Friday, December 25, 2009


To all those who celebrate Christmas, may you all have a Merry Blessed Christmas filled with love and joy.

Monday, December 21, 2009


My wife and I saw Avatar over the weekend and we loved it. We had seen Titanic when we were dating, which was 12 years ago, so we’ve obviously been together for a long time. The word is that James Cameron wrote the story in 1994, but waited to film the movie once technology caught up to his vision and it sure did. The special effects were amazing and the Na’vi looked absolutely real. This was another leap in the advancement of the computer-generated characters from Gollum, King Kong and Davy Jones. Couple that with the fully realized alien world of Pandora, and we have a movie unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. This was also my first real 3-D feature and while I enjoyed the new experience, it was the film itself that captured my imagination.

While the visual effects for the film have been lauded by critics, some critics have taken the story to task as being two-dimensional. Yet Cameron’s stories have never been innovative in and of themselves. From The Terminator to Titanic, Cameron has presented simple stories in complex trappings populated with archetypal characters. It’s the full visual experience that grips the viewer rather than just the story. All his films are highly entertaining, but if someone is looking for emotional depth, unique characters, and a dynamic plot from Cameron’s work that person will always be disappointed. Cameron’s movies, however, have never let me down.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Authors Attack

Yankee great Derek Jeter’s defensive ability has been the subject of criticism by a number of sabermetricians over the years. Jeter has said of the criticism, “I play in New York, man. Criticism is part of the game. You take criticism as a challenge.” He also responded by engaging in a rigorous training program last offseason which led to him having one of his best years defensively and winning his fourth Gold Glove.

That is one way to deal with criticism. Another—and an unfortunately all too natural way—is to lash out at the critic. That’s what author Candace Sams did in response to a negative fan review on for her book, Electra Galaxy’s Mr. Interstellar Feller, and let to a cringe worthy discussion thread of over 170 posts. Ms. Sams, writing under the username “Niteflyr One,” challenged the negative reviewer L.B. Taylor, and then the thread deteriorated into a free-for-all with Ms. Sams versus everyone else.

I sympathize with Ms. Sams for her visceral reaction to criticism, but taking the Jeter route or simply ignoring such criticism would have certainly been best.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this
form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

--December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressing the United States Congress.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

--Unsigned editorial, September 21, 1897, New York Sun--