed Of Procrustes“) and three movies (“Elektra“, “The Flight Of The Phoenix“, and “Kingdom Of Heaven“).  Book first…
The Bed Of Procrustes” is written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2010©) and is subtitled: “Philosophical And Practical Aphorisms“.  Taleb is famous for his prior work titled: “The Black Swan“.  That book was about something – his observation / theory that we humans are not very good at analysing probabilities and therefore make poor decisions which can seriously impact our lives, society and planet.  Part of what made the book interesting was Taleb’s frequent digressions into sarcasm and one-liners about various things he sees in our world.  This book, (“The Bed“…) skips the main story and just lists the remarks as a series of one-liners.  Because I love this kind of humor, I highly recommend this book.  On the other hand, you can simply follow this blog for the next few years and you’ll still get a number of his funniest quotes.  (Just kidding!)  Seriously, buy the book.  While it may be true that you will be able to pick up a number of the quotes from my site (over time), it’s not the same as reading them in the author’s intended format, structure or pace.  My site should never be considered a primary source for information – particularly regarding quotes.  It is only a venue for me to repeat words which have passed through my own consciousness then pinballed around enough to make it to this site.
Elektra” is another of the comic-book based movies I collect.  The title character previously appeared in the “Daredevil” movie as the love interest for that movie’s title character.  In this movie, the main character is resurrected (she dies in “Daredevil“) in order to save and protect a young girl who is destined to save the world from evil.  Blah, blah, blah – okay, it’s a comic book movie.  Is the movie any good?  It’s not as bad as I expected, but it’s a fairly mediocre effort.  Are the special effects great?  So-so.  Is it worth it for the martial arts?  Not really, but they’re not bad either.  The upside?  It’s nice to see female superheros get their own platform.  They tend to be lower tier titles in the comic universe and that remains true in the cinema universe too, which I think is too bad.  It seems to me, there should be a great opportunity for a breakout smash which could change a career and create a new market for a franchise – much on the line of “Aliens” for Sigourney Weaver.  But, it’s not this movie. Overall rating – recommend.
The second movie is “The Flight Of The Phoenix“.  This is the original from 1965 starring Jimmy Stewart and Richard Attenborough.  This was one of the first “survival” movies I ever saw and it captured my imagination.  Growing up in San Francisco, I had no real concept of a desert or of real heat.  (Now that I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia for two years I understand real heat.)  As I said, the whole idea of “survival” was a revelation to me.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this film way back when and when it came out on DVD I picked it up, watched it and then put up on the shelf with my other “classics from growing up”.  A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon the re-make starring Dennis Quaide, so I picked it up (see my review: Edge, Class, Clash, And Flight) and enjoyed it enough it made me want to go back to compare / contrast it with the original.  What I found surprised me…  Despite the great actors in the original, I prefer the remake!
This is a surprise because I almost always prefer the original. In this case, it felt dated (which it is given it was made 40 years ago), but the dating is not the time period, but the cinematography which somehow seems – not as good.  The original also feels longer.  It is, but that’s not the same as feeling that way.  My complaints about the re-make remain – primarily the extra “excitement” added to the ending and which adds nothing to the story, and the other minor complaints too, but all in all, I do feel the re-make is more watchable than the original.  I only wish there were a way to substitute the actors.  Overall rating: this remains a classic for the actors and the genre – highly recommend.
The third movie is “Kingdom Of Heaven” starring Orlando Bloom.  In researching the movie for this review, I found out it is based on actual characters and events.  It is fictionalized in that the characters aren’t the ones who did the acts portrayed in their roles, but they did exist in that time period and location.  For some reason, I thought it was entirely fictional.  Anyway, I am now an Orlando Bloom fan.  I just like him.  He wasn’t great in this role, but he was believable as the evolving blacksmith to knight-crusader.  I’ve now seen Bloom in a number of roles – Pirates series, Rings series, and Troy – and I just like him.  He’s not just another pretty (male) face with a funny accent.
Okay, back to “Kingdom…“.  Basically, a “good-guy caught in a bad situation where your allies are actually the villains and your opponents may actually be ‘better’ people than you” movie.  These movies follow a basic premise and natural story line and this one touches all of the bases.  Good-guy flees home, meets up with zen master to receive training, heroic survival, meets future opponent and they become friends, meets bad-guys who are your allies, and so-on until the good-guy lives happily ever after.
Does the movie work?  Absolutely!  Why?  Because I’m here to see the battles and they’re realistic – certainly more so than “Lord Of The Rings” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean“.  (But I digress.)  The acting is good and for once there’s a movie about the middle ages where everyone is dirty and they stay that way for most of the movie.  You see, it’s the small things I look for in  a movie.  On a political note – it was nice to see the Muslims portrayed as the more civilized of the two conflicting armies.  What a change from the post-9/11 mantra.  I’m not sure there was as much peaceful co-existence in reality as portrayed in the movie, but it was interesting to see a little balance.  Overall rating: highly recommend.
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It is a man’s duty to have books.  A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life.
  —  Henry Ward Beecher
[But at some point I have to start reading more of them…  —  KMAB]
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I was browsing through my journal (again), looking for more things to post about and I stumbled across some lyrics I’ve already posted and some poems I barely remembered, but which struck me (again).
The song lyrics are to the song: “It Ain’t Me, Babe“, written and performed by Bob Dylan.  Some break ups are harder than others.  Sometimes the person just doesn’t really meet your needs (or expectations).  Sometimes you just don’t really meet theirs.  It seems to me when I read through the lyrics they brought back memories: sometimes I’m the singer, and sometimes, I’m the listener.  Check out the lyrics, then go listen to Bob Dylan.  Play a game with yourself and ask: “Which was I the last time my relationship ended?”
The first poem is titled: “The Fool’s Prayer“, and was written by Edward Rowland Sill.  I guess at one time this was a very popular poem in America.  I remembered it as soon as I stumbled upon it, but I don’t think I’ve seen it or heard it read anywhere in the last 30-40 years.  So, I was surprised to find it being read on YouTube.  I guess you can pretty much find anything there now.  Without spoiling the ending too much, if the King is truly a fool (or at least the fool in question), why does he know to go pray?
The second poem is a quickie about manners and being polite more than anything else.  Titled “Our Lips And Ears“, and anonymously written, it’s included as a throw-in —  just ’cause I like it…
The final entry is another poem titled: “Stanzas On Freedom“, written by James Russell Lowell.  We (Americans) live in a Federal Republic.  That has a specific meaning which is quite different from a “democracy”.   Having said that, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to disagree with each others policies and positions, but we should rarely (if ever) questions the other side’s patriotism.   The last bit of the poem says:
They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.”
The poem was about the abolition of slavery in America.  It asks: can anyone claim to be free if any among us are slaves?  I would ask the same thing about education, health care, living wages and other civil rights (voting, marriage, whatever)…  Is our society “free” when the only rights we seem to have are the right to ignorance, poverty, illness and lack of opportunity?  I respect the patriotism and religious fervor of those who disagree with me, but I will not shrink from defending those less able to defend themselves in the marketplace of ideas.  Even if all I have are words,  I will be free to speak out.
Some time you will be in the majority and some time you will be in the minority.  Elections have consequences!  Neither side should be intimidated by force or other coercion to withdraw their beliefs.  Both sides should be encouraged to simply (or not so simply) develop better arguments to support their views and to sway additional voters for the next election.  That is what the free marketplace of ideas is all about – in a democracy or in a Federal Republic.
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