Wednesday, January 27, 2016

movie review of Spotlight, by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer

Spotlight, 2015. written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer.

Directed by: Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci.

Running time: 129 minutes

Spotlight follows the Boston Globe journalists who broke the story about the Roman Catholic priests who were raping and molesting children and the complicity of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy in covering it up. By their actions, the priests deserve to be called sex offenders and to be imprisoned. This is not what happened.

The movie is authentic. The emotions portrayed by the journalists as they are investigating the story are wrenching. I knew these things because I knew some members of SNAP in a nearby city but watching the story re-created drove home the sheer horror of it all.

sapphoq reviews says: The problem with clerical abuse of children and teens was and remains widespread. I have zero confidence in what any authority from the Roman Catholic Church claims about a willingness to be transparent, removal of offending priests from parishes, or an idea that the victims and survivors of said abuse are more important than (R.C.) Church reputation. 

Part of the reason why I think this is because of Rwanda [ the great cover up there, including the reassigning of one very guilty priest to a new parish in Florence, Italy and a new name to go along with his new parish. His name, that is. He is currently in prison for life for genocide, no thanks to the Vatican. The other part of the reason why I think this is because I've watched the process unfold, including the piteous awards given to survivors and how hard the locals fought to not have the priests held accountable in a court of law.

     I have known two Roman Catholic priests on a casual basis, including during the time when the scandal broke in 2002. One of them was a pedophile who was living in a nearby priest "retreat" house. At least he was then unassigned to a parish with ready-made child victims. What kind of treatment he was getting, if any, was not something that he shared. In fact, he did not share with us that he was an offender. The other one was not an offender. He would get horribly upset about "the poor priests" being accused of these wretched crimes whenever it was brought up. He would become so upset that any rational conversation was difficult. He uttered not a word about the victims.

Go see Spotlight. Highly recommended. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Understanding Your Dog by Erica Peachley

Understanding Your Dog: An illustrated guide to understanding your dog's behavior, Erica Peachley. Bath, U.K.: Paragon Publishing, 2004, 2001. coffeetable hardcover book, 176 pps.

Understanding Your Dog is divided into four chapters concering the dog's nature, behavior, training, and problems. Complete with glossary, addresses, and index, this books is thorough and colorful. It offers practical suggestions and points to times when consulting a professional is necessary.

sapphoq reviews says: Erica Peachley is acquainted with her subject and writes well. Highly recommended. Your guests may learn something too!

Blondie standing on some grass alert and calmly waiting to find out what's next.
To copyright monopoly trolls: my photo, my dog, go away.

Dog Tricks: Eighty-Eight Challenging Activities for Your Dog from World Class Trainers by Captain Arthur J. Haggerty and Carol Lea Benjamin

Dog Tricks: Eighty-Eight Challenging Activities for Your Dog from World Class Trainers, Captain Arthur J. Haggerty and Carol Lea Benjamin. New York: Black Dog & Levental Publishers, 1978. small hardcover, 303 pps.

Blondie-- the older blond dog with a red field nose and black tongue on the left-- trotting on the sandy road is looking at Hermione coming out of the brush on the right. Hermione is a black and white dog, smaller who at first resembles a border collie with less hair. In fact she is  an Australian Cattle Dog mix with a bit of hound dog and retriever thrown in. She has black freckles on her white socks and her black tail with white tip on it  is low slung like those of Australian Cattle dogs. Note to copyright monopoly trolls: these are my two dogs, I took the photo myself, so go away.

I scored some old but well-kept books about dogs at a garage sale free recently. Dog Tricks was part of the haul. This little gem of a book became a valuable bit of my library as I discovered that my Australian Cattle Dog/ retriever/ hound dog cultivated secret dreams of being a trickster dog.

Hermione is Blondie's best dog buddy in the whole world. They met about a year ago and became walking companions. Blondie was diagnosed this past April [2015] as having terminal liver failure. Hermione came to live with use by her own choice at the end of August [2015] on a permanent basis. Both dogs are thriving from the arrangement.

Blondie's health has been steadily improving as much as a dying dog's health can be. She is happy, has a good appetite, solid fecal matter, enjoys hiking on a daily basis and swimming when we do that, and is pain-free. 

Hermione is delighted with all of the exercise that is now part of her daily routine, has made her peace with our two cats, and has several jobs around the backyard and homestead.

Both dogs love living together in the same pack.

But I have digressed.

sapphoq reviews says: The book Dog Tricks does exactly what it promises. There are indeed eighty-eight of them with decent directions, whimsical drawings, and a trick aptitude chart in the back. Highly recommended! Should you have a dog who wants to learn something else, grab this book if you get a chance! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, Third Edition. Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM PhD and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Publishing, 2005.  large paperback, 466 pages, including end notes, index, and recipes.

Although some of the general suggestions in this book are okay-- home cooking for animals, paying attention to the conformation of an animal when picking one out to take home, description of medical problems-- I am wary of many of the specific ideas in this book.

Rabies vaccinations or titres showing immunity are practically a must. There are no [non-alternative] peer-review journal articles to my knowledge that establish the effectiveness of Bach Remedies [r, tm etc, no copyright infringement intended] or coffee enemas for dogs or cats or human beings for that matter. And there is no way that I am adminstering any concoction containing deadly nightshade to any animals in my charge, period. I am just not doing that. Period. End of discussion.

sapphoq reviews says: It is dismaying that the Pitcairns do not footnote the research studies that they base their conclusions on. For this alone, I recommend giving Complete Guide a miss.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, Bruce Schneier. London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015. e-book, 425 pps. incl extensive notes.

I have infinite respect for Bruce Schneier as a true authority on data, the collection of data, the mining of data, and why we ought to not be so lackadaisical about it. He is far from a luddite. In his most excellent book Data and Goliath, Bruce Schneier does not hesitate to point out the myriad ways that the interpretation of data can make life run smoother for us. He also forces the reader to concentrate on items that are uncomfortable for the average computer user to think about for long periods of time. Although I am more familiar with privacy and surveillance concerns than the average Joe, I found that I had to read this one in short breaks rather than all at once. It was a lot of information to take it.

sapphoq reviews says: The ideas that are uncomfortable are often the ones that are most beneficial to sit with. I found this certainly to be true in respect to Data and Goliath. Anyone with a brain ought to be asking what the corporation behind the offering of that "discount card" is doing with "their" data [and in the United States, we no longer "own our own" data]. These days, we ought to asking our states whether or not they are selling off our drivers licenses info too. The recent move by Twitter[r] to move operations to Ireland [except for those accounts residing in the United States] ought to be a clue that something continues to run afoul in the fields of Big Data. Read this book. And then tell me you don't care.