Friday, June 11, 2010

Atheist Quote Of A Random Day

A continuing feature of this blog brought to you by just another atheist

There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.. – Stephen Hawking

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Few More Movies I Like

It’s all Jerry Coyne’s fault. He put together a list of his 20 favorite movies and invited everyone to join in . So here are the second group of five that are favorites of mine.

Kiss Me Deadly

Very probably the best noir and Mike Hammer movie ever mad. Ralph Meeker plays Mike Hammer as a sleazball private eye with no morals whatsoever. His only redeeming virtue is his loyalty to his friends. Capturing Los Angeles in its fifties seediest best this movie defines noir.

Touch of Evil (Restored to Orson Welles' Vision)

Orson Wells had a contract to fulfill so he made this noir masterpiece. Despite the questionable casting of Charlton Heston as a Mexican narcotics cop this movie when it’s good is simply brilliant. Wells not only directed and wrote the film he also stars as the corrupt detective at the hart of the plot. Shot in Venice California mostly at night as befits a true noir this is a magnificently shot movie. A true must see film.

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

A great and badly underrated gangster film by Roger Corman that deserves recogniton as a classic of the genre. In this film Corman shows his rather considerable directorial clients telling the largely accurate story of the events leading up to the bloody massacre at the Chicago garage. Shooting his first movie for a major studio with a great cast Corman delivers a crisp, riveting gangster thriller.

Frankenstein (Universal Studios Classic Monster Collection) and The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal Studios Classic Monster Collection)

Two films made four years apart but they work as one. James Whale, Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and makeup artist Jack Pierce combine to create two of the greatest horror films ever made. What are now clich├ęs of the genre were created here. Whale and his cast go far beyond the demands of the genre however and create characters with a depth that still resonates today.

The Maltese Falcon (Three-Disc Special Edition)

Yes this is a predictable film to list but it so deserves to be on everyone’s top whatever list. The third time the book had been filmed this one became the definitive version. In Sam Spade Humphery Bogart created the quintessential Private Eye.

Thoughts For A Dying Empire

An occasional series, which I hope, will illuminate the twilight of the American Empire

There are many terrorist states in the world, but the United States is unusual in that it is officially committed to international terrorism.. – Noam Chomsky


Yes I am an Anarchist.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Atheist Quote Of A Random Day

A continuing feature of this blog brought to you by just another atheist

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death. – George Carlin

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Few Movies I Like

It’s all Jerry Coyne’s fault. He put together a list of his 20 favorite movies and invited everyone to join in . So here are the first five of mine.

King Kong

The original only, both remakes were monumentally sucky. The original though was a fast paced adventure with a working class hero and ground breaking special effects. Yes it is of its time and is thusly not so subtly racist though not as racist as Peter Jackson’s remake. Study the pacing and editing tough, they are brilliant. For a pre-teen kid they opened my eyes to what a movie could be.

His Girl Friday (1940) [Remastered Edition]

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell at their finest with a brilliant screen play expertly directed by Howard Hawks. While making you laugh until you can’t breath it the film makes some very trenchant social commentary. I so wanted to be Hildy Johnson.

The Philadelphia Story

Cary Grant, again, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart give diamond sharp performances under George Cukors direction. A lot more master class the ‘His Girl Friday’ but much can be forgiven a film with such brilliant and wicked dialogue. A film about being true to yourself if you can find your true self.

Heat

The first time Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were in a scene together in a film. Also quite possible the best crime drama ever filmed and maybe Michael Man’s best film ever. Over two and a half hours long but you will find your self wondering where the time went because this film will suck you in and never lets up.

Night of the Comet

OK not a great movie but a damn fun one. A comet destroys civilization and two valley girls and a pachuco are left to rebuild the world and you will never be happier that they are the ones doing it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thoughts For A Dying Empire

An occasional series, which I hope, will illuminate the twilight of the American Empire

You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. – Abbie Hoffman


Yes I am an Anarchist

The End Of The World As We Know It, Part 1

Our current industrial civilization is built on the foundation of cheap fossil fuels, not just oil this started with coal in the mid 18th century. Those early steam engines where powered by coal it was only later that oil became the prime mover of the Industrial Revolution. Now the era of cheap fossil fuels is ending. We are near or have already hit peak oil production and while we are supposed to have a century or more of coal that is a estimate based on a false one to one energy equivalent. While coal can be made into synthetic oil it takes a lot of energy and water, fresh water being another thing we are getting short on. Besides the direct costs of coal there are huge indirect costs in drastically increased pollution and extraction costs.

No, no matter how you cut it the age of cheap fossil fuels is over. The resource wars have already begun for that is what the ‘War On Terror’ really is. Energy, transportation, materials and agriculture are all dependent on fossil fuels and as their costs raise so will the cost of everything else. The mini food crises touched off by the Ethanol craze is just one example of the dislocations to come.

While this does mean the end of our current pattern of civilization it does not have to mean the end of all civilization. New patterns of civilization will arise out of the old it just won’t be easy.