Not the MPAA ratings, not Rotten Tomatoes. My ratings.
The End of the Tour: You don't have to be a David Foster Wallace fan to enjoy this, but an interest in the complexity of a troubled mind would be helpful. 95/100
The Gift: Suspenseful, good acting, a nice plot twist. Not a great film, but solidly engaging. 77.5/100
Phoenix: An implausible story in so many ways, but that doesn't matter because it speaks to painful truths about identity and relationships after surviving the Holocaust. 91.3/100
Diary of a Teenage Girl: Realistic, especially for the time and place, but provocative and so very politically incorrect. If adult sex with teenage minors freaks you out, you can skip it. For everyone else, I give it a thumbs up. 90.27/100
A friend had a bike accident while vacationing in Italy recently. She suffered a femoral head fracture that required emergency surgery. The surgeons sank three screws into the the top of her femur.
She had eaten lunch only an hour before the accident, so the Italian docs worried about putting her under for the surgery, but after discussion between the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, it was decided that they shouldn't delay the surgery because of the danger posed by possible damage to blood vessels.
My friend was surprised that upon waking from the anesthesia, she had a pronounced feeling of physical and mental well-being.
The Italian docs started her on physical therapy on the second day of her four-day hospital stay. They said she could stay longer if she felt she wasn't ready to leave.
I asked my friend how she felt about the quality of care she received. She had high praise for the docs and the nurses, but she found two aspects of her hospital stay unpleasant: the food was absolutely awful and, although the hospital was air conditioned, the temperature was too high for an American who prefers to be refrigerated during the summer months. Her sheets were drenched through much of the day, everyday, but the staff thought the temperature in her room was fine. Guess it's all about what you're used to. Anyway, she came away with a very positive impression of Italian medical care.
Why am I telling you all this? No particular reason. It's just a story. I could have written about some unpleasant experiences I had this past week, like getting stuck in the underground last night while CTA police dealt with a problematic passenger who hocked up something gross and spit at a young woman sitting across from us for no apparent reason. But I didn't want to write about my own unpleasant experiences over the past week, though now you know about the Subway Spitter.
Perhaps my friend's story of her injury was a metaphor for my week. I felt a bit battered at times, and at times things got pretty gross, but I have people in my life who are capable, attentive and caring, even though I think it's too hot while they think the temperature is just right.
Huh... This was like one of my old free-associations posts, in which I write about whatever comes to mind, then conclude with an interpretation.
In this podcast, Brooke Gladstone and David Lipsky listen to Lipsky's original recordings from the five days he spent with David Foster Wallace shortly after the publication of Infinite Jest. I'm one of those people who couldn't get through the book, but listening to the tapes makes me want to try again. I also plan to check out the newly released movie based on Lipsky's book.
Last February, I wrote with sadness about the death of longtime reader and offline acquaintance, Tom Freeland. Tom and his wife Joyce practiced law in Oxford, Mississippi. Though I mentioned Tom's love of Faulkner in my post, I didn't get into the specifics of Tom's connection with Faulkner.
The dead French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan came up elsewhere today, and I thought of something Noam Chomsky said in an interview. I don't imagine my readers will be much interested, but it cracked me up because my reaction to Lacan has always been: "what the fuck is he talking about?" I've read a lot of psychoanalytic theory, but Lacan sounds like gibberish to me. Anyway, I'll let Chomsky speak:
What you’re referring to is what’s called “theory.” And when I said I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever. So there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it. I don’t see anything to what he’s saying. Jacques Lacan I actually knew. I kind of liked him. We had meetings every once in awhile. But quite frankly I thought he was a total charlatan. He was just posturing for the television cameras in the way many Paris intellectuals do. Why this is influential, I haven’t the slightest idea. I don’t see anything there that should be influential.
A biotech company has been offering payments to academic researchers who cite them in scientific papers.
Here's an easy-to-use, electrocardiogram app that alerts the user to possible heart problems. Results can easily be shared with the user's physician. Cost of the system is about $75.00.
Used to be the US attracted the best and brightest to our shores while other nations complained about brain drain. Now we cultivate the best and brightest, but force them to leave once they're ready to contribute. Is that good, bad or does it make no difference?
30-40% of forest firefighters battling California blazes are prison inmates.
I missed this story about a survivor of ISIS sex-slavery, published by the NY Times in June. The details testify to the ability of human beings to rationalize absolutely anything they do as morally acceptable.
And today, The Times has another story about the religious enshrinement of rape by ISIS.
Here's a stepmother's disturbing account of dealing with middle school bullying of her stepson. I certainly have a some criticisms of how the situation was handled, but I wasn't there, and I don't doubt that this stepmom was doing the best she could. Meantime, her stepson had two legal parents who were perhaps too slow to engage, according to her telling of the story.
Much is being made of Sesame Street airing on HBO with delayed broadcast of episodes on PBS. I see the freakout over this development as much ado about nothing. In his post on the subject, Cory Doctorow suggests that the ability to charge a premium price for early viewing on HBO indicates that early viewers have an advantage that matters. I think he confuses the notion of market value with other notions of value that are more relevant in this case, for example, developmental value to children. Keep in mind, there are all sorts of premium purchases that people make that don't matter to their well-being or best interests.
CHICAGO (WLS) --Four purses were stolen during the middle of the day from a store on Michigan Avenue. They were worth $12,000, Chicago police said.
My guess is the perpetrators will be locked up by the end of August. Whether or not they're convicted and sentenced to prison time is another matter, but they'll probably sit in jail awaiting trial because they'll be unable to post bail.
If the robbers are tried and convicted, time spent in jail while awaiting trial counts toward any prison sentence that might follow.
"Four teens were charged after a four-hour standoff in the city's Lawndale [Chciago] neighborhood Sunday afternoon. Malik Earkins, 19, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, criminal trespass and criminal damage to property."
I Googled Mr. Earkins and found a June 2015 Tribune article about him. Earkins was mistakenly held in prison for an extra five months on a previous burglary conviction. He was released this past May. Mr. Earkins commented on the mistake:
"It sucks," Erkins, now 18, said in a recent interview at his home. 'There was no reason I had to spend an extra five months of my life in prison."
Perhaps the court can give him a five-month credit toward his next prison sentence.