Friday, November 30, 2007

65K so far

I’m up to 65K today. Catching up fast after the slow start!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A review of "Protocols of Zion"

I rented The Protocols of Zion because I like a good conspiracy theory, and I wanted to see what this one was about. I thought this would be an interesting exposition and debunking of a conspiracy theory. In that sense, it disappointed.

The movie doesn’t go into the history of the The Protocols, although the DVD extras do fill in the cracks there. This is not a documentary about that text per se; rather, it uses that text as a launching point to study the recent rise in anti-Semitism.

It’s a distressing film, even if you are already aware of the existence of such ignorant and hate-filled people as are interviewed here. Why do some people hold to such confused and unreasoning beliefs? It almost seems like a form of mental illness.

Given that the movie is so emotionally exhausting, is it worth watching? It is educational for anyone who is unaware of what is going on in the world. But if you are aware of these things, it may simply make you feel discouraged, helpless, and hopeless about human nature. In the DVD extras, in a Q&A session with the director, someone suggests that the movie lacks a suggestion about how to deal with these offensive ideologies. The questioner points to organizations like the Anti-Defamation League. Perhaps a better answer is to improve education, in the US and around the world, so that more emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills.

The DVD extras are worth going through. There’s a timeline for the “Protocols” which you can flip through, starting in 1903 and ending in 2005. This gives you some of the facts about the history of that text, which were missing in the documentary itself. There is also a good set of interviews, including one with Will Eisner, whose work I love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tank twenty-eight

Total miles: 11196. Trip miles: 362.9. Gallons: 7.429. Price per gallon: $3.199.

Screen mileage: 50.0 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.8 mpg. The usual pump today. And yes, I really did buy the exact same amount of gas this time as I did last time - 7.429 gallons. Weird, but true!

I tanked up around noon and drove off to Sleeping Giant Park for my hike. When I drove back past the gas station about three hours later, the price per gallon had been raised by six cents, making me feel extra lucky.

Driving music

I've been listening to Chateauvallon in my car. It's good music for long drives, almost entirely instrumental. It's the kind of music that puts you in a pensive mood, almost a dark mood - it's not cheery, high energy stuff. But it certainly doesn't put you to sleep. It's just the kind of thing I want to hear, lately. I'll definitely keep an eye out for more albums by Chevreuil.

Sleeping Giant hike

I hiked from one end of Sleeping Giant to the other and back again, today. I took the yellow trail out, and the violet back, in 2 h 20 min. Total distance: 5.4 mi, for a good pace of 2.3 mph. The yellow and violet trails are not particularly steep, but they can be a little hazardous when they are wet, as they were today. I did slip a few times. It was a very pleasant hike, regardless.

A review of "In the Shadow of Ragged Mountain: Historical Archaeology of Nicholson, Corbin, & Weakley Hollows"

by Audrey J. Horning

In the Shadow of Ragged Mountain is a study of the people who lived in the area now occupied by Shenandoah National Park, during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Apparently, around the time of the Great Depression, the people of this area were publicized by certain parties as being extremely primitive, stuck in a different age. This may have been done to promote certain agendas that were not in the best interests of the residents. One of those agendas was the development of the area as a resort, with the use of eminent domain to remove the land from their owners, for creation of the park.

The book focuses a lot on refuting excessive claims of the primitiveness of the residents. I was unaware of this history and the conflict at the time, so the arguments and counterarguments seem a bit moot. It’s interesting to read about it, though, in the context of current events.

The book would have been a little more lively if actual writings by the residents had been presented. It is not clear if no writings could be found. One might expect that illiteracy was high amongst the residents, but given that at least some of them are reported to have been readers, one might expect to find some old letters about the development of Skyland Resort and the dispossession of the various properties from the point of view of the owners. Instead, we mainly get some “recollections” of the residents, mostly after they had been removed from the area, some of them collected as late as the 1970’s.

The book suffers from being rather academic, and a bit dry. On the plus side, it covers some interesting history and characters, and is filled with illustrative photos.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

View over Myerhuber Pond

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view from the Mattabesett trail. The fall foliage is getting more scarce, lots of russet and gold now.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went back to the Mattabesett trail for another hike today, the same logged section that I hiked a couple of days ago. I took a few more photographs of the areas where the trees have been cut down for documentation. They're even cutting down the blue-blazed trees - very rude!

Instead of turning back at the intersection of the Lone Pine Trail, I went for the same loop that I did a few years ago. This time, I did the loop counter-clockwise. The hike went more quickly: 3 h 5 min now, as opposed to 3 h 45 min back then. I don't know why it was faster this time, but I did kind of keep my head down because there are so many leaves on the ground that the footing is dangerous. This probably kept me going at a speedier pace.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lost eyeglasses?

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I did a little hiking around Sleeping Giant today. Up near Hezekiah's Knob, to the side of the trail, I found a neatly folded pair of eyeglasses. I think they might be a cheap pair of reading glasses since I didn't find a name brand printed on them.

Anyway, I figured they'd quickly get damaged on the trail, so I picked them up and left them at the trailhead on Chestnut Lane, in the map box. I hope the owner will find them there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mattabesett mess

Mattabesett mess
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went hiking on the Mattabesett yesterday, east of Rt 77, in the area known as Broomstick Ledges. There is some logging going on at one section of that trail. There are trees cut down and stacked up everywhere, and a tractor is parked just off the trail too.

I wonder what's going on? I don't see anything listed at the CFPA site.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A review of "The Contract"

by Bruce Beresford

I’m giving The Contract three stars entirely because I enjoy so much watching John Cusack and Morgan Freeman perform.

These two actors are typecast in my head. John Cusack is the hapless sweet romantic guy who wins over the girl. Morgan Freeman is the fatherly godlike figure who guides people to do the right thing. It’s not their fault; I want to see them in these roles because they do it so well.

So it takes a lot of work to shoehorn them out of these stereotypes… not enough work, in this movie. It’s impossible to believe that Cusack can put karate moves on anyone, even when you see it happening. And Freeman is just so nice and avuncular, I found it impossible to believe that he really meant to viciously throw that guy under a car – it was all a terrible misunderstanding.

If you enjoy seeing these two actors, no matter what, then I guess The Contract is worth the time. But this movie does have a lot of problems aside from ill-fitting roles – too many moments when it’s impossible to suspend disbelief. I don’t even consider this a good thriller/action movie. It is just done poorly.

Thornton Gap

Thornton Gap
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view of Thornton Gap from Shenandoah National Park. I'm back from a sweet vacation in the park. I hope to get back there soon. I have not yet had my fill of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

A story about "The Office - Season Three"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tank twenty-seven

Total miles: 10833. Trip miles: 358.1. Gallons: 7.429. Price per gallon: $3.169.

Screen mileage: 53.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.2 mpg. It's getting colder, often in the 40s. I tanked up at a different pump today.