Yosemite-cover February 25, 2015

Top 20 Film Performances of 2014

February 27, 2015



By Luther Elmo As promised on Monday, here are the top 20 performances in film for 2014. Like the films themselves, there was a very strong lot from which to select, but unsurprisingly, most of these were drawn from films that I highlighted previously (proving that in most cases, it’s the characters we respond to, […]

The Top 20 Films of 2014

February 23, 2015



By Luther Elmo   Once a year at Oscar time, I compile my own list for the best films of the previous year. I used to just pick from within the group that had actually received Oscar nominations; however, it soon became apparent that the Academy did not necessarily reward nominations based solely on achievement […]

Posted in: Interests, Luther Elmo

Welcome to the Plutocracy: S**t Flows Downhill, and You are on the Bottom

February 20, 2015



Rude little rich boy Conrad Hilton is an overgrown spoiled brat, but he may have been on to something by referring to everyone on BA Flight 269 as “peasants.” Wake up and smell the plutocracy! Americans like to think we are all equal under the law, that we all have equal opportunities, that we all […]

Joan Larsen Presents: Winter Rescue – Luckiest Moose in the World

February 18, 2015


Photo: Uralhelicom

By Joan Larsen It is a frozen winter in the higher altitudes of our world. From the vantage point of a helicopter, flying over the frozen taiga of northern Russia, the three passengers only saw below what was ice and snow. But then – then – one man spotted an animal struggling – a large […]

Getting Pretty Tired of Extremist Violence in Europe

February 16, 2015



Don’t like the local culture? Peacefully use democratic mechanisms in place, or LEAVE. Your hurt feelings don’t justify murder and mayhem.   Decades ago, when I was in college, we had a European student in our class.   He didn’t seem to have much good to say about America; there was always some pointed observation criticizing […]


February 13, 2015



It’s a mouthful for sure, this fear of Friday the 13th.  And it can be serious business, at least for those so affected by it that it disrupts their lives, or for those who provide the treatments for this phobia, whether that is serious psychological counseling or more lighthearted programs designed to help people reason […]

A Valentine From Joan Larsen: Love Letters

February 11, 2015



By Joan Larsen Now, all but past the middle age of life, I still remain a total romantic.  I don’t expect to ever get past that phase.  .  . and I often wonder how many others feel the same way.  I feel a life without love is no life at all.  And, as the years […]

10-4, Driver: CB Radios Still Have Their Uses

February 9, 2015



Many years ago, when cell phones were still as big as your head and probably cost as much as your car, my husband and I were reassigned from one coast of the US to the other coast.  We decided to drive our two vehicles in our own mini-convoy, and bought two CB radios for this […]

Animal Altruism is Real, and So is Their Appreciation

February 6, 2015



Anyone who doubts that animals can have sympathetic, altruistic emotions need look no farther than these videos. In the news last month, I ran across a video from the Taipei Zoo, showing a tortoise very deliberately and methodically bumping an upside-down, stranded tortoise until the stranded one is back on his feet. Yay! Smiles and […]

Joan Larsen: Let’s Run Away – Three Beautiful Places to Get Lost

February 4, 2015



By Joan Larsen Let’s be honest here. It’s February – hearts and flowers time – and a reminder that the familiar theme –telling us that “love is in the air” –may well be bypassing us big time. Sure. . . if we are lucky, we have LOVE in our lives. But again, let’s be honest […]

And the Award for Stupidest Attempt at School Discipline Goes to… Gustine, Texas

February 2, 2015



Imagine how frustrating and infuriating it must be for a small-town elementary- school administrator to repeatedly find human poop on the gym floor. The horror! The horror! Something must be done! A culprit must be caught! …even at the expense of all decency and common sense. Lila’s solution would have been to just set up […]

Fun and Disaster with Foreign Languages

January 30, 2015



I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. “This book was expensive!” he said.  “I’m sorry,” I replied, “but we just don’t talk like that.” Language-translating machines like Google Translate or Babelfish are handy for small, simple things like finding a bathroom, but they are no replacement for a fluent, bilingual human being.   Just […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: On the Edge – Searching for Bears in Siberia

January 28, 2015



By Joan Larsen   These bears are seldom asked to pose for their pictures. I would guess that they have never seen humans before either. Still hidden from the world we know, the world’s largest population of brown bears roam freely – in a place called Kamchatka. There are still just a few places left […]

Classic Car Buffs, Beware Cuba’s Time-Capsule Vehicles

January 26, 2015



When diplomatic relations were restored between Havana and Washington, one of my first thoughts was that Havana would soon be a shopper’s paradise for fans of classic cars. Many of the same cars that were on the roads in 1959, when relations were severed, are still being driven today — an estimated 60,000 classic cars. […]

Crossing 4 of 9 Planetary Boundaries on the Way to Doom: It’s the People, Stupid

January 23, 2015



Perversely, our worshipful attitude toward human procreation and human life will end up killing billions and destroying humanity’s best accomplishments.   For climate-change naysayers and others with their heads in the sand: a study published last week indicates that the Earth has already crossed four of nine (44%) “planetary boundaries.” The Washington Post has an […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Defying Gravity – Nature’s Acrobats

January 21, 2015



By Joan Larsen   As my family climbed in the Canadian Rockies last year, clinging to what turned out to be sheer rock faces, finding ourselves in places where no one wanted to look down – all of us were “stunned” – and more – that we luckily had been so sure-footed and made it […]

Clash of Civilizations: Will Long-Term Peace Require Segregation?

January 19, 2015



Are conservative Islam and Western liberalism fundamentally incompatible? To understand what is really happening in Europe now, and where it is likely headed, I urge everyone to read two articles: Samuel Huntington’s 1993 article in Foreign Policy, “Clash of Civilizations?“, and Damon Linker’s current piece in The Week, “Can Islam Ever Make Peace With Liberalism?” […]

Consumer Electronics 2015: Beyond Distraction, Making Drivers Blind and Stupid

January 16, 2015



Last weekend, the Consumer Electronics Show rolled out more examples of jet-fighter-style heads-up displays (HUDs) for car windshields. Fittingly, perhaps, last weekend also saw a nearly 200-car pileup in both directions of I-94 in Michigan. HUDs are sexy, glitzy, futuristic, badass. Marketers compare the automotive versions to the displays jet fighter pilots have. Advocates claim […]

Joan Larsen Shares: Amazing Food Art!

January 14, 2015



  When I was a small child, I can remember “the vegetables” that were gathered in what seemed huge amounts on my plate. Like many of us in those early years, I “schemed” on how – that day – I was going to get rid of them — without actually swallowing the awful things. I […]

“I Am Charlie” May Signal the Beginning of the End of European Tolerance

January 12, 2015



Extremism threatens everyone, but ordinary citizens who happen to be Muslim have the most to lose.   The extremist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo staff and a Kosher grocery in Paris mark a tipping point in Europe. It has been building for years: ethnic Europeans have become increasingly frustrated and angry with escalating intrusions of […]

Apple Is Losing Its Edge, and Here’s Why

January 9, 2015



It’s not just the issues of battery life or questions over just how much storage their devices really have. The main issue is whether users find the devices useful and functional for their own purposes.  Hubby’s verdict:  Not any more.   By now we’ve probably all heard the news that Apple is facing a class-action […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Felines in Residence – the Secret World Beneath Russia’s Hermitage

January 7, 2015



by Joan Larsen St. Petersburg. . . Russia’s most wonderful city has drawn me back more than once. Home of the world-famous Hermitage Museum — just named the best museum in all of Europe (!) — is praise enough to have art lovers making a bee-line north. But – hidden far beneath the museum — […]

On Identity, Looks, and Impressions

January 5, 2015



We’re told from an early age not to judge a book by its cover, but we do anyway.  Oh, how we do. I read with interest Phoebe Baker Hyde’s article, “My Year Without Makeup.”  In it, she starts out by detailing “This is who I am,” followed by a long list of roles she has […]

New Year’s Resolution: Please, No More Tourism to Cultlike, Repressive Dictatorships Like North Korea

January 2, 2015



Now that “The Interview” has been released, woe unto any American snared by North Korea. North Korea has a well-known history of imprisoning Americans (see the summary of recent cases at the end of this article), sentencing them to hard labor, and then – after weeks, months or years – granting the American’s release only […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Spending the New Year at Swan Lake

December 31, 2014



By Joan Larsen   It is the New Year – the new year of 2015, celebrated throughout the world with the traditional crowds always seen, fireworks lighting up the skies in every direction, laughter and excitement as there always is. But we, the people of our world, are far more subdued this year. If we […]

Pondering Things Beyond the Earth

December 29, 2014



It’s Lila’s last post of 2014… time for a little pondering about big things beyond the Earth (mainly because we are probably all pretty tired of hearing about all the human-inflicted calamities on our little planet this year). The news this year has been full of all kinds of space-related stuff: humanity has managed to […]

What Is Forgiveness, and Is It Always a Good Thing?

December 26, 2014



for-give verb : to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone) : to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed) To err is human; to forgive, divine. - Alexander Pope The other day, I ran across some kind of holiday sermon on the radio. The speaker […]

Joan Larsen Encore: Spending Christmas in Antarctica

December 24, 2014



By Joan Larsen At this season, as another Christmas draws near, we find there are moments when we look back – back at a lifetime of memories of Christmas past . . . many times wishing they could be the simpler times we once had   I speak for all of us, longing - I […]

A New Low in Toys for Girls: Feces Are Magical and Fun!

December 22, 2014



The old baby dolls that could “go potty” were apparently not enough for today’s girls, so now we have dolls that crap rainbows and jewels. I have written previously that as a child, I despised my plastic baby dolls and much preferred my brother’s toys. I thought the baby dolls were sort of creepy, and […]

Dinner Movie Theater: Nothing Like Dinner Theater

December 19, 2014



… and I didn’t even really like dinner theater, either. Lila does not often attend live theater, but way back in college, I had occasion to attend a dinner-theater production. It was a formal affair, with coats and ties and crisp tablecloths and candlelight, all very subdued to allow for almost full attention to the […]


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