31 January 2008


If you want to know why we give so much money each year to the humane society, you need look no further than this article in today's Los Angeles Times.

WARNING: The video included in the story is very graphic and upsetting. You may not want to view it.

More about the Humane Society will be found here.

28 January 2008

A New "Cene"

You probably remember this from high school science class:

Geologic time is divided into eons, eras, periods and epochs. We are currently in the Cenozoic Era, Quaternary Period and the Holocene Epoch -- unless you follow the thinking of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen.

Crutzen has suggested that human activity and industrialization have so profoundly changed the course of the planet that we have entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene, characterized by such dramatic changes to the natural course of the earth in global temperature and biology.

If he is correct, you who are reading this are now on the short list of people whose lives have been lived in two epochs -- something never before done by modern humans. Anyone born after the year 2000 (when Crutzen first made his suggestion) has only lived in the Anthropocene.

So, we now begin to die off. How soon will it be that the last Holocene-living human walks this earth? Who will it be? Will it be you?

You may read more about the new epoch

22 January 2008

Film √Čtranger

You know that we love foreign films. I cannot explain their appeal, other than to say that most films made in other countries focus more on the people and the motives, and less on the explosions and the gun play. That's oversimplifying it, though not by much.

In just the past five days we have seen films from Korea, Japan and Spain (and two from America). In any given year we probably see about forty films made in a country other than America. We are very lucky to have Netflix around, so we can rent them whenever they are available. So few show here in cinemas that Netflix is our only option.

With that said, I want to direct your attention to an article in today's Washington Post about the outcry over the current crop of Oscar nominated foreign films; and the nominating system that has been broken for some time and is in desperate need of a fix.

I haven't seen any of the movies on the short list, or those nominated -- they are not out on DVD yet, and certainly not in any theater near me; but at least one is already in my Netflix queue -- so I cannot say whether I agree with the conclusions presented. However, it is pretty clear there is a problem when celebrated films are overlooked -- like "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes; or the animated "Persepolis" which many critics counted among the ten best films of 2007 (it was, however, nominated as best Animated Film).

What is even more odd is that the Oscar -- which used to signify a major achievement -- is being sidestepped by other (dare I say, "lesser") awards that seem better able to spot quality. For some reason the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which awards the Oscars) is losing touch with quality in favor of simple, safe and popular. This is sad.

You may read the article here.

20 January 2008

Suzanne Pleshette RIP

When I was in high school, on the Saturdays when I was not performing in theater, I sat glued to the television to watch "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Bob Newhart Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show" -- arguably, two hours of the best television ever programmed.

Aside from the fantastic writing -- standards of which, sadly, have fallen greatly -- part of the appeal of that night was the talents of Suzanne Pleshette (pictured).

Interestingly, it took me a while to figure out from where I knew her. Oh, yeh, that's right: the school teacher in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." Wow, she was great in that. I remember even now how traumatized I was when she died in that film. That was sad.

You may read more about her fulfilling career

06 January 2008

Drug Dealing

Ever wonder what drugs are used when a person is executed by "lethal injection"? Me neither, but this article names the three used most often.

01 January 2008

Marion Who?

Long ago, when I was in my late teens and had just begun my professional writing career, someone in conversation asked me what was my goal in life. At that point, I was still entertaining thoughts of a career in entertainment (theater), still wanted to explore a life in science (genetics) and, of course, was just embarking on a life of writing (which, in the end, stuck).

My answer: "My goal is to learn everything about everything."

"Knowledge is never wrong." That's my motto. I want to learn about every person, every thing, every aspect of everything that ever was or currently is. A tall order, indeed, but one which I enjoy attempting.

The most recent bit of information I have learned comes courtesy of today's New York Times, and a fascinating article on Marion Mahoney, a woman of whom I knew nothing, even though I had known of her work for quite some time.

Born in Chicago in 1871, Mahoney gained notoriety with her illustrations of the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. She stayed with Wright for many years designing interior components of his homes. Further fame started in 1914, when she moved to Australia to help design the city of Canberra.

While she is justly famous for her works around the world, it is probably correct to say she is best known for her illustrations (pictured), the style of which set a tone for late-19th century and early-20th century architecture renderings.

The New York Times article will be found here.

An electronic copy of her heretofore-unavailable memoir can be read here.

More about her work designing Canberra will be found here.