Everything is Illuminated" is a wonderful film based on the Jonathan Safran Foer novel.
"Liev Schreiber's "Everything is Illuminated" begins in goofiness and ends in silence and memory. How it gets from one to the other is the subject of the film, a journey undertaken by three men and a dog into the secrets of the past. The movie is narrated by Alex (Eugene Hutz), a Ukranian whose family specializes in "tours of dead Jews." Alex and his grandfather (also named Alex) drive American Jews in search of their roots to the places where many of their ancestors died.
The trip through a bewildering but beautiful Ukrainian countryside involves a Soviet-era car that may not exactly have air bags. The grandfather is the driver, although he claims to be blind and insists on going everywhere with his "seeing eye bitch," whose name is Sammy Davis Junior Junior. Alex's English seems learned from a thesaurus that was one word off. He tortures words to force them into sentences from which they try to escape, and keeps a journal with chapters like Overture to the Commencement of a Very Rigid Search.
The movie's hero is Jonathan (Elijah Wood), a solemn, goggle-eyed American known as "The Collector" because he accumulates bits and pieces of his life and stores them in Ziploc bags, carefully labeled. He has come to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life. To this woman is due much gratitude, because Jonathan's grandmother passed along the belief that the Ukraine treated Jews so badly that if the Nazis invaded, it might be an improvement." [Roger Ebert]
Though not exactly a 'Holocast film', it is about a specific event during that period of time and will certainly resonate with those, like myself, who have an emotional connection to that period of history. My family and I were in neighboring Slovakia during the Nazi control and occupation of Europe. The dazzling beauty of landscapes in the film triggered many pleasant, though bittersweet tinged, memories.
The film has a marvelous soundtrack, which ranges from songs and instrumentals of a gypsy band to traditional tunes and contemporary tracks to Paul Cantelon's klezmer fusion score.
Another sign of pending apocalypse: Britain's rat population has exploded in recent years, falling somewhere between 60 and 80 million individuals, as opposed to the 60 million people who inhabit the island. The sudden growth is due to a string of mild winters and last year's floods. York has been the worst hit, with its rat population tripling in the past year. Experts say the best solution is a reduction in food waste--and presumably a whole lot of glue traps.
Mice are quite a different situation as evidenced in this clip from Catherine Tate's "Nan and the Mouse".
Every morning is unique and different. Simply reading the newspaper elicits dazzling flashes of color at every word. Listening to a Beethoven concerto on the radio triggers a symphony of color. The ringing of the doorbell conjures up images of several triangles geometrically arranged in space, while the barking of the neighbor’s dog produces a pattern of red concentric circles. Meanwhile, the colorful rainbow elicits a cacophony of sounds. These are not hallucinations of a drug abuser but the day-to-day experiences of a synesthete, one who is afflicted with synesthesia.
Synesthesia is a neurologically-based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be "farther away" than 1990), or may have a (three-dimensional) view of a year as a map (clockwise or counterclockwise). Yet another recently identified type, visual motion → sound synesthesia, involves hearing sounds in response to visual motion and flicker.
Famous synesthetes include the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, the writer Vladimir Nabokov, abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, and composer Alexander Scriabin.
Daniel Tammet, the well known autistic savant and mathematical genius, has a form of synesthesia in which he experiences numbers as colors. But the detail and specificity of Tammet's mental imagery of numbers is unusual. In his mind, he says, each integer up to 10,000 has its own unique shape, color, texture and feel. He can intuitively "see" results of calculations as synesthesic landscapes without using conscious mental effort, and that he can "sense" whether a number is prime or composite. He has described his visual image of 289 as particularly ugly, 333 as particularly attractive, and pi as beautiful. [BBC YouTube videos "The Boy With the Incredible Brain" - in 5 parts]
"Brideshead Revisited" — a 1981 British television serial based on the novel of the same name by Evelyn Waugh.
It stars Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder, Anthony Andrews as Lord Sebastian Flyte, Laurence Olivier as Lord Marchmain, Claire Bloom as Lady Marchmain, Diana Quick as Lady Julia Flyte, and Jane Asher as Lady Celia Ryder; also featuring Phoebe Nicholls as Lady Cordelia Flyte, John Gielgud as Edward Ryder, Simon Jones as Lord Brideshead, Nickolas Grace as Anthony Blanche, Stéphane Audran as Cara, Lord Marchmain's lover, and Charles Keating as Rex Mottram.
The musical score and memorable opening theme with a high baroque trumpet was composed by Geoffrey Burgon.
Considered by many to be the finest program ever produced for television. Produced by Granada Televsion in thirteen one hour segments.
ITV Documentary on the series Brideshead Revisited [5 parts]:
KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.
Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."
Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.
According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise. . . . . .
"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."
"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.' "
A. So dense they affect nearby atomic clocks. B. So dense they can stop a neutrino. C. So dense they have an event horizon. D. All of the above.
For proof of this, let’s take a look at OneNewsNow. In “Pastors’ Political Endorsements Draw Complaints”, published on Sept. 30, they write:
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service against six churches whose pastors either endorsed or made pointed comments about political candidates from their pulpits Sunday in defiance of federal tax law.
This is in reference to “The Pulpit Initiative”. The fundies are no longer satisfied with merely gorging at the public trough. Now they also want to have a say in who carries the swill.
As things stand now, churches are tax exempt. I guess the logic is that it was a way of ensuring the separation of church and state. The problem is that a tax exemption is actually a subsidy. Churches use government services. They get the same police and fire protection, are serviced by the same roads, and are protected by the same military as the rest of us. That means that we’re paying for their share. They’re freeloaders on the system. It’s a pretty good deal, if you can get it. You’d think they wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the gravy train.
Since they’re considered non-profit organizations, they have to abide by the same rules as all other non-profits. That means: No involvement in politics! The government has wisely decided that we shouldn’t be subsidizing groups that are trying to influence government. If you want to be politically active, do it on your dime, not ours. . . . .
TOKYO: A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.
The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.
"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.
The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.
She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.
Players in "Maple Story" raise and manipulate digital images called "avatars" that represent themselves, while engaging in relationships, social activities and fighting against monsters and other obstacles.
The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married, and killed the character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his beloved online avatar was dead.
Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), was a faith healer, alcohol Prohibitionist, and anti-evolutionist. She was also the founder of the Pentecostal Foursquare Church. At one point in celebrated career she faked her own abduction in order to run off with her lover, Kenneth G. Ormiston, who had been an engineer for her church's radio station in Los Angeles.
She and her first husband, Robert Simple, went to China as missionaries in June, 1910, where he died of dysentery two months later. Aimee returned to the U.S. and in 1912 married Rolf Potter Kennedy McPherson, an accountant. In 1915 she began evangelizing and holding tent revivals, first by traveling up and down the eastern part of the United States, then expanding to other parts of the country. She was divorced from McPherson in 1921.
From 1918 to 1922 she was an itinerant Pentecostal preacher, but settled in Los Angeles in 1922 where she raised money to begin construction of a large, domed church building dedicated as Angelus Temple in 1923. It had a seating capacity of 5,300 people and was filled to capacity three times each day, seven days a week. It eventually evolved into its own denomination, called the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She preached every sermon and was also skillful at fundraising. Collections were taken at every meeting, often with the admonishment of "no coins, please". In February 1924, she also became the first woman to be granted a broadcast license by the Federal Radio Commission.
On May 18, 1926, McPherson went to Venice Beach with her secretary, to go swimming. Soon after arrival, McPherson disappeared. It was generally assumed at the time that she had drowned. She was scheduled to hold a service on the very day she vanished. McPherson's mother appeared and preached at the service in her place, and at the end announced, "Sister is with Jesus," sending parishioners into a tearful frenzy. Mourners crowded Venice Beach, and the commotion sparked days-long media coverage of the event, fueled in part by William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner, and even including a poem by Upton Sinclair commemorating the "tragedy". Daily updates appeared in newspapers across the country, and parishioners held day-and-night seaside vigils.
At the same time, Kenneth G. Ormiston, engineer for KFSG, also disappeared. There were rumors that Ormiston, a married man with whom McPherson had developed a close friendship and allegedly had been having an affair, had run off together.
After disappearing for 35 days, she stumbled out of the desert in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, just south of the border from Douglas, Arizona, and told a phony story of kidnapping which quickly fell apart when witnesses came forth who had seen her and Ormiston at a resort in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
McPherson continued her ministry after the controversy over the alleged abduction diminished, remarried and was divorced a year later.
She ended up dying of an accidental drug overdose from taking too many Seconol sleeping pills, but her Foursquare Gospel Church still exists today with over two million members. Christian evangelicals, though quick to condemn the sins of others, seem to quickly forget the follies of their own leaders.
Dissecting John McCain's hyperbole about voter fraud.
By Jack Shafer [Slate]
John McCain proved himself a rotten student by finishing 894th in a class of 899 at Annapolis. In the third presidential debate last week, he demonstrated that flunking U.S. history must have contributed to his dismal grade point average when he stated that ACORN was "now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."
Getting a place on the short list of the greatest voter frauds would require something a lot more brazen than smuggling a few thousand ineligible voters onto the rolls, as ACORN has been accused of doing by some critics. Even a casual fanning of U.S. history books reveals hundreds of more blatant examples, including ballot stuffing, the purchase of votes, counterfeit votes, discarded ballots, voter intimidation, and bloody murder.
As Tracy Campbell demonstrates in Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition—1742-2004, election chicanery is "deeply embedded" in our political culture. Far from regarding cheating as wrong or anti-democratic, its perpetrators have treated it "as part of the game that one has to practice in order to counteract one's equally corrupt competitors." . . . .
In the last quarter of the 20th century, vote buying, vote tampering, and voter-registration shenanigans continued in places like Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, writes Campbell. And that's just an overview. Everybody has an opinion on whether the 2000 presidential election (butterfly ballots, hanging chads, absentee ballots, invalidated votes, et al.) was clean or stolen, but all agree it constituted a national embarrassment almost equal to a stolen election. Of the Florida outcome, Campbell writes, it validates Boss Tweed's observation: "The ballots didn't make the outcome, the counters did."
In the attached video, journalist Casey Kauffman talks to some Republican supporters after a rally in Ohio by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Sort of scary.
When and how did so many Americans become so ignorant? For it is their basic ignorance which fuels their hate, fear and bigotry. Values which seem to have been encouraged / promulgated by the Bush Aministration.
A confession for my occasional visitors and readers; I have not lived in the U.S. for over two decades, but I don't remember this level of ignorance and prejudice when I was a resident there. However many things can change in twenty years, and unfortunately it appears to be a culture that is slipping backwards into a mindset of anger, stupidity and paranoia. Sad.