Monthly Archives: July 2012

Plea to JJ Abrams (the naming of ships)

This was originally posted to The Campblog on January 9, 2003, as a plea to Rick Berman.  Time to update!

I’ve noticed that, unlike the United States Navy, the producers of Star Trek have not included Winston S. Churchill among those for whom ships were named. Over the years, out of hundreds of named starships, the shows have had Star Fleet ships named for many important figures in recent human history, i.e. U.S.S.: Armstrong; Biko; Bradley; Bradbury; Cortez; Crazy Horse; Curry; Drake; Farragut; Fleming; Gandhi; Grissom; LaFayette; LaSalle; Livingston; Magellan; Nimitz; Pasteur; Rabin; Revere; Roosevelt; Shepard; Sherman; Thomas Paine; Tolstoy; Truman; Wellington; Yeager; and, Zhukov – to name a few.

Many worthy names, but one is definitely missing. Who did more to secure the ‘broad, sunlit uplands’ of humanity’s Star Trekian future than Winston S. Churchill??

… Rebooted or not.

The time is now, Mr. Abrams.  The time is now.

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Filed under Churchill, Film, Sci-Fi Web-Cred

Fort Apache

I remember listening to Phil Ochs, 60s protest singer, talk about the John Ford/John Wayne films.  Although he saw them as reactionary, etc., he still recognized that there was beauty and poetry in them.  Ochs’ song “Pleasures of the Harbour” may be subtitled “My life as John Wayne” and was inspired by “The Long Voyage Home”.

Well, the 1948 film “Fort Apache” certainly stands as one of the greats of the Ford/Wayne productions.  The first of the “cavalry trilogy”, this one was loosely based on the Custer battle.

As this blog notes, this is a morally complex film and ahead of its time in terms of racial politics and a realistic telling of the history of the American southwest.  The Apache are played by Native American actors.  There’s jingoism to be found, but not after the US Army gets its butt kicked, and the cavalry commander (Henry Fonda) leads his troopers to their doom.  It’s pretty clear that he never learns that he should have paid more attention to the veterans under his command (particularly Wayne) who were pursuing a path of peace with the Apache.  No ‘cavalry coming over the hill’ ending here, but the film does end with Wayne leading the renewed cavalry and upholding the army tradition.

Glad I watched this one.  The scenery is stunning, of course.

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Filed under Film, History

Kinda Harsh


This is kinda harsh, and a bit absurd.

Rangers FC have folded due to debt problems.  The club has been taken over, but are now considered a new club.  Rather than start next season in the 2nd tier of Scottish football, they are now starting over in the 4th tier!  The Old Firm is broken.  Either Rangers or Celtic have won the SPL since 1985; I suppose Celtic could win it for the next three seasons or so; even if Rangers get promoted each year, the earliest they can return to Premier League play would be 2015/16.

Average attendance in the Scottish 4th tier (3rd Division) last year was 475 (four-hundred seventy-five) while the attendance at Glasgow’s Ibrox was over 45,000.  Fun.  😎

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July 27, 2012 · 10:36 am

Churchill’s “Infallibility”

Richard Langworth responds to a recent post by Daniel Knowles in The Telegraph regarding Winston Churchill’s “infallibility”.  As usual, Richard leaves no stone unturned and presents the facts.

Well done, Richard.

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Filed under Churchill

Why We Get Fat

Have recently finished reading Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat”, as per a recommendation from Glenn Reynolds.  Pretty illuminating book, to me as an absolute non-expert on nutrition and biochemistry.

Basically, carbs are what make us fat, particularly processed/refined carbs, and especially things like fructose and refined flour.  When we eat these (and other carbs), the body’s reaction to the blood sugar is to secrete insulin which activates lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme which stores fat in the cells.  There is also the issue of insulin sensitivity over time caused by consuming too many carbs.  So, of the energy you’ve consumed, too much gets stored away as fat and is, therefore, not burned as fuel; as a result, you are more hungry and eat more (requiring increasingly more energy, as you are now a fatter/larger animal and have more energy requirements).  You end up either being more hungry, or more sedentary.  And not particularly happy about it.

Some good reviews at the first (Amazon) link above.  This guy is on side, while others are not.  I’m not sure some of the arguments in the anti-Taubes camp really have to do with the salient points, however.  Here’s a review at Skeptic.  The reason Taubes would say that ‘calories in/calories out’ doesn’t quite apply is that with too many carbs we are storing too much away as fat, making it less available as fuel.

I’m rolling along and dropping weight.  I’ve been ~220 for a long time (6′, 47 year old).  I was 220 at the beginning of June, and was 210 on the nose this morning.  This isn’t due to exercise*, simply diet.  And, yes, I realize that I am probably eating fewer calories during this reduced-carb period.  A work in progress, obviously; the main issue will be the longer term results – losing when you are trying to lose is one thing, keeping it off is the main thing.  I’ve been up and down quite a bit over the last 15 years or so, and hope to settle things toward the lower end of that range.  So, an ongoing manageable diet where I am not hungry and therefore reversing things will be important.  Will keep this going and see what’s what.

I’m not someone who can be provided a certain diet regime and follow it, I need to have an understanding of what is happening, and now I feel like I have that.  I’m not giving up carbs, and don’t care about Atkins or any other diet; I am just going to manage them better going forward.

*I’ve always had trouble getting active to lose weight (energy issue?); hope to get better in near future.

Update (Aug25’12): 200 lbs baby!


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Filed under Books, Life


“Dreamsnake” by Vonda N. McIntyre

Finished “Dreamsnake” by Vonda N. McIntyre, the 1979 Hugo best sci-fi novel winner (also won the Nebula in 1978).

It’s a post-nuke-apocalypse story.  While there are still pockets of radiation, the world has pretty much settled down to its de-populated, rather simple life.  Some science has been maintained, particularly relating to genetics and biology (medicine).  The story revolves around a woman named Snake who is a healer.  While she is trained in and has knowledge of the above, she uses venomous snakes in her work, to help isolate antidotes/medicines and, in the case of the rare dreamsnake, to assist dying patients.  It’s very important for a healer to be in possession of a dreamsnake, but hers gets destroyed (she blames herself, worried about what her healing order will do/say/think, but it was really the act of another that caused the snake’s destruction).  So, she’s off on a quest to find dreamsnakes.  Along the way, she meets a few dudes, rescues/adopts a daughter, and so on and so forth.

I guess I recommend it, the story was pretty good, but it seemed kinda light somehow.  It is a short novel.  The story revolves around the quest and the relationships; the science is background and, in a way, the MacGuffin (perhaps the case in all too many sci-fi novels). A strong female protagonist (still new at the time), and discussions of gender/relationships, and child abuse. Hard to get into a sci-fi story with characters named Melissa, Gabriel and Brian.  But that’s just me.

As this reviewer notes, 1979 was not a strong year at the Hugos, with none of the other nominees still in print, save one of the Pern novels.

Russ Allbery gives it a 7 out of 10 (I suppose that’s around where I’m at):

Post-apocalyptic stories are far from my favorite sub-genre, but I ended up liking one more than I expected. Recommended for some strong female characters and a nice sense of atmosphere, although don’t expect too much of it.

This review at IO9 benefits from the writer’s conversation with the author herself.

This is book number 49 on my way to reading all the Hugo best sci-fi novel winners by the time I’m 50 (3 years remaining), and, thus finally gaining some Sci-Fi Web-Cred.  That’s 49 out of 63 (14 remaining, all but one are in my possession) but there will be at least 3 more winners (possible ties) by the time I’m 50, so about 17 remaining.


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Filed under Books, Sci-Fi Web-Cred

Happy Canada Day!

Our anthem works with the tune of O Christmas Tree!



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Filed under Canada, Humour