Monthly Archives: June 2007

Ray-Nor Park Neighborhood Association

After 50 years of existence the Ray-Nor Park Neighborhood Association (RPNA) finally has a web site:

As the first vice-president I am rather excited about this! If you want to learn more about our association you can contact us through our web-site.
The RPNA mission is to:

Our purpose is to further the welfare of residents and property owners within the Ray-Nor Park neighborhood.

For over 50 years, the Association’s efforts have been to bring information on important, pertinent issues to residents of the Ray-Nor Park neighborhood and to foster and preserve a sense of community.

Some of the things the organization does is throw an annual picnic, easter egg hunt, produce a newsletter. We also are a voice for the neighborhood when the city tries to change the character of our neighborhood like they are doing now. We are trying to fight back but we’ll see how things go..

Cheese Review: Bayley Hazen Blue, Jasper Hill Farms, Notheast Kingdom VT



Bayley Hazen is a wonderful raw milk blue from Mateo Kehler.

The cheese snob says: This is a delightfully light blue cheese. With enough bite to be still a blue but without the nasal clearing amonia that stronger blue cheeses have. I would give this a solid B+.

The cheese consumer says: Blue. Ugh. I was able to swallow a small piece so we give at D.

Cheese Review: Tomme De Savoie, cow’s milk France

The Review

Tomme de Savoie is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese made in the valley of the Savoie in the French Alps. It has a delightful nutty flavor and smooth paste that melts in your mouth. The hard, powdery rind has an earthy aroma and is usually speckled with many types of indigenous and harmless molds.

For the casual cheese eater, this cheese was voted an A+. For the lover of complex cheeses this is somewhat less deserving of that grade, but a wonderful cheese nonetheless.

Cheese Review: Double Gloucester, cow’s milk, England


Double Gloucester is a traditional English cheddar-style cheese from Gloucestershire with a bold orange (I mean really orange) color and bright eggy, and somewhat sharp flavor.

The casual cheese fan’s had to be told not to eat all of the cheese in one sitting. So they give the cheese a grade of A+. The sophisticated cheese eater, however, found the cheese visually interesting but tasting a little bit like egg bread. So they give the cheese a grade of B.

Cheese Review: Gorgonzola Piccante, cow’s milk, Italy.


Gorgonzola Piccante, a formidable cow’s milk blue cheese from the region north of Milan, is Italy’s answer to Roquefort. It’s rough reddish rind protects a tender, light yellow, blue-flecked paste that is firm, moist and buttery. The flavor is sharp and sweet.

The casual cheese eater does not like blue cheese in general, and gives this a surprising C-. The sophisticated cheese eater is in love with this cheese. If nothing else it proves that the Italians can do whatever the French do, just better (see world cup). This cheese gets an A++.

Movie Review: Pan’s Labyrinth

A fantastic cross of For Whom the Bell Tolls

bell tolls cover

and The Chronicles of Narnia.


Set in Spain in 1944, the film explores childhood, sacrifice, war, virtue, and civil strife. Unlike the other film I reviewed Flag of Our Fathers, this film has no axe to grind, no point to shove down my throat. Instead it looks at the horror of the world and tries to understand it a little bit better.

The film is about two parallel tales. The first is about a woman who marries a Captain in the Spanish army who is tasked with eliminating some Red revolutionaries who are hiding in the mountains. We follow her struggles, and the struggle between the Reds and the Spanish army. And like all such civil wars, there is blood, there is torture, there is heroism and there is perverted sense of duty on both sides. The second is about a little girl, the daughter of the mother from a first marriage, who is caught in a dream world of her own where she is a Princess of a magical fairy kingdom and the only way to return to her kingdom is to perform three tasks set by Pan. The two tales intersect repeatedly and ultimately tragically.

As an aside, I was watching the film, and thinking to myself how tragic the events of the film were. On the one hand, I am supposed to feel sorry for the Reds. On the other hand, I am tempted to thank God that butchers like the Captain existed to protect us from the Reds. In the end, I decided, that the misguided faith in the communist ideal destroyed what was best in both worlds. Both the Reds and the Fascists were idealists, visionaries, and patriots. And of the two, the Reds were the most misguided believing a myth that they hoped would somehow make the world a better place. All the Reds did was destroy their country, destroy themselves, and inspire the other side to extremes of violence. And if the last 50 years of history are any guide, of the two factions, it was for the best that the Reds lost. So not only do you feel sorry for their misguided ambitions, you feel relieved in knowing that they lost because there is no better world at the end of the rainbow.

This is a great film. Of the two films, The Departed, which I have also seen and Pan’s Labyrinth, I would have voted for Pan’s Labyrinth if Scorsese was not involved in The Departed. Perhaps the director of this film will be remembered as the better film that lost the year they decided to give Martin Scorsese the award he deserved for so many of his other films.

Eric Schmidt on the 20% time at Google

One of the enduring mysteries is out of what budget does Google fund the 20% time it’s engineers are supposed to be working on their own special projects. A simple plain text reading of the statement would suggest that Google is overstaffed by 20% or said differently: they have 20% more people than they need for their current projects. A negative spin on this would be that in a down turn they could lay off 20% of the company to meet expenses without impacting current deliverables. If this was true, I was even more envious of the Google business model than I already am. But I was mistaken.

In an interview in Wired, Eric Schmidt explained:

How do people actually do 20 percent time? How do people actually figure out a way to actually get 20 percent of their time for that without working on weekends?

They work on weekends.

Do you compensate them in a way that encourages them to come up with these projects?

Yeah, but remember the kind of people who we hire are not here for the compensation, they’re here for the impact. And there’s essentially an internal draft system, that helps redistribute talent which is complicated and quite clever.

Do you actually have to declare what your 20 percent project is going to be?

People are encouraged to do so as part of the snippets.

Okay. That’s the incentive.

But it’s encouraged, not required. Again, there’s things you measure and require and there’s things that you encourage. The 20 percent is a cultural thing.

So you’re encouraged to come up with an independent project, and if you’re an engineer it’s part of being able to sit at the lunch table with your peers and be respected?

That’s right. Your peers all have one, so what’s yours?

At last the mystery explained: it comes out of the personal budget of the engineers.


Updated: June 16 2007, fixed some errors in the HTML encoding. Foolishly assumed that the thin client POC that I was using worked as well as MS Word did.

Movie Review: Flags of Our Fathers

The irony of the 21st century is that the we can look back on the one war this country agreed had to be fought (WWII) and be disgusted with how America fought it.

In Flags of Our Fathers Clint Eastwood chooses to explore the battle of Iwo Jima. The intent is to understand why people fight, how people fight and how we exploit images of that fighting for our own purposes.

The good part of the film is that it has a very accurate portrayal of the battle. As an amateur student of the second world war, the battle of Iwo Jima is both significant, apocalyptic and difficult to understand. Significant because the loss of life convinced the US military high command and its political leadership that any invasion of Japan would be devastating. Apocalyptic because the Japanese tenacious defense of the island was what opened the door to the nuclear bomb. Difficult to understand because the military value was suspect, and the nature of the battle seems to be reduced to platitudes of the form: hand to hand combat, etc.

While the film stayed focussed on the battle the film was gripping, and interesting if you find that kind of stuff gripping and interesting. There is the usual senseless mayhem and deaths. The bullets flying everywhere. The characters dying faster than you can remember their names. The reluctant and absurd heroism.

Until you see the rock that the Marines had to secure to defend the beaches, you can not really understand what the term “hand-to-hand” combat on Iwo Jima meant. Trapped on the beaches, their skin their only defense, they had to effectively eliminate a natural made pill box that had been entrenched over the past two years. If the film had just been a movie about the battle, it would have been tiresome movie to the general public but of great interest to those who cared about the battle.

Unfortunately the movie wanted to be a critique of the US political establishment. Clint Eastwood wanted us to understand how the Government, shock and horrors, in a time of war will do anything it can to exploit the masses to get them to support the war.

Really! Shame on them!
I mean, the government in a time of war will not engage in a nuanced debate over what needs to be done?


Clint Eastwood’s film is part of Hollywood’s polemic against the current war in Iraq. What makes this movie particularly tiresome and irritating is that to prove the venality of Bush and Cheney, he decides to demonstrate that even our greatest leaders were just as loathsome in their exploitation of the credulous public. By proving that Truman and FDR lied for political gain (raising money for a war against a government that was hell bent on controlling all East Asia) he attempts to reinforce his basic argument that:

See FDR and Truman were liars! So if those great men, snicker, were liars, will you know believe me that Bush and Cheney are lying to you?

And all I can say is:


Clint Eastwood’s point is that the first casualty of war is the truth! Thank goodness he told us! Because no one else has ever said it. I mean what was Samuel Johnson in 1758 trying to say:

Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.’ (from The Idler, 1758)

Wait, wait I know:

The truth is the first casualty of war!

It’s a sad statement that Hollywood propaganda is so obvious and so insulting. Clint Eastwood insults my intelligence by making such an obvious statement and he ruins a great war film by making such an obvious statement. Clint Eastwood further insults my intelligence by equating the actions taken in WWII with the actions taken in Iraq. The wars were not the same. The circumstances were not the same. The stakes were not the same and the lies were no where near the same.
This film could have been a fun movie about the sacrifice and heroism of Iwo Jima. Instead it was a pulpit for a poor preacher to pass on what he thought to be revelation but in reality was common wisdom.

Spend your time and money elsewhere.