May 21, 2007

Movies: Blood Diamond

This movie really works as all of an excellent and entertaining movie, a political statement, and a presentation of the horrors of a civil war I knew little of. Scenes of young boys driving into a peaceful village and just wildly shooting everyone in sight were shockingly powerful. The acting by all three leads is absolutely first-rate, although I found Jennifer Connelly somehow just too movie-star gorgeous for her role. Recommended. ****

Posted by aarondf at 04:14 PM | Movies | Comments (0)

Lloyd Alexander 1924-2007

Lloyd Alexander, author of the wonderful Prydain Chronicles, sadly died last week. Probably my third favorite fantasy series along with Lord of the Rings and Earthsea, growing up, and also along with them one of very few series I have reread several times as wonderful comfort reading. His characters were all wonderfully and uniquely realized and such an imaginative world he built, based on Welsh mythology I have sadly not read. I particularly liked the bard Fflewddur Fflam (and his cat Llyan) and Doli and his people.

Posted by aarondf at 03:29 PM | Books | Comments (0)

May 18, 2007

Another Schneier essay

Another excellent Bruce Schneier essay, well worth reading.

Posted by aarondf at 03:10 PM | Links | Comments (1)

May 16, 2007

Republican Debate - Ron Paul

Very sorry to see Giuliani apparently making points out of his comment in reaction to Ron Paul's (past Libertarian candidate) remarks which should have really been listened to and it is great at least one person is saying it, not that he has a chance in the modern Republican party which has strongly moved away from its Libertarian wing.

Btw, what I agree with completely are Mr. Paul's comments on our interventionist policy and the problems resulting from it. On the current war, I am actually not so clearly in favor of withdrawing. We absolutely 100% should never have gone in in the first place. However, having done so I think we have a moral obligation to do all we can to not leave the country in a worse situation than it was in before we went. If this is either impossible (the current issue possibly) or successful or we are just making it worse, yes we should leave but it is no longer nearly as simple an issue as it was before we crazily went there.

"MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, who would bring the troops home as quickly as -- almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy -- no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.

Just think of the tremendous improvement -- relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and invest in Vietnam. So there's a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution.

And my argument is that we shouldn't go to war so carelessly. (Bell rings.) When we do, the wars don't end.

MR. GOLER: Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?

REP. PAUL: What changed?

MR. GOLER: The non-interventionist policies.

REP. PAUL: No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.

We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?

REP. PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- (bell rings) -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.

MR. GIULIANI: Wendell, may I comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. (Applause, cheers.)

And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that. (Applause.)

MR. GOLER: Congressman?

REP. PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?"

Posted by aarondf at 04:55 PM | Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

May 02, 2007

Movies: The Queen and Control Room

Saw two very good movies recently, one just out on DVD and the other from a few years ago. The Queen tells the story of the British royal family dealing with the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana and features an amazing and Oscar winning performance by Helen Mirren in the title role. Blair and Prince Charles I didn't find as effective, mostly I am sure because of having more exposure to the real people. Michael Sheen just doesn't have the same charisma level or speaking talent as Mr. Blair and Alex Jennings portrayal of Charles tries to model his odd awkwardness but it just seems a different one than the real Charles has. Still, an excellent movie that I really enjoyed. ****

Control Room, about the start of the Iraq war and the Al Jazeera Arab satellite channel, I should have watched long ago. It was so interesting the differences between the absolutely useless official military statements to the press and the much more real and realistic talks with Lt. Rushing, Hassan Ibrahim, and some others with Al Jazeera. Listening to those official statements, it just seems no surprise the mess we are in now if our leaders had attitudes anything like that. ****

Posted by aarondf at 10:39 AM | Movies | Comments (0)