Saturday Morning Open Thread

Alberto Contador held off Andy Schleck in a heartstopping final time trial battle this morning to virtually assure he will win the Tour de France. Incredible Tour this year.

Open Thread.

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    The Night of the Generals (1967) (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 11:13:59 AM EST
    This was a great find on Netflix Instant Watch. It streams (in HD to compatible devices) and has a great story and cast.

    I'm not kidding about the cast: two Blofelds (Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray), Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, and Christopher Plummer in a supporting role.

    And it has a twist that I didn't see coming.

    Thanks - just queued it up (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:39:49 PM EST
    I watched the Swedish film of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' on instant watch last night. I've read all the books and mainly wanted to get the mental image of the Swedish scenery. Those stories are so violent, it was tough to take. I liked the Swedish actors a lot though. Waiting to see what the Hollywood version ends up like.

    Was hoping they had Mad Men available for instant Q. I'd like to start watching it this year but have yet to see an episode. Gotta catch up first. I'll have to get the DVDs.


    Thought I'd seen all the major (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:56:22 PM EST
    WW2 flicks they cranked out in the 60s, but apparently a few escaped me.  

    I did enjoy the recent Night of the Colonels -- aka Valkyrie, and thought Cruise did a creditable job as Col von Stauffenburg.  Of course, that story is hard to resist, so I was already worked up into a lather to want to enjoy it (despite the unfortunate ending).  Pretty good 2-hr doc on cable last year that nicely supplemented the movie's release.


    I need to see both of those (none / 0) (#11)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:22:25 PM EST
    I did my 6th or 7th grade history class term paper on that topic! 10 pages typed double space, footnoted, etc. My first real research paper.

    Sounds like you might have (none / 0) (#15)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:39:08 PM EST
    gone through 6th/7th grades well after I did.  In my schoolin' era (60s/early 70s), at no time did any history class, whether World or US, ever get all the way up to WW2.  

    If memory serves, after nearly 9 solid months of history (heavy on the Colonial period and western expansion, iirc), towards the end the teacher raced to get to WW1 and maybe the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition.  


    This would have been around 1970 (none / 0) (#18)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:50:15 PM EST
    We did not actually get as far as studying WWII - the progression was about like you describe. But the teacher gave us a wide ranging list of topics to choose from for our research paper. I picked 'The Generals' Plot to Kill Hitler'. Who could resist a topic like that?

    My brother and I were recently talking about different perspectives on history. When we were kids in the 60s and 70s, WWII was only 20 or so years past. It would be like us here talking about the Reagan administration. I wonder if that is how WWII seemed to teachers at the time -  more like the recent past than "history".


    You're freedom with (none / 0) (#22)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 03:06:40 PM EST
    that research paper -- nothing I recall at my schools.  Stick to what we'd studied as per the textbook, then research that.

    I think in part what might be at play in public schools and teaching of history is an attitude of avoiding the controversial, and it's probably thought that the more recent in time, the more likely it is to hit upon a sensitive nerve since, at the least, the students' parents would have lived through the more recent, and might have an intrusive word to say to the instructors about how it's being taught.

    And sometimes the teacher, as you suggest, might feel it was so recent in their lifetimes, it really isn't a proper subject for history, or would evoke unpleasant memories.  As I suspect was the case with our middle-aged 5th & 6th grade teacher in the mid-60s who was of German origin.


    ironic - my 7th grade teacher (none / 0) (#27)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:14:05 PM EST
    was of French origin! Math though (and French), not history.

    I was in Catholic school - possibly the curriculum was a little more independent per school than the public schools. I remember a lot of situations where we got to pick from lists of that sort for projects, book reports, etc. My big book report for history was on Antonia Fraser's 'Mary Queen of Scots' - still a favorite. I still have the original tattered paperback I used back then, plus a couple of other editions. I saw a first American edition  in a used bookstore and could not pass it up.

     Of course we did usually have to stick to an assigned subject or book. I must have written a hundred essays on Stephen Crane's short story 'The Blue Hotel' over the years. For some reason every composition and lit teacher I've ever had loved that story. I hate it!  The projects i remember and learned from best were the ones where we did get to follow our own interests, at least a little.


    I read a copy of Bill Shirer's book (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:55:37 PM EST
    when I was around that age.

    SO the subject matter is of course, familiar. The magic of this movie--without giving too much away--is that the July 20th plot is a subplot.


    Yes - I definitely remember that one (none / 0) (#21)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 03:02:56 PM EST
    being on my list, or around the house, and reading at least a part of it. My Dad had lots of books about WWII - the Churchill volumes I remember in particular. I was always interested in it, even though I don't remember studying it in school until senior year in high school.

    Also I don't think I ever studied the Civil War in school at all. Thank god for Ken Burns. And growing up in Illinois where we at least learned something bout Lincoln.


    The Shirer massive tome (none / 0) (#23)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 03:13:17 PM EST
    on the 3d Reich -- recall my father spending weeks plowing through that one in our family living room in the early 60s.  Book o' the Month Club Selection -- like millions of other Americans at that time it was in our home and hard to miss given its size and the large swastika on the cover.

    Didn't read it -- far too big a read for a youngster -- until I was in my 20s.  Then Shirer's very dramatic volume called The Nightmare Years, which I highly recommend.

    Mostly I picked up on WW2 through Saturdays at the cinema -- obviously a simplified and somewhat romanticized version of events, with Sinatra and Wayne as Hollywood WW2 heroes, though the latter never served a day in the military -- which later in college and thereafter I supplemented with serious books plus reading on the Holocaust.


    I've read pretty much everything (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 03:46:17 PM EST
    he wrote on the subject. The Nightmare Years was turned into a decent TV drama with Sam Waterston IIRC.

    Yes, quality (none / 0) (#26)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:08:48 PM EST
    Waterston movie on the teevee, iirc.  But as usual the book was better, the suspense of the increasingly tightened Nazi noose against non-desirables and then foreign correspondents from the west, being built up slowly and carefully, with the very courageous Shirer always seeming to need to finish one-last assignment as the reader just wants to tell him, Get out, now!

    I don't think (none / 0) (#25)
    by NYShooter on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:05:25 PM EST
    There is such a thing as an "Expert" on WW2. It was just too big. The number of plots, not just in Germany, Japan, and America, but Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, North Africa, etc, etc, just too much for one human mind to fully absorb. Oh, did I didn't mention Russia, China, and Asia.?

    Indeed (none / 0) (#28)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:14:46 PM EST
    There's always something new to learn.

    Very few historians (none / 0) (#29)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:16:59 PM EST
    choose to bite off the entirety of the war in both theaters.  Maybe Brit historian Martin Gilbert comes closest with his many volumes about WW2, but I don't recall to what great extent he's written about the Pacific.  Certainly he knows the overall well, and a great deal beyond that re the Euro theater and Churchill's and FDR's roles.  Also he's a well-regarded Holocaust scholar.  Of course, he's been at this for a number of decades.

    As for Russia, you remind me that it's really only been in recent decades that their role in fighting WW2 has been increasingly acknowledged by US historians as a major factor in defeating Hitler. We used to have such a USA-centric view of how the bad guys were overcome.  Probably also with the end of the CW, lots of formerly locked up Soviet archives have become available and a new more accurate picture has emerged.


    Russia (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by NYShooter on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 05:21:12 PM EST
    I was born in Ribushka, a suburb of Stalingrad, in 1945. My father, a Polish citizen, and doctor, anticipated Hitler's assault on Poland, and took off on a journey whose destination was China. (He also correctly predicted that Hitler would attack Russia.) Bartering his services with the Russian Army, he was able to "hitch hike" his way North, usually on their troop trains.

    Of the many stories I was told, the one that stands out was how information travels during War with its total communication blackout. The train would pull into a small village, at night, to take on coal and water. A local emissary would meet the train and ask if it was true there was a doctor on board. How could they possibly have known? My mother, a native Russian, would grab my father's hand and say, "let's go Pop." They were taken to a meeting place, usually a Russian Orthodox church, and inside were waiting dozens and dozens of people needing medical attention. My mother, who was a nurse, would go ahead of my father, analyzing & diagnosing each "patient." Delivering babies, setting broken bones, and attending to all sorts of sicknesses and diseases, they had to work fast as the troop train waited for no one when it was ready to move on.

    Medical services was not the only negotiable "legal tender" used on their trek. Sometimes, to get a meal from a small brigade of troops, holding, hugging, and passing around my brother (born in `42) from soldier to soldier was the price of a meal. Other times, to cross one of the few remaining, unbombed bridges over the Volga, a smile, a wink, and a hint of what would be waiting for the lonely guard after his duty ended, did the trick.

    Just one of the microscopic tales, of the billions out there.


    While much later (2001), (none / 0) (#32)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 05:17:57 PM EST
    I enjoyed the dark and suspenseful "Enemy at the Gates", which takes place during the siege of Stalingrad. Jude Law plays Vassili Zaitev, the Russian sharpshooter and Ed Harris's character is the German sniper, Maj. Konig.  Joseph Fiennes is the Soviet's-Karl Rove-type propagandist who makes Vassili into a national hero to pump up morale.  This makes him a target to be brought down by the Nazis.  

    I'm always reminded of that (none / 0) (#31)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:22:27 PM EST
    when I'm reading something I think is completely unrelated, and then...there it comes...

    Ha! Yes indeed about the Shirer book (none / 0) (#30)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 04:19:07 PM EST
    Then my Dad spent the next 2 years trying to keep my brother from drawing swastikas.

    Sounds Good (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:32:15 PM EST
    Just saw Sanjuro again... What a great film. Nice to watch it with its Spaghetti Western influence, For A Few Dollars More.

    Apparently in streaming format, (none / 0) (#13)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:30:20 PM EST
    not available in DVD through Netflix.

    Correct (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:53:55 PM EST
    And from what I read, that's for the better. Apparently the master used for the DVD was junk.

    tour (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kgoudy on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 12:18:11 PM EST
    It was highly competitive but I am a bit bemuzed by the lessening of sportsmanship.

    Now my laptop is doing fine on (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 12:26:52 PM EST
    wireless but I can't "open" any link to listen to KUSC FM.  What a tragedy.  No Sat. morning opera program.

    Have you tried going through the iTunes (none / 0) (#9)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:48:25 PM EST
    radio list? I see it under the 'Classical' tab. Maybe that would work. Or the media player tool of your choice if you don't have iTunes.

    I'll try that next. More opera tonight at 9 p.m. (none / 0) (#39)
    by oculus on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 06:24:59 PM EST
    "Change is hard." Saith the Pres. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 12:42:58 PM EST
    Seems like he could have made a more (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:41:35 PM EST
    specific speech for that group. I'd feel pretty patronized by that.

    Too Many Laws (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:28:19 PM EST
    too many prisoners
    Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little.

    "You're (probably) a federal criminal," declares Alex Kozinski, an appeals-court judge, in a provocative essay of that title. Making a false statement to a federal official is an offence. So is lying to someone who then repeats your lie to a federal official. Failing to prevent your employees from breaking regulations you have never heard of can be a crime.

    Really good read The Economist

    We have more "punishment"... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by desertswine on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:48:31 PM EST
    than we do "crime."

    Except where it counts, of course.


    That is a good article (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 02:40:38 PM EST
    If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under "correctional" supervision.

    Hard to get my mind around numbers like that.


    This bit just says it all.... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:35:23 AM EST
    There are over 4,000 federal crimes, and many times that number of regulations that carry criminal penalties. When analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offences on the books, they were forced to give up, exhausted.

    We don't even know how many bullsh*t crimes are on the books...jesus mary & joseph how crazy is that?

    We really need a moratorium on new criminal law until a full and thorough review of all the crap clogging the books, with a boatload of repeals and pardons...it might only take 5 years or so.


    "The heavy lifting is over" (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by jbindc on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 05:33:08 PM EST
    for the year - so says Joe Biden.  

    Thank goodness we got everything accomplished in time for folks to run for re-election! It's so nice that we have full employment, no poverty, are at peace, and all disease is cured!

    The "heavy lifting is over" when it comes to the Obama administration's legislative priorities this year, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday evening.

    Biden said now that Wall Street reform is finished and signed into law, the administration could go out and make its political case for its accomplishment.

    "Now that the heavy lifting is over, we can go out and make our case," Biden said at a fundraiser in North Carolina, according to a pool report.

    Aaargh....if they had done (none / 0) (#35)
    by ruffian on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 12:22:50 AM EST
    some heavier listing the case would have been made for them. They just do't get it, do they?

    lifting......don't (none / 0) (#36)
    by ruffian on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 12:23:12 AM EST
    It is amazing (none / 0) (#38)
    by jbindc on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:56:44 AM EST
    Bet those unemployed auto workers in my hometown of Detroit, or the unemployed mill workers, or unemployed clerks, etc. also think the "heavy lifting" is over for the year!

    Le Tour Coverage... (none / 0) (#5)
    by ek hornbeck on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 12:55:15 PM EST
    at my new digs.

    I have mixed feelings about a wind up on Monday.

    Looking good. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 24, 2010 at 01:01:12 PM EST