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Archive for November, 2015

Our Bill of Rights, the most precious part of our legal heritage, is under subtle and pervasive attacks…  In the struggle between our world and Communism, the temptation to imitate totalitarian security methods must be resisted day by day…  When the rights of any individual or group are chipped away, the freedom of all erodes.
   —  Earl Warren
[Of course today’s Communist Threat is “Terrorism / Islamic Fundamentalism”…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2014 nom de plume
2013 The Real Reason
From The Book
2012 When Young
2011 14 Ways To A Better Judgement

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Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.
   —  Earl Warren
[I saw a great poster “Donald Trump 2016  –  There’ll be hell toupée…”   At first I laughed, but now I just can’t figure out if it’s meant to be mocking him or if his supporters are actually buying this stuff.  Should I still think it’s funny if they think it’s serious?   Google (images) “hell toupee” – and let me know what you think – joke or serious?   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2014 Corrected And Amended
2013 Too Few
2012 Three Characters
2011 Universal Payment
2010 Privatizing the TSA? (An old – and long – post, but still relevant!!)

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Man’s only true purpose for existence was to think; for in the mind were found the answers to all questions and time was meaningless.  If in one’s life a man can but find one truth, and pass it on to those who come after him, he has done well.
  —  Barry Sadler
From his novel: “Casca #5 : The Barbarian
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On This Day In:
2014 Now In Imagination, On The Other Hand…
2013 No Plan, No Map
2012 Singing About Love
2011 The Awesome Power Of Truth

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Ambition is the greatest disease and killer of man that the world has ever known.  More than any plague, man’s desire to inflict his will on others has caused the senseless deaths of millions, and to what end?  All kings must die.  What have they accomplished with their ambition and self-delusion of power?  For their lives are nothing more than fleeting moments in the course of centuries, and don’t really matter all that much.
   —  Barry Sadler
From his novel: “Casca #5 : The Barbarian
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On This Day In:
2014 More Branches To Climb
Just In Time — Happy Thanksgiving (2014)
2013 For And Against
2012 De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum
2011 Similar And Different
2010 Reminiscing
Differences

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Casca #5: The Barbarian   —  book review
Today’s review is for the fifth book in the “Casca: The Eternal Mercenary” series titled: Casca: The Barbarian (1981©), written by Barry Sadler.  In this episode, Casca meets up with a Germanic / Norse tribesman named Glam and the story revolves are their adventures together over the next 30 to 40 years.  Basically, Glam leads Casca around northern Europe and Casca takes over a “hold”.  Casca over-throws the vicious lord of the hold and subsequently marries his daughter.  Thus, Casca gains and ultimately loses the second great love of his life.  Glam gives Casca one of his nicknames: “The Walker”.
All of these volumes have now fallen into their standard formula: character intro, travel around a bit, a few minor fights, a little bit of history, a major battle, and then some resolution before Casca has to wander off.  Today’s title refers to a scene in the book where the original lord of the hold has a wall at the tides edge staked.  When he wishes to execute someone (but not be “responsible” for the death), he has them staked with just their head above the high tide.  The crabs do their work during the night and only the head (and skeleton) is left the following morning.  Of course, the “curse” saves Casca (again).
If you are into adult / male historical fiction – with lots of geography, historical background and battles, this continues to be a very satisfying series.  Final recommendation: strong recommendation.
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On This Day In:
2014 Beyond Proof
2013 Poor Students Of History
2012 Between Two Worlds
2011 Common Humanity
2010 The Last Two Olympians

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Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life.  I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have — life itself.
     —  Walter Anderson
[Wake up.  Stretch…  Take a deep breath and smell the coffee brewing.  Then thank whatever powers that be —  for another beautiful day to start all over again.   Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  —   KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2014 Beyond Proof
2013 Poor Students Of History
2012 Between Two Worlds
2011 Common Humanity
2010 The Last Two Olympians

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Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter.  Explore the world.  Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.
   ―  Richard Feynman
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On This Day In:
2014 Intentional Mapping
2013 The Sweet Path
2012 Living Free And Abolition
Morning Wood
2011 I Resemble That Remark

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We are now at the point where we must decide whether we are to honour the concept of a plural society which gains strength through diversity, or whether we are to have bitter fragmentation that will result in perpetual tension and strife.
   —  Earl Warren
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On This Day In:
2014 An Ear Of Happy Accidents
2013 Powerful Substitute
2012 Heroes Restored
2011 As You Should

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Alone Praying

The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.
    —  Aldous Huxley
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On This Day In:
2014 A Full Man
2013 Off Defending The Universe
Taking Precautions
2012 Never, Never, Never
2011 Testing 1, 2, 3

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Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
  ―  Ralph Waldo Emerson
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On This Day In:
2014 Impossible To Other Men
2013 Just In Case
2012 Isn’t This Just Pleasant?
2011 No Void In Sight

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The Divergent Series – movies review
As of this writing, “The Divergent Series” are two movies based on the trilogy of young-adult adventure books by the same name.  The released movies are: “Divergent” (2014) and “Insurgent” (2015).  There are two more movies projected to complete the book trilogy.  The next two movies are due out in 2016 and 2017.  I have not read the books, so I can’t comment on how accurately the films follow the books.
The basic story is that humanity has almost destroyed itself and in an effort to preserve the species has built a giant wall around the city of Chicago.  Within the walled city, the people have divided themselves along five basic character types: Abnegation (selfless), Dauntless (courage), Erudite (intelligence), Candor (truth) and Amity (peace).   There are technically two additional “factions”: the factionless (those who don’t accept the faction system or who can’t pass the initiation phase of the chosen group) and the divergent (those who can fit in more than one group).  The factionless are ostracized and the divergent are to be killed.  The Erudite are seeking to take full control of the city and initially try to use drugs on the Dauntless to control them and force them to slaughter the Abnegation who the Erudite consider to be their main threat.
The main characters are:   Beatrice “Tris” Prior (divergent) played by Shailene Woodley, Tobias “Four” Eaton (dauntless) played by Theo James, Caleb Prior (erudite, brother of Tris) played by Ansel Elgort, Christina (dauntless, female friend of Tris) played by Zoë Kravitz, Peter Hayes (dauntless, minor bad guy) played by Miles Teller, Jeanine Matthews (erudite, main bad guy) Kate Winslet, and Eric Coulter (dauntless, main “muscle” bad guy) played by Jai Courtney.
Most of the first movie is devoted to Tris finding out what a divergent is and that she is one of them.  Raised an abnegation, Tris chooses to be dauntless.  The struggle between her heritage and her training is what fully develops her divergence.  So…, intro story development, blah-blah-blah, action, “you’re going to be a bass-ass”, blah-blah-blah, seize the flag in a carney, blah-blah-blah, minor attempt to have a romance, then more blah and action (stop the dauntless and save the abnegation).  And… cliff hanger for second movie.
Most of the second movie is devoted to romance (Tris and Four) and Tris finding out she’s not just divergent, she is THE divergent – who is meant to save the world.  So, of course she leads a revolution.  And… cliff hanger for the third movie.  Oh yeah, I left out all of the let’s deal with our parent issues – after all this is a “coming of age” / “young-adult genre”.
Do the movies work and are they any good?  So-so and yes.    The story lines are pretty good.  The acting is okay.  The special effects and action sequences are excellent and remind me of “Matrix” and “Inception“.  That’s pretty good company!   Yes, they are both predictable, but most movies are.  If you like action movies, strong (young) female heroic leads, this series is for you.  Final recommendation:  moderate to strong recommendation – entertaining action movie series that’s a bit too predictable.
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On This Day In:
2014 In My Own Vanity
2013 Filled With Words
2012 Lectio Auget Existentiae Meae
2011 Lied Lately?
2010 Born To Work At Faux News
Lost Again (Uh, Make That Still)
Qui Genus Humanum Ingenio Superavit
They’re Back… (Part 1)

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109 And Beyond

I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it.  I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.
    —  Thurgood Marshall
[Unless my wife lives to 111.   (LOL!)   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2014 Are You Waiting?
2013 Traditional Human Sacrifice
2012 A Division Of Men
2011 Miles, Legends and Superwoman
Got Tragedy?
2010 My Company For A Prince!!
On The Shoulders Of Titans

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We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
    —  Henry Louis Mencken
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On This Day In:
2014 Enduring
2013 Tell Me More…
2012 Passing…
2011 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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Bride & Prejudice – movie review
I recently watched the Indian / Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice“, slightly retitled as “Bride & Prejudice” (2004).  To demonstrate my lack of culture, I first became aware of Austen and “Prejudice” when I saw the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen in the lead roles of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  I don’t remember when I first saw the movie, but I believe it was somewhere around 2010.  I have since watched it at least a half dozen times.  I’m not sure what it is, but I find the whole story and setting fascinating.  I have also watched the 1995 version made for BBC TV starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Darcy and Elizabeth.  I must admit Ehle doesn’t hold a candle to Knightley, but Firth is every bit as good as MacFadyen, even though he doesn’t have the physical presence of MacFadyen.  In any case, because this is a series instead of a movie, I must say I prefer the series because there is more time to develop the characters.
Okay, enough background.  Back to the actual movie review…
In this version of the Jane Austen novel, Mr. William (aka Fitzwilliam) Darcy is an American played by Martin Henderson and Lizzie Bennett becomes Lalita Bakshi who is played by Aishwarya Rai.  The unmarried sisters (Lalita is the second oldest) and their family are plugged into a modern plot that spans London, Los Angeles, Bombay/Mumbai and Goa.  The family and four daughters live in Amritsar, India  (a country town) — which is trying to be true to original Austen story, but which has its own airport, so I’m not real sure how “true” that is.
The movie has the most problems because it can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be a romantic drama or a musical-romantic-comedy.  It tries to be both and therefore doesn’t really succeed at either.  To be honest, most of the numbers made no sense and I would have preferred they went for more drama.  Having said this, I have seen a few other Bollywood movies and I think they were just trying to sell to their home market.  Other than that, the big problem was how to bring the story up to modern day times.  The plot device here was to make the characters international and hence the side trips (LA and London) being used to demonstrate the wealth of the Americans and the Londoners.
How is the acting? Sadly, just so-so.  Henderson fails to strike the right notes (for me) as Darcy.  Darcy is the character which most draws me to the story (and I’m not sure why), but Henderson lacks the physicality of MacFadyen or British style of Firth.  Aishwarya is obviously the most beautiful of the Lizzie’s, but she seems wooden in this role.  I have not seen her in anything else so I don’t know if beauty is all there is or not, but from this role I’d judge it is.  Strangely enough, I didn’t even find Aishwarya to be the most camera “friendly”.  I thought that honor went to the actress Sonali Kulkarni as Chandra Lamba (Charlotte Lucas – Lizzie’s best friend in the British versions).
Does the movie work,  though?  Is it entertaining?  Yes and yes.  I liked the dancing and most of the songs.  The colors and the energy of India are very attractive.  Even though the acting wasn’t quite what I thought it could be, the movie is another Austen happy ending.  Final recommendation: strong recommendation as the Indian version of P&P, particularly if you are a “Prejudice” fan – as I am turning out to be.
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On This Day In:
2014 Say What?
2013 Daring Errors
2012 Are You Comfortable?
I Just Have To
In Flux
2011 True New
2010 A Job Well Started Is A Job Half Done
I See With My One Good Eye

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There is something Pagan in me that I cannot shake off.  In short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.
     —  Lord Byron
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On This Day In:
2014 A Note To Self
2013 Determining Our Degree Of Freedom
2012 Journalism And Fantasy
Known Knowns
Jerk, n.
2011 Love Questions

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