Saturday, May 17, 2003

We just saw Bend it like Beckham. Thoroughly enjoyable movie. Like so many movies with English actors, I try to remember where I've seen them before. Jules's mother is the girl from Truly Deeply Madly and the Irish coach was in the bizarre Gormanghast. The music was very fun. Strong girl characters. Yesss...

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Opinion Journal had a good article today about sci-fi grandmaster Ray Bradbury and the 50th anniversary of "Fahrenheit 451." He is a treasure.

Mr. Bradbury has written some 30 books, more than 600 short stories, and countless numbers of poems, essays and screenplays. Even as an octogenarian, he gets up every morning and spends a few hours composing. His most recent novel, "Let's All Kill Constance," came out in January to mixed reviews. A new collection of 100 short stories is slated for release in August.

Amid this prodigious output, "Fahrenheit 451" is the book for which Mr. Bradbury will be best remembered. Perhaps that's because the concept is so unforgettable: In the near future, firemen don't put out fires; they start them instead. Books have been outlawed. When they're discovered, first responders hurry to the scene. The title refers to the temperature at which paper burns.

One of the paradoxes of science fiction--and a fact poorly understood by many people who don't read it--is that much of the genre displays deep doubts about the future. Some of the finest books in the field, from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" to Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" to William Gibson's "Neuromancer," regard technology as dangerous and dehumanizing.

"Fahrenheit 451" falls squarely into this dystopian tradition. Kingsley Amis said of it: "Bradbury's is the most skillfully drawn of all science fiction's conformist hells."

Mr. Bradbury insists that the purpose of "Fahrenheit 451" was not to prophesy. "I wasn't trying to predict the future," he says. "I was trying to prevent it."

Today, Mr. Bradbury is more concerned with another problem that he thinks he didn't prevent. "There's no reason to burn books if you don't read them," he says. "The education system in this country is just terrible, and we're not doing anything about it."

One of the often-overlooked details of "Fahrenheit 451" is that the censorship Mr. Bradbury describes was not imposed from the top by a ruthless government. Rather, it seeped up from the indifferent masses. As a villain explains: "School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. . . . No wonder books stopped selling."

Only part of that speech captures our world now, because books haven't stopped selling. Mr. Bradbury, however, finds many of the latest ones worthless. He spends his free time reading the plays of Shaw and the poetry of Pope. "I'm learning from the past," he says. "Few modern novelists teach me anything."

Tom Bourton of BBC News Online recently posted a surprising article on Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies. This 6 ft. 1 actor feared The Lord of the Rings would be "a poor film and then two direct-to-videos". Despite reservations about playing a dwarf in full prosthetic make-up, Rhys-Davies accepted when his family stepped in. The article also includes talk of the latest Indiana Jones flick, so check it out here!

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

It looks like my quess as to what comic book character will be coming to the silver screen after The Incredible Hulk may be correct. Ain't it cool News has posted an article talking about a possible screen play for the one and only Wonder Woman. The article also has some great pics of old comic book covers!

Monday, May 12, 2003

Time Magazine has posted a very interesting slideshow of "80 Days that changed the World." Definitely worth a look. Of course, July 4, 1776 was really a day that changed the world forever. of President Clinton visiting aircraft carriers at sea on THREE different occasions. Gee, President Bush is behind on his carrier count.

Theresa bought us some Peeps. We are going to create something like this for our school. The importance of understanding proper library behavior and research skills cannot be overemphasized.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

This new vehicle is set to evolve again. It's like watching things change on the Genesis Planet.

Google is to create a search tool specifically for weblogs, most likely giving material generated by the self-publishing tools its own tab. It isn't clear if weblogs will be removed from the main search results, but precedent suggests they will be. After Google acquired Usenet groups from, it developed a unique user interface and a refined search engine, and removed the groups from the main index. After a sticky start, Usenet veterans welcomed the new interface. Google recently acquired Blogger, and sources suggest this is the most likely option.

Bloggers too are likely to welcome their very own tab as a legitimization of the publishing format. But many others will breathe a sigh of relief as blogs disappear from the main index.

Google has strived in vain to maintain the quality of its search results in the face of a blizzard of links generated by a small number of sources. (Google searches 3,083,324,652 pages as of 4PM PT today. Assuming there are one million bloggers, and generously assuming they have a hundred pages each, that amounts to 0.032 per cent of web content indexed by Google. Recent research by Pew put the number of blog readers as opposed to writers, as "statistically insignificant"). However, through dense and incestuous linking, results from blogs can drown out other sources.

Grimy air and gloomy skies for days now, and today the worst. Hope the wind shifts soon.

Harris County health officials advise people with breathing problems to limit the time they spend outdoors and avoid physical activity due to worsening air quality. The county's Public Health & Environmental Services issued a "level orange" alert today after sensors recorded a higher level of particulate matter in the air. At this level, the matter can cause some people to experience an increase in existing breathing problems or even trigger new ones, according to the alert. The warning stays in effect until readings change.

Large fires burning in Mexico and Central America have been sending smoke north into Texas and a change in weather conditions over the weekend sent the worst of that pollution over Houston.

Life imitates Art - 2.

via Tim Blair

Cosmic dandruff. Gotta love the majesty of science and the language of Australians.

For 40 years, fast-moving clouds of gas around the Milky Way have puzzled astronomers. It was hard to tell whether they were big and far away, or near the galaxy. It had been suggested the clouds might be some of the so-called dark matter that makes up 90 per cent of the universe but which remains elusive. The reality is less exotic, according to a team using the CSIRO Parkes telescope.

The team said yesterday that the clouds were cosmic dandruff - scraps of hydrogen shed by galaxies orbiting the Milky Way.

Dr Lister Staveley-Smith, of the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility, said the team had observed about 2000 of the gas clouds. The team studied the Magellanic Stream, a ribbon of hydrogen trailing from the Large and Small Magellanic clouds, the biggest galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. According to the dark matter theory, the high-velocity gas clouds should have been a few million light years away. But the team found some of them were associated with the Magellanic Stream, only a few hundred thousand light years away.


Happy Mother's Day Mom! I wish I was there to give you a hug and tell you what a fabulous job you've always done being a great mother. Nobody could ask for anyone who was more patient, kind, and loving. I'll see you in a week!! All my love, Emily