This is my attempt at blogging. I'm still learning about the blogging world, and this is my own personal study hall.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Suspended Belief


I was going to write about something else. But this just came up.

We're watching Annie. Yes, the 1982 musical. Ten year old Annie just started singing "Tomorrow" to FDR, and Ali thinks this might be a little too hard to believe. A little too hard to believe that a little girl would just burst into song to demonstrate to the president what she does to cheer herself up when she's blue.

Now, of all the films to cirticize for being too far removed from reality to appreciate, I have to say that, for me at least, Annie is way down towards the bottom of the list.

Can we take a survey of the LEAST believable films that people have seen?

Maybe we should have some ground rules. Obviously any fantasy film or sciece fiction is going to be high on the list of films requiring too much suspended belief. Most fiction requires some level of suspended belief. Let's say that movies set their own ground rules. Once within the framework of its own reality, though, a movie should be believable. For instance, if a movie were made about a superhero who was invincible and could manipulate reality without effort simply by willing it to be different, and a bad guy somehow manages to challenge him and put his life in danger (the second and third Matrix movies, anyone?), that requires too much suspended belief.

Alright, let's hear it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More about the weather

So summer in Washington is pretty intense. The heat is just crazy. Ali and I were here two summers ago, but I still wasn't prepared. We moved in last summer and experienced about half of the Washington summer, but I still wasn't prepared. I spoke to the IPA interns at orientation and made a half-joking comment about how I hoped they were all enjoying the weather, and not to worry, it will only get worse, but I still wasn't prepared.

Monday night was the worst so far. And I want to emphasize, so far. It was after 9pm, the heat itself was in the 80s, and the humidity was in the 90s - AFTER a thunderstorm, which, in most other places I've been, breaks the humidity, pulling the moisture out of the air and putting it into the ground. Oh, no. Not here! Washington was built on a swamp. The story goes that they chose Washington because it is so nasty in the summer that nobody in his right mind would choose to live here, and, therefore, nobody would become a career politician. Clearly that didn't quite work out, but if you've been here in the summer, you know that's definitely a believable story.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Has anybody been reading Charles Krauthammer lately?

I put his Washington Post column as a link on my sidebar because in general I really like what he has to say. He's a brilliant thinker and talented writer, and a person who has come a long way in life. I have also moved in a similar direction in my political outlook (without all the accolades, unfortunately, but also without the tragedy, thank G-d). After earning a BA at McGill in political science and economics, a Master's at Oxford, and an MD at Harvard (during which time he was paralyzed in a diving accident, which left him in a wheelchair for life), he practiced medicine and psychiatry for three years and quit to work for the Carter administration. He then worked for Walter Mondale as his speech writer during the 1980 presidential campaign. He has worked for the New Republic, a center-left publication, and the Weekly Standard, a center-right publication. He has generally stayed very much at the center of politics, with a turn slightly to the right of where he started. This has been his trademark. He has been regarded as the thinker behind the Neo-Conservative movement, which many left-leaning Democrats oppose. While many agree that President Bush is a blubbering yahoo from the backwoods with no real intelligence other than a knack for hiring the right people to push his agenda and convince enough people to follow him, virtually everyone, left, right, and center, agree that Charles Krauthammer is the brain behind the movement that the Bush administration is supposed to embody.

I have it on good authority from the inside, that there are many Neo-Conservatives who oppose a lot of what Bush has done. Many highly regarded intellectuals and thinkers in that movement think that Bush has gone too far to the right and has become extreme and arrogant. I've read some of their published pieces and heard from acquaintances and colleagues of theirs, and it seems that many who idealize Reagan for his strong stance when dealing with the Soviet Union, and even support such plans as the partial privatization of Social Security and the rebuilding of Iraq and the spreading of democracy according to Bush's plan, would rather have a Clinton-esque Moderate than a right- (or left-) wing administration.

But for some reason, lately Charles Krauthammer has been very outspoken in favor of just about anything the Bush administration has done. Rather than being the voice of reason, as he has always been, he seems to have gone off the deep end. I don't know what exactly caused the change or how long it will last, or how deeply it is now ingrained in him, but I will keep his column linked to my blog for the time being. I just think it's odd.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Duck and Cover

Was there a hurricane in the news? I wasn't really paying attention but the weather right now is nuts. There's a warning across the top of the TV that there could be hail the size of small coins in Virginia (about an hour from here), the sky looks like it's about an hour later than it actually is, and the trees look like they're going to start flying out of the ground.

I'm just waiting for a tornado siren to start blaring (hey, I'm from Detroit - you know what I'm talkin about Shauli, first Saturday of the month at 1:00, right?).

Oh, and let's go Pistons!

W. Mark Felt? Really?

Does anyone else have a problem with the notion that W. Mark Felt, former #2 at the FBI, was Deep Throat, the secretive source who fed information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post and brought down the Nixon White House?

Here's my objection. I don't know if it was Felt or not, obviously. But doesn't it seem convenient that Felt, who is 91 years old, is now coming out and announcing his secret identity? He exposes his identity, in Vanity Fair magazine, of all places, at a time when he is at the tail end of his life, shortly after Woodward and Bernstein announce their intention of revealing the identity of Deep Throat upon his death. This follows rumors that Deep Throat is very ill and possibly nearing death. (Speculation circled around Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and President Gerald R. Ford).

So Woodward and Bernstein, who have already profited nicely from Deep Throat, by becoming living legends and launching their careers from obscure back-page reporters to front-page icons, not to mention publishing a book and selling their movie rights, are going to publish an in-depth background story and memoir with the blanks filled in (READ - $$$) and the actual legend gets squat. So Felt, whether or not he actually was Deep Throat, whether or not there actually was a single person, dubbed Deep Throat, who fed the information to Woodward and Bernstein, declares that he was actually Deep Throat. He wants to cash in. He knows he's close to the end, and he wants to get book rights so his family can have a sizeable inheritance.

Here's what I think:

Either it's all true, as they say it is, or else it was a money- and fame-making scheme, as I will attempt to resolve. There were multiple sources who fed information to Woodward and Bernstein. Woodward and Bernstein either made up or exaggerated the lengths to which they went in order to safely meet with their sources and made it out that there was only one (or one primary) source. They are artful story tellers. They write like edge-of-your seat suspense novelists, and this was their way of getting the chance to do that. Meanwhile, three decades later, after they promise that they're going to reveal the identity of the now-famous Deep Throat, and they are preparing their story, Felt, who is probably one of at least three people who have always suspected that they were Deep Throat, decides to cash in. I think Ford, Rehnquist, and Felt, and probably others, fed information to the reporters, and probably all followed similar protocol for arranging meetings with them. Whether the protocol was invented by Woodward or designed by Felt and passed along by Woodward I don't know. But I think they were going to proclaim either Ford or Rehnquist as Deep Throat, depending on who died first. That way the other two (or more) possibilities would not be able to claim the title. But Felt beat them to the punch, so they had to roll with it. I think that any one of the possible Deep Throat candidates could have been named Deep Throat, and all of them possibly even thought in their heart of hearts that they themselves were in fact Deep Throat but didn't know 100% if they were right. They obviously didn't want to go out on a limb like that and be made a fool if they were wrong. But given his age, and the declared intention of Woodward and Bernstein to announce the identity of Deep Throat after his death, Felt decided to go for it, get a book deal, and make his family rich and legendary. Woodward and Bernstein didn't particularly care, so long as they got their new book and movie deals. Their initial reaction was probably shock and a little disappointment/anger until they realized that it didn't hurt their plan and that they could roll with it if they just worked together to iron out the kinks in the story. If you remember, their only comment after confirming that Felt was Deep Throat was, "We have a lot of work to do."

Anyway, that's my theory.

What's yours?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

New face


So you may have noticed that I have been playing around with the appearance of my blog. I got sick of everyone else having a cool looking blog but me. I didn't like most of the choices I was given by Blogger and I didn't want to "copy" someone else who had beaten me to one of the "cool" templates.

After some tinkering with the code (which is the first time in a VERY long time that I have touched code, and the first time I have ever done anything in html - this is html, right?), I am satsified for now. I will likely tinker some more in the near future. Maybe I'll get good enough to completely write my own template - who knows?

Any other nasty comments can be forwarded to