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May 23, 2008


Best ethical system: deontological or utilitarian? No halvsies -- pick one!!

Rule utilitarianism or any utilitarian system concentrating on following rules or adopting the right attitudes that will lead to the most utility. Deontological ethical systems strike me as a bit odd and hard to justify.

Crib notes are here.

I saw it. I'll admit that it was better than I thought it was going to be. I'd rank it third best of the four Indy movies. Temple of Doom still trails dead last, IMHO.

There are a lot of holes in the script. For example, they play up (I'd say overplay) the 50's-era red scare stuff, yet nobody blinks an eye at KGB agents wandering around a college campus, pursuing Dr. Jones. I'd also say that the ending doesn't make a lot of sense.

Most sadly, Cate Blanchett's villain character is very weak. Her Russian accent, such as it is, is in the Rocky and Bullwinkle range and we never get much in te way of motivation for her except "we commies will take over the word, bwa ha ha!"

I would have preferred dead-ender/sleeper agent Nazis instead of commies for the baddies, but that's just me.

Still, all in all, it's a fun film, fits in well with the franchise and is worth the price of admission.

"Best ethical system: deontological or utilitarian? No halvsies -- pick one!!"

Deontological, clearly. But unfortunately we need an excellent understanding of the basic priciples and I'm not sure we have that.

So we have to be modest about our assertion of deontological principles, which ends up functioning in a rather utilitarian way.

How is that for a hedge?

I enjoyed Blanchett - Indy villains have never exactly been what you'd call three dimensional. And with Uma Thurman's wig from Pulp Fiction and Natasha Fatalle on vocals, I enjoyed 2 hours of her saying "mmm, scenary. nom nom nom nom...."

Is this a spoiler-free thread, or can we do spoilers? I'll assume the latter, but put some space warnings the first time.

"Temple of Doom still trails dead last, IMHO."

Does anyone anywhere disagree? Certainly Spielberg doesn't.







"For example, they play up (I'd say overplay) the 50's-era red scare stuff, yet nobody blinks an eye at KGB agents wandering around a college campus, pursuing Dr. Jones."

Who would have known, other than the audience and Dr. Jones, and perhaps the FBI, that those two guys were KGB?

It did occur to me that smart KGB agents would have staked out Indy's home, but a) he arguably wiped out most of their operational force back in the opening in the warehouse; and b) who said they were smart?

Also noted by me was that the FBI kinda fell out of the story, but that's more or less to be expected.

I very much liked the way the whole thing was made so organic to the Fifties, from beginning to end, from the use of hot rods as a Lucas return to his roots, his youth, to American Graffitti, and to Harrison Ford's small first significant role in that film, to the bobby soxers, the greasers, the Wild One homage, the switchblade as Mutt's weapon-of-choice, the motorcyles, the Atomic Cafe homage, Roswell, the flying saucer craze, the Fifties B Monster/Alien movies, the Communist Threat, McCarthyism, and so on and so forth.

"Most sadly, Cate Blanchett's villain character is very weak."

Most reviewers disagree, fwiw. I have to ask how she might be seen as less deep than any of the previous villains, none of whom I'd call particularly complex or interesting, really. I'd actually argue that she's at least as well-developed and interesting as any of the past villains, if not a touch more so. But this is pure subjectivity, so neither of us is right or wrong here.

"I would have preferred dead-ender/sleeper agent Nazis instead of commies for the baddies, but that's just me."

Yeah, me, I think Nazis in the Fifties would have been deeply lame. As Ford has said "we just plumb wore Nazis out." Soviet agents makes endlessly more sense for a Fifties setting, and it's not as if Stalin's KGB was kindly and sympathetic, or not real.

Oh, and thanks muchly for the excellent service, Eric. I'm going to leave you a very good tip.

Oh, and I liked it a lot; I think anyone who liked Raiders and/or Crusade, and gives it a fair shot, should, for the most part. But some won't, of course, and maybe you're one of them. It is what it is, and I like what it is, myself.

I was afraid crystal skulls were going to be the over-used cliche that they are, but the twist, though I saw it coming from the start, was sufficient to make me not feel that way.

It was all entirely predictable, but well done, and I'm happy. I look forward to getting the DVD and seeing it again, when it comes out.

Meanwhile, my next theatre outing: Dark Knight. And maybe Incredible Hulk. And I should look at the other upcoming summer flicks scheduled. Maybe Hancock. What other summer films do y'all look forward to?

I also saw Blanchett's character as very much influenced by Boris and Natasha, and I liked that. I mean, what, she and Lucas and Spielberg never saw Rocky and Bullwinkle? Of course it's deliberate.

Stephen - I think moral judgements are essentially the same as aesthetic judgements, so it's hard not to go halfsies. Although aesthetic judgements are seen mostly as deontological, the utilitarian aspects of a moral action are often the source of their beauty or ugliness.

What do you think of Marc Hauser's take?

Temple of Doom ROCKS! It's the only Indy film I liked that much. The first was good because it was first and I was a lot younger. Doom was awesome with the blood and the hearts and the bugs and Kate Capshaw and whatnot. Personally I though Crusade munched (in the bad way).

Anyway, typical libs and activist judges trying to shove Crystal Skull down our throats! Ahem.

I should qualify that by saying that the only source of moral reality, as far as I can see, is utilitarian.

Speaking of Cate Blanchett, has anyone seen "Notes on a Scandal."

Both she and Judy Dench were nominated for Oscars for their performances -- the French actress won; don't remember her name even remotely.

Saw "Scandal" last weekend on cable with my wife and it was riveting, especially for an essentially all-dialogue movie (except, of course, when Blanchett was getting it on with her 15-year-old student. Or was he 16?)

I believe it's Judi Dench.

Hard to believe she didn't take home the Oscar.

Hard to believe Blanchett didn't take home the Oscar.

Hard to believe, Harry.

A friend with a home theater is throwing an Indiana Jones marathon tomorrow in honor of the release so I'm going to go watch the first 3.

Gary, since you mention Boris and Natasha, here is a link to Amy Winfrey getting an award presented by June Foray.

You might enjoy a visit to the dreary coastal town of Clamburg.

Would you believe I'm looking forward to Get Smart?

Haven't seen Indy yet, but I have to say that it complicates my trilogy theory of great Hollywood franchises that it even exists:

The first is automatically the best because it's what you're comparing the others to to see if they live up to it.

The second one tends to be artistically better than the first, though, because of its darkness and complexity, will find less favor and in spirit can be untrue to the epic scope of the first.

The third is nowhere near as good as the first two but is often defined by crass commercialism and gimmickry, but is usually a good romp.

Star Wars, The Godfather, Indiana Jones, etc.


Gary, are you planning on seeing Pixar's Wall*E? Pixar on the big screen is always a must for me.

Phil, historically the number of movies I've seen in theatres, rather than on tv or via videocassette or DVD, has been approximately 1-2 movies every 2-4 years for the last 18 years or so, due to poverty since 1991 in particular, but also going back earlier, with some pockets of a few months exception here and there.

I'm currently being treated to more movies now, but still tend to be non-prolific in my theater-visiting; Iron Man and IJATKoC were the first movies I've seen in a theatre since Batman Begins, which was the first I've seen since Spider-man 2, and the LOTR films. Before that, X-Men 2 and I and Spider-Man, before that (I may be out of order here; shoot me), the Star Wars prequels. Before that it was the 20th century, and somewhere around, I'm not sure, the early nineties, I guess.

I will most likely see Wall*E on DVD (netflix), but I certainly see good reason for anyone who can easily afford a bunch of movies to go see it in a theatre.

"Would you believe I'm looking forward to Get Smart?"

Missed it by that much, Chief.

Better use the Cone of Silence to discuss this.


I'd argue that the Star Wars prequels were good to less good in reverse chronological order, with Revenge of the Sith the best, Attack of the Clones second best, and Phantom Menace undermined by Jar Jar, and "whoopie!," although I love the art direction, and think that Phantom Menace is best when there's no dialogue, and that the more dialogue there is in a scene, the worse the scene is apt to be. Actually, that applies to all three films. They'd arguably be best as silent movies.

I'd certainly agree that The Empire Strikes Back is far far better than Return of the Jedi, and arguably the best of that trilogy, although of course, the first was the first, as you say.

I hated it - boring, contrived and unfunny.

Also, didn't anybody else notice that the film looked awful? Many of the scenes were either too washed out / desaturated or they had these extremely overblown highlights, which are en vogue nowadays (Robert Richardson) and fine by me but you have to do them right, which they didn't. The CG was patchy and don't get me started on the aliens (The Abyss anyone?). Also, while I don't mind the odd lens-flare, having somewhere around 35 of them in a movie is really, really bad. Janusz Kaminski is an amazing cinematographer (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich) but he blew it on this one - sad.

Bah. I’ll see this on DVD. Sex and the City is likely the only thing we will go to the theatre for this summer. Sop to my better half. She deserves it and actually likes that show – so, oh well. I’ll survive. I mean, there is supposedly sex, right?

Novakant, might I note the intent?

Spielberg and Janusz Kamiński, who has shot all of the director's films since 1993's Schindler's List, rewatched the previous films to study Douglas Slocombe's style. "I didn’t want Janusz to modernize and bring us into the 21st century," Spielberg explained. "I still wanted the film to have a lighting style not dissimilar to the work Doug Slocombe had achieved, which meant that both Janusz and I had to swallow our pride. Janusz had to approximate another cinematographer’s look, and I had to approximate this younger director’s look that I thought I had moved away from after almost two decades."[32] Spielberg also did not want to fast cut action scenes, relying on his script instead for a fast pace,[32] and had confirmed in 2002 that he would not shoot the film digitally, a format Lucas had adopted.[49] Lucas felt "it looks like it was shot three years after Last Crusade. The people, the look of it, everything. You’d never know there was 20 years between shooting."[33]
Not that you have to like it, but they weren't doing what's in vogue now, and were doing what was done in the past films. Deliberately.

If you found it boring, contrived, and unfunny, though, no one can argue with your right to your reaction. Taste is taste, and inarguable. It's till at 79% favorable at RT, fwiw.

"Bah. I’ll see this on DVD."

Fair enough, but care to comment on why you're so dismissive?

My sweetie loved the film, fwiw.

I have to admit that I was disappointed that they didn't do more location shooting for the movie, except for second-unit stuff. That, to me, was part of the excitement of the original Raiders, the location stuff. But I still had a pretty damned good time at this one.

Anyone other than wingnut radio talk-show hosts aghast and up in arms about HRC's loaded reference to staying in it 'til June?

Gary, maybe they were trying to do that, but then they were just not successful in this endeavour at all. The lighting in Raiders is beautiful throughout, the lighting in Crystal Skull is a patchy mess. It doesn't have anything to do with shooting digitally or not, nor with being en vogue or not. And ubiquitous lens-flares are certainly not a retro feature.

Gary: Fair enough, but care to comment on why you're so dismissive?

It just takes a lot to get me to go out to the movies these days. Local theaters are a bit nasty – not clean, sticky floors, dirty seats, teenagers (and adults) talking on cell phones, toddlers crying, people talking, etc.

So it’s not about the movie so much as the local movie theatre experience. For 90% of new films, we have a much better time renting the DVD. We’ll do movie night where we rent 3 movies, and then make snacks we like, or get Chinese food, or pizza, or whatever… We can “pause and pee” whenever. It’s kind of a “date night” for us, at home. Whenever we go out to the theatre it tends to be disappointing. It has to be something on the scale of the new Star Wars flick to drag me out.

But, as I mentioned, my wife loved Sex and the City. She can’t wait to see the movie. I owe it to her to take her on the opening weekend. She’ll love it and I’ll survive.

"Anyone other than wingnut radio talk-show hosts aghast and up in arms about HRC's loaded reference to staying in it 'til June?"

It seems reasonable to continue that discussion where it's been going on all day, rather than in the light open thread.

"The lighting in Raiders is beautiful throughout, the lighting in Crystal Skull is a patchy mess."

I didn't notice that in the slightest, but if that's how it was for you, that's how it was for you.

I'm a touch skeptical that, as a technical matter, you're more expert than Janusz Kamiński, Steven Spielberg, and the rest of their team, but I certainly make no claim to expertise on cinematography, so I have no intention of trying to argue that you're wrong. You're perfectly entitled to your opinion.

Similarly, I hope you won't try to argue that the people who had a fine time shouldn't have enjoyed themself.

"It has to be something on the scale of the new Star Wars flick to drag me out."

Me, I just explained how I see every film that interests me in a theatre.


Anyway, obviously I recommend the film to those who might enjoy it, and if you're not one, I don't recommend it to you.

Sorry, Gary. Just got home from work and didn't see it.
Carry on. (How're you liking your new digs?)

My open thread topic is potatoes.

Peak Oil is a bigger deal than anybody wants to think about. You don’t hear about it because there is no money in talking about it. Rush Limbaugh said today:

“We have 20 billion barrels of oil on government land.”

Rush Limbaugh does not understand that that is less than four years worth of domestic consumption.

Peak Oil will violently reverse urbanization.

World population gains of the 20th Century tracked almost linearly with the increased use of oil. One additional person equals 4.5 barrels of oil per year. The loss of liquid fuel (liquid fuel = fertilizer = food) will reduce the carrying capacity of the earth, probably in a similar linear pattern. Very bad things could happen.

Learn to grow potatoes. 3,000 square feet of good soil equals 2,000 calories per day. Now is the time to get planting.

"(How're you liking your new digs?)"

I couldn't afford new digs of my own, as I'd hoped, due to the expense of the move, and won't be able to at the current rate for about another 6 months or so, so I'm staying with someone, which has its complications and rewards.

I'm overall pretty happy, although also very overwhelmed by a vast number of things I have to adjust to. Pardon my being a bit vague.

BOBill: "Peak Oil is a bigger deal than anybody wants to think about. "

It's marvelous the way you believe you know what other people think, and that your thinking is ever so much acute than their's.

I recommend the film to those who might enjoy it, and if you're not one, I don't recommend it to you.

"Those who like this sort of thing will find this to be the sort of thing they like."

Attributed to a book review by Abraham Lincoln.

Ethical stomach-turner of the week for me: FDA has just announced that it is going to scrap American participation in the Declaration of Helsinki -- the major international accord on ethical principles guiding physicians and other participants in medical research on human subjects. (David Niewert at FDL) Also seen at Global Bioethics Blog. I suspect that the FDL commenters are right who suggest that pushing this rule through at this stage in the Bush administration is a CYA move, not just prospective.

Meanwhile, over at slacktivist we're discussing the need for a new masculine heroic ideal, branching off from Kit Whitfields IMO ground-breaking delineation of the Macho Sue.

Question: does the massive popularity of "Iron Man" foretell anything new in the construction of masculinity? Is Tony Stark the first of the post-Bush heroes, or is it just that he has rilly rilly cooooooool toys?

A healthy person would not ‘want’ to think about Peak Oil Gary. It leads to some pretty ugly conclusions. No offense intended.

Gary: Me, I just explained how I see every film that interests me in a theatre.

Sorry – You were asking why I was so dismissive of the new Indy film, and I went into why I’m dismissive of the whole theatre experience. Rambling…

OTOH – I’ll get up at 5 AM and spend a lot to drive into NYC, park ($!), and get half-price matinee tickets to a good show. That is not something you can beat at home. At least, not without rearranging the furniture…

Anyone other than wingnut radio talk-show hosts aghast and up in arms about HRC's loaded reference to staying in it 'til June?

check out KOS or Balloon Juice (or me, even): they're plenty fired-up. the thread below this, too.

I just saw Indy, and no spoilers from me, but I agree it was better than Temple, and has a couple fun scenes.

All I have to say is...

Fuck Spielberg.

The movies I remembered as a kid were much much much better.

"The movies I remembered as a kid were much much much better."

They always are.

This has nothing whatever to do with the movies, though, you know.

Peter Graham once said, and Terry Carr wrote it down, that "the golden age of science fiction is 13."

Similarly, movies, and an endless number of experiences.

It's useful, though, to realize this, and not confuse subjective changes of aging, and nostalgia, with external reality.

Dear Xanax. I trust you are well.

Much as I dislike Hillary Clinton, I did not find her mentioning Bob Kennedy vulgar or in bad taste. As far I could tell, she meant nothing vicious.

Sincerely, Sean

As this has been declared an open thread, I've decided to use this as an opportunity to get the hang of inserting links to notes.

With the blog owners consent or indulgence, I'll use one of my own little efforts: a discussion of David Laird Dungan's book A HISTORY OF THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM.

Sincerely, Sean

OCSteve, you have my complete sympathy about the movie experience being no good. Have you checked out whether your area has any of those (usually brewpub-run) theatres that widen the aisles, serve pizza, and such? Probably all of my top 10 movie-viewing rewarding outings of the last decade were at places like the Bagdad. It's more casual in some ways, of course, but then it attracts precisely the crowd that does care about the ambience of the whole thing - I find the crowds much more cooperative and enjoyable.

I'm a touch skeptical that, as a technical matter, you're more expert than Janusz Kamiński, Steven Spielberg, and the rest of their team, but I certainly make no claim to expertise on cinematography (...)

What kind of an argument is that? Famous people never mess up and always achieve what they set out to do? Come on, Gary, that's ridiculous. As regards 'expertise', all you need is a good eye.

My daughter just got a degree in Anthropology, and she said every kid she knows in that field went in because of the Indy films. She was very worried that this one wouldn't be very good and that then the next generation would think this is what an Indy film is. She hated it, and just despised the alien bit. Me too.

But we were all thrilled to see Karen Allen again - she was always the best heroine and a fine match for Indiana.

I've been hearing a lot of complaints about the alien thing, and it's struck me as kind of . . . I don't know, a double standard. Like, everyone's supposed to accept at face value, within the movies' universe, all the religious goings-on of the first three -- the cleansing power of YWHW from the Ark, the Thuggee rituals, the Holy Grail that can age a man in seconds -- but aliens? Oh, come on!

"As regards 'expertise', all you need is a good eye."

Yes, and you're saying that on the technical aspects of the cinematography, they were incompetent, and you can see it, and they couldn't. Ok.

"...and just despised the alien bit. Me too."

Fair enough. As I keep saying, I'd never argue with someone's aesthetic preferences; we're all entitled to them, as they are purely subjective.

But might you tell us a bit about why you despised "the alien bit"?

As Phil said, one can hardly object on grounds of implausibility. (And the whole point of the movie is that it's thematically a Fifties B flying saucers movie, more than a Thirties serial, like the earlier three.)

I assume everyone spotted the Ark's cameo in the warehouse, btw, right?


I don't remember my experiences w/ girls when I was 13 -- heck, they were almost kind of scary back then -- to be better than they were at 23, 33 or 43.

They were probably best at 18-25, talking in purely physical terms.

Now, in terms of being a good partner, both emotionally and taking care of business, I would say I have been at my best between 40-45 (and ongoing . . .) -- The Married Years. I love my wife, and 9-year-old son; can't imagine life without them.

Before them, it was just me and the dogs, CoCo and Bowser. Hamilton joined us three years ago -- found the old Beagle three years ago on the side of the road, when he was 11; he's 14 now, and he might live forever (either that or he will eat everything in sight first).

The Great Bonzo -- who came before my girl CoCo (Golden Retriever mix) and my crazy boy Bowser (Border Collie mix), and Hamilton, and the gentle, handsome Bodie (cocker spaniel), whose life was cut way to short, and the schizophrenic, beautiful Lilly, an orange-and-gold Setter (don't ask about Lilly, God rest her tortured soul) -- made it to 13.

Thirteen is a ripe old age for a great big dog. Bonzo was a Rottweiler, Lab mix. His legs went out at the end, and very soon after that stomach cancer got him. But his heart, his big, big, heart, never wavered.

When I think of the Great Bonzo, which is every day, I often look at this quote by Milan Kundera posted nearby my computer at work:

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace."

That was Bonzo and Me, at peace, in Eden, on that hillside, every day.

Since this is an Open Thread, I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts to share about dogs they've had, past or present . . .


BOBill: "Peak Oil is a bigger deal than anybody wants to think about. "

It's marvelous the way you believe you know what other people think, and that your thinking is ever so much acute than their's.

Maybe it's a Rip Van Winkle thing; Bill's been asleep since about 1972, and just woke up only to discover that cheap, plentiful oil is on the way out.

There are alternatives to heavy use of petroleum based inputs for agriculture. The biggest impact of no-longer-cheap oil are, I think going to be on industrialized countries, who are no longer going to be able to organize themselves around a cheap, portable, and high-energy-density fuel.

To me, that seems like suburbanization, rather than urbanization, is at risk.

For the billions of people around the world who are just scratching by anyway, however, water and food are going to be a much higher priority.

Darfur: yes, the nomad arabs and the farmer blacks don't like each other, but the thing they're fighting over is water.

Potatoes are great, we could all benefit by eating a little less meat, and there's nothing more 'locally grown' than stuff from your own back yard, but it might be that a more comprehensive program than a victory garden of spuds is called for.

This, however, is very insightful:

Rush Limbaugh does not understand

Sean, your link unfortunately did not work. The book sounds interesting (to me anyway) if you'd like to try again.

Thanks -

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.

Actually, I did know one evil dog, a family pet we had when I was young. He was a criminal mastermind.

He would go to the bus stop in the morning, growl at the kids, then steal their lunches and eat them. True story.

We finally had to get rid of him when he broke into a neighbors chicken coop and made off with the pet hen that their kids had gotten as an Easter chick. Blood and feathers everywhere, three hysterical kids, and a very angry mom and dad on the horn to my folks. Not pretty.

We took him to the pound. The pound was surrounded by an eight foot chain link fence, then another four foot chain link fence.

A couple of weeks after we dropped him off, we got a phone call. Single woman, lived by herself in a slightly remote area. Do we own this dog? She had gotten our contact information from his tags.

Why do you ask, we inquire tentatively.

He'd been hanging around her house, kind of acting like a watchdog. She sort of liked that, gave her a feeling of security, so she'd been feeding him, and did we mind if she adopted him?

No problem, says we.

How did he get out? We have no idea.

How did he make his way to the home of a single woman in a secluded area, and what made him decide to start playing the loyal watchdog?

Criminal genius.

Thanks -

I am so glad that you brought up the subject of dogs!

Here's an update on Lassie: she's miserable and i don't know if my intervention in her life was rerally helpful. Maybe the NA attitude of letting things take theri course would have been wiser.

Anyway she is in a no-kill shelter that wi well run and clean and managed entirely by volunteers-- a truly noble effort. I go there twise a week now and walk dogs. I wolked eight dogs yesterday!

Lassie chewed her stitches out and eveserated herslef. She had to go back to the ver for a week. Now she is back in her kennel, on benedrill and antibiotics, and wearing a collar to keep her from scratching. Everyone but me thinks she has an allergy to someting. I think that it is sgtress. When I got my corgi mix he was bald on his butt and his paws from conpulsive licking. We gave him tranquilizers until he learned our routines and settled in. Now blad spots and compulsive behavior is no longer a proble.

I can't let go of Lassie. I keep going round and round in my mind about adopting her. The hangup is Blackie: he's a cardigan corgie Jack Russel mix and possesive. I know how he tgreats dogs that come into his house (jealously).

Lassie is half Staffordshire terrier. They are wonderful human orietented dogs but potentially gdog agressive and they have one hell of a bite. I have never seen Lassie exhibit agression toward a dog, but what would she do if my corgie were to snarl at her?

I have these nightmare senarios of dag fights in my mind. Tthen I think og god don't be such a worrier. Backie is a male and a delta. Lassie is female and not particularly alpha. They would have issues with each other's exsitance but nothing unsurmountable.

And round and round I go in my head.

Thanks for letting me whine about this on the open thread.

Yes, and you're saying that on the technical aspects of the cinematography, they were incompetent, and you can see it, and they couldn't. Ok.

You seem to have a mistaken idea of how such a blockbuster is produced. Not everything Spielberg or Kaminski touch turns to gold immediately and once things have gone wrong, there's limited or no opportunity for reshoots and fixing it in post only goes so far. I didn't say they were incompetent, but they were certainly not on top of their game - shit happens.

Russell/10:41 am --

A criminal genius, indeed.

And, in the end, a great dog.

That story was one for the books.

It brought a great big smile to this dog lover's face.

Thank you.

wonkie/10:43 am --

I feel your pain.

Adding a new dog to an existing-dog household can be troublesome.

When I got CoCo from the pound (it was love at first sight), the intent was to give Bowser, who I only had at that point for about three or four months, a companion. Bowser was, and still is, a hanful. But I love him.

Anyhow, the hope was that CoCo would settle him down. (Like I'm a dog physcolgist -- sic? -- or something, right?).

And she did, and he has -- to a point; after all, Bowser is Bowser.

But two does seem perfect.

If they get along.

Three dogs?

Unless you have a farm or something big like that -- we have a 40-year-old rancher that, thankfully, has a good-sized backyard -- I would not recommend it.

That really seems to upset the dog dynamic.

When I brought Hamilton into the mix, CoCo, who I admit I spoil, was jealous of having another dog in the mix (she's OK w/ Bowser because she seems to instinctly know he came first).

Yes, Milan, she was jealous.

She seemed especially annoyed by Hamilton's baying.

And she snapped at him a couple times -- very scary when it happens.

But three/four years later, they are the best of friends.

Go figure.

A criminal genius, indeed.

No joke. We still wonder how he got out of the pound.

The family joke is that he paid off the night shift guy in cigarettes.

Thanks -

If I had a yard I wouldn't be so worried. However I live in a condo. Both dogs would have to be in door dogs. Long walks every day of course, but in doors the rest of the time.

Plus Blackie is old. He's had a hard life and now he is happy in his retiement home.

But when Lassie sees me she ties herself in knots, squealing, whimpering, tail wagging... she's friendly to all of the staff but she trembles from head to foot with emotion when she sees me.

I sneak around the kennel trying to stay out of her sight while I walk the other dogs.

I had no idea that she had gottne so attached. I didn't know I had gotten so atached with

Well its off to work now.

Russel i'm glad your insoucient doggie found the right home!

My customary remark is that we’d all be better off if dogs ran the world.

I sorely miss Mingmar the Tibetan Spaniel, who left my ambit with his beloved mistress the ex-fiancee.
No matter how miserable I might be, and there have been some doozies (sp? looks odd) he could always warm my heart and make me smile.

And the inimitable Jasmine, my son’s dog, was the heart of the household. Not certain but likely a Lab-Rott mix, from the pound. Personality and heart and a comfort to all.
Sadly diminished by the time she had to be put to sleep. At least the downhill slide wasn’t long and drawn out.

Dogs (ought to) rule.

I’ve heard that there are around 12 million people in the New York City area proper. At 2,000 calories per day, that works out to 8.76 x10 to the twelfth power calories per year (8.8 trillion).

You get 300 cwt/acre of potatoes, or 12 million ironic calories per acre if the land is managed well. 730,000 calories equals one person-year. Thus the population of New York equals over 12 million acres, or around twenty thousand square miles of efficiently run land (powered with batteries?).

Given human nature and soil; make that over one hundred thousand square miles. Add in widespread dependency on a government that has made $70 trillion in unfunded promises and peak oil.

The suburbs will serve as a nice buffer. The natives can rally at Linens n Things. Personally, I’ll stick with my backyard and a peaceful, easy feeling.

Personally, I’ll stick with my backyard and a peaceful, easy feeling.

Sounds like a plan that will suit us all.


Thanks -

Dear Russell. Thanks for your note.

I feel frustrated and stupid both! One of these days I will get the hang of inserting links into notes here.

If you dont mind, send me an email and I will link you to my discussion of Dungan's VERY interesting book that way.

Far too briefly, Dungan does not believe in the Q/Markan priority/two source theory of the writing of the gospels.

Sincerely, Sean

Dogs rule.

Dogs. Love. Trucks.

Dog Day Afternoon.

The dog days of August.

Dog tired.

It's a dog's life.

Not fit for a dog.

Three Dog Night.

Anybody got any other dog phrases/sayings/etc?

(Boy, do I love dogs. I can be having the worst day in the world -- kind of like right now (don't ask) -- but the sight of my three dogs (I call them "the Knuckleheads") always makes me feel better. Can be having the worst day in the world, and see a dog with his head sticking out the window of a car/truck (saw one driving home last night), and I smile and I know all is right w/ the world.

Doggone right.

Saw the new Indy witht he family today. Not great, but a very worthwhile return of the franchise. Shoulda' been titled Indiana Jones and the Chariots of the Gods.

Saw the new Indy witht he family today. Not great, but a very worthwhile return of the franchise. Shoulda' been titled Indiana Jones and the Chariots of the Gods.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

-Mark Twain

Yes. Dogs rule.

A while ago I mentioned that a dog I loved was old and ill. We had him put to sleep soon thereafter when he could no longer breathe because of the cancer in his lungs.

He gave me a lot, including some wonderful memories.

May he rest in peace.

Russell: Great dog story.

And yes – dogs rule. Or at least they should.

Anybody got any other dog phrases/sayings/etc?

"That's the real dog tip"

Thanks -

Anybody got any other dog phrases/sayings/etc?

"He's got more money than a show dog can jump over."

Great Twain quote, Bernard.

Sorry to hear of your loss. Never imagined I would have lost a dog as big and strong, as carefree and happy, as the Great Bonzo to cancer or anything else.

I don't know why but Bonzo was the one dog I always thought would live forever. Stupid, I know.

So, when he was sick, and I took him to the vet and the vet gave me the bad news, I couldn't believe it. And then the vet gave me the old "it's a matter of time."

Told the vet Bonzo was having good days and bad days, the bad outweighing the good. And the vet, a nice young lad, sympathetic and all, told me that's natural. I asked him if I should put my dog down right then and there.

And I appreciated the fact that he was upfront and said no, that -- the good-day, bad-day pattern would continue, and why not let him have a few more good?

I asked him how much longer I could expect him to live and he told me two months. Bonzo made it about six weeks, so the young vet was right.

He was also right about this: I asked him how I would know when it would be time to put him down and he said "you'll know."

When the time came, I knew.

It was a Sunday night, and Bonzo's breathing became strained and painful. I knew this was it and I would be putting him down in the morning.

So, I laid on the ugly green blanket of his in the dining-room corner of our old house and stroked his big strong belly from time to time. Occasionally, I would say something soft. Bonzo and I always had great conversations, although I admit they were a bit one-sided. But his eyes always communicated back to what I was saying verbally and, yeah, we had some great conversations.

We didn't talk much that last night. His eyes had lost that gleam, not even much of a glimmer now. Me, I was crying. Hell, I'm started to cry now.

When his breathing got real heavy, I kept telling he what a good boy he was. And how he was the best ball-catcher in the world -- Bonzo could catch a tennis ball like nobody's business. Kept telling him what a strong boy he was. How he always made me smile. How he got me through so many tough times. I apologized to Bonzo for the two or three times I ever yelled at him in our 13 years together, and who knows what else I said. As usual, Bonzo listened. And around 4 a.m. I fell asleep, right there on that stinky green blanket.

Woke up around 6 a.m. -- thinking it was time, time to put him down. Got up, went to the bathroom, wiped off more tears. Then I noticed. Bonzo had passed.

There would be no need to make that dreaded trip to the vet. He died at home, on his stinky green blanket, with me, the way he wanted it, I suppose.

Only dog I ever buried.

It was February and the ground was rock hard. And Bonzo weighed 100 pounds, give or take. Never dug a whole so deep. Cried the whole time I dug it.

Found a good-sized stone to use as a marker. Wrote on it, "Here lies the best ball-catcher in the whole world, my big boy, Bonzo.

Picked him up off that stinky old green blanket. And that was it. Bonzo was at rest, right under the first tree I ever planted, a crimson-colored Thunder Clap that grew strong and big and fast, just as he had been.

I always think I cheat the dogs that have come after: Hamilton and his baying that we love and hate; Bowser and his Bowserness, always giving a paw with a guilty look, the one trick he knows -- and won't stop doing, as if it is some get-out of-jail-free card every time he does something bad; and even CoCo, my pretty girl, my new ball-catcher.

But Bonzo was the best.

And one day, if there is a heaven, and if I am lucky enough to go there, I know I will meet up with Bonzo. I know he will still be my big stinky boy. I know he will greet me with a half-chewed yellow tennis ball, that he insists on rolling around in his slobbery mouth before he expects me to put my hand out and allow him plop it right on my nice dry hand when he is good and ready.
Then we share that old familar look, his soulful eyes meeting mine, and we are together again.

(Sorry, guys. I don't know what happened. Thanks for the indulgence. And thanks to anyone who has ever loved and lived with their own Bonzo.)

btfb: *hugs*

And . . .

It's raining cats and dogs.

All Dog's Go to Heaven (even Russell's rogue criminal.)

Every dog has its day.

"He couldn't even get elected as dog-catcher."

A shaggy-dog story.

"Never trust a person who doesn't like a dog." (My own credo)

The hair of the dog.

"The dog ate my homework."

Yes, dogs rule.

Thanks, hilzoy.


Doggone it.

Dogtown (that was the nick name of the univiserity part of town).

Dogs meaning feet.


btfb, thanks for the beautiful story.


I understand every word, I think.

Junior wasn't a ball-catcher, or chaser. His attitude, conveyed with looks, was, "You threw it, you go get it."

He and I invented a game I called "dodge dog." I would stand some distance away, and he would charge at me at full tilt. (This was a 100-lb mostly German Shepherd, so that was a sight in itself). At the last second he would veer right or left or just stop in his tracks, and I would try to grab him. I awarded myself a point if I succeeded, him a point otherwise.

I usually lost.

New York State has a land area of 47,000 square miles. Assuming a perfectly efficient food supply system using a high yield crop like potatoes, one half of New York State would be needed to feed New York City.

That works out to be a 140 mile by 140 mile square. I trained to run in a marathon once and made it 13 miles. 13 miles is a long way, even without carrying a sack of potatoes. 26 miles is a longer way. 140 miles is longer still.

It’s going to be an interesting century. We should be investing money in electrifying our rail systems and building nuclear power plants. But we won’t. Thus backyard potatoes.

People think that electric cars and electric heat would be able to replace gasoline and heating oil. Theoretically, this is true. In practice however, it cannot save us from what’s coming.

Electric transmission capacity is fixed by series resistance, series inductance, shunt conductance, and shunt capacitance. The cost and physical work associated with rapidly upgrading our nation’s generation and transmission capacity to carry all of our transportation and heating load, in the face of skyrocketing fuel and materials costs, would likely overwhelm any government, especially a democracy.

One of the American Presidency’s last acts will likely be to sign an Executive Order waiving environmental and permitting restrictions for new power projects. But it will be too late. When you see this happen, stay away from Cities. But don’t come near me; I’ve got a peaceful easy feeling. Get to rural Georgia or somewhere like that before they block the roads.

Thus backyard potatoes. This season is for practice.

You might say:
“But I don’t own land.”

Obama might say:
“But my wife won’t let me touch the lawn.”

Bill says:
Stop making excuses.

Am I the only one vaguely disquieted by Brick Oven Bill's peaceful easy feeling?

Bill says:
Stop making excuses.

Russell says:
Dude, give it a rest.

To be honest, you lost me at the AK47.

By all means, grow yourself a big old heap of potatoes. Store them in what your 'ancestors' called the 'root cellar', and stand guard over your precious hoard with your assault rifle. Best keep a watchful eye out, you never know who will be sneaking in to steal your spuds.

The rest of us will just have to make do with our soylent green.

Have fun!

Thanks -

For the record, ‘near me’ means property lines in tough times. But to minimize the importance of liquid fuel to those things to which we have allowed ourselves to become accustomed is a mistake.

I mowed the lawns of elderly people as a kid. They kept money in their mattresses and canned their own food. I believe that this was due to their life experiences.

What we’re facing now is spooky compared to what they faced. And I am having fun, thanks. Gardening is therapeutic, you’ve gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.

Just to be clear here Bill:
Are you actually equating
gardening in a rose-bed
(with pruning shears, mulch and a spade)
and fighting off the aphids
with guarding your property line
with an AK47 and fighting off
the neighbors?

I sense you're actually being un-ironic with your "peaceful easy feeling" reference. Which I find doubly frightening.

Not my neighbors xanax. We all get along good. As a matter of fact, the whole community does.

My premise is that large population centers have become dependent on liquid fuels, which will have to be rationed soon. I do not live in a large population center. My community has no wish to become a large population center though, I suspect.

Large population centers should go to Georgia. They're nice there.

To me the new Indy seemed like work. Maybe I was just younger, but the others sucked me in. This one left me feeling oddly detached. Maybe it was the poor characters or perhaps Cage's movies have just worn me out on stone temple transformers. Then again, maybe it was the aliens.

Anyway, it just wasn't fun; not like Iron Man. Jeez, I hope Norton can pull off The Hulk...

OK, so what you're actually saying to everyone but your neighbors is, in a crisis, don't come near me (across my property line?) because I have an AK47 (the peaceful easy feeling model) and I know how to use it. That about sum it up?

Do you get off on the idea of a global "liquid fuel" catastrophe that cripples the world but leaves Brick Oven Bill (and his hearty neighbors) happily munching tire spuds (roasted on backyard brick ovens) with assault rifles slung over your shoulders against the scourge of starving strangers?

I hope you won't be too disappointed if it doesn't happen.

Hi xanax;

We don’t need tires. And you won’t get near my property.


B.O.B. "And you won’t get near my property."

Yo, Rambo... what zip code is Paradise Spud Farm in? (If you tell me, I'll be able to avoid it on purpose).

btfb: That’s a powerful story – and I’d add, a very nice piece of writing.

I'd rank it third best of the four Indy movies.

Right up until here, I was wondering how I'd missed the whole race, and what Gary was doing in Indianapolis.

Great -- or at least, equally great -- minds, Slarti.

But to minimize the importance of liquid fuel to those things to which we have allowed ourselves to become accustomed is a mistake.

Couldn't agree more.

Further, I think the idea of moving away from centralized food production (and production of other things, including energy) is an excellent one.

Where you leave me behind is with the AK47.

The way of life you're talking about wasn't lived by our 'ancestors'. My father and both my in laws grew up that way. Grow your own food, barter extra stuff and labor for what you can't grow or hunt, make your own clothes, etc. Even my mother, who grew up in Brooklyn, had chickens as a girl.

We could do all of that again if we need to.

But none of my folks found it necessary to arm themselves against other people. They had guns to hunt. If they needed to use a gun to protect themselves, they could and would, but the idea was just not something they put any attention to.

As a final point, if the social order breaks down enough that you need to keep an AK47 handy just to insure your personal safety and that of your family, an AK47 ain't gonna do it. Range is too short, it's not particularly accurate. One guy with a good long range rifle will drop you in your front yard when you go to get the mail.

Just saying.

Thanks -

Brick Oven Bill's attitude is of course not just bad economics and sociology - cooperation is a positive-sum thing - it's profoundly un-American. Cooperation in the face of adversity is the American way, quite literally in the political realm (cf. "we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" and "we the people") and in practical terms routinely in the social realm. Basically, many of our ancestors have been smarter, or at least more practical, than Bill and his ilk about what actually helps people survive in times of trouble.

I don't particularly wish to compel him to stop, but I wish that people would take un-American ideas like his to some country where they might be better appreciated. This is America, where we have a tradition of pulling together rather than apart, and I think that's worth defending. Plenty of failed states would welcome in ex-Yanks who don't care about cooperation.

This is America, where we have a tradition of pulling together rather than apart,

Ahhh, tradition.

Hey, they were un-American losers too, as are those who idolize them now.

This is a really handy stance sometimes.

Back in the 50s the very real worry was thermonuclear war which, fortunately, didn’t happen. The residents of Golden Colorado (Coors) had a plan to deal with refugees that they didn’t know from Denver. That was back in the 50s in Colorado.

I’m all for freedom, but I believe that other people’s freedom ends where my nose begins. That is very American.

So grow potatoes (please).

And everything depends on range. I don’t need the mail, but nevertheless I think I’ll be able to walk to the mailbox in relative safety. We’ve got Connecticut.

This: "I believe that other people’s freedom ends where my nose begins."

In light of this: "And you won’t get near my property."

Loosely translates to shoot 'em if they cross the property line.

Mighty big nose you got there Bill.

And by the way, Bruce and Russell, I'm always glad when skilled and reasoned voices are able to articulate what I would have said, had I the skill.

You’re taking be out of context xanax. I have clearly stated ‘tough times’.

These are not tough times. They still sell cheese at Costco. Come on over for a pizza. I make excellent pizza. I need to find someone with a cow.

I do have a horseshoe court though.

"I do have a horseshoe court though. "

You're not using one of those ghastly potato-skin basketballs are you?

One guy with a good long range rifle will drop you in your front yard when you go to get the mail.

Sorry folks, this was stupid macho trash talk on my part. There's enough of it around without me adding more.

If we get to the point where we need to be arming ourselves with assault rifles to insure our safety and that of our families, there will be no "peaceful easy feeling" happening anywhere. There are lots of places like that, and it sucks to be there. For everyone, armed or not.

My old man, both of my wife's folks, and all of their folks in turn back as far as anyone remembers lived more or less the way Bill is talking about. It's not a bad way of life, although they were all damned glad to get off of their various farms.

None of those folks found it necessary to arm themselves against anyone. And believe me when I tell you the times they lived through were tough.

If you want an assault rifle, Bill, live it up. I neither need nor want one, nor do I ever expect to need or want one.

Thanks -

Dear Russell. I hope you are well.

You should say, rather, "I HOPE to never need an assault rifle."

I was reminded of S.M. Stirling's novel DIES THE FIRE, based on wondering what would happen if "alien space bats" suddenly STOPPED our high energy, high technology civilization. That is, what would happen if the lights did not go on, power plants did not work, the internal combustion engine failed to go, gunpowder and explosives did not work, etc. Answer: NOT good for about 98 percent of the world's population.

In a situation like that, it REALLY would be a situation where the best armed man will end up the new boss.

Sincerely, Sean

Sean -

There are no alien space bats.

The human race survived for 99.9% (approximately) of its time here on earth without our high energy, high technology civilization. If we need to do so again, we'll find a way.

I'm not interested in being the new boss if it means I have to kill other people to do so. I'll take my chances on cooperation.

Also, I owe you an email. I'll drop you a line shortly.

Thanks -

Open thread, right? This is just sick:
Fox News Jokes About Obama Being Assassinated.

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