Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Still Reading

The books of 2015...

Been busy.  The house.  Work.  Netflix.  Might not finish them all before my time is up.  Press on, press on.

The Disappearance, Philipe Wylie

God in the Age of Science, A Critique of Religious Reason, Herman Philipse

Doubt, A History, Jennifer Michael Hecht

The Martian, Andy Weir

Ethics Without God, Kai Neilsen

The Human Division, John Scalzi

Morality Without God, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Zoe's Tale, John Scalzi

Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson

Brown On Resolution, C. S. Forester

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

The Last Colony, John Scalzi

Magnesium Overcast: The Story of the Convair B-36, Dennis R. Jenkins

The Demon in the Freezer, Richard Preston

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Signal

An earnest effort...

A challenging and frustrating film, I offer "The Signal" five stars for effort, but three stars for execution.  At its best it evokes the brothers Strugatsky "Roadside Picnic" and Andrei Tarkovsky’s "Stalker," the film based upon it.  Much of the rest of the time this 2014 film, directed and co-written by William Eubank, is a hodgepodge of well-known tropes and discordant homages to less impressive material.

Worth the time of a serious science fiction film buff, if only for a look at the good bits.

PS That reminded to buy a copy of the latest, post-Soviet, translation of the novel, and put the Tarkovsky film back in my Netflix DVD queue.

Update: So the movie, Stalker, was not as good as I remembered.  The uncensored novel, on the other  hand, was better.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Jean Vanier is this nontheist's sort of Christian...

For 50 years Jean Vanier has created small communities where developmentally disabled adults live in fellowship with the able bodied. This year he was awarded the Templeton Prize with which to further his work. What a wonderful, humble, compassionate, and sublimely centered person who lives his Christianity rather than preaching about it.

Not surprisingly three of my favorite podcasts have offered stories about L'Arche and its founder.  You can listen to the programs about Jean Vanier and his life's work here:

The Wisdom of Tenderness
On Being, with Krista Tippett

How To Do Ordinary Things, Parts 1 and 2
Ideas, with Paul Kennedy 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Aren't We All?

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World...

Is funny, kind, gentle, and sad.  

Of course I'm going to love most any movie staring Keira Knightly (I may be middle-aged, but I'm not dead!) but this neat little love story sneaks up on you.  It starts as a vaguely surreal and crude comedy, makes a few quasi-predictable twists and turns, throws in a surprise or two, then it ends like we only dare dream it might end.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Five Miles In, 3000 Feet Down

A walk to Indian Garden in the Grand Canyon...

Cassie and Erik plan to visit this summer and want to backpack into the Grand Canyon for a three or four days. Thought I'd better get some first hand experience. My friend Pati (who has been hiking the canyon for 20 years) and I took a hike on Bright Angel Trail down into the canyon today as far as Indian Garden and back, a ten mile round trip and a 3060 foot descent from the rim. We started about 10:00 am and got back to the trailhead about 6:00 pm. There was plenty of water and electrolytes but I should have carbo loaded more carefully. Bright Angel is one of two ways to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. The Kaibab Trail is shorter and steeper but offers no shade or water. Some folks prefer it for the descent. Bright Angel has shade and water and is recommended for the ascent, especially in the afternoon.

PS, the fudge brownie sundae at the Bright Angel Lodge Restaurant is a perfect reward for a day well spent.