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Archive for November, 2017

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.
   ―     J.K. Rowling
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On This Day In:
2016 Lacking
2015 Chip, Chip, Chip
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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If I became a philosopher, if I have so keenly sought this fame for which I’m still waiting, it’s all been to seduce women basically.
   —   Jean-Paul Sartre
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On This Day In:
2016 Fake It ‘Til You Make It
2015 Hell Toupée
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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There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.
   –    Josh Jameson
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On This Day In:
2016 Sometimes I Just Want To Smell The Flowers
2015 One Truth – Done Well
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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It is only those who do not understand our people, who believe that our national life is entirely absorbed by material motives.  We make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth, but there are many other things that we want very much more.  We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization.  The chief ideal of the American people is idealism.  I cannot repeat too often that America is a nation of idealists.  That is the only motive to which they ever give any strong and lasting reaction.
     —    President Calvin Coolidge
From:  Address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors
17 January 1925
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On This Day In:
2016 To The Extent
2015 Ambition
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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From the moment the President-elect arrives at the White House door and is welcomed inside for an awkward breakfast, until the moment when that same person, duly sworn, steps down from the parade grandstand to walk through the same door into a place now called home, the entire Inauguration Day is a ritual.  It honors and strengthens the conviction that what we share is bigger than what divides us, and what we decide, in our elections, matters more than any person or any party.
It is Trump’s conviction, now vindicated by the Electoral College, that fame, properly managed and wielded, equals power.
It’s no easy thing to reconcile that conviction with the idea that power, in America, is bigger than any individual.  But Trump submerged his own ego in the idea of an empowered populace.  “The forgotten men and women of our country,” he promised “will be forgotten no longer.”
This message, and the nationalist jingo that Trump has married to it, has been a long time coming.  It was spawned by the culture wars, stoked by the Great Recession, and spread by the winds of technological disruption.  We the People have often been leery of political establishments, but rarely have the insiders looked so feckless in the face of global pressures, and never has it been so easy to communicate their perceived failures.
Trump was right when he said that the message is bigger than the messenger — another statement that he might not believe, deep down.  But he not an outsider any longer.  He is the president.  His words will have consequences.  As another Inauguration Day faded from Washington with the faint sun in the clouded West, the world began preparing for their arrival.
   —    David Von Drehle
Excerpts from the article / editorial covering the inauguration of Donald Trump titled:  “Donald Trump’s Unprecedented, Divisive Speech
With reporting by Tessa Berenson, Zeke J. Miller and Josh Sanburn
Time Magazine, Jan. 30, 2017
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On This Day In:
2016 Shouting At The Void
2015 Crab Feed
Happy Thanksgiving (2015)
2014 Beyond Proof
2013 Poor Students Of History
2012 Between Two Worlds
2011 Common Humanity
2010 The Last Two Olympians

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Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.
   —    Joseph Heller
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On This Day In:
2016 Full And Rich
2015 Go Deeper
2014 Intentional Mapping
2013 The Sweet Path
2012 Living Free And Abolition
Morning Wood
2011 I Resemble That Remark

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I have three kinds of friends: those who love me, those who pay no attention to me, and those who detest me.
     —    Nicolas Chamfort
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On This Day In:
2016 In Need Of Some Work
2015 Elections Have Consequences
2014 An Ear Of Happy Accidents
2013 Powerful Substitute
2012 Heroes Restored
2011 As You Should

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When my researchers were looking for material, they thought they were doing a good job by getting even more graphic and horrific material to show how truly bad the Muslim Brotherhood were.  I stopped all of that.  “This is a comedy show.” I told them.  This is not another talk show where we aim to be sensational.  We need to deal with the worst tragedies and find a way to deliver our message in a way that doesn’t repulse people.”
They looked at me in bewilderment, How are we going to find a funny angle in this?
But we searched again.  And this time we were not looking at the news.  We were looking for what was behind the news.  I directed them to look into the mentality that made these people do what they did.  With the police and the army, it was always easier to find their motives.  You are armed to the hilt and you receive an order from above to assault, to beat, and to kill.  The excuse will always be national security, or the sovereignty of the nation, or any other nationalistic bullshit.  But what makes people, normal people, who go with us to the same universities and schools, and even share the same workplaces, view us, the non-Islamists, as targets to be tortured and kill?
We followed the Brotherhood’s and the Salfis’ shows and their media and aimed to show our viewers what they thought about us.  This was not an easy task.  Their programs went on for hours.  No one actually watched them except their followers.  Yet we had to watch the endless hours of bullshit to show the country what kind of sick minds these people had.  My team had to endure the same agony Jon Stewart’s team had to go through while watching Fox News.  Now that’s truly torture.
    —    Bassem Youssef
From his book:  “Revolution For Dummies
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On This Day In:
2016 Overtaken
2015 Alone Praying
2014 A Full Man
2013 Off Defending The Universe
Taking Precautions
2012 Never, Never, Never
2011 Testing 1, 2, 3

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There is nothing like having your heart re-booted to remind you how lucky you are to be alive…  and how precious each day is.
I am grateful for another opportunity to spend time with my family and people I love.  Please reach out to those you care about and tell them.  If they are close enough, reach out and hug them.  LOVE IS the answer.
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On This Day In:
2016 Overtaken
2015 Alone Praying
2014 A Full Man
2013 Off Defending The Universe
Taking Precautions
2012 Never, Never, Never
2011 Testing 1, 2, 3

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And yet, it’s a happier fact of human behavior that all tribes are separated less by walls than by membranes, and those membranes can break and the tribes combine as easily as two raindrops running down a windshield that need merely touch to merge.  But something must make the touching happen — and not many things can.
And if it made us small?  If it made us feel that we are of less consequence, less magnitude, than we usually think we are?  Well, good.  Humility was part of the veil of peace that was drawn over the country on Aug. 21.  So was community.  And so, it would be nice to think, was gratitude.
   —   Jeffrey Kluger
From his article: “Mother Nature, the uniter, briefly eclipses the nation’s divisions
Describing the 21 August 2017, totality eclipse for Time Magazine dtd: 4 September 2017
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On This Day In:
2016 Obstacles
Election + 2 Weeks
2015 Done What You Could
2014 Impossible To Other Men
2013 Just In Case
2012 Isn’t This Just Pleasant?
2011 No Void In Sight

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Today’s post will be a long one, so if you’re not interested in my reviews, please come back another day…
The three series being reviewed are “Pride And Prejudice“, “Stranger Things” and “The Punisher“.  P&P is on DVD and the other two were both viewed on NetFlix.
Pride And Prejudice  (1940) —  movie review;  (1995)  —  series / movie review
Starring Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy and Greer Garson as Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet, this is the black and white version which appears on cable channels periodically – which is where I caught it one afternoon while casually channel surfing.  Because I enjoyed the 2005 version, so much and the 1995 version, too, I thought I’d give it a view.  The story is essentially: small village with landowner family of five female daughters is thrown in a tizzy over the arrival of a very “suitable” bachelor.  Even better, the bachelor comes with a friend, who is also a very suitable bachelor (Darcy).  Lizzy takes an immediate dislike to Mr. Darcy while the oldest sister (Jane) falls madly in love with the first bachelor (Mr. Bingly).  Blah, blah, blah, happy ending.
In this version, I was left with a “satisfied” grin.  It was enjoyable to watch, and, because I’m so familiar with the story, I’m looking for my favorite parts.  Unfortunately, while Olivier and Garson “seemed” good in their roles individually, to me, they lacked the chemistry to make the story believable.  There are also a couple of changes in the film which I found curious.  For one, the costumes seemed more modern and more American than British.  This impression may be just in comparison to the 1995 version.  Another difference was that Darcy’s aunt refuses the marriage to Lizzy as a test of her love, whereas in the other versions, the aunt is doing it for reasons of societal class difference and because the aunt believes Darcy to be “given / promised” to her own daughter since childhood.  Basically, it makes the aunt a redeemable character, which I don’t believe she was meant to be.  I guess, I’ll have to read the book to find out ultimately.
Final recommendation:  moderate.  It’s okay.  I guess anything with Olivier is considered a “classic”.  I say it has historical interest, just as I enjoyed “Bride And Prejudice” (2004) because of the Indian / Bollywood interpretation.  (Review here.)
Having watched the 1940’s version, I decided to re-watch the 1995 BBC version.  Starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, this is widely considered one of the great BBC television productions of all time.  Running time is not quite 5-1/2 hours long and therefore this version has the time to flesh out the characters more than the more recent 2005 film version which I have seen multiple times.  My daughter (Rebecca) says she considers this the “definitive” adaptation of the novel to film.  I beg to differ with my favorite being the 2005 version.  I would put this a very close second though.
With this second viewing and having seen some of his other works, I am thoroughly a Colin Firth fan.  He kills this role.  Even though I’ve seen this version before, I must admit, I didn’t really remember it.  It has time to add a lot more to the story and IMHO, this makes the whole version better.  There is a “famous” scene of Darcy approaching a lake on his property.  If you know much about England, you know that even on the warmest of days, open water is rarely warm.  This is actually one of the reasons accidental drowning is so common there (several hundred each year).  Anyway, Darcy is despondently approaching a lake and my first instinct was “plot twist, this isn’t going to end well”.  But then, of course, we get the now famous and career making wet T-shirt (ok, it’s a cotton long-sleeved pullover) scene of Darcy stumbling upon Lizzy on his way to the house to dry off.  Ladies still swoon…  LOL
Final recommendation:  Highly!!  I struggle to find things to criticize about this version.  Okay, it’s longer than the 2005 movie and Mrs. Bennet and Kitty are much more annoying in this version, but this slight comment is simply evidence of how good the whole is.  Well, worth re-visiting!
Stranger Things  (2016 / 2017)  —  series review
Stranger Things is a two-season (so far) science-fiction, horror, coming of age made for NetFlix series.  There are 17 episodes.  Eight in the first year and nine in the second.  The series occurs in the 1980’s, in a rural / sub-urban town in the mid-west (Indiana).  The series has lots of references and homages to earlier works of music and film from that period.  The series was recommended to me by my son (James), who advised me it was “MUST” see.  Even more than THOR, the (at that time) up-coming Justice League, Punisher or Longmire…  So, okay.  I watched it.  The series is very much an ensemble cast so I’m not going to bother listing all fifteen to twenty of the “main” actors.
Absolutely, terrific!!  The series has adults, older teens, younger teens, nerds, jocks and just regular folks.  It also has hell-hound aliens, extra-dimensions, mind-control, telekinesis and X-mas lights!  My son said, he hopes I don’t scare easily at night or I’ll have to watch all 17 hours straight through.  It wasn’t anywhere near THAT intense, but it is very good.  Basically, I’m (again) late to the party and this was the smash hit for NetFlix last year.  I’m jumping in here, one month after the release of the second season.  As per normal for NetFlix, the whole series for the year is released on the same day to encourage binge watching.  So, I did.  Season 1 on day 1 and Season 2 on the following day.
But, what is the show about?  Well, there’s a government experiment gone wrong.  They are developing children into “X-men”, with various abilities.  Season one is mostly about a girl with telekinesis abilities.  Season two brings in her “sister”.  Not really her sister, but they grew up together.  So, girl escapes and meets young boy from town.  Fall in love, blah, blah, blah.  In the meantime, the government agency has accidentally opened a gate into another dimension, which is a lot like ours, but it has been conquered by an alien (large spider-like shadow) which controls a bunch of little flesh eating aliens.  At the end of Season one, the girl saves her friends and the world by closing the portal.  Season two opens a year later and girl is still missing and the original abducted kid knows the aliens are coming back.  Blah, blah, blah, teen angst, blah, blah, blah, child angst, blah, blah, blah, adult angst.  Big finale, the kids kick alien butt and the girl saves the world.  Afterwards, smoochy, smoochy at the Winter Ball.
Final recommendation: Strong to highly.  This is a well made combination of practically every kids science-fiction movie you’ve ever seen.  Some of the references are almost (but not quite) tongue in cheek, but they work and this is a series well worth the time to watch it.  I’m not sure if I’ll watch it again soon, but I’m almost certainly up for another binge before the release of season 3, next year.  I would caution that although kids play predominant roles in this series, this is NOT for below age-12 viewing.  Some scenes can be intense and there is a moderate amount of alien violence.
The Punisher (2017)  —  series review
This series is a spinoff from the DareDevil series also on NetFlix.  The Punisher appeared in season two – and pretty much took it over – so, now he has his own show.  Basically, the family of a military expert is killed and he takes revenge against the killers.  In DareDevil, he does most of the work.  In this series, he almost finishes the job.  He leaves one guy, who he promises to come back for.  Blah, blah, blah.  Segue to season two…
Does it work and is it any good?  If you like this kind of thing (explosions, excessive violence, gratuitous sexual scenes, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, lots and lots of guns and gun fire, and did I mention explosions), and I do, then you’ll enjoy this series.  And, I did.  So, I enjoyed it…  The question was is it any good?  As a comic book adaptation, it is very good.  As an action / adventure / who-dun-it, it’s pretty good.  As a realistic portrayal of armed and unarmed combat, uh, it’s a comic book…
The series stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle / Punisher, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as his partner David Lieberman / Micro, Ben Barnes as Billy Russo (Frank’s wartime friend who ends up being a bad guy), Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani (Homeland Security Officer), Daniel Webber as Lewis Wilson (a confused Vet who becomes a domestic terrorist), Paul Schulze as William Rawlins (the main gov / CIA bad guy from “the war”), Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle (the Vet “do-gooder” medic), Jaime Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman / Micro’s wife, and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page (a carry over from Daredevil).
The series is mostly dark, in the same vein as the DareDevil series, the Chris Nolan / Batman movie trilogy, and the recent John Wick movies.  It deals with a host of issues, from right and wrong, free press, privacy, vigilantism, friendship, personal loss, and a rather bizarre attitude that “justice” almost always ends with violence – particularly gun violence.  While the depiction of violence is pretty accurate, the depiction of physical recovery is essentially: “and then a miracle happens.”  There are scars, but recovery is almost instantaneous.  Like I said: comic book…
Final recommendation: moderate.  This series would be rated higher if they had let the actors simply act more and kill / maim less.  It is definitely for mature audiences ONLY.  It feels strange to say (admit) it, but I enjoyed the acting and the story more than I did the violence.  Go figure…
Final comment: I was not a follower of “The Punisher” character in the comic reading days of my youth.  I was reading them when he was introduced in DareDevil and Spiderman, but the character never “really” captured my pre-teen and teen imagination.  During my Army days though, I was an avid follower of “The Executioner” book series written by Don Pendleton, which was the basis for the comic character.  The monthly book series currently runs to over 400 episodes and is being ghost written since Pendleton’s sale of the series and subsequent death.
Thanks to any who managed to make it through the entire post.  Let me know if you agree / disagree with my reviews…
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On This Day In:
2016 Feeling Warm Yet?
Four Documentaries
2015 Just Like All The Others
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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While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.
   ―    Groucho Marx
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On This Day In:
2016 Feeling Warm Yet?
Four Documentaries
2015 Just Like All The Others
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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When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
   ―    Ralph Waldo Emerson
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On This Day In:
2016 Towards No Regret
2015 109 And Beyond
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’ve used up a lot of bullets.  And we talk about stimulus.  But the truth is, we’re running a federal deficit that’s 9 percent of GDP.  That is stimulative as all get out.  It’s more stimulative than any policy we’ve followed since World War II.
     —    Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2016 Picky, Picky, Picky
2015 Another Limitation On Religion
2014 Enduring
2013 Tell Me More…
2012 Passing…
2011 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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What men usually ask of God when they pray is that two and two not make four.
   —  Russian Proverb
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On This Day In:
2016 And 4
How Tall Do You Stand?
2015 More Prejudice
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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