Good Day (no Sunshine though)

Today was a good day at work. Not that I have any particularly bad days at work, but after four years at the same job days aren’t always the most exciting. Today, though, felt like a good day because a) nothing went wrong, b) several small things went right, c) a couple of biggish things went right, and most importantly d) I had lots to do. I’m not happy unless I’m busy, and I’m easily distracted if things are slow, so the more work the better. Today: plenty, but no crushing deadlines or anything.

.:.

It’ll be a quiet Friday night at home, as Nellie’s not feeling well and I have a bunch of stuff to do before I leave Sunday morning. It’s been a long time since my last course, and while it’ll be nice to see everyone again, I’m not looking forward to a week of stats. The math-related whining* will start around noon on Sunday.

* I should point out that I don’t dislike math. I actually enjoy doing math (for example: at 9:36 AM next Wednesday I’ll be exactly 60% of the way through the MBA). What I dislike is the memorization of formulae just to pass an exam, which seems pointless to me since I’ll never ever have to perform this kind of analysis strictly by memory.
[tags]stats, mba[/tags]

Like sand through the hourglass java applet…

Damn you, JR. I have now wasted countless hours playing with sand. Curse you…and your little blog too.

.:.

Our movie-watching has dropped off so much lately I’ve downgraded our zip subscription to 2 films at a time (max 5 per month). If you ignore September in our movie-watching last year (where we saw 13 during the film festival) there’s a fairly clear downward trend in how many we watch per month. I suspect it’s all the good TV we’ve been watching that’s occupying our time. Still, 144 movies in a year is quite a bit.

2006films.PNG

[tags]sand, movies[/tags]

Knock Loud

It doesn’t matter times I listen to Neko Case sing certain songs, I still get chills. I could listen to her sing “Ghost Wiring” or “Furnace Room Lullaby” a hundred times (especially with Kelly Hogan singing harmony), so I’m glad they’re both on her new Live From Austin disc. If you don’t have it, get it. If you haven’t seen her perform live, see it.

[tags]neko case, live from austin[/tags]

Jack LeStat

Link dump:

.:.

24 started last night, as everyone now knows. Already it’s totally predictable, and yet I’ll watch the whole season. It’s like watching sports: you watch 60 minutes for the few brief flashes of interesting, compelling action scattered throughout. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

[tags]gdp density, france, smoking ban, the onion, 24[/tags]

The Guns Of August

I’m currently reading The Guns Of August by Barbara Tuchman, about the run-up to WWI. It’s fascinating reading — more compelling, as a back-cover blurb says, than fiction — and brilliantly written. To understand just how much of war, and so much of subsequent twentieth-century history, rests on nuances of a general’s personality or on pettiness of politicians…it’s frightening and humanizing at once.

After this I think I’ll re-read A Short History Of WWI by Jim Stokesbury (to cover the bulk of the war itself) and then Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan. Then I have to find a WWII equivalent of The Guns Of August; I find the buildup to war the most interesting facet.

.:.

The afore-mentioned Jim Stokesbury was my uncle; a writer and professor of history at Acadia University, husband to my father’s sister, he died over a decade ago following an car accident. I was in university at the time, barely 20 years old. As time goes by I miss him more and more.

I’d only see him once a year, usually; on Boxing Day my father’s side of the family has a reunion, at which the routine is always the same: arrive, catch up with relatives, eat a great deal, and finally play Trivial Pursuit. Jim, being a history professor and a smart man in general, was fearsome at the game; being a sharp wit, he was equally fearsome if he set his mind to teasing you. I never thought of any of my aunts or uncles as being my “favourites”, but I suppose had I he would have been one. He made several model airplanes (building them was his hobby) for me when I was younger, his beautiful house overlooking the Annapolis Valley was always fun to visit, and he was always quick with a dry quip. Even as a kid I admired his mind; most of my childhood was spent trying to be as smart as my brothers and my parents, but for one day a year I’d want desperately to be as smart as my uncle Jim.

Now, as I read The Guns Of August, written in a readable style which surely informed my uncle’s, I find myself missing him more than ever. I want to email him and trade snarky comments about Joffre, or ask him whether the hunt for the Goeben really shaped Middle Eastern events for the next 90 years. I want to see my dad open his latest book on Christmas morning. I want to beat him at Trivial Pursuit.

Now, nearly twelve years after his death, I’d settle for a dry quip.

[tags]the guns of august, paris 1919, james stokesbury[/tags]

"My mother told me to be wary of Fauns."

Just got home from seeing Pan’s Labyrinth (imdb | rotten tomatoes), a film I’ve wanted to see ever since it got huge buzz at the Toronto film festival. It was, as advertised, Alice In Wonderland for adults: a child’s bizarre, sometimes grotesque visions as she copes with the horror of Spanish civil war. It was a disturbing, fantastic fairy tale; I wish I’d seen it at TIFF when I knew nothing about it.

.:.

Speaking of disturbing, we watched The Downfall (imdb | rotten tomatoes) yesterday, the story of Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker and of those around him, mainly from the perspective of his secretary Traudl Junge. It focused on how wildly erratic Hitler’s grasp of reality (and his tactical sense) was in those final days, as well as how his senior military members acted. Also interesting was how Eva Braun was portrayed; she was quite sympathetic, not the demoness the name tends to conjure. Anyway, we know how it all turned out — lots of cyanide pills and gunshot wounds — but it was a very interesting look at the final days of people at the whim of a madman, the only one among them not aware that the hounds are at the door.

As a side note: I wonder how tough it must be for German actors to put on as SS uniform, do a Nazi saulte and say, “Heil Hitler”. I guess they’re actors, and it’s what they’re paid to do, but man…I don’t know if I could dress up like Hermann Goering and recite lines about the superiority of the master race.

.:.

Other things we did today: got a much-needed haircut, got Nellie a 30GB Zen Vision M (pink, naturally), picked up a couple of DVDs (Brokeback Mountain & Good Night And Good Luck), tried to buy a TV (but were unsuccessful), watched the Senators demolish the Canadiens, finished updating my Shelfari collection, watched a bunch of shows on the PVR…and that’s pretty much it.

[tags]pan’s labyrinth, the downfall, hitler, traudl junge, zen vision m, shelfari[/tags]

Jesus Camp

Two nights ago we saw Jesus Camp (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the Bloor cinema, part of Doc Soup. Though it’s been out in the US for a while, these were (I believe) the first screenings in Canada. It was a look at how a few factions of the evangelical movement in America are indoctrinating (I honestly can’t think of a more accurate — or less loaded — word there) their children. The sight of kids & their parents speaking in tongues, convulsing with the holy spirit and praising president Bush had predictable results, given the crowd & locale, but the filmmakers did a remarkable job of staying balanced. Personally, I swung from mild amusement (natural, any time you point a camera at someone, especially kids) to laughing incredulously, to completely disgusted. The scene where the minister condemns Harry Potter, saying that warlocks would have been executed in the old testament, was absurd. The scene where the home-schooled kids (75% of home-schooled kids are evangelicals) are taught that God is the only answer that makes sense was mind-boggling. The scene where the children are given a tiny fetus figuring and made to chant, “Righteous judges! Righteous judges!” was disturbing. The scene where Ted Haggard calls a little boy “cute” was just creepy.

However, as one of the filmmakers pointed out afterward, these people have the right to teach their children whatever they like. There are reportedly tens of million evangelicals in the US, so this is hardly a fringe movement, as bizarre as it seems. The kids are doing what they feel is righteous, and the minister featured in the film is doing what she feels will help the children she works with. However far away their views may be from my own, I can’t begrudge them following a cause they believe in. What did bother me was the feeling I couldn’t shake that these kids were being a) exploited and b) deceived. The minister herself admitted that she went after the kids precisely because they’re so impressionable and easily led. And while, as I said before, parents have the legal right to deceive their children, I think it’s their moral responsibility to ensure they’re not doing so. By letting their kids be co-opted for a political cause (regardless of whether you consider evangelicals aligned with the Republican party) I felt they’d betrayed their kids.

My mother is a dedicated member of her church, even acting as a member of the presbytery in her province. She’s as committed to doing good through the church as anyone I’ve met (who isn’t ordained). And yet, I truly believe that if my mother were to watch this film she would weep.

[tags]jesus camp[/tags]

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww [cough, cough] wwwwwwwwwwwww…

These pictures actually blew the fuse in my brain marked “cute”.

[via chromewaves]

.:.

BlogTO found themselves a hand dryer to end all arguments (about, um, hand dryers). I know of only one other place with hand dryers that actually ripple your skin: Champlain Place. My dad and I almost had our arms ripped out of our sockets while doing some xmas shopping.

[tags]cute animals, severe hand dryers[/tags]