Archive for January 13th, 2012
We’re now at a good remove from WWII, which ended 67 years ago. While passions can still be stoked by the events, to a great degree our historical removal lets us look more dispassionately at what happened, and The Dam Busters to my eyes today strikes many odd notes. It’s quite a good film, made in 1955 about a specific WWII operation, and it moves along quite well. It has one aspect that’s jarring: the pilot in charge of the operation has a large black dog whose name seems to be a homonym for “nigger.”* But overall, it’s quite a good movie and worth watching to see some things from a distance. For example, the boyish enthusiasm for large-scale death and destruction of enemy civilians and industry seems somehow jarring. And one forgets what it’s like to live in a nation involved in total war, with every aspect of national life and effort directed at the war effort.
I find the movie quite fascinating. YMMV.
*The Wife didn’t understand what I was getting at. I meant that in the movie, one (of course) hears only the sounds of the words being spoken, and doesn’t see them spelled out. This is usually fine, but in the case of names, it can be tricky. If I could see the printed script, of course, I would instantly know what the name was, and it may then turn out to be some native Indian word or the like, spelled, “N’gkrr” or some such. But it certainly doesn’t play well today, whatever the name is: the homonymphony (?) ruins it.
I will add that the movie is also appealing for its matter-of-fact, down-to-earth grappling with technical problems and finding ingenious solutions—and those, of course, seem quite real because those are directly from real life—and some brilliant people.
UPDATE: Interesting shaving note: In one scene one of the actors is shaving (before the mission: my kind of guy) and uses a shave stick with a brush—but he holds the stick in his left hand uses the end as a very small puck, brushing the stick directly to load the brush. It’s done casually and with deft, practiced motions, so it’s clearly how he uses the shave stick.
I’m going to have to put a note in the next edition of the book…
The laws regarding marijuana make little sense, but the US seems quite protective of them. But things may be happening. Michigan is one of the 16 states (along with the District of Columbia) that has legalized marijuana for medical use. However, the Michigan Attorney General showed his contempt for the law in various ways, and now some residents of Michigan are working on state constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis outright at the state level, overturning in one blow all state laws against cannabis.
And now Shari Roan reports in the LA Times that, once again, research has shown that, unlike cigarettes, marijuana when smoked does not damage the lungs:
Marijuana smoke does not damage lungs in the same manner as tobacco smoke, according to a study released Tuesday. But that conclusion probably will not change minds as to whether the drug should be legalized.
The study found that smoking marijuana on an occasional basis does not appear to significantly damage the lungs. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., the paper supports previous research that has also failed to find a link between low or moderate exposure to marijuana smoke and lung damage. Marijuana contains many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke.
Researchers led by Mark Pletcher at UC San Francisco studied 5,115 men and women in four U.S. cities regarding their current and lifetime exposure to tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke and their lung function. The exposure to marijuana smoke was expressed by “joint years,” with smoking 365 joints or filled pipe bowls being equal to one joint year.
The study showed that lung function declined with increased exposure to tobacco smoke. However, that same pattern was not seen with marijuana smoke. There was no evidence of lung function damage with seven joint years (or smoking one joint a day for seven years.) After 10 years, there was some decline in lung function as measured by the speed at which a person can blow out air.
“Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for [medical] purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function,” Pletcher said in a news release. “On the other hand, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavier use — either very frequent use or frequent use over many years — and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.” . . .
So why, exactly, is marijuana illegal and alcohol and cigarettes legal? I think it is simply that large businesses make lots of money from selling alcohol and tobacco (because alcohol is somewhat addictive and cigarettes are extremely addictive) and thus arrange for the state to support their businesses. But if marijuana were legalized: well, it’s just a plant, and anyone who can grow a garden could grow it: where’s the profit? So the US, which now is run by business interests, keep marijuana illegal.
The question is why it was made illegal in the first place. From very impure motives, heavily tinged with racism and cultural intolerance. So why do we preserve that attitude?
I do like Tom Bihn’s bags. So does Cool Tools. Take a look.
The question that so puzzled the Public Editor (the “reader’s representative”) was this:
I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.
Alternatively, should the reporters just include any preposterous or counterfactual claims in the story and make no attempt to offer facts in contrast. Brisbane, the Public Editor, tips his own hand by referring to those who check facts as “truth vigilantes,” and I believe that this means it’s a bad thing to do: “vigilante” is a scare word, and Brisbane wants none of that.
This is so contemptible and moronic that it practically self-immolates, but here are some references for those interested in the depths to which the NY Times has sunk:
Brisbane’s original column, “Should the Times be a Truth Vigilante?” (presumably the answer is “No” in Brisbane’s mind) with good comments
Brisbane tries to walk it back without walking it back in “Update to My Previous Post on Truth Vigilantes”, and includes a somewhat pointed response the NY Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, who ignores the Times attitude toward fact-checking under Bill Keller in the run-up to the Iraq War, which the Times supported vigorously.
I think the condition of journalism in the US has now been laid bare. No “truth vigilantes” in the mainstream media, and any who emerge are, like Chris Hedges, summarily run out of the organization. The media has more important things to do than reporting the truth: they must fawn over the powerful and promote their interests.
I’m sure you remember this speech by Stephen Colbert:
Colbert was reporting pretty much what happens.
Examples that should shame Brisbane, save he lacks shame, are plentiful in the comments to his two columns. Here’s just one such comment:
The Times regularly quotes politicians saying that “Social Security is going broke,” or words to that effect. Never, never to my knowledge, has the Times pointed out that Social Security cannot go broke because its outlays are funded by current contributions. Never have I read a Times reporter point out that it is the Social Security Trust Fund that is underfunded. Never, to my knowledge, has a Times reporter actually, you know, reported,that the shortfall is relatively small and that the Social Security Administration projects that the Trust Fund is solvent into the 2030’s. Never has a Times reporter interviewed a left of center analyst who would point out that lifting the cap on annual FICA contributions would easily cure the shortfall.
Above all, the Times regularly lets politicians say that the money in the Trust Fund was borrowed and spent as part of the regular budget. Of course it was — by design. The Trust Fund has been saved in the most secure investment in the world: in special issue US Treasury bonds. That is, it was lent to the US Government. The idea that the US Treasury is not going to pay what it owes the Social Security Administration is ludicrous. But Times reporters continue to report the “going broke” line without any correction at all.
So check my facts, if you like, and then explain why you continue to give “Social Security is going broke,” a pass.
The “Diamond-Like Carbon” coating on the head of the Weber gives it an interestng feel, a kind of smooth drag. Were I still a product manager, I would be playing around with phrases such as Smooth-Pull Technology™ (SPT) and the like.
Of course, prep is as important as the razor: two key points of a great shave. Those and the blade. Three key points: prep, razor, and blade. And technique, of course. Four points…
The I Coloniali shaving cream was fine—better, I think, than their mango-oil shaving soap, whose terra cotta container I do indeed like. I smeared a bit of the shaving cream on chin and cheeks after washing my bear with MR GLO, and then the Vie-Long horsehair brush worked up a fine lather.
Three passes of the Weber, which a newish Swedish Gillette blade: a very pleasant shave. The Primalan balm seemed to be slightly separated yesterday, so today I gave it a good shaking before squeezing out a drop, and no separation was evident.