Sunday, January 28, 2007


I resent the weekend of nothing between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. It makes the game itself seem like inconvenience to those planning the pageantry, entertainment and product awareness. They’re icing us like the opposing coach calling a time out right before the crucial field goal.

The playoffs had a lot of exciting games, especially the week before the championships where all four games were close to the end. Indy’s big comeback last week created a fire to see the big game to decide everything, but knowing we had a two week wait I have watched nothing on the match ups. They’re too much like the endless trailers we see for anticipated movies months in advance so by the time the film arrives at the theatres it already seems old.

Last week’s playoff games seem a month old now and by next week when they get around to playing the game, I’ll be at a party surrounded by a majority of people that can’t name both quarterbacks. I’ll enjoy the party for the social reasons and the football part will mostly be lost. I suppose its success when you create a sporting event that transcends the actual sport. It means a lot more money for your business and greater exposure for your athletes. But as a fan the event so overshadows the sport that you don’t always get that feeling of completion. Then contrast the Super Bowl with the following week’s Pro Bowl that hardly even registers as a sporting event despite the best players playing the most popular American sport.

I love watching Steve Sabol’s NFL films because it’s like watching past Super Bowls for the first time. You hear the players talking and you feel the tension that comes in late game situations. Key players are interviewed about the thinking of crucial plays. No mention of wardrobe malfunctions and funny Coke ads. And its not that those things aren’t fun, but I wish they could somehow have all that stuff the day before the game since the people anticipating those things are usually talking during the action anyway. Or better yet, A real genius would have found some way to attach the pomp and circumstance to that meaningless Pro-Bowl and let the real fans enjoy the big game.

I don’t mean to make this a big complaint just an observation. I’ve watched more football this year than I have since 1998 when I had the NFL package and was involved a fantasy league for the last time. My disappointment with baseball coincided with a new HD TV which is the perfect platform for watching football. I forgot how much I liked football to the point where I watched both college and NFL every week.

Football occupies an entirely different place in my brain from other sports like golf, tennis and baseball that I played much more. Whereas I feel baseball’s steroid policy ruins the legacy of the game, I expect football players to be genetic lab creations designed to crush skulls for my enjoyment. Someone else can worry about the long term health of people that have already decided that walking like a cripple at age 30 is a fair trade-off.


Last week Mickey Kaus compared Bush’s handling of Iraq with that of illegal immigration. The whole post is intriguing and worth reading. His worries about the Bush amnesty plan mirror mine, although I haven’t been able to articulate it this well.
The equivalent disaster scenario in immigration would go something like this: "Comprehensive" reform passes. The "earned legalization" provisions work as planned--millions of previously undocumented workers become legal Americans. But the untested "enforcement" provisions (point #5) prove no more effective than they've been in the past--or else they are crippled by ACLU-style lawsuits and lobbying (as in the past). Legal guest workers enter the country to work, but so do millions of new illegal workers, drawn by the prospect that they too, may some day be considered too numerous to deport and therefore candidates for the next amnesty. Hey, "stuff happens!" The current 12 million illegal immigrants become legal--and soon we have another 12 million illegals. Or 20 million. As a result, wages for unskilled, low-income legal American and immigrant workers are depressed. Visible contrasts of wealth and poverty reach near-Latin American proportions in parts of Los Angeles. And the majority of these illegal (and legal) immigrants, like the majority in many parts of the country, are from one nation: Mexico. America for the first time has a potential Quebec problem,** in which a neighboring country has a continuing claim on the loyalties of millions of residents and citizens.

The wage problem in particular is not really being addressed by those who say that we need these workers to run the economy. Democrats that are trying to push a $2 increase in the minimum wage have been all but silent on the lower than minimum wages paid to the illegals. That would seem to be in direct contrast to the union mentality of these people, but it’s a great strategy if you’re trying to create a large underclass to permanently vote Democrat. An amnesty will legitimize a number of workers that have the skills to earn minimum wage, but it will also create an unemployment among those that cannot. They will go from cheaply productive workers to wards of the state with legal rights to be here feeding off government services.

The way around this would be to have two separate tracks of people entering the country, people that go through the process to become citizens before employment and cheap labor that can legally work here without a path to citizenship. That segregates those people that seek to become “Americans” for reasons of sharing a culture and identity and those people that are more interested in the economic benefits of work. We need both types but nothing says that both types must be treated the same.

The two tracks process allows immigrants to decide which they value most, American culture or economic opportunities. Rather than have a bunch of pundits speak for them they can speak for themselves. The two tracks brings less risk of creating a big underclass because the guest worker track simply sends non-workers back without government responsibility.

Do you know how hard it is for an American to get a job in England, France or Italy? Ours would still be one of the most liberal work policies in the world without the responsibility of cradle to grave social services.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


It was really a delight to see art by Steve followed by E's poetry. The sharing of our talents is an inspiration. I have done neither activity for a while and seeing your works is a great motivation. Steve's, for instance, has a larger voice than any of his previous works, I think. E's poem showed me a gutsy combination and wit, wisdom and human truth.

And then Steve outs with his comprehansive post of career crimainals and his program that I have never heard him explain in depth. It's on the short short list of the greatest things ever posted on this blog.


January has been a big movie month for me. I'll have as many reviews this month as I normally have for two months. Trish and I make it to the movies so infrequently that last Saturday we devoted ourselves to a triple header -- PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, THE QUEEN, and CHILDREN OF MEN. It timed out just right so that we only had about ten minutes in between movies. In addition, I've seen a bunch of DVDs, including one of the few left from the SIGHT AND SOUND poll that I hadn't seen.

I don’t really blog from work not quite knowing if I can justify it even thought I use it as a writing exercise to get ready to work on things that are pertinent. Now that I have a chance, I’d like to share something that I ran across this week. It comes from the Volokh Conspiracy, which might be the most cleverly simple blog name on the net, with honorable mention to Instapundit. The blog is UCLA Law Professor Euegene Volokh’s group blog. I wish I would have thought of it first and named this the Junto Boys Conspiracy.

The post by Jonathan Adler is book review on the REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE by Chris (I’ve got a cold in my nose) Mooney, which Adler says is misleading because while Mooney’s examples of Republican politicalization are true, the book all but ignores an equal number of Democrat examples which are just as demonstrative. It also ignores how the institutional process of government plays a role.

UPDATE: One of the best examples of the politicization of science by the "left" — and one of the few that Mooney acknowledges — is the treatment of agricultural biotechnology, and the decision to subject such products to more stringent regulatory review than those developed with other methods. This policy has no scientific basis, as the National Academy of Sciences has stated many times.

Another example would be claims by environmentalist groups that pesticide residues on foods pose a significant cancer risk, a claim which the NAS has also rejected. A third would be seeking endangered species listings for the purpose of halting development. A fourth would be efforts to claim asthma incidence (as opposed to asthma attacks) are related to outdoor air pollution, when there is no data to support such a claim. A fifth would be the EPA's second-hand smoke study, which a federal court found was driven to reach a predetermined result. A sixth would be claims that the "precautionary principle" is a "science-based" approach to risk, when it acutally reflects a normative policy judgment about how to weigh and evaluate risks. A seventh would be the compounded conservatisms that are embedded into many agency risk assessments, such as those conducted for the federal Superfund program. An eighth would be molding "ecosystem management" to satisfy non-scientific normative preferences about how land should be managed. And so on.

Some of these occurred within the Clinton Administration, others were the result of interest group action and occurred at other times. Overall, however, one can only claim the Clinton Administration never abused science for political reasons if one wasn't paying attention. Examples beyond those mentioned above are easy to come by. Here are two from Ronald Bailey:

In 1993, Princeton University physicist William Happer was fired from the Department of Energy because he disagreed with Vice President Al Gore's views on stratospheric ozone depletion. In 1994, President Bill Clinton rejected the finding from the Embryo Research Panel of the National Institutes of Health which declared that the intentional creation of human embryos for genetic research was ethical. Clinton simply banned any federal funding for such research.

Like anything that has public policy implications, science has become politicized by everyone trying to shape America to their own prejudices. This was inevitable the moment that scientists started accepting government money for research. No free lunch for science. But even outside the government where private grants allow for scientific research, so many times the findings reveal exactly what they money wanted them to reveal.

Does anyone think that Sierra Club money won’t make a case for more conservation and Exxon money won’t make the case for the benefits of drilling? The media has a way of covering conservative pushes as medieval thinking and liberal goals as enlightened when they both derive from a worldview rather than disinterested data.

The danger is that we still tend to think of science as a group if disinterested men trying to find objective evidence to lead them down the trail to enlightenment. Those men do exist somewhere, especially when they’re goal is to create a device to solve a specific problem. I contend that they are rarely to be found in the public arena where science is a career first and shaping findings to a particular bent is more advantageous for funding and prestige than simply tinkering around for truth.

The leftwing theft of science has harmful lasting implications. Remember that conservation use to be a conservative issue, and there was scant opposition to things like cleaning up the rivers and air. With the book Silent Spring, the leftwing realized that the environmental movement was a perfect vehicle for pushing socialism. Chemicals that are effective and perfectly safe in small quantities are frequently challenged and even banned because a mouthful is poison. The ban of DDT causes about 50,000 deaths from malaria in the third world each year. But bird eggs are saved.

If the Republicans lose voice on science America will spend precious money each year on socially acceptable science rather than things backed up by hard data. Every ten years we’ll be shifting our focus from making the world cooler to making it hotter. Al Gore has already championed both ideas in the last 20 years. Businesses will be made to constantly change their means of production to satisfy the current prejudices and they’ll have even more incentive to move their plants to countries not covered under things like Kyoto. Our economy and our freedom will suffer.

If we agree that science needs objectivity to serve mankind, can anyone tell me if that is still possible under any type of government funding? If so, how?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

answers to a "Special Request"

Of course when talking about human behavior the answer is not so easy. It is impossible to predict the behavior of one single man. Why a single felon returns to a life of crime is as varied as there are felons. A better question is, "What are the over all patterns of inmate recidivism?" In the past the correctional system believed that criminals needed a good old fashion does of religion, quite time, and hard work. What studies found was that while change was apparent while the inmate was in prison, he/she quickly reverted to his old ways once back in his old environment; surrounded by the people, places, and things that tempted and reminded him of his old life of crime. Then in the early 1970's, hot on the heels of the 60's movement, was a "re-educate" or "rehabilitate" the inmates. It was thought that crime arose out of an environment of poverty, lack of education, and lack of economic opportunity. It was thought that the "teach a man to fish" philosophy would help. After a decade of giving free high school education and in some Federal prisons, a free college education, what studies showed was that you were simply getting a better educated class of criminals. The criminals (or "offenders" as they are now referred) were using their knowledge to plan more and more sophisticated brand of crimes. Then came the 80's and Reagan's war on drugs. Even Bill Buckley and other Libertarian leaning conservatives agree that this war is a losing battle. But we went full force none the less. On the positive side, what was discovered in all this was that what those who committed crimes lacked was right thinking. For example, here is a common judgment question that psychologists pose to people to assess moral/ethical judgement, "What are you to do if you find a wallet lying on the sidewalk with $500 in cash, credit cards, and identification?" The answer is of course, "Return the wallet to the person it belongs to." What those with criminal thinking say, when answering the question, is "Do you want me to tell you what I am supposed to do or what I would do?" Criminals have something of a psychological disorder in the way they think. They always think of themselves first, always assume others are out to scam them so they must scam first, always believe that they cannot get ahead without breaking the law, etc. etc. They have a large and well developed set of "attributions" or assumptions about how the world works, that lead them to make criminal choices instead of pro-social ones. Add drug abuse that also impairs judgment on top that that, and you get a person who is really lousy at making appropriate decisions. What the Federal Bureau of Prisons found in now over 20 years of research, is that focusing on criminal thinking, helping to rehab old drug inclinations, and working on education is at the core of any prison treatment program. When I was at the BOP, I designed a program called FREE (Focused Re-Entry to Exemplify Excellence)
which attempted to pull together all the resources that the prison system had scattered around and focus it toward one goal: preparing the inmate for release back into the community and teaching him how to lead a pro-social, law abiding lifestyle.

The program, FREE attempted to focus on nine essential skill sets (that were all ready available in various departments but weren't being taught with re-entry in mind). The Warden and higher ups loved this program because it did not utilize and additional tax payer dollars and it put a significant portion of the inmate population into "24" programming mode which reduced idol time.
Here is an outline of the program:
A. ASSESSMENT TOOL Each Inmate is given the Inmate Skills Assessment
B. Take the Nine Essential Skill Sets and translate them into viable, practical, measurable goals in the real world. Classes taught in the FREE program each fit into one of the 9 essential skills. They are:
1. Daily Living
2. Mental Health Functioning
3. Physical Wellness
4. Interpersonal Proficiency (Communication Skills i.e. toastmasters)
5. Academic Readiness
6. Cognitive Abilities (this is where criminal thinking is attacked and replaced with pro-social thinking).
7. Vocational Revitalization
8. Positive Leisure Time Management (this was essential, what other studies found is that inmates, once released, could find a job and find a place to sleep, it was the 8 hours awake, away from work that usually led to new crimes).
9. Character Building (my personal addition and focuses on values, ethics, and moral standards set forth in the inmates own religious or philosophical system).

C. Philosophy-Mission
1. Focused positive re-enforcement
2. Emphasis on natural, logical consequences of not completing tasks.
3. Develop Internal Motivation Not fear based
4. Continue to develop a creative, innovative approach to programing
5. Cultivate a Rich Unit environment where self-help opportunities are abundant
6. Focus on Empowering and Supporting participants
7. Motivate participants toward life-long growth and service to others.
8. Program requires acquisition and demonstration of mastery in all nine skill sets.

D. Some of the Classes Covered over Six Months
1. The Attitudes of Change
2. Living free
3. Personal Growth and Development Class on Goal setting and time management
4. Men at Work A class on understanding personal responsibility
5. Victim Impact
6. Toastmasters public speaking and effective communication
7. Employment Skills
8. Long Distance Dads A parenting program
9. Thinking for a Change
10. Meditation classes and Spiritual life building
11. Vocational Programs
12. FDIC Money-Smart Financial Literacy Program.

E. Other Programing During FREE
1. Inmates are encouraged to seek out Mentor assistance (Mentors are inmates who have been through extensive programming and have demonstrated the character and skills necessary to lead by example).
2. Inmates are required to create a Physical, Spiritual, and Mental Wellness plan. They are required to show evidence that they are committed to their own self-improvement programs.

F. Inmates are Required to complete a Community Service Project: (This was great training for them because it caused them to focus their attention toward the greater community--in our experiment it was the inmate community which we hoped would translate into pro-social community involvement once released).
1. This project is one of their own creation that serves to foster empathy and a sense of belonging to a greater community.
2. Community Service Projects Include:
a. A booklet and classes to teach how to clear up your driving record prior to release.
b. Classes on How to Repair Credit
c. A physical education program
d. Forms of Insurance and why you need it.
e. Teach the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
f. Create Booklet of Job Contacts via local trade union
g. A booklet for Distance education via colleges to inmates
h. Creating a booklet that lists local employers willing to hire ex-Inmates
i. CDL Trucking courses
j. Implementation of Toastmasters.

3. In addition, each participant must create a binder of community resources for the city which they will be returning to.

The FREE program was adopted by the feds nation wide and I won a national recognition award from the director for it shortly before I left. Preliminary studies have shown that it is quite effective and has reduced recidivism in the federal inmate population by 40% in the two years that it's been in effect. Older studies show that those who can stay out, employed, involved with their community for more than 3 years are likely never to return to prison.

ANYWAY, E's original request was "what would SirSaunders do as King, to end recidivism." As King, I would immediately return to a more libertarian form of government. I would recall all troops worldwide immediately and return them to our borders. I would end all Federal authority over all of crimes of vice (i.e. drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc.). I would use the immence surpluses toward tax rebates then ending the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax. I would take all remaining resources and devote them to space exploration/colonization. Once my fusion and anti-matter generators came online, no one would need oil so the Arabs could go back to living in the 14th century. After a decade, I would leave planet Earth for the nearest star where my family and all my Junto brothers, and their loved ones, would sleep safey in chrono-suspension storage until we reached "New Eden" 10,000 light years away; a planet I so named after it's discovery by the international observatory. Then I will establish a new order of utopian freedom that would last a 1000 years!

But, I probably would be assassinated shortly after recalling the troops.


Bush's speech, while not rich on content, was at least sincere and specific. The rebuttal delivered by Sen. Webb was bitter and vague -- more of the same complaining with no competing ideas. The media has cooperated with a relentlessly constant and consistent effort to beat Bush down and erode his support, even to the point where they could beat his something with their nothing. That is their right to do, and I have to admire their resolve and their success. But that doesn't make what they say true. Ben Stein offered this evaluation:

The truth is that we are in a huge economic boom. We are coming off a mammoth real estate explosion that put the most Americans in history in their own homes. We have totally full employment. After decades of stagnation, real wages are rising. Gasoline prices are way, way down. The nation is wealthier than it has ever been (although this is very unevenly distributed). Opportunities for subsidized higher education are better than they have ever been.

Most important of all, who would have ever been rash enough on September 12, 2001 to say there would not be one major or even minor successful terrorist incident against the U.S. homeland in over five years? Who would have thought we would escape without more massive terror? But we have, and it is a foolhardy person who would say that's an accident. Bush may not have done it by himself, but he had something to do with it.

True, we are mired in a war without end, costing us far too may great young and old Americans and too many limbs and wrecked families and vastly too much money. But we all know we're getting out soon. It was a huge mistake, but I'd like to see a President who did not make huge mistakes. Compared with the mistakes of Truman and FDR and Kennedy, Iraq is a mistake, but not worse than theirs.

True, we have virtually no federal oversight of corporate looting and executive suite misconduct, but we didn't have any under Clinton either. The rich get away with murder. That's what happens in the real world. Bush is to blame, but all politicians cater to the rich, as Hillary will and Barack Obama will. It's nauseating and I fight it constantly, but that's life.

My point: let's be aware that Bush has presided over a lot of success in addition to substantial failure. My second point: no one elected the media to anything. If we let them lynch the man we elected as President we are throwing out the Constitution with the war in Iraq. In the studios and newsrooms, there is a lynch mob at work. Let's see it for what it is. We have a good man who has made mistakes in the Oval Office. He's the only President we have, and I trust him a lot more than I trust unelected princes of the newsroom.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I would like to invite Sir Saunders to opine in this space on why recidivism is so high among convicted felons and what he would do as King to decrease the incidence.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I made this collage in art class on Saturday. I think it exemplifies the current plight of man: disconnected, about to be ungrounded, but somewhat hopeful as the hand of God continues to be upon us.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Dick Morris has to be the slimiest of them all. Because he makes his living off of trashing his former employers, the Clintons, you know that when he pumps up Hillary's electability and how potentially unstoppable she is, as he has been doing in his columns and on TV, it's because her success is his success. So as he bolsters her standing as the #1 contender for her party's nomination, meanwhile he's preparing his Republican donor list to take her down. The more he builds her up, the more Republican dollars he'll need to take her down, and the more time he'll get on Fox to ask for them. Politics and "news" are slippery businesses indeed. He has been positioning for this for years and finally the next 22 months are a dream come true for Tricky Dick.

It is funny that the fundraising letter calls Clinton a "Clinton-style liberal."

Persons on Republican mailing lists this week received an appeal for funds from Dick Morris, President Bill Clinton's political strategist in 1995-1996, asking for a contribution between $25 and $100 or more to finance a critical film documentary of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Signing the letter as "Former Clinton Adviser," Morris wrote: "If you liked how the Swift Boat Veterans turned the tide against John Kerry, you understand how a top Clinton aide can turn the tables and stop a Clinton-style liberal from becoming the next president of the United States."

Morris's appeal was made through The Presidential Coalition, run by conservative activist Dave Bossie. The letter described Morris as dedicated to electing presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Since 1996, Morris has been an author, columnist and television commentator.

Friday, January 19, 2007


2LT Mark Daily, killed last week by an IED blast, explained on his MySpace page why he had joined the fight. He was apparently intelligent, well-spoken, good looking and capable, which meant he owed everybody a doubly-good explanation. Here is why:
I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses.

Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

Human beings have a responsibility to one another and Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck."

This fellow was a better man than I am, and a better man than all his friends, family and colleagues who asked him so many times why he enlisted that he had to put it in print.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The problem with the commentary from Charles Murray, is it makes the mistake that many make concerning IQ. IQ, as it is currently measured, is an measure of "intelligence" as defined by: your fund of knowledge, verbal fluency, processing speed, ability to see abstract concepts, and others. These domain areas are certainly not the only form of intelligence. Tom alluded to this fact when he stated that there were guys in our schools who were poor students but could take a part an engine. These are actually two forms of intelligence, academic and mechanical.

Dee Dickson said it best on her website when she quoted my personal favorite cognitive psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner

Dr. Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind and co-director of Project Zero at Harvard University, has created a Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He points out that school systems often focus on a narrow range of intelligence that involves primarily verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical skills. While knowledge and skills in these areas are essential for surviving and thriving in the world, he suggests that there are at least six other kinds of intelligence that are important to fuller human development and that almost everyone has available to develop. They include, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, naturalist and intrapersonal intelligence.

The strongest skills of many children lie in these six areas, which are frequently undervalued in some traditional schools. The fact is that when children have an opportunity to learn through their strengths, they may become more successful at learning all subjects--including the "basic skills."

Gardner believes that the eight intelligences he has identified are independent, in that they develop at different times and to different degrees in different individuals. They are, however, closely related, and many teachers and parents are finding that when an individual becomes more proficient in one area, the whole constellation of intelligence may be enhanced.

For this reason, we believe that it is important to encourage children to explore and exercise all of their intelligences. Creating a rich, nurturing, and stimulating environment filled with interesting materials, toys, games, and books lays the foundation for healthier, happier, brighter children! Students who have these kinds of experiences know many ways to learn almost anything!

Following are some characteristics of the different intelligences, along with ways to exercise and develop them:

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
Involves reading, writing, speaking, and conversing in one's own or foreign languages. It may be exercised through reading interesting books, playing word board or card games, listening to recordings, using various kinds of computer technology, and participating in conversation and discussions.
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence Involves number and computing skills, recognizing patterns and relationships, timeliness and order, and the ability to solve different kinds of problems through logic. It may be exercised through classifying and sequencing activities, playing number and logic games, and solving various kinds of puzzles.
Visual/Spatial Intelligence Involves visual perception of the environment, the ability to create and manipulate mental images, and the orientation of the body in space. It may be developed through experiences in the graphic and plastic arts, sharpening observation skills, solving mazes and other spatial tasks, and exercises in imagery and active imagination.
Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence Involves physical coordination and dexterity, using fine and gross motor skills, and expressing oneself or learning through physical activities. It may be exercised by playing with blocks and other construction materials, dancing, playing various active sports and games, participating in plays or make-believe, and using various kinds of manipulatives to solve problems or to learn.
Musical Intelligence Involves understanding and expressing oneself through music and rhythmic movements or dance, or composing, playing, or conducting music. It may be exercised by listening to a variety of recordings, engaging in rhythmic games and activities, and singing, dancing, or playing various instruments.
Interpersonal Intelligence Involves understanding how to communicate with and understand other people and how to work collaboratively. It may be exercised through cooperative games, group projects and discussions, multicultural books and materials, and dramatic activities or role-playing.
Intrapersonal Intelligence Involves understanding one's inner world of emotions and thoughts, and growing in the ability to control them and work with them consciously. It may be exercised through participating in independent projects, reading illuminating books, journal-writing, imaginative activities and games, and finding quiet places for reflection.
Naturalist Intelligence Involves understanding the natural world of plants and animals, noticing their characteristics, and categorizing them; it generally involves keen observation and the ability to classify other things as well. It may be exercised by exploring nature, making collections of objects, studying them, and grouping them.

So given that one accepts this as "true" then what is the value of "no child left behind" or other kinds of educational initiatives? Basically it goes back to social engineering. Politicians use the public school system to achieve their own agenda regarding their own beliefs. This is of course true for both sides. I don't believe anyone really cares about Johnny's ability to read. As long as he pays taxes.

I for one think "interpersonal intelligence" is the most important. I've seen this time and again. A very nice person, with limited academic intelligence, succeeds in the world simply because he understands intuitively how human systems work. In other words, he's charming. Charming people are enjoyable to be around. This is actually the form of intelligence we should teach more to our children but no one hears about these abilities. William Bennett attempted to discuss them in his "Book of Virtues" but it didn't quite hit this nail squarely on the head.

Further complicating the issues is learning styles. People learn in very different ways. Although traditional public schools have attempted to adapt to this phenomena in recent years by the implementation of "charter schools", mostly they simply teach the old fashioned way: rows of desks, books, teachers lecture. I for one am a auditory learner. I learn by listening and watching. Even though I can learn by reading a book, or writing, I still have to stop and visualize a concept in order to understand it. I was a poor high school student for this reason. But when I got into college, I did an experiment, I stopped taking notes in a semester of classes. I simply watched and listened to the class room instruction then read the text. I made A's that year. Other people must learn by doing or learn by watching alone or learn by reading only, or any combination of these and others I haven't mentioned.

Additionally, It's been my experience that people find their natural niche in any culture or subculture. My speciality intelligence is interpersonal, which is why I believe I naturally gravitated to a life in psychology. But what would a person like me have done 10,000 years ago when we were hunter-gatherers? Probably Shaman or tribal comedian. A psychologist wrote a book a few years ago (the title escapes me at present) about what shapes a child's personality. His studies concluded that peer influence and a child seeking a social ecological niche is what makes the personality. We all have our niche in the world. The key is knowing what it is and knowing how to profit from it. That is the true key to success and not leaving any child behind.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Charles Murray again writes what no one will want to hear:
Our ability to improve the academic accomplishment of students in the lower half of the distribution of intelligence is severely limited. It is a matter of ceilings. Suppose a girl in the 99th percentile of intelligence, corresponding to an IQ of 135, is getting a C in English. She is underachieving, and someone who sets out to raise her performance might be able to get a spectacular result. Now suppose the boy sitting behind her is getting a D, but his IQ is a bit below 100, at the 49th percentile.

We can hope to raise his grade. But teaching him more vocabulary words or drilling him on the parts of speech will not open up new vistas for him. It is not within his power to learn to follow an exposition written beyond a limited level of complexity, any more than it is within my power to follow a proof in the American Journal of Mathematics. In both cases, the problem is not that we have not been taught enough, but that we are not smart enough.

Now take the girl sitting across the aisle who is getting an F. She is at the 20th percentile of intelligence, which means she has an IQ of 88. If the grading is honest, it may not be possible to do more than give her an E for effort. Even if she is taught to read every bit as well as her intelligence permits, she still will be able to comprehend only simple written material. It is a good thing that she becomes functionally literate, and it will have an effect on the range of jobs she can hold. But still she will be confined to jobs that require minimal reading skills. She is just not smart enough to do more than that.

Having a low IQ doesn't mean you can't be a productive citizen. And if you think back to school days you can remember kids that just weren't cut out for book learning but they could rip apart an engine.

It's good for a society to value education but you don't have to go to college to be successful. Try hiring a handyman to fix some things around the house and you'll realize that he probably makes more than you if he's a hustler.

The problem with government education is that it won't be honest with itself about the limitations and expectations. Why not teach some kids vocational skills instead of trying to turn them into Voltaires?

The premise was interesting. A British Documentary looking at the history of American in the last 150 years since the South won the Civil War. There are plenty of considerations about what the country would have become in such an alternate history, but this documentary is only interested in the race question, and the whole movie unfolds as if race is the only factor in public and private life.

Here are the plot points: Abe Lincoln and the abolitionists run off the Canada. All remaining northerners are required to buy a slave or pay a heavy tax. Then the Confederates invade and take over the brown people in Central America. Then they befriend the Nazis.

There are some over the top commercials between the feature including the most oh boss stephinfetchit characters plugging one product or another. They’re designed to make you laugh and shame you at the same time for laughing.

The political Left in this country will rehabilitate Arafat, make excuses for Castro, pretend Chavez is anything but a tyrant, cry at Saddam’s execution and yet they still hate Robert E. Lee. And isn’t it funny that Lee freed his slaves voluntarily while the heroes of the Left enslave as many as they can.

I could have forgiven the politics which I assumed would be leftist if only they offered some subtlety and variety. The style was decent and some of the parallel historical events like Kennedy/Nixon were clever, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the obvious one joke premise.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


The following article is from my hometown news paper back in Bonifay, FL, The Holmes County Advertiser. This is the same cop that attacked and provoked my Uncle Dwight into the mother of all shoot-outs that ended in my Uncle's death (read all about it on my Website).

Lee suspension extended (or the truth always comes out!)
From the Holmes County Advertiser
Lee suspension extended by Bonifay Council

Managing Editor

Bonifay City Council extended the suspension of Officer Stephen Lee pending a meeting involving Council and the respective attorneys. Action was taken at Monday night’s regular Council meeting. Councilmen Eddie Sims and Micah McCormick were not present. Police Chief Ronnie Bennett said that Lee’s lawyer, Rhonda Clyatt, requested a continuance of Lee’s original 10-day suspension with pay. City Attorney Brandon Young was also unable to attend Monday’s meeting, so the suspension was extended and a special Council meeting will be set up to deal with the situation. In a related matter, Karl Malina accused Lee of verbally and physically assaulting his son. Malina wanted to know why there were no criminal charges against Lee and why Lee was still on the police force. Mayor Fred Howell said this would be addressed at the special meeting.

Bonifay Officer Suspended
December 15, 2006 from (WTVY News Channel 4, Dothan Alabama)
Two-and-a-half-years-ago, Bonifay police officer Steven Lee was nearly killed after being shot by a mentally ill gunman. Wednesday, Officer Lee is suspended for 10 days without pay.
The suspension began on December 11.
Bonifay Police Chief Ronnie Bennet reported the suspension before this week's city council meeting.
Officer Lee allegedly was making traffic stops outside his department's jurisdiction.
His patrol car has also been taken away from him during his suspension.
Chief Bennett says he along with officer lee and his attorney will soon sit down and discuss the situation.
The suspension will be placed on the Bonifay city council's January meeting agenda.

A loose cannon, egotistical, self-motivated, and impulsive. A dangerious combination. This guy should be taken off the force and I hope criminal charges are indeed pressed for his recent actions.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


To all the social conservatives who decided to send Bush a message by voting Democrat: thanks a lot, here is your reward.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Backing away from a confrontation with Senate Democrats, President George W. Bush has decided to withdraw four appeals court nominations whose selections had met with resistance, the White House said on Tuesday. The nominations of William Haynes, Michael Wallace, William Myers and Terrence Boyle will be withdrawn, said White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore.

Haynes's role as general counsel for the Department of Defense and in advising the Bush administration on the treatment of terror suspects had stirred controversy and Democrats had criticized the records of the other nominees on issues like civil rights and the environment.

With the Senate now under Democratic control, prospects for their confirmations appeared slim.

"As many of America's courts lay vacant, the president's main focus now is to address this issue by moving forward in the 110th Congress with a new slate of highly qualified nominees," Lawrimore said.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I haven't posted in awhile and I've gotten rusty so I'll try for a few per month to stay active in the forum. This article caught my attention - it basically lays out the argument why doing nothing may be the best long term strategy in confronting Iran since its petroleum economy is slowly leaking into the ground.
For the mullahs, the short-run political return on investment in oil production is zero. They are reluctant to wait the 4 to 6 years it takes for a drilling investment to yield revenue. So rather than reinvest to refresh production, the Islamic Republic starves its petroleum sector, diverting oil profits to a vast, inefficient welfare state. Employment in the loss-making state-supported firms of this welfare state is essential to the regime's political survival.

Refinery leakage exemplifies all that is wrong with the Iranian petroleum sector. According to the state-run Iran Daily, leaks account for 6 percent of total production, yet go unattended. This colossal revenue loss persists due to the Soviet-style logic of Iran's state-planned economy. Subsidized energy prices force the state oil firm to sell at a loss to the domestic market. Therefore, while Iran could gain billions by fixing the leaks, the state oil firm would be worse off because the maintenance would generate no new revenue. Thus oil and money simply seep into the ground.

The mullahs are doing a good job of destroying Iran's economy. They should be left alone to complete their work. Attacking Iran would allow the regime to escape responsibility for the economic disaster it created. Worse, an attack could unite Iran behind the clerical terror-sponsors whose grasp on power may be slipping. For these reasons, the best policy towards Iran may be to do nothing at all.

At last, the Carter administration is paying dividends. Without the unsustainable Soviet-style state-planned economy, we might have been forced to risk American lives to keep this country at bay. As it stands, just let them do their thing while we move the world in the direction of hydrogen fuel cells which will ultimately strip the oil-producing countries of their source of wealth and they can go back to living in the Middle Ages as they prefer.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

THE BOYS ON THE BUS (1973) by Timothy Crouse - (A book Review)

The Boys on the Bus is a very entertaining look at the reporters covering the 1972 election and the system in which they worked in. If you want to know how the press room in the White House smelled this is your book. If you want to know how reporters interact with each other after the press conference ends this is your book. In addition, Crouse offers great portraits of important journalists covering politics in that era, many of which are still working or known today – David Broder and Bob Novak would be two prime examples.

Crouse demonstrates that most journalists during the campaign were to the left of center politically and he argues that it didn’t really show up in the reporting. He criticizes the press for their inability to offer any kind of news analysis in their stories. The White House was so masterful in presenting information that straight reporting made it very easy to manipulate the press. Plus McGovern’s inept campaign led the politically sympathetic reporters to lose all respect for his ambitions. There’s a funny scene where the reporters kick McGovern’s press secretary off the bus, something that they would never consider doing to the evasive but professional Nixon man, Ron Zigler.

Crouse moves the story along briskly and I poured through it faster than an average book on this subject. I would argue that it’s more influential to members of the press than ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN. Not every reporter is going to do the long and hard legwork that Woodward and Bernstein did in that classic. But any reporter can apply news analysis. It’s as easy as filtering the news through their own opinions, or simply tackling the kinds of stories in line with their own prejudices.

Dan Rather’s insistence that the forged National Guard documents were “fake but accurate” demonstrates news analysis at its most arrogant. But reporters usually take a side by presenting a charge like, “this bill will starve children” and then asking the opponent why he’s for starving children.

The reporters working today frequently deride stories that don’t line up with the goals or filters they’re married to. Even if reporters thought the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against John Kerry was politically motivated, they didn’t even bother to refute the specific charges because they didn’t want the charges to become part of the mainstream argument. Dan Rather would rather chase around forged anti-Bush documents presented by shady figures than give voice to Kerry’s fellow servicemen.

It was a kind of parity for reporters playing sports commissioner, hoping that presenting Bush’s military record as shaky, and refusing to look into Kerry’s record would swing enough centrist votes to the left. The reporters knew that Kerry’s only chance at winning the election was picking off those kinds of Reagan Democrats. It’s not too unlike the racetrack making the better horse carry eight extra pounds in the saddlebags. Had both stories been treated equally either by ignoring them or giving them equal voice, Bush was more likely to have benefited at the polls.

That’s probably why the press made so much hay with the detention at Guantanamo Bay, the Abu Grab prison scandal, and terrorist the surveillance program. If they could liken Bush to Nixon then they could take the moral high ground rationalizing their approach as better for the country. Simply reporting the facts would limit their ability to sway the public to their enlightenment and what if that led to another Watergate? The 1972 press failed to save the country, but we won’t!

All the seeds of modern political reporting are an outgrowth from Crouse’s criticism of the lapdog press. That’s the real genius of this book. You can see how it was effective enough to convince reporters that the ends justify the means. The process of reading BOYS is a joy and its influence certainly puts a lot of modern day reporting into perspective.

Not sure how JAWS missed this list. What would you add? What would you drop?

Update: My colleague Biff reports he has seen all 50 of these movies - which you might not expect from a Biff.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Back when I was nineteen and avoiding the draft at all costs to stay out of Tet Offensive harm's way, I would have argued with passion that the draft was the ultimate in racism and economic discrimination, because mostly the privileged could find a way around it and mostly the underprivileged became the target.

- Jim Lampley, Huffington Post June 03, 2005

This from the San Diego Union Tribune.
Longtime sports broadcaster Jim Lampley is accused of roughing up his companion on New Year's Eve prior to his arrest Wednesday in Encinitas on suspicion of domestic violence, according to court records.

The victim, who said she was engaged to Lampley, filed for the temporary restraining order Tuesday, accusing Lampley of pushing her against a wall and a door New Year's Eve, according to court records.

She added Lampley, 57, had been drinking and smoking marijuana when he pulled her from the sofa, where she had been watching a movie, because he wanted to go to bed, the woman wrote. When she resisted, he pushed her, the woman wrote.

Late last year, Lampley's fiancee wrote in the court documents, she was pushed to the floor of a New York City restaurant by the broadcaster, which left her bruised for two weeks from her neck to her tailbone.

Lampley agreed to seek counseling, and the woman continued the relationship, but decided she would seek a restraining order if Lampley hurt her again, according to the court records.

Why fight the tough ole VC when women are so much easier?

Dude, your free top-shelf education in quantum physics and antigravitational propulsion just became a reality.

For years the universities have worried that posting this kind of material online would cannabilize enrollment. Not so. It can only improve the school's academic prestige and cachet, besides which, students aren't buying the education part of the college education as much as the experience of going to college, which can never be replicated online and which is why I am enrolled again.

The Internet is amazing. To think that a few short years ago we wrote our high school newspaper stories longhand then typed them up on a typewriter. We corrected typos with an Exacto knife and a glue stick.

By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at one of the world's most prestigious universities will be available online to anyone in the world, anywhere in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted.

The cost? It's all free of charge.

The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 and now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide, aims to disperse knowledge far beyond the ivy-clad walls of elite
campuses to anyone who has an Internet connection and a desire to learn.

Intended as an act of "intellectual philanthropy," OpenCourseWare (OCW) provides free access to course materials such as syllabi, video or audio lectures, notes, homework assignments, illustrations, and so on. So far, by giving away their content, the universities aren't discouraging students from enrolling as students. Instead, the online materials appear to be only whetting appetites for more.

The MIT site (, along with companion sites that translate the material into other languages, now average about 1.4 million visits per month from learners "in every single country on the planet,"

The sheer volume and variety of the educational materials being released by MIT and its OCW collaborators is nothing less than stunning. For example, each of the 29 courses that Tufts University in Medford, Mass., has put online so far is "literally the size of a textbook," says Mary Lee, associate provost and point person for the OCW effort there. The material provides much more than "a skeleton of a course," she says. Visitors to Tufts' OCW course on "Wildlife Medicine" call it is the most comprehensive website on that topic in the world, Dr. Lee says.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


In consideration of my generally dour disposition, I was recently advised to make a gratitude list heading into 2007, a Top Ten list of things I am grateful for in my life, to which I can refer when I get down or when I exaggerate or dwell on the momentary troubles that beset me, prone as I am to self-loathing and impossible standards of excellence. So here it is. I was pleased with how easily it flowed forth and how plainly it will serve its purpose.

1. I love my wife. Romantic love wears off – else how would anything ever get done? – but I admire, respect, cherish, rely on, look to and love my wife of ten and a half years. She is not perfect but never claimed to be. Better: she is genuine. Friend, partner, soulmate, playmate, confidant… she brings out the best and worst in me, which is how it ought to be in marriage.

2. I delight in my sons. They crack me up in surprising and delightful ways. One takes wholly after me and the other wholly after his mother, which again brings out the best and worst in me, which is as it ought to be. They always told me that you never really know yourself and you never really understand love until you have kids, and I am finding that to be the case. They teach me the importance of maintaining a right perspective and that short-term words and deeds (mine more than theirs) have long-term ramifications. Mostly they remind me to have fun and that just about everything is interesting in some way.

3. I like my job. Not everyone can say that. There have been plenty of times when I could not. I have found a good niche for my skills and temperament, I am good at what I do, and I am learning a lot. I do get bored after several years in any capacity, and have experienced that in recent months, but that is what we call a “high-class problem.” My firm is tops in its field and I am fortunate to be part of it. The new year brings new challenges and opportunities at work.

4. My family is healthy. Some of you know firsthand the tremendous stresses that arise from dealing with medical issues in yourself or a loved one. I can probably count on one hand the number of days the four of us missed work or school in 2006 due to illness, and for that I am grateful.

5. I love our new house. I like the location, the neighbors, the kids’ new friends, their teachers, our new proximity to things, the setting amid Amish farms, and the house itself. I feel very much at home here.

6. I have a secure faith in God. I am more scholar than gentleman (though I hope I am making progress on the latter) – I studied everything else first, and then when I read the Bible (just to formally dismiss it), I became convinced that it could only be true. Today I have a reasoned faith that gives me both an abiding joy and an intellectual framework for understanding everything else. The Holy Spirit has made me smarter and more capable than I could have become without Him.

7. There is no presidential election this year. I get too caught up in them and waste a lot of time reading op-eds and listening to pundits and political operatives who answer any question that is asked with the same scripted reply.

8. The world is full of books and I want to know what is in them.

9. Life is better sober. Most alcoholics end up in jails, institutions or early graves. Most people with a drinking problem never make it into an A.A. meeting, and about 1 in 30 of those who do go on to become sober. My compulsion to drink was lifted about 12 years ago and life has become so much richer in the 13 years, 7 months and 12 days since I took that last drink in Durham, North Carolina after a fateful chat with a cab driver. I heard a still small voice in a dream the following morning that changed everything.

10. My feet are healed. I suffered from chronic pain in both feet from junior high until about two years ago when I experienced a sudden buzzing, burning and what felt like stretching of my foot muscles at a church altar in Reamstown, PA. I removed the orthotics from my shoes and haven’t used them since. I should remember to be thankful for every moment my feet don’t hurt, but again, how would anything else get done.

Bonus. Turkey Hill introduced Philadelphia Eagles Touchdown Sundae flavor premium ice cream, with fudge ribbon and chocolate covered peanut butter footballs. This simple pleasure has added untold joy and about 12 pounds to my life.

Honorable mention to Wilbur Buds, a chocolate confection out of Lititz, PA that blows Hershey Kisses away. These are probably responsible for a couple of those 12 pounds, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thankful New Year!!

Monday, January 01, 2007


– 007 means license to kill and you would hardly know it up ‘til now. The film series began as spy capers and evolved into suave jokes and explosions. This movie actually gets back to the books. I’m not sure how much of the plot is followed, but it’s very welcoming to see a tough Bond that doesn’t mind killing people. The casino showdown is decent as too with the poker being believable enough until the last hand that included too many players. Eva Green makes a great Bond girl with her own brand of smarts and librarian brand of beauty. What’s best here is that they all seem like real people and that makes the overindulgent stunts much more tolerable and it also helps to forgive the length. I liked the first Timothy Dalton movie and hoped that the movies were moving into a tougher direction, but the second Dalton disappointed and I hope it doesn’t happen here too especially with Bond trailing penguin films.

BORAT (2006) – Sasha Cohen is a creative comedian and I enjoy his Ali G show on HBO. The shame of this movie is that Borat is less interesting to me than the Ali G character and although the confidencess here are all-new they are hardly unpredictable. But I could have forgiven that if the movie wasn’t full of so much filler about his “homeland” and hanging out with the sidekick. Once you realize the Pamela Anderson scenes were set up too there isn’t much here in my opinion. Rent the Ali G show discs and watch him interview James Lipton, Pat Buchanan and Buzz Aldrin. .

DETOUR (1946) – Famous B movie featuring typical 40s acting, no stars and a thin script and yet Roger Ebert calls it a treasure. The direction is somewhat interesting even if the situations seem forced. At 67 minutes they were doing all they could to stretch it into feature length and they do so with very few sets and a lot of dialogue between two characters. The star is Tom Neal who according to made more than 20 movies that rate less than 2 stars. I would maybe give this 2 ½ in a good mood.

PROOF (2005)
I was in NYC during the summer of 2002 working a freelance project. Jennifer Jason Leigh was starring in this play not far from our hotel. Since we had a free night and everyone agreed on theatre, I thought it would be an easy sell. First neither of them had heard of Jennifer Jason Leigh and second they just had to see a musical because that’s what you see on Broadway. So we paid $50 (half price) to see the insufferable FULL MONTY re-written as a musical set in Buffalo. I felt that even the movie version was overrated preferring the quirky English comedy WAKING NED DEVINE much more. Half price is sometimes still too much. Back to Proof. . . It centers on Anthony Hopkins death and the flashback of his math genius coupled with his fight for sanity. G. Paltrow plays his daughter made up to look dowdy and J Gyllenhall is the semi-nerdy math student wanting to rummage through Hopkins numerous notebooks to find genius. The center of the story revolves around the authorship of a particular notebook and it’s complicated by the romance between the youngsters and Paltrow’s sister Hope Davis trying to take her back to New York. Directed by John Madden of Shakespeare in Love who seems to seek out literary adaptations. A decent experience overall.

– Could be the title of any Jennifer Aniston movie and they finally decided to use it. It sure doesn’t have much to do with the plot except that the leads meet on a commuter train. They could have called it Hollywood wills Jennifer Aniston to have a film career or Clive Owen needed the money or that quirky French Vincent Cassel needed to play one more charming villain. If you ask why I seem to seek out Aniston movies the question has two answers. Trish still likes her and I keep trying to disprove my own criticism that she has no sense of fun. Nothing changed after this film. The setup is slow and it’s billed as an action film while one punch is thrown in the first 30 minutes. Once the action begins things take a turn for the silly. You just can’t imagine the characters really doing the things that happen here. The best part of the film is that you can really believe a career in screenwriting is possible if your competition is this.

CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984) – George C. Scott brings his irascible manner to the character and it’s offset decently with more focus on his harsh upbringing. The advantage of a meaner Scrooge is the transformation is all the more dramatic. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come could have used some better production values. His obvious prop stick hands drew attention during what should be the most frightening part though the staging of that scene seemed to work pretty well. I can never get over how Scrooge doesn’t realize that the dead man is him. Is it because I already know the story?

Most critics consider this the best film version of the Dickens tale. Alastair Sim has an interesting take on the character making him less wicked and more indifferent leading up to the transformation. If the point of the story is that Scrooge was once a good man who lost his way it’s certainly more believable than the usual translation that scares mean Scrooge into being a puppy dog. It has a funny way of taking its time early and rushing the ending which I wasn't prepared for. Having seen most versions now I just don't know if they've ever made an entirely satisfying adaptation.

– Woody Allen the director minus Woody Allen the actor minus New York minus the jokes equals a surprisingly compelling Woody Allen film. Scarlett Johansson gets the ink as the young American insecure actress, but it’s Jonathan Rhys-Meyers that carries the picture as the brooding tennis pro getting ahead in life by marrying the rich guy’s daughter (Emily Mortimer). Things would be going just fine, except he is smitten with his brother-in-law’s girlfriend (Johansson). The London setting really seems to have freed Allen from his usual style although a little of it still exists around the edges especially the way characters come on and off the screen. It even has an Ingmar Bergman moment near the end that made me smile.

INTERIORS (1978) – Woody’s full-fledged homage to Bergman works for the most part although it doesn’t haunt you the way the master does. It focuses on three sisters their relationship and career problems and the breakup of their parents marriage. The well-off family spends much of their time at Hamptons Beach house which reminds you that their life isn’t so tough although they seem to disagree.

+UNITED 93 (2006) – This is not a movie I was looking forward to. If it hadn’t made those end-of-the-year top ten lists I may have skipped it altogether. Even when it came in the mail I waited 3 or 4 days before finally realizing that I had to watch it in order to send it back. I’m glad I did. It’s not just a movie of the harrowing experiences of those on the flight, but a recap of the entire day from the perspective of Air Traffic Control, the military and finally flight 93. It has some of the most natural acting I’ve ever seen helped along by having some of the real people play themselves. And it was full of information that I didn’t know. If nothing else, it’s a great human drama that every American would benefit from seeing.

– I’d consider 6th SENSE and SIGNS modern day classics. I even liked UNBREAKABLE more than most and forgave THE VILLAGE for leaning on its surprise ending. I like Night because the tone of his movies makes you listen and watch. I like that his movies are about the struggle of humanity and finding your rightful place in life. It’s the real human condition not the political human condition that stumbles into messages of socialism and peace through weakness. There’s a great film critic character that I think the critics hated, but boy was it right on. LADY is a fairytale fantasy and those kinds of movies can wear thin, but Paul Giamatti is his usual dead-on believable and the supporting cast keeps up with him well.

KISS KISS BANG BANG (2005) – Here we have Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in the middle of a murder mystery complete with intrigue and plenty of laughs. The dialogue is clever and Downey does that famous deadpan reaction at just the right times. Each of the sections are titled after Raymond Chandler stories. The movie title was coined by Pauline Kael in one of her books. She said that 90% of all movies could be summed up in KISS KISS BANG BANG and regretfully few have anything else to offer but that. Here you also get laughs.

– This is an annoying movie with annoying characters for the first hour because so much of what you see goes unexplained and makes little sense. Once the story comes together in the last half I didn’t mind it so much and by the end I was appreciative of its clever resolution.