Archive for the ‘Anybodys Guess’ Category

After work today I went to the doctor’s office. I was slightly proud of myself because I was early; on the other hand, even when I’m late I usually have to wait. It looked a little busy, so I had a seat, and went for a magazine. You might have noticed that the literary value of the reading material in a doctor’s waiting room leaves much to be desired, especially in the last few years.

However, the first thing I found was a copy of the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, and on the front cover was a picture of the little president with an eleven-gallon hat. The main topic was “Undoing Bush: how to repair eight years of sabotage, bungling, and neglect”. It was a forum of prominent columnists and experts discussing the problems and possible solutions to various aspects of the little guy’s administration. They included

The Constitution
by David Cole

The courts
by Dahlia Lithwick

Civil service
by Ken Silverstein

The environment
by Bill McKibben

by Chris (Chris C.) Mooney

The economy
by Dean Baker

The marketplace of ideas
by Jack Hitt

by James Bamford

The military
by Edward Luttwak

by Anne-Marie Slaughter

The national character
by Earl Shorris

I was 45 minutes in the waiting room, and it gave me time to finish the eleven essays, and it was time well wasted. There was little that was new to me, but it did give me a different perspective on all of the hammer blows that this administration has inflicted on the United States and the world. It’s well worth reading, especially the Marketplace of Ideas, Intelligence, the Military, the Constitution, and finally the National Character.

Only this long until the King’s Horses and Men can get started on the Great Fall.


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This list is extracted from a much longer list in an ABC Forum which I just noticed. These are mostly shows that I enjoyed when I was much younger. Those items in italics I have seen more than a few times (at least 4 times), and those in bold I have seen and liked. I thought I had seen more than my share of Science Fiction and Fantasy TV series (and I still think so) but I am woefully short of being one who has seen the majority of SF&F during my TV tenure. In fact, I have seen about 90 TV series out of about 700 from the ABC Forum list. Of these, I like 36 to some extent, and I really love 15 (since I started watching TV in the 1960’s).

Here is what I have seen at least four episodes of:

3rd Rock From the Sun (1996) –basically a sitcom.

Adventure, Inc. (2002)- I tried it because Michael Biehn (Reese in the original Terminator movie) was the star. It was disappointing.

Alf (1986) – I only saw a couple of episodes

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)- Definitely great suspense and some wonderful mysteries and moral conundra.

Alias (2001)-It didn’t turn me on much. A retake of La Femme Nikita (the movie) without the sharp edginess.

Alien Nation (1989 (Fox)-5/10

Amazing Spider-man The – The classic superhero cartoon. Really cheesy, but still fun.

Andromeda (2000 (Gene Roddenberry’s)-Not that interesting.

Avengers The (1961)- Steed and Emma Peel. What else needs to be said?

Babylon 5 (1993)- Groundbreaking. It was the first to have a continuous plot with believable conflicts and characters extending over five complete seasons. It changed the way SF TV series were made (i.e. the new Battlestar Galactica, the latter half of Deep Space 9, Firefly, etc.)

Batman (1966) –Pure camp,and the ultimate in tongue-in-cheek

Battlestar Galactica (1978)-A bit cheesy, but well done for the time.

Battlestar Galactica (the new one) – Subtle, realistic characterisation and plotting, intelligent and thoughtful black hats and white hats, and a plethora of hidden meaning. Also the special effects and cinematography is exceptional. Highly recommended.

Beauty and the beast (1987) – a bit too much unrequited love and agonising for my taste

Bewitched (1964)- Dr. Bombay, Endora, Aunt Agatha, Tabitha, etc. Good clean fun.

Bionic Woman The (1976)- One of my first teenage crushes, and a surprisingly good actor.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979)- 4/10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I avoided it for a long while, then saw a couple of unique episodes on the recommendation of my nephew. There’s some amazing directing going on here, and some characters with real depth hidden in the valley girl image.

Charmed (1987)- Kind of like Practical Magic as a TV series.
Children of Dune (2003)- not as good as the Dune miniseries.

Chronicle The (2001) – a few good episodes and ideas

Crusade (1999) (Babylon 5) – based on Babylon 5, but not in the same league.

Dark Angel (2000) – James Cameron always has good ideas, but the execution was fairly good rather than great.

Dark Shadows (1991) – A classic vampire movie, but the vampire Barnabas is a “good” guy.

Dead Zone, (2002) – Nowhere near as good as the movie (I never read the book).

Deep Space Nine (Star trek) – it started weak, but ended very strong, with very good characters.

Dr. Who (1963) (see also K9 and Company aka A Girl’s Best Friend ) (1981)pilot only. – I haven’t seen many episodes, so can’t comment on the overall quality, but it is one of the ultimate cult SF series, and maybe the longest running.

Dune, 3-part Mini-series (2001) – It is very difficult to be faithful to the depth and grandeur of the book, but this is a good attempt, and Dune purists tended to like this better than David Lynch’s movie version.

Earth 2 (1994)it started with an interesting premise, but bogged down partway through the season.
Earth: Final Conflict (1997 (Gene Roddenberry’s) – It had interesting aspects, but never really grabbed me.

Enterprise (2001 (Star trek)) – It was the weakest of the Star Trek series, and I was rather disappointed. However, there were a number of very good episodes.

Fantasy Island (1977) – “Baas, the plane, the plane!”

Fireball XL5 – Related to the Thunderbirds and other Marionation TV series with a British influence. I was a kid and loved the spaceship and other gadgetry.

Firefly (2001) – From the creator of Buffy TVS, this is cowboys in space with a Chinese influence, and rapidly gained a loyal audience. But it was given a bad time slot and the channel scrambled the order of episodes, and it died in the first year. However it was popular enough to spawn a pretty good movie called Serenity.

First Wave (1998) – Alien invaders aka the 1960’s series The Invaders, complete with a hero on the run like David Vincent. Not that great.

Forever Knight (1992) – A vampire trying to go cold turkey in Canada, and the usage of turkey is apt.

Futurama (1999) – from the creator of the Simpson’s with a similar type of humour in the future. It didn’t grab me.

Galactica 1980 (1980) – Run of the mill.

Genesis II ( Gene Roddenberry) – a fascinating TV pilot with a main character called Dylan Hunt, who was in suspended animation for 150 years and woke in a post-Holocaust world where recovery was starting to take place. It had a couple of unique elements from most other post- apocalyptic movies/shows, and was entertaining. I’ve been waiting for it to come out on TV again, for the last 30 years. I’ve seen it about 4 times in the 1970’s, but haven’t caught it since.

Get Smart (1965) – The best spy comedy in my memory. 99, 86, Max, Hymie the robot, the Chief, the Cone of Silence, the Shoe, Steiger, CHAOS, the mobile island with the giant outboard motor,…”And loving it!”

Greatest American Hero (1981) – A cool superhero story, where a guy finds a superhero suit which gives him special powers, but the instruction book is missing.

Highlander (1992) – Based on the movie, and not as good.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I loved the book, liked the radio play, liked the movie, but never saw the TV show. I’m told it is very good.

HR Puffinstuff – from when I was very young.

I dream of Jeannie (1965) – Simple fun with appealing characters.

Incredible Hulk The (1978) – Lou Ferrigno is the only reason to watch this.

Invaders (1970) – A classic invasion and infiltration story with flying saucers and a lone hero who is hunted by the aliens and the authorities, who does his best to let others know what is going on, as well as to foil the alien’s nefarious plots. Cool flying saucers, and David Vincent does a lot of stuff that is unusual for your run of the mill architect.

Invisible Man (2000) – 4/10

Knight rider (1979) – 4/10

Land of the Giants (1968) – One of Irwin Allen’s classics. The crew and passenger of a sub-orbital passenger liner go through a strange storm and crash-land on a planet where everything is somewhat larger (kittens the size of moose). Lots of cool special effects and crazy situations to get out of.

Lois & Clark: New Adventures of Superman (1993) – Teri Hatcher and occasional amusements, otherwise dull.

Lost In Space (Fox/CBS) – Irwin Allen classic. I didn’t like it that much.

Lost World, The (1999) – Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s book about prehistoric animals and cultures on a plateau in the furthest wilds of the Amazon basin. The book was much better.

Man From Atlantis (1977) – a man with merman abilities acts as a classic hero. Not great.
Man From Uncle The (1964) – I barely remember some episodes.

Mork and Mindy (1978) – Robin Williams in a sitcom. Often hilarious, and always good.

Munsters The (1964) – vague happy memories.

New Avengers The (1976) – Steed but no Emma Peel. Forgettable.

Night Gallery (1970) – classic in the same vein as The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone. Some great scripts and good acting.

Outer Limits (1963) -great!
Outer Limits The (1994) -Very good and sometimes great.

Planet of the Apes (20th Century/CBS) -Pretty bad, but I watched a few because I loved the movie.

Prisoner The (1967) – Convoluted, subtle, intelligent. Patrick McGoohan plays a British agent who ends up in this British seaside village (called The Village), which he can’t escape from and which is filled with others who seem to be agents as well. However, he doesn’t know whether any or all of them are Us or Them, and he is subjected to mental and physical manipulation in multi-nefarious forms. You have to pay attention, but it is worth it!

Quantum Leap – A wonderful series, where the protagonist has to jump into different people’s bodies within his lifetime and “putting things right what once went wrong, and hoping each time, that his next leap will be the leap home. I loved the main character and the humanistic caring tone of the episodes.

Questor Tapes The (#1 was Genesis II, #2 was Planet Earth) (1974).

Ray Bradbury Theatre (1985) – I would love to have seen some episodes, but I missed it. Bradbury is one of the greats.

Raven The (1998) (highlander) – Based on Highlander, and of similar quality (i.e. not too much).

Red Dwarf (1988) – Hilarious British comedy.

Relic Hunter (1999) – Lara Croft on TV. Sometimes okay, and sometimes boring.
Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (1970) – Wonderful. See Night Gallery above.

Sea Hunt – I barely remember it, but I thought the underwater battle were cool, except that everybody was cutting the other person’s air hose.

Seaquest DSVA combination of Sea Hunt and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Average to occasionally good, with a really nice submarine.
seaQuest 2032 – A follow-on to SeaQuest, with a bit more action and less acting.

Six Million Dollar Man (1974) – I was 12 and a space nut, and Steve Austin comes along. I was hooked. I suspect I would like it less as an adult, but it was great for its time.

Sliders (1995) – People wandering into alternate realities at random. Some cool concepts for some of the alternate worlds, but the execution didn’t live up to the concepts in many cases. Still, some pretty cool ideas.

Space 1999 (1975) – I liked it at the time. I rented the DVD for the first season more recently, and wasn’t as impressed. But cool technology and a really nice Moonbase.

Space: Above and Beyond – The Marines in space. Typical issues, including why they fight, racism, leadership, duty versus humanity, etc. It was reasonably intelligent about it, but lacked a certain spark.

Stargate SG-1(1997) – Based on the wonderful movie, it has a charm of its own, and is currently one of the most succesfull TV series around.

Starlost The (1973) – A great concept about a disaster on a multi-generation spaceship, with many cultures in separate domes within the main structure of the ship, called the Earth Ship Ark. The execution left much to be desired.

Star Trek (Paramount/NBC) – I have no objectivity here. I just love it.

Star Trek: TNG (Paramount/Synd) – It started weak, but it quickly became very good, with occasional brilliant episodes.

Stingray (1964) – Another movie like Thunderbirds, which I vaguely remember. Nice cars.

Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills -I left this in just because of the name!

Thunderbirds (marionette) – I loved it for the vehicles and gadgets. My favourite was Thunderbird 2, the big green one with the multiple payloads.
Time Tunnel (20th Century/ABC) – Another Irwin Allen classic. It was okay, but not great.
Twin Peaks – David Lynch in small town America. Enough said.
Twilight Zone (1959) -Superb
Twilight Zone (1985) -Very good

UFO (1970) – Cool vehicles and stories, and very 1970’s costumes.

V (Warner Bros./NBC) – Two miniseries and a regular series. The series sucked, the second miniseries was fairly good, and the first miniseries was better. What made me like the first series was the way it treated the characters as part of their families, their community and their ethnic backgrounds. They felt real, and they reacted realistically as aliens called Visitors came to Earth and how the people coped.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Fox/ABC) – The stories aren’t great, but the acting is not bad and sometimes surprisingly subtle. But I was a young kid and loved the submarine Seaview, as well as the Flying Sub.

Voyager (Star trek) – As usual for Star Trek, the series strengthened as time went on, so it became well worth watching.

War of the Worlds (1988) – Not great.

Wonder Woman (1976) – Fairly fun, and a good role model.

X-Files,(1993) – Extremely well done, with good and subtle understated performances by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

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la Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystal Giants), Mexico, originally uploaded by JohnnyG BC.

This is life size. I wonder how sharp the edges are?

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Sometimes the strangest things pop into your head. And occasionally they are about things you have taken for granted for your entire life. When I was a kid I was raised as a Roman Catholic, going to Mass every Sunday until I was in my early twenties. Just from the readings I could argue that I had covered most of the New Testament and a fair bit of the Old Testament. Since schools in Newfoundland were denominational at the time, I had also had a solid grounding in Church History and doctrine (I had more fun with the history). Finally, I was a bit interested in other faiths, including Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, etc. So I thought I could answer most common questions about the basics of Christianity in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular. Thus goes hubris.

This afternoon I was thinking a little about the history and meaning of Good Friday. Then I wondered why it was called “Good“; I may have been told as a child but I couldn’t recall it. Then I thought about Easter, and wondered where that name came from. After all, if you want the word East involved in a Christian religious day, something related to Christmas and the star in the East would make more sense. Then I tried to come up with other strange names associated with the religious days of the Lenten season but came up empty.

“Hold on! Where does the word Lent come from?”

Here is the result of my googling ( a favourite pastime) on the subject.

  • Easter: In English and German it seems to come from Eostre, an Anglo Saxon goddess of fertility, according to the Venerable Bede. Her holiday was in Eostremonuth ( April). In other languages the etymology links back to the Hebrew Passover.
  • Lent: Before the Middle ages, English Christians used the Latin term quadragesima (40th). During the Middle Ages they changed it to Lent, which comes from the English and German word for spring. So this one is more obvious to me. So the next question is how spring replaced lencten (ye Olde English). Spring is also Old English, and refers to a spring of water, or a wellspring, so I guess the relation to the season was due to the thaw as the weather warmed up and the ice melted. Then when lencten became associated with the religious observance, they used spring for the season?
  • Good Friday: English and Dutch are among the few languages that refer to this day as good. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the rationale or etymology is not clear. It could be from God’s Friday or the germanic Gute Freitag. In many languages the holiday is named Holy Friday. Since the English speaking world was Catholic when the name was finalised, the source also had to be Catholic. Finally, one source argued that it was Good because Jesus died for our sins on that day, but this sounds like a explanation after the fact. Anyway, the simplest of  these three words has the most obscure etymology.

The main Lenten holy days observed are:

  • Ash Wednesday: 40 days before Palm Sunday. The ash represents the eastern tradition of repentance before God.
  • Palm Sunday: the beginning of Holy Week. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt people put cloaks and small branches of trees on his path. The Palm leaves during services or Masses on that day commemorate this.

Finally, the holidays during Holy Week include Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The origins of their names and of the Lenten holidays is obvious, except for the three mentioned above.

I’ll leave the Easter Bunny for a more prolific writer (excuse the triple pun).

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 Gone to the Dogs recently showed a meme on literature that she received from Mumbling Monkey. I thought it was kind of cool, and tried it on my own. Then I thought of a small variation. Some of my best friends like fantasy and science fiction, and I’m also somewhat fond of it. This list is from the Science Fiction Books Club.

Bold the ones you’ve read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put asterisks beside the ones you loved (the more asterisks, the more you liked it).

The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*****
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov*****
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert*****
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein****
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin****
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*****
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke*****
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick****
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley***
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury****
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe**
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.*****
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov****
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish****
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison****
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison*****
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester***
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card*****
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*****
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl***
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling**
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*****
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice*
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin**
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny***
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick****
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement*
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon**
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute**
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke****
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*****
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys*
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien****
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut*****
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner**
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester*
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein*****
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock*
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer****

I’ve read 42 of the above, and of the remaining 8 there are 3 waiting on my shelves. From the list it seems my interests and likes are fairly broadly ranging, and I like hard SF and Fantasy about equally well.

Among those I like, one highly under-rated book is A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. He only wrote a couple of books in his life, and this one has been in continuous publication for about 50 years. I first read it when I was 14. It is about the rebuilding of civilization from a nuclear holocaust, and discusses among other things the nature of humanity and its ability to learn from past mistakes. Parts of it are searing, and its take on how people react morally feels extremely real and insightful.  Finally, I guarantee you will be questioning some of your own views and beliefs before it is over.

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A friend did this quiz from blogthings. I went to the site and tried a few quick ones. Here is one that describes the type of thinker it thinks I am.

You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you’re left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.
The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you’re right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Are You Right or Left Brained?

You could interpret it two ways; either I can think well with both parts of my brain, or I can’t use either side well. My Dad was left-handed, and Mom was ambidextrous.

Let’s see, will I take the left path or the right path…

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Here is a puzzle for those who believe themselves well travelled in Atlantic Canada, and also those who are well travelled in North America. Alternatively, it is for those who are Nautically Nuts, like myself.

  1. Can you name and give the location of each of these lighthouses (1 point per name and 1 point per location)?
  2. And a bonus question: what is the oldest lighthouse you know of? (if you can honestly recall one older than the one I thought of, you get 5 bonus points).

I expect most people will get 2 points, some people will get 4 points, very few people will get 6, and almost no one will get the get the bonus question without some Googling.

Hint: One is from Newfoundland, one is from Atlantic Canada, and one is from North America. The oldest lighthouse is not in North America. 😉

1. Lighthouse in the Sun

2. Western Light
Western Light

3. Silhouette of Light
Silhouette of Light

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