Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Why would I watch a movie from 2007? I can't remember how I missed such an intriguing movie when it first emerged in the theaters. I didn't even know the movie existed until I ran across it at my gym. I go to a neat gym that has a "cardio theater". Eighteen cardio machines in front of a big movie screen, what's not to like? I'm not on cardio equipment long enough to see a feature length movie, but it is a fun way to exercise. If I find a movie I like well enough to want to see all of it, I can always see it at home on my Verizon On Demand which I did with Fracture.

I was hooked on following this intriguing plot to see where the contorted chess game between the prosecuting attorney and the accused murderer would finally reach a conclusion.

It's about an attempted murder by a brilliant, successful scientist who is determined to show that he can commit murder and get away with it. The district attorney put his most successful prosecutor on the case, but Willy, interesting choice of names, is ambitious and distracted by his impending move to a more lucrative job at a big-name law firm with a huge new salary. He thinks conviction will be a slam dunk because he has a signed confession so it should be easy to move on to his new job. He doesn't bother to do his homework or due diligence and should have been suspicious that it was just too easy.

It becomes clear that the murderer is playing him and the young prosecutor finds out that there are details he overlooked. He has to go back to basics and actually produce enough evidence to convict the murderer in order to put him away. The murderer has carefully planned his crime and has planned to get away with it. The murderer isn't a lawyer however, and Willy is determined to preserve his near-perfect record of convictions with his superior knowledge of the law. It is an interesting contest of wills in a legal drama.

The cast is filled with famous names, and some recognizable faces from the best of the acting world is on the job. It is good to finally cross paths with this movie because it was worth the time we spent watching it. I wish there were more movies of this variety. I will have to see what is playing in the cardio theater tomorrow, because they show a different film each day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Triangle of Balance

When our children are small, we parents sign up for many sports and activities to give them a chance to sample various skills until they find things they enjoy and want to continue. We took our son to gymnastics, skiing, swimming, t-ball, tennis, and so forth. Of the many lessons in which we participated when my son was young, one of the most useful turned out to be ice skating. 

We had no grandiose goals and did not want to achieve high levels of performance on the ice. We never planned to become performers or even learn to do spins or any of the showy moves we see on television. Our son was six and it seemed like a good idea for him to learn some sense of balance on slippery surfaces. We also rented skates and tried to survive without any broken bones.

We had an instructor who taught about a dozen adults and children in class and he took us through some basics. Of course, staying on our feet was the most important thing. We knew how to snow ski, but the point of balance on skiis is different from ice skates. We were absolute beginners and needed to be able to stay vertical on ice. He explained how we were to put out our arms, somewhat forward about 45 degrees, with the palms open and down while imagining the palms of our open hands gliding over the ice. Those open hands would form two points of a triangle and our bodies would form the third point of an imaginary horizontal triangle which we would proceed to glide over the ice. 

We were instructed to keep in mind that our weight was to be centered on the skate, somewhat under the ball of our foot, but not too far forward because the toe pick would catch and flip us on to the ice. Of course, weight too far back would result in the skates slipping forward and we would fall backward. We were to concentrate on moving our triangle over the ice and not think so much about balancing. The body would take care of balancing itself if we thought more about the horizontal triangle.

Amazingly, it worked as we pushed off while imagining that horizontal triangle that we had to keep level as we glided over the ice first on one foot, then the other. We would glide from one side of the rink to the other even if it was a bit shaky. We got stronger and more confident so that we could begin to circle the rink with the other skaters. Before the half dozen classes ended, I could even skate backwards. We didn't learn any spins or jumps, we just wanted to avoid falling while we moved over the ice.

He would point to various skaters on the ice around us and point out what they were doing right or wrong. When he saw someone with their hands at their sides, or even behind them, he would declare very strongly, "Too casual." When I watch ice skaters on TV today, I can still hear him saying "too casual" if their arms aren't out and away from their bodies. When I see their hands and arms out to the sides in a balanced position, I remember his triangle of balance concept.

We worked very hard to learn just a few concepts, but other things came along and we didn't continue it as a family recreational activity which I regret. However, I'm a little too old to risk my bones again. The idea of a triangle of balance has stuck with me all those years and anytime I cross an icy parking lot during the winter, I remember to put out my arms, form my triangle of balance to walk across icy patches on sidewalks, slippery floors or any place where I don't want to lose my balance and fall.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

They don't know what they don't know.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect abounds today in the Information Age. In a previous life, I was a librarian and most of my job was research. To those who claim "everything is on the Internet," I must respectfully disagree. The fact is that only a small portion of mankind's knowledge can be found on the free Internet according to assessments by academicians.

Much of mankind's accumulated information will never be available on what we know commonly as "the free Internet." The reality is that it would be too expensive to digitize everything, not to speak of time-consuming. Much of mankind's knowledge can only be found in archival libraries that will not be scanned into digitized versions. One must visit the source where the information is housed. "A significant amount of archival material held by The New York Public Library is not yet represented anywhere online." An essay written by a librarian at Harvard is also very revealing.

When I refer to the "free Internet," I mean those sites that can be searched through Dr. Google. When we consider the expensive subscription databases available through University libraries, Public Libraries and specialty medical, legal, scientific libraries, or government collections, they can't be searched through search engines. Anyone doing serious research must go to those specialty collections sources to find accurate, reliable, peer-reviewed, well-researched data. Joining a local public library gives patrons access to extensive, and expensive databases that have unique search tools. Access to University libraries often require membership fees if one isn't a student.

Some primary source databases are only available through the "Deep Web" or the invisible web unless you want to pay for a private subscription. We've all heard the axiom, "It's worth what you pay for it." That is a good maxim to keep in mind when we are looking at information. When we evaluate information, we need to consider from whence it came, especially in secondary sources, lest we get led down the garden path to wherever propagandists wish to lead us.

To make a long story short as we like to do in the information age, it is always useful to ask ourselves who wrote the information, what are their qualifications and what is their agenda? Primary source or secondary source? Sources, sources, sources--some are better than others.

As Dr. Samuel Johnson said,

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it."
    Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson
    English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 - 1784)