Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ranking the 007 canon

I am often asked (believe it or not) how I rank the 007 movies. This is subject to change, but as of now here's how I rank the Bond movies...

The classics
1.) Goldfinger
2.) From Russia With Love
3.) Thunderball

The near classics
4.) On Her Majesty's Secret Service
5.) Tomorrow Never Dies
6.) Casino Royale
7.) Dr. No

The pretty good
8.) For Your Eyes Only
9.) The Living Daylights
10.) The World is Not Enough

The goofy yet entertaining
11.) The Spy Who Loved Me
12.) You Only Live Twice
13.) Octopussy
14.) The Man with the Golden Gun
15.) Moonraker
16.) Die Another Day

Okay...if there's nothing better on
17.) View to a Kill
18.) License to Kill
19.) Live and Let Die

Downright lousy and stupid
20.) Diamonds are Forever
21.) Goldeneye

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Change is Necessary

An excerpt from the 1978 essay How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later by Philip K. Dick:

Do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly.

What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new…The authentic human being is one of us who instinctively knows what he should not do, and, in addition, he will balk at doing it. He will refuse to do it, even if this brings down dread consequences to him and to those whom he loves.

This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I see their authenticity in an odd way: not in their willingness to perform great heroic deeds but in their quiet refusals. In essence, they cannot be compelled to be what they are not.

The entire essay can be found here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Here's a little poem I wrote while stuck in traffic...and no it doesn't rhyme...and remember I was stuck in traffic and I really am a happy person and I really do like America.

11-15-06 - Dallas, Texas

Crash! BAng!
We're a nation of Idiots!
No one can drive.
Turn off you PHONE!
Use your turn signal!

Let's go to war and kill us some Muslims the redneck says.
Let's go to our trailers and do us some Meth.
Let's go to our schools and spend all our taxes on sports.


My calculator broke I can't do any math.
Essays? Why not text message?
College? No, let's get knocked up instead.

Let's go to church so we can judge our NEIGHBORS.
Let's have a theocracy
so Dobson and Hagee can rule
and save Israel.

Who needs Earth when Mars is so close?

Speak English or Die and
don't call me a bigot just because I don't like Mexicans.

We're a nation of Idiots!

Let's re-elect based on the commercials.
Going to church makes you a Christian.
Everyone outside the states is to be suspected of

Don't AGREE?
You HATE America!

GUN SHOW HERE - Defend yourself and your family.

We are a nation of IDIOTS!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Ubermensch

So we were watching this video over Christopher Columbus in my World History classes the other day. And regarding his atrocious treatment of the Native Americans the "experts" threw out the same old tired line that he was simply "a man of his times." This line seems to be the favored line to gloss over the more despicable behavior of our historical heroes.

Well, I think that line of thinking is rubbish. I realize I have the benefit of hindsight and centuries of knowledge before me. I know it's ridiculously easy to hold the past in harsh judgment. But I also realize I too will be judged by future generations.

Great men should strive to be ahead of their times. I'm not referring to subtle distinctions of social mores of certain time periods. I'm referring to man's treatment of other men. We cannot excuse the injustices we commit in the present by later using the excuse we were playing by the social conventions of the day.

God gave us brains. He gave us the ability to think critically. We must shatter the archaic conventions of our day if they perpetuate injustice, prejudice, and violence.

Easier said then done. Difficult at best. But dogma is the enemy of progress. All things must be carefully weighed and considered...all things. Toddlers are asking the right question when they ask 'why' a hundred times a day. Why do we stop asking 'why' once we reach adulthood? Because tired, overworked, exasperated parents beg their inquistive child to just go along so they can have some rest.

One of our great goals should be that if we are to be remembered after we pass on those who follow might say of us "they were not of their times, they were ahead of their time."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Casino Royale

So I saw the latest installment of the James Bond series last night, Casino Royale. Casino Royale reboots the series back to the beginning to see how Bond became 007. I've read all of Ian Fleming's novels and Casino Royale at least twice. The movie was actually fairly faithful to the book. Daniel Craig is exactly how the book envisions James Bond. This is a different type of James Bond than you might be used to...grittier, more realistic, and more human. The comedy is much darker and sarcastic. The action is more visceral and real. The theme song was only average. I liked the movie and liked Craig as 007. I'm not quite sure where it fits in the pantheon of great Bond flicks yet. But it is definately a good one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lincolns and Cadillacs

You would think that after their scathing defeat at the hands of the electorate that the Republican Party would have gained a sense of humility. It seems, however, that the G.O.P. is as out of touch as usual. The party of Lincoln has truly become the party of Lincoln and Cadillacs...isolated and out of touch with reality. Why else would they elect Trent Lott as their senate leader? Have the Republicans not learned a thing? They are either stupid or arrogant or more likely both.

The Republican party assumes that the American people will have forgotten or forgiven Lott for his racist remarks two years ago. The Republican party is making a serious mistake shooting themselves in the foot this way. The GOP will not win the hearts and minds of the people by following right wing racists like Trent Lott. They must follow a middle course or they will truly become a party of extremists and whackos out of touch with the mainstream. They will be the mirror image of the Democratic party of the 1980's.

With defeated elephants littering the political landscape after last week's massive defeat, which the President described as a "thumping", the Republicans would have done well to show contrition for theie policy failures. Even their staunch allies like James Dobson are accusing them of selling out their base. To rebound the G.O.P. should have eaten their crow, re-evaluated their position and plotted a new course to win back the hearts and minds of America. By bringing back Lott they are exhibiting extreme arrogance and unwillingness to moderate the more extreme members of their party. The Democrats must be secretly rejoicing as the elephant continues to stick it's head in the sand.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Save Ferris!

One of my favorite 80's movies, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, was on television this past week. I have seen it numerous times...but I had a startling revelation as I watched it again for the umpteenth time. I realized that I have switched sides. I am no longer a Ferris. I am now the boring teacher. I am now the enemy.

Instead of fighting the man I have become the man. I am not raging against the machine. I am the machine. This revelation was shocking and a bit depressing. I must fight to retain my subversiveness. I must struggle to enlighten and not brainwash. I must be a Jedi Master and not a Fascist pig. I must be the student's advocate and not their enemy. I must guide but not bully.

I think I do an okay job in all those areas. But sometimes I wish I could go back and be Ferris again.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Iceberg Radio

At work I listen to internet radio when class isn't in session. There are many sites that provide a wide variety of music. But my favorite is iceberg radio from Canada. They have every category of music imaginable. Take for instance one type of music, alternative. They have eight or nine different stations of different types of alternative music. I'm a radio humanist. I can't listen to the same style of music every day. That's like eating the same cereal every day. One day I'm listening to jazz. The next day, classical or world music. Iceberg has it all.

It's based in Canada so when you perform your one time free registration you must enter a Canadian zipcode. Don't worry...that's all legal. And you get great music to listen to while you are at work or at home. And it's all free.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Earth at Night

I always show this picture of Earth to my students at the beginning of the year. Modernity requires electricity. Electricity requires power. Unbelievable how unequal the distribution of power is on this globe. I guess we know the reason we can't see the stars at night. Too much light pollution. Do the world a favor every once in awhile and turn off the light. Click on the picture to get a larger view. This picture really says a thousand words.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Excising Cancer

I've been going to church since I was in the womb. Yesterday I experienced something I had never experienced before in all my years of going to church. I was yelled at in the foyer, in public, by a racist bigot angry at my support for having a Spanish congregation of Nazarenes meet in our sanctuary when not in use by our congregation.

First I was shocked at being yelled at period. Secondly I was amazed that anyone would so publicly expose themselves as racist in such a Mel Gibsonesque fashion. Some of his choicest words as he pointed toward the sanctuary as the Hispanic congregation was worshiping, "Those people didn't build our country, those people didn't make this country great."

Yes, I'm proud of my white forefathers who committed genocide by wiping out millions of Native Americans who had lived on this contintent for thousands of years while never keeping a single treaty they signed with the Indians.

I'm proud of how they built the southern agrarian economy on the backs of African slaves.

I'm proud of how humanely they treated the Chinese laborers who built the trans-contintental railroad.

I'm proud of how they refused to allow women to vote until 1922.

I'm proud of how they rounded up law-abiding Japanese-American citizens (including war-veterans from WWI) in 1942 and forced them to live in horse stalls at internment camps for the duration of World War II despite never being charged with any crime.

There is much to be proud of our nation and our nation's history. But like all races my ancestors have made grievous mistakes. Therefore, how can I judge any race when I remember how Christ died for me despite my sins?

There is no room in God's church for bigots like the one I encountered Sunday. I remember reading some of this guy's ideas in a little book called Mein Kampf in a history class. Mein Kampf...a warped (and poorly written) little book written by Adolf Hitler.

Racism is as much a heresy as the circumcision heresy, Arian Christianity or Gnosticism. I, for one, will shine the light of truth on such individuals so they can scurry like cockroaches for the dark places of this world. I will not allow God's church to become a safe haven for such satanic beliefs just because they can no longer espouse their racism publicly in the secular world.

I will attempt to follow Christ's model of compassion even toward those who disagree with me. But I will never kowtow and be intimidated by the insanity of those who hate God's fellow creations.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Medieval Toothpaste

So here's a joke I came up with the other day, yes...written by yours truly as I was brushing my teeth one morning before AP World History students really enjoyed it.

Q: Why did medieval peasants in Russia use Crest toothpaste?

A: They needed Tartar protection.

If you don't find it funny...look up Tartars on wikipedia and maybe you'll appreciate it more.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Evil of Two Lessers

Now, I'm no fan of John Kerry. He ran a stupid campaign in 2004. A moron could have unseated Bush. But Kerry is a waffling morose fool who somehow got beat by an intransigently ignorant Dubya. However, I am disgusted by the Republican's hammering of Kerry's statements about being stuck in Iraq. Yes, Kerry was an idiot for saying what he did.

However, the GOP is simply trying to divert attention from the issues that matter. They are desperate. They know that the Bush Administration is in trouble. They know they have to divert attention from the record of their corrupt and bloated Republican party. And they know that either most Americans are shallow enough to be distracted by all this Kerry criticism...or they know their easily-riled conservative base is so shallow as to think what Kerry said was actually important. Who really cares what Kerry says!?!

So there's my take...Kerry is a fool and the GOP deceitful. And you know what? Kerry in one sense was right. If Bush and the hawks had paid attention in World History class...they would have known this war in Iraq would be a horrible mistake. But the smell of oil can sure cloud the senses.