Friday, December 28, 2007

Tiger attack at SF Zoo latest blow - Yahoo! News:
"The deadly tiger escape at the San Francisco Zoo could prove to be a costly blow to an institution that has come under fire repeatedly in just the past few years over the deaths of two elephants and the mauling of a zookeeper. The zoo could face heavy fines from regulators. It could be stripped of its exhibitor license. Its accreditation could be at risk. It could be hit with a huge lawsuit by the victims or their families. It could even face criminal charges, depending on what the investigation finds.

'All this legal action is likely to impact the financial viability of the zoo,' said Rory Little, a professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. 'Whether the zoo can stay open is a big question.'"

I have become somewhat ambivalent about zoos. As a kid, I loved them and spent lots of time at the St. Louis Zoo, one of the better zoos in the world. I have been going to the SF Zoo for about 10 years or so. One of the best locations for a zoo, a stone's throw from the Pacific Ocean, mild climate, foggy on Summer mornings, wonderful fauna and flora. But precious few animals! It had recently begun a major renovation effort and, while beautifully done, it was not so good for animal watchers. More space, less animals. And come on, I like lemurs as much as the next guy but do we really need one more California zoo to house lemurs? At any rate, should this zoo close I would not be surprised. It is very popular with families, no question about it, but if you want to see animals, exotic animals, go somewhere else.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007 In Review: Movies:

**** no country for old men
**** darjeeling limited
*** sweeney todd
*** paris, je t'aime
*** ratatouille
** harry potter and the order of the phoenix
** transformers

Yes, I know it's only 7 films; that is all I saw in a theater this year. The films I saw on DVD were not from 2007 so I ignored them. Far and away, I though NCFOM was the best film. Possibly the best film of the 00's. Every scene, every detail, was exquisite. And for such a bleak, relentless subject matter, what a beautiful film. It's like "The Denial of Death" made into a movie. Essential.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)***
Enjoyable, with fine lead performances by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. I just wasn't emotionally engaged in the film. I also found the washed out colors and ultra-dark lighting very distracting. Perhaps that was the theatre's fault but it was in a digitally projected cinema which usually means clear, crisp images.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quietly, the Polish-German border dissolves - International Herald Tribune:
"Notably absent from the discussion is the long-expressed fear that Poles will come and take German jobs. When Poland joined the European Union in 2004, Germany left significant legal hurdles in place to prevent their neighbors from coming to work. Instead ambitious, highly mobile Polish workers moved in droves to more welcoming parts of Western Europe, Britain and Ireland in particular, where they have been credited with fueling economic growth, passing Germany by - and especially its poorer, depopulating East - on the way."

Hopefully, some day, the US-Mexican and US-Canadian borders can quietly dissolve.

Friday, December 14, 2007

No Country for Old Men (2007)****
Whoa! Much like last year's Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth this is a brutal, harsh, uncompromising look at reality. Expertly directed, wonderfully acted, beautifully, sparingly written. The use of sound is superb as well. The best film of 2007 and maybe the best of the decade.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Martz: Pats are new ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ -, North Andover, MA

"The Patriots have shown that having an explosive offense can take pressure off a defense. It's like you are playing to win the game on every snap, being aggressive, attacking. ... I love it. The whole purpose is to set the pace for the game. Football is a game of speed and attitude. I'm not surprised at the Patriots' success. I knew it could happen."

I expected great things from the Lions this year with Martz having 4 high quality receivers. I overestimated Kitna's abilities. And perhaps I overlooked Martz' tendencies within the red zone to become a bit too cute when he doesn't have a power runner. The Patriots don't either but with Moss they don't need to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Humanist: The New Atheists are responding to provocation, not mounting an arbitrary attack
"What Mr Dalrymple does not see is that the so-called New Atheists are responding to a provocation, not mounting an arbitrary and uncalled-for attack. Instead of turning a politely blind eye to religion as we all did until recently (when those with religion had the good taste, mainly, to keep quiet about them in return), we have chosen to speak out against the absurdities, distortions and even dangers that the presence of religion in our societies cause. For nearly twenty centuries the religionists have had it their way: what a squealing they put up now that half a dozen "New Atheists" have argued back!

In that squealing I hear hope for the world. It has the sound of desperation, of defeat, of retreat and lost arguments. No doubt the conflict will be long and bloody; look at the historical precedent provided by the Roman Catholic Church when it lost its hegemony over the mind of Europe, and sponsored a century of bitterest war in the struggle to hang on – the Thirty Years War and the preceding Wars of Religion, devouring human beings in their maw from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

2007 In Review: Music:

**** apples in stereo - new magnetic wonder
**** bruce springsteen - magic
**** field music - tones of town
**** fountains of wayne - traffic and weather
**** future clouds and radar
**** kt tunstall - drastic fantastic
**** mitch easter - dynamico
**** rilo kiley - under the blacklight
**** shalini - the surface and the shine
**** suzanne vega - beauty & crime
**** the new pornographers - challengers
**** the shins - wincing the night away
**** they might be giants - the else
**** walker kong - deliver us from people
*** siouxsie - mantaray
*** son volt - the search
*** spoon - ga ga ga ga ga
*** paul mccartney - memory almost full
*** peter bjorn john - writer's block
*** plasticines - lp1
*** of montreal - hissing fauna are you the destroyer
*** laura veirs - saltbreakers
*** imperial teen - the hair the tv the baby and the band
*** crowded house - time on earth
*** The Broken West - I Can't Go On, I'll Go On
** travis - the boy with no name
** the national - boxer
** the pipettes - we are the pipettes
** the polyphonic spree - fragile army
** tegan and sara - the con
** st. vincent - marry me
** maria taylor - lynn teeter flower
** mary weiss - dangerous game
** great northern - trading twilight for daylight
** georgie james - places
** feist - the reminder
** deborah harry - necessary evil
** brian ferry - dylanesque
** air - pocket symphony
* wilco - blue sky
* the clientele - god save the clientele
* rogue wave - asleep at heaven's gate
* mary timony - the shapes we make
* lucinda williams - west