Friday, January 03, 2003

Sid Gillman. I just heard that Sid Gillman died -- can't confirm it, but wouldn't surprise me. He must be in his late 80s. People talk about geniuses in sports all the time, but Sid Gillman really was.

Update. Sigh, it's true. More more and still more.

Still More: Joe Gibbs said the same thing: "I’m always hesitant to say there are geniuses, but I’d say that Sid Gillman was an offensive genius and his bloodline through coaching reached so many guys. " The comments of others here.
Entwives Several bloggers mentioned the Entwives who were missing from the Two Towers movie -- of course, this is somewhat appropriate, given they were missing in the book. Peter Sean Bradley commented on it in comments to my post and then mentioned it here in an amusing aside "[Who knew that Ents had wives? Not me. And I'm happier for it. In fact, I think I am now disturbed that Tolkien could conceive of the possibility of heterosexual activities among walking trees.]"

Since it's Friday, here is the passage from the second LOTR book discussing the Entwives:
"It is rather a strange and sad story," [Treebeard] went on after a pause. "When the world was young, and the woods were wide and wild, the Ents and the Entwives - and there were Entmaidens then: ah! the loveliness of Fimbrethil, of Wandlimb the lightfooted, in the days of our youth! - they walked together and they housed together. But our hearts did not go on growing in the same way: the Ents gave their love to things that they met in the world, and the Entwives gave their thought to other things, for the Ents loved the great trees, and the wild woods, and the slopes of the high hills; and they drank of the mountain-streams, and ate only such fruit as the trees let fall in their path: and they learned of the Elves and spoke with the Trees. But the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and they saw the sloe in the thicket, and the wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seeding grasses in the autumn fields. They did not desire to speak with these things; but they wished them to hear and obey what was said to them. The Entwives ordered them to grow according to their wishes, and bear leaf and fruit to their liking; for the Entwives desired order, and plenty, and peace (by which they meant that things should remain where they had set them). So the Entwives made gardens to live in. But we Ents went on wandering, and we only came to the gardens now and again. Then when the Darkness came in the North, the Entwives crossed the Great River, and made new gardens, and tilled new fields, and we saw them more seldom. After the Darkness was overthrown the land of the Entwives blossomed richly, and their fields were full of corn. Many men learned the crafts of the Entwives and honoured them greatly; but we were only a legend to them, a secret in the heart of the forest. Yet here we still are, while all the gardens of the Entwives are wasted: Men call them the Brown Lands now.

"I remember it was long ago - in the time of the war between Sauron and the Men of the Sea - desire came over me to see Fimbrethil again. Very fair she was still in my eyes, when I had last seen her, though little like the Entmaiden of old. For the Entwives were bent and browned by their labour; their hair parched by the sun to the hue of ripe corn and their cheeks like red apples. Yet their eyes were still the eyes of our own people. We crossed over Anduin and came to their land: but we found it a desert: it was all burned and uprooted, for war had passed over it. But the Entwives were not there. Long we called, and long we searched; and we asked all folk that we met which way the Entwives had gone. Some said that they had never seen them; and some said that they had seen them walking away west, and some said east, and others south. But nowhere that we went could we find them. Our sorrow was very great. Yet the wild wood called, and we returned to it. For many years we used to go out every now and again and look for the Entwives, walking far and wide and calling them by their beautiful names. But as time passed we went more seldom and wandered less far. And now the Entwives are only a memory for us, and our beards are long and grey. The Elves made many songs concerning the Search of the Ents, and some of the songs passed into the tongues of Men. But we made no songs about it, being content to chant their beautiful names when we thought of the Entwives. We believe that we may meet again in a time to come, and perhaps we shall find somewhere a land where we can live together and be content. But it is foreboded that that will only be when we have both lost all that we now have. And it may well be that that time is drawing near at last. For if Sauron of old destroyed the gardens, the Enemy today seems likely to wither all the woods.

"There was an Elvish song that spoke of this, or at least so I understand it. It used to be sung up and down the Great River. It was never an Entish song, mark you: it would have been a very long song in Entish! But we know it by heart, and hum it now and again. This is how it runs in your tongue:

ENT: When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf, and sap is in the bough;
When light is on the wild-wood stream, and wind is on the brow;
When stride is long, and breath is deep, and keen the mountain-air
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is fair!
ENTWIFE: When Spring is come to garth and field, and corn is in the blade
When blossom like a shining snow is on the orchard laid;
When shower and Sun upon the Earth with fragrance fill the air;
I'll linger here, and will not come, because my land is fair.
ENT: When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is best!
ENTWIFE: When Summer warms the hanging fruit and burns the berry brown;
When straw is gold, and ear is white, and harvest comes to town;
When honey spills, and apple swells, though wind be in the West,
I'll linger here beneath the Sun, because my land is best!
ENT: When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay
When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day;
When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain
I'll look for thee, and call to thee; I'll come to thee again!
ENTWIFE: When Winter comes, and singing ends; when darkness falls at last
When broken is the barren bough, and light and labour past;
I'll look for three, and wait for thee, until we meet again;
Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!
BOTH: Together we will take the road that leads into the West.
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest."
Treebeard ended the song. "That is how it goes," he said. "It is Elvish, of course: it is lighthearted, quickworded, and soon over. I daresay it is fair enough. But the Ents could say more on their side, if they had time!"

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Every Citizen A Wanted Citizen. Personally, I think I agree with the Professor -- what is the fixation the Republican party has on life issues? Planned Parenthood has it right when they say "every child a wanted child." I'm glad to see government officials in Africa extending this reasoning -- every citizen a wanted citizen. Didymus Mutasa is right: "We would be better off with only six million people . . . who support the liberation struggle. . . . We don't want all these extra people."

Click here to see why the Professor's is a dinosaur -- informed consent terminates abortion.
New Blog. Check out this new weblog -- it looks like a Canadian / Anglican version of Relapsed Catholic.
"Abortion" cases. Two recent cases dealing with abortion, sort of. In the first, the Texas Supreme Court upheld restrictions on funding abortions for the indigent. Opinion here. As I see it, the import of this decision is that the Texas Constitution's Equal Rights Amendment is, in my opinion, properly not required to compel taxpayers to fund abortions. Note that although the plaintiff's called themselves "Low Income Women of Texas" they were all doctors and operators of abortion facilities in Austin. I expect Stuart Buck, Texas attorney, to weigh in with his thought on this in the near future.

The other case is only tangentially related to abortion -- a semi-retired Federal District Court Judge declared the South Carolina license plates, which include the slogan "Choose Life," are unconstitutional. Carter appointee William 0. Bertelsman held that the specialty plates violate the First Amendment because they provide a forum for abortion foes that abortion rights supporters do not have. Planned Parenthood attorney Peter Murphy was quoted as saying "The only way to address this may be to eliminate the forum." In other words, abort the forum -- these folks really do have a pretty one track mind, don't they? As I've indicated before, there is an obvious solution: the "choose death" license plate.
Double Standard for Whistle Blowers. The Washington Times picks up the double standard employed by Time Magazine in its designation of three select whistle blowers as "persons of the year." Specifically, it quotes former Clinton-campaign staffer turned whistle-blower Kathleen E. Willey as saying "I guess that if you blow the whistle against somebody that Time magazine doesn't like, it's OK to be a whistleblower," she said. "[Time magazine] really, really trashed me. Their writers were just brutal to me and about me."
Two Towers panned by academics, according to this article by Julia Duin. One critic had this to say, [I am reinserting a word I believe was mis-edited out, otherwise this sentence makes no sense -- or am I wrong?]
The second film in particular is too long and misfocused. [Director Peter] Jackson has made it into an epic about martial valor and resistance, whereas the novels are [not] about war. The focus is on the relationships among the various characters: hobbits, elves, dwarves and man and how a perfectly ordinary being develops the capability for heroic action.
Football. Congratulations to Ben "the Dominator" Domenech and his San Juan Pirates for his victory in Blogger Bowl 2K3. He had some nice things to say about my guys and I'll return the favor -- not with a blog-rolling compliment, but a true observation. To a certain extent, I observe, luck is a factor in these things -- I seem to recall the Kansas St. Blawgcats, for example, having an awesome week, only to face someone with a slightly better week. What Ben managed to do in the playoffs was to field the highest scoring team he possibly could, and that, quite simply, was why he won.

For example, in the championship game his guys pulled through for 57 points, enough to beat the runner-up Blogistas by 15. If you look at Ben's bench, you'll see that he barely left (Tiki instead of Corey was the only mistake) any points there -- whereas, the Blogistas left 17 in just the quarterback alone (Drew Brees). [Another 11 if you give Crebet the damn ball.] Nothing in this should be construed to knock Mark -- heaven knows he blew me away.

All-in-all, I had a great time playing -- it held my interest in the rest of the league, without being time-consuming, which was my main concern.
Testing 1, 2, 3. By weird coincidence, I got out of bed this morning at 4:56. Yes, 01/02/03 04:56. Thankfully, I'm not 78 (and 9 months, 0 days) old.

More from the Boston Globe.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Currently Reading Just one on the list now: Jeffrey Deaver's The Blue Nowhere, a book about a cyber serial killer, it's one part William Gibson, two parts Thomas Harris, one part Michael Crichton. I'm about a fourth of the way through it and have decided that Deaver is having some fun with the subject material and is being self-consciously playful -- winking at his reader and inviting them to have some fun with him. For example, as homage to the Neuromancer author, the first victim is named Laura Gibson.

I'm "reading" this as an audiobook -- real reading is catching up on a number of articles and news stories.
My Favorite Movies, 2002 edition. Although there were no movies released in the past year to earn a place on my all-time top ten, there were a few that I might consider adding to my all-time honorable mention list. These five:

Minority Report
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Rookie
We Were Soldiers

Other movies I enjoyed in 2002: LOTR:TT, Harry Potter and the Toilet of Doom (I don't remember the title), Spiderman, and Jonah.

Actually, Minority Report might not make my all-time honorable mention list -- I'm still debating it. LOTR: Two Towers will probably take its place -- I'll have to see that one a second time before I decide.
New Year's Day Address, 1990 This is the opening from one of my favorite political speeches, given by Václav Havel, the New Year's Day Address, 1990.

First, let me set the stage. Czechoslovakia had just undergone the "Velvet Revolution" in the months before. As Havel later explained, in a speech to the United States Congress,
The last time they arrested me, on October 27 of last year [1989], I didn't know whether it was for two days or two years. Exactly one month later, when rock musician Michael Kocab told me that I would probably be proposed as a presidential candidate, I thought it was one of his usual jokes.
"On the 10th of December 1989, when my actor friend Jiri Bartoska, in the name of the Civic Forum, nominated me as a candidate for the office of the president of the republic, I thought it was out of the question that the Parliament we had inherited from the previous regime would elect me.
Twelve days later, he was unanimously elected president of Czechoslovakia. Just over a week later, he continued the tradition of addressing the country on New Year's day. The following is the opening of his address:
My dear fellow citizens,

For forty years you heard from my predecessors on this day different variations on the same theme: how our country was flourishing, how many million tons of steel we produced, how happy we all were, how we trusted our government, and what bright perspectives were unfolding in front of us.

I assume you did not propose me for this office so that I, too, would lie to you.

The remainder of this speech can be found at

And since I'm riffing on Havel, the following is another long excerpt from a speech in Salzburg in 1990.
For us, fear of history is not just fear of the future but also fear of the past. I would even say that these two fears are conditional, one on the other: A person who is afraid of what is yet to come is generally also reluctant to look in the face of what has been. And a person afraid
to look at his own past must fear what is to come.

All too often in this part of the world, fear of one lie gives birth to another lie, in the foolish hope that by protecting ourselves from the
first lie we will be protected from lies in general. But a lie can never protect us from a lie. Just as in Czechoslovakia, nothing protected us from the Stalinist lie about the socialist paradise on earth, we will not be protected by the lie about Hitler's racist allies as alleged inheritors of an ancient princely throne. Those who falsify history do not protect the freedom of a nation but rather constitute a threat to it.

The idea that a person can rewrite his autobiography is one of the traditional self-deceptions of Central Europe. Trying to do that means hurting oneself and one's fellow countrymen. When a truth is not given complete freedom, freedom is not complete.

One way or another, many of us are guilty. But we cannot be forgiven, nor can there be peace in our souls, until we at least confess our guilt.

Confession is liberating. I know how it once liberated me when I found the strength to admit my own mistake. I have many reasons for believing that truth purges one from fear. Many of us who, in recent years, strove to speak the truth in spite of everything were able to maintain an inner perspective, a willingness to endure, a sense of proportion, an ability to understand and forgive others, and a light heart only because we were speaking the truth. Otherwise, we might have perished from despair.

Our specific Central European fear has led to many a misfortune. It could be shown that in it lies the primal origin of not only countless local conflicts but also some global ones. Here, the fear that possesses petty souls has often led to violence, brutality, and fanatical hatred.

But fear is not only a destructive condition. Fear of our own incompetence can evoke new competency; fear of God or of our own
conscience can evoke courage; fear of defeat can make us prevail. Fear of freedom can be the very thing that will ultimately teach us to create a freedom of real value. And fear of the future could be exactly what we need to bring about a better future.

The more sensitive a person is to all the dangers that threaten him, the better able he is to defend against them. For that matter, I have always thought that feeling empty and losing touch with the meaning of life are in essence only a challenge to seek new things to fill one's life, a new meaning for one's existence and one's work. Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourished human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.

In spite of having spoken in such an un-statesmanlike manner about my moments of hopelessness, I will conclude on a constructive note, that is, with an appeal to all of us, Central Europeans. Let us endeavour to confront our traditional fears by systematically eliminating every possible reason we might have for harbouring them. Let us try, quickly and together, to build the kind of system of mutual political, cultural, and economic ties that will gradually, once and for all, eliminate all the potential dangers that lurk in our common future. Only thus will we eliminate the reasons for our potential fears.

Let us finally endeavour, in this sorely tried place, to get rid of not only our fear of lies but also of our fear of truth. Let us finally take
a direct, calm, and unwavering look into our own countenances: our past, our present, and our future. We will only be able to escape their ambiguity when we understand them.

Let us try to delve into the core of our doubts, our fears, and our despair to come up with the seeds of a new European self-confidence the self-confidence of those who are not afraid of looking beyond the horizon of their personal and community interests, beyond the horizon of this moment.