Why We Fight

Watched the 2005 documentary movie, ‘Why We Fight’ the other day. Below is link to the home page which has a video playing of Eisenhower’s farewell speech, which I find fascinating. The speech really takes you back to what seems like ancient times, though it was less than 50 years ago. The weird thing is how relevant it is today. The movie is worth watching to get a view into how our Defense Department actually works.

Why We Fight 

The wikipedia ‘review’ here…the title comes from a series of propaganda films that Frank Capra did for the US government during WW II to tell American Soldiers the ‘reasons’ for them being in the war. All very interesting stuff…

Grails

Having played around with Grails, I think it is a suitable development and deployment technology choice, especially for java shops. It seems to be gaining traction and with the endorsement of Rob Johnson framed in the context of his companies acquisition of G2One. His explanation of why it makes sense is here and is very succinct and articulate. It seems like there will be lots of growth. All the goodness of RoR with extra power and leverage when you need it. Having gone through working with Hibernate around the transition from Hibernate 1 to Hibernate 2 and sticking with it (the current is V3.4) I really like how Grails lets you just not worry about it…of course, like anything good technically, you can get down into it easily if you want to. They just make it easy to avoid the temptation. I am working on a web app that will use Grails and also expose services accessible for the iPhone. I’ll post more on that later…

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Ok, this has to be one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. Only for people who are seriously interested in understanding pop culture and derangement and mental illness at the same time. It is very hard to watch, yet compels you until the end. Watch it if you really like off-kilter movies and documentaries. If you get far enough to see it, I highly suggest the viewing the extras for more context. Much better and more moving and educational than any of those intelligence erasing reality shows that everyone seems to smoke like crack. Here is an excerpt from the official site:

“As an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, Daniel Johnston’s wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites are exposed in this deeply moving documentary.

As a reclusive teenager growing up in New Cumberland, VA, Johnston began showing signs of unusual artistic ability at an early age. He religiously recorded his thoughts and stories onto cassette tapes, directed intuitive Super- 8 films starring himself in multiple roles ala Peter Sellers, and created expressive comic book-style drawings and animation in the basement of his family’s home. However, in the eyes of his fundamentalist Christian family, Daniel simply wasn’t contributing to society in a useful or productive way. After running off on a moped and joining a carnival, he landed in Austin, Texas, broke and alone. It was there he began to hone his musical career, recording folk songs on a series of homemade, lo-fi cassettes, which Daniel handed out free to fans, friends and journalists in the early 80s. With the help of a timely break and the thriving Austin music scene, Daniel managed to secure a brief spotlight on MTV making him a minor celebrity. But just as he was beginning to make a name for himself, his inner demons began to surface and Daniel’s ongoing struggle with manic depression became more and more evident in his songs and drawings.”

Moby Dick and Save the Whales!

Having been a long time fan of Melville via the novellas Bartleby the Scrivener (online here) and Billy Budd (online here), I finally read Moby Dick and now I know why the book is so famous. I am not even going to try and write a review, there are many on the web, but it deservedly fits in the pantheon of great books. Aside from the character development, plot, blending of humor and seriousness, mastery of the use of language, and so forth(!), a side effect of reading the book is an understanding of the whaling industry in America in the late 1800’s from the viewpoint of a sailor.Which brings me to my next point…

There used to be a way of deriding a certain sensibility using the phrase “Save the Whales” to get everyone to laugh at the perceived quixotic nature of the pursuit. (The topic of soundbite derision will have to be another post, one my major peeves) But I came across an article in the New York Times about the current plight of the right whale off the coast of the southern US as it relates to shipping in the area. A sample from the article:

Ships are one of the two leading causes of unnatural death among right whales, and scientists have warned that the unnatural death of even one breeding female has the potential to tip the species toward extinction. From 2002 to 2006, there were 17 confirmed deaths by ship strike, at least six involving adult females.In an effort to stop the fatalities, the National Marine Fisheries Service has tried to impose speed limits on ships within 30 miles of port. But the White House has delayed approval of the rule, which is opposed by some shipping companies. The White House Office of Management and Budget is supposed to review federal agencies’ rule proposals within 90 days, with an optional 30-day extension. In the case of the right whale ship strike rule, it has been more than a year.

Click here to read the full article. The Save the Whales Again! site also has some things that are worth reading should you decide to be informed. Whale hunters are behaving in a truly inhuman and inhumane way towards these incredible creatures. And only for greed…