Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I Hate to Resort to This but DUH!

Dogs and cats destroy incredible amounts of native wildlife but it's always been clear which pets are the most dangerous.
Real Harry News

Well, no news on when the next book will be out but the title has been announced. (Not that I should care, considering I haven't read the last one.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Shorter American Trial List

Here's my list of important trials. It's cut to the bone but all of these made a serious impact.

Anne Hutchinson Trials (1637, 1638)
Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692)
Boston Massacre Trials (1770)
Alien and Sedition Acts (1798)
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831)
Dred Scott Decision (1856)
John Brown Trial (1859)
President Andrew Johnson Impeachment (1868)
U.S. v. Susan B. Anthony (1873)
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial (1911)
John Thomas Scopes "Monkey Trial" (1925)
Billy Mitchell Court-Martial (1925)
Scottsboro Trial (1931-37)
Ulysses Trial (1933)
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Boynton v. Virginia (1960)
Clarence Earl Gideon (1961, 1963)
John Henry Faulk v. Aware, Inc. et al. (1962)
Ernesto Miranda Trials (1963, 1967) "
New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964)
Griswold v. Connecticut (1964)
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
Roe et al. v. Wade (1973)
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)
Falwell v. Flynt (1984)
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Mapplethorpe Obscenity Trial (1990)


Some that weren't included in the book but should be considered:

Clinton Impeachment
Harden v. State (Tennessee Supreme Court) ruling that upheld laws against snake-handling in religious ceremonies.
Cantwell v. State of Connecticut: Supreme Court rules:

"The fundamental concept of liberty embodied in that Amendment [Fourteenth] embraces the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment. The First Amendment declares that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The Fourteenth Amendment has rendered the legislatures of the states as incompetent as Congress to enact such laws. The constitutional inhibition of legislation on the subject of religion has a double aspect. On the one hand, it forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship. Freedom of conscience and freedom to adhere to such religious organization or form of worship as the individual may choose cannot be restricted by law. On the other hand, it safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion. Thus the Amendment embraces two concepts, freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society. The freedom to act must have appropriate definition to preserve the enforcement of that protection."


In other words, the First Amendment allows you to worship in a religion that demands human sacrifice; the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits you from blatantly breaking the law to do so, put best in the next case—

Reynolds v. United States: Court ruled: "Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice?"

And how could you forget O.J.? Court decides that the ability to buy a not guilty verdict is not restricted to white men.
Top American Trials

A while back I listed what one editor considered the 100 most important world trials. Apparently he came up with over 200 for just the U.S. If you're interested:

Anne Hutchinson Trials (1637, 1638): Winthrop's "City Upon a Hill" v. Religious Tolerance
Dorothy Talbye Trial (1638) Early American insanity case
Judith Catchpole Trail (1656) Woman accused of witchcraft freed by all woman jury
Mary Dyer Trials (1659, 1660) More religious intolerance in Boston
Nicholas More Impeachment (1685) Incompetent judge impeached in Pennsylvania
Jacob Leisler Trial (1691) After charging a group of immigrants with treason, authorities hung, disemboweled, beheaded, and quartered them.
Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692)

John Peter Zenger Trial (1735) British charge an editor with libel (although everything he wrote was true); landmark case for the formation of the First Amendment

The "Great Negro Plot" Trial (1761) Bet you never heard of this. Almost identical to Salem but instead of going after witches, they arrested blacks and Catholics. Among many other executions, 13 blacks were burnt at the stake (none were at Salem). Supposedly slaves in New York, led by Catholics, planned to take over the city. Unlike Salem, the public never turned against the accusers.

Writs of Assistance Trial (1761) Americans clash with English law, laying foundation of Fourth Amendment
The Parsons' Cause Trial (1763) Patrick Henry fights against English taxes
Boston Massacre Trials (1770)
Sergeant Thomas Hickey Court-Martial (1776) Anti-Washington conspiracy causes legal chaos
Penhallow v. The Lusanna (1777) First major American "states' rights vs. federal authority" case
Major John Andre Trial (1780) Benedict Arnold's spy captured and hung
The Quock Walker Trial (1780) Landmark case in ending Northern slavery
Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) 18th Century Patriot Act
John Fries Trials (1799) Question of when a riot can be considered treason.

Marbury v. Madison (1803) Establishment of judicial review
Samuel Chase Impeachment (1805) Unsuccessful impeachment of Supreme Court justice
George Sweeney Trial (1806) Blatant murderer goes free because the law forbid blacks to testify against whites
Aaron Burr Trial (1807)
John Francis Knapp and Joseph Jenkins Knapp Trials (1830) Daniel Webster argues for conviction of accessories to murder
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) Supreme Court decision leads to Trail of Tears
U.S. v. Cinque (1839) Amistad case
Alexander Holmes Trial (1842) In over-crowded lifeboat, Captain throws 16 people overboard to save the rest. Found guilty.
Mackenzie Court Martial (1843) Mutiny that inspired "Billy Budd"
Albert Tirrell Trial (1846) Man freed from murder charges on sleepwalking defense

Dr. John Webster Trial (1850) A Harvard professor destroys murder victim's body but court convicts him based on medical evidence
State of Missouri v. Celia, a Slave (1855) A slave kills her master to stop him from raping her; jury decided that since she was his property, she deserved to hang
Dred Scott Decision (1856)
Emma Cunningham Trial (1857) Woman forges marriage certificate and fakes a pregnancy to get away with murder
"Duff" Armstrong Trial (1858): Abe Lincoln proves client's innocence with almanac, after lying witness claims to have seen the crime by the light of a full moon
Dan Sickles Trial (1859) First successful plea of temporary insanity
John Brown Trial (1859)

Packard v. Packard (1864) During the Civil War, good Reverend Theophilus Packard Jr. decided to take advantage of an Illinois law, similar to those in 30 other states, that allowed husbands to commit wives to insane asylums "without the evidence required in other cases." The perfectly sane (except for marrying the idiot) Elizabeth Packard successfully fought for her freedom.

Dr. Samuel Mudd Trial (1865) Never, never mend an assassin's leg.
Henry Wirz Trial (1865) Commandant of Andersonville, the Confederate's concentration camp for POWs, brought to justice
President Andrew Johnson Impeachment (1868)
Hester Vaughan Trial (1868) A rape victim kills her resulting baby; sentenced to death by all male jury but women's groups rally for an appeal
Ex Parte McCardle (1868) Only time in U.S. history when Congress refused the Supreme Court from hearing a case
Boss Tweed Trials (1873)

U.S. v. Susan B. Anthony (1873) Supreme Court rules that the 14th Amendment does not cover women's rights
Tilton v. Beecher (1875) Henry Ward Beecher charged with adultery
U.S. v. Cruikshank (1875) Supreme Court limits federal authority to prevent lynching and other protection for blacks
Martinez v. Del Valle (1877) Woman sues rich man she claims promised to marry her. Attorney tears her to pieces in court.
Reynolds v. U.S. (1879) Supreme Court upholds polygamy laws (first signed into U.S. law by Lincoln in 1862). First Amendment not deemed as broad as Mormons had hoped.
Charles Guiteau Trial (1881) Assassin of President James Garfield.
Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) San Francisco refused to grant building permits to Chinese laundries (sounds like the set-up of a joke). The Supreme Court ruled that while the building code was not discriminatory, it was being enforced in a discriminatory manner, and therefore unconstitutional.
Haymarket Trial (1886) U.S. v. trade unions
The New Orleans Mafia Trial (1891) Who knew that it was a case from New Orleans case that made the Mafia famous?
Lizzie Borden Trial (1893)

In Re Debs (1895) Business leaders force an end to a legal strike and jail the union leader Eugene Debs. (Later, despite First Amendment, jailed for criticizing President Wilson for getting the nation involving in war.)
Theo Durrant Trial (1895) Sunday school teacher murders, dismembers, then rapes two girls in church. Hung despite being found sane and without motive.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) First step towards Brown v. Board of Education.
Roland Molineux Trials (1899) Convicted killer wins freedom on appeal on question of admissibility of evidence

Leon Czolgosz Trial (1901) President McKinley's assassin
Albert Patrick (1902) Death row convicted murderer ultimately pardoned due to legal questions of medical evidence.
Captain William Van Schaick Trial (1906) Captain of a steamboat convicted after wreck kills 900 passengers (yes, 900). Corporate owners of boat who ordered dangerous conditions not troubled.
Chester Gillette Trial (1906) Inspiration of An American Tragedy.
Harry Thaw Trials (1907, 08) First trial of the 20th century. Thaw kills wife's former lover due to "dementia Americana," an alleged illness that causes American men to murder anyone who touched their wives before marriage. Lucky Madonna married a furrener.
Big Bill Haywood Trial (1907) Labor wins one!

Dr. Hyde Trial (1910) The early O.J. Sensational trial in which an obviously guilty rich guy buys his way to freedom.
McNamara Brothers Trial (1911) Labor activists charged with dynamiting factory; almost ruins Clarence Darrow's career

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial (1911) 146 women killed in sweat shop; ultimately brings about regulations for workers

Floyd Allen Trial (1912) Virginia nut gets out of one-year prison sentence by having sons gun down judge in courtroom. Follow-up trial sends him to the death house.
Charles Becker Trials (1912-14) Corrupt cop gets the chair
Leo Frank Trial (1913) Jewish man in Georgia beats murder charge only to be lynched by Klan
Joe Hill Trial (1914) Union leader convicted of murder
Tom Mooney Trial (1917) During pre-WWI anarchy hysteria, man convicted of murder; later pardoned
Alice Paul and Other National Women's Party Members Trails (1917) Suffragists arrested after White House protest
Schenck v. U.S. Appeal (1919) Supreme Court limits free speech, "Shouting fire in a crowded theater."

Sacco-Vanzetti Trial (1921)
"Fatty" Arbuckle Trials (1921, 22) Opposite of O.J.--an innocent celebrity is accused of murder. Life and career ruined by first trial but next jury finds "Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame."
Moore et al v. Dempsey Appeal (1923) Court finds that lynch mob outside of courthouse can unduly influence a jury.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Trial (1923) Leader of Back to Africa movement found guilty of fraud.
Leopold and Loeb Trial (1924) Another trial of the 20th century. Basis for Hitchcock's Rope.
John Thomas Scopes "Monkey Trial" (1925)
Billy Mitchell Court-Martial (1925) "You think an enemy power could wipe out our Navy with a surprise air attack? Guilty!" Seriously.
D.C. Stephenson Trial (1925) Grand Dragon convicted of murder after the woman he drugged, raped, and beat later committed suicide.
Frances Hall, Henry Stevens, and William Stevens Trial (1926) Two adulterers were found murdered. Although the defendants were charged, they were acquitted and the case was never solved.
The Teapot Dome Trials (1926-30) Oil scandal in a presidential administration?
Ruth Snyder-Judd Gray Trial (1927) Murder trial establishing equal rights for women killers--Both Ruth and Judd got the chair.

Buck v. Bell (1927) Supreme court upholds what Oliver Wendell Holmes called "the law permitting the sterilization of imbeciles." In Virginia and 29 other states, 50,000 Americans forcibly sterilized. Nazis cite it as defense at Nuremburg.

Alexander Pantages Trails (1929) A precedent setting trial concerning whether a rape victim's sexual history was admissible. Of course all this has been rendered null and void by Kobe Bryant.

Scottsboro Trial (1931-37)
Al Capone Trial (1931)
Thomas Massie Trial (1932) Hawaiians clash with U.S. military in Clarence Darrow's last major case
Joseph Zangara Trial (1933) Attempted assassin of FDR
Ulysses Trial (1933) Three cheers for Judge Woolsey!
Berrett-Molway Trial (1934) Publicized case in which eye witness evidence proven unreliable
Gloria Vanderbilt Custody Trial (1934) They weren't justified in taking away Gloria's children because she was a lesbian. They were justified because she was a terrible mother.
Samuel Insull Trial (1934) Case that sparked the Federal Securities and Exchange Act.
Bruno Richard Hauptmann Trial (1935)
Vera Stretz Trial (1936) Attorney Samuel S. Leibowitz saves 139 consecutive defendants from execution
Charles "Lucky" Luciano Trial (1936)
Mary Astor Divorce Trial (1936) Very messy Hollywood divorce
Martin T. Manton Trial (1939) Judicial dirty work helps define "conspiracy to obstruct justice."

Murder Inc. Trials (1941)
Errol Flynn Trials (1943) Statutory rape charge brings about saying "In like Flynn."
Eddie Slovik Court-Martial (1944) "You guys aren't really gonna shoot me, right? Right?"
Ex Parte Endo Trial (1944) Supreme Court upholds Japanese internment camps
Ezra Pound Trial (1946)
Sally Rand Trial (1946) Fan dancer found not guilty in San Francisco
Bercovici v. Chaplin (1947) Chaplin's plagiarism case, not the sex stuff
Caryl Chessman Trial (1948) Moral: don't represent yourself in a capital case
Hollywood Ten Trials (1948-50) Red blacklist.
Alger Hiss Trials (1949-50) Nixon becomes household name
Martha Beck Trial (1949) Loneyheart killer unsuccessfully pleads insanity
Tokyo Rose Trial (1949)

Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell (1951)
Dennis v. U.S. Appeal (1951) Supreme Court limits First Amendment to speech advocating overthrow of government
Reynolds v. Pegler (1954) Record-setting libel case
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Samuel Sheppard Trials (1954, 1966) "It was the one-armed man!"
Burton Abbott Trial (1955) Man put to death on circumstantial evidence
Cheryl Christina Crane Inquest (1958) Bizarre Hollywood murder case

Raymond Bernard Finch and Carole Tregoff Trials (1960, 1961) Murder case held in limbo due to jury's racial make-up and prejudice.
Richard Hickock and Perry Smith Trial (1960) Inspiration of In Cold Blood
Boynton v. Virginia (1960) Jim Crow vs. federal authority
Clarence Earl Gideon (1961, 1963) "You have the right to an attorney."
John Henry Faulk v. Aware, Inc. et al. (1962) Beginning of end for blacklists
Ernesto Miranda Trials (1963, 1967) "You have the right to know you have the right to an attorney."
Georgetown College v. Jones (1963) Jehovah Witnesses denied the God-given right to let their children linger and die after refusing blood transfusions
U.S. v. Hoffa (1964)
New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964) Question of "malice" in libel suits
Griswold v. Connecticut (1964)
Lenny Bruce Trial (1964) "That mother-fucker said ‘mother-fucker!' Arrest him!"
The Whitmore Confessions and Richard Robles Trial (1965) How far can police go to wreck an innocent man's life? Courts say pretty damn far.
Collie Leroy Wilkins Trial (1965) After Klansman walks free after murdering girl, he is convicted of violating her civil rights
Candace Mossier and Melvin Lane Powers Trial (1966) Another rich bizarre sex and murder case.
Carl Anthony Coppolino Trials (1966, 1967) Murder case hinges on discredited witness
Albert Henry DeSalvo Trial (1967) He wasn't charged with the Boston Strangler murders but everybody thought he'd done them. DNA evidence shows it wasn't entirely guilty.
Richard Franklin Speck Trial (1967) I have been forever warped by his prison video.
Price and Bowers Trial (1967) Inspiration of Mississippi Burning
Alice Crimmins Trial (1968) Precedent-setting case involving effects of judicial error on appeals
John Marshall Branion Trial (1968) friend of Martin Luther King convicted of murder
Huey P. Newton Trial (1968) Black Panther case greatly influences jury selection
U.S. v. Berrigan (1968) Priest pours blood over draft records to protest the war
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan Trial (1969) Assassin of RFK not allowed to plea bargain so that details would not remain concealed (as with James Earl Ray).
Clay Shaw Trial (1969) Convoluted conspiracy case involving the JFK assassination.
Chicago Seven Trail (1969)

Charles Manson Trial (1970-71)
William Calley Court-Martial (1970) Yeah, you know about this one too but did you know he walked free in 1974?
John Hill Trial (1971) Texas murder case ending in mistrial
New York Times Company v. U.S. (1971) Pentagon Papers case
Angela Davis Trial (1972)
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
Roe et al. v. Wade (1973)
Tony Boyle Trial (1974) Union leader's own union pays for his murder
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)
Joan Little Trial (1975) Black woman in prison kills jailer attempting to rape her; landmark for jury selection
In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan (1975)
Patty Hearst Trial (1976)
Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy Trials (1976, 1979)
Gary Mark Gilmore Trial (1976)
Randall Adams Trial (1977) Inspiration of The Thin Blue Line
Marvin Mandel Trial (1977) Massive political corruption in Maryland
Collin v. Smith (1977) Nazis allowed First Amendment rights to march through Jewish suburb.
The "Son of Sam" Trial (1978)
Bakke v. University of California Appeal (1978) Supreme Court recognizes reverse discrimination
The Marvin v. Marvin "Palimony" Suit (1979) Basis of Dan Ackroyd's greatest rant "Jane, you ignorant slut."
Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee (1979)
U.S. v. The Progressive (1979) Should a magazine provide instructions to build a hydrogen bomb? The courts said no (of course, now there's www.h-bomb.com).
Daniel James White Trial (1979) Everything you know is wrong.
Jeffery Robert MacDonald Trial (1979) Fatal Vision case.

U.S. v. Snepp Appeal (1980) Supreme Court rules that the government can prevent employees from revealing "sensitive material."
ABSCAM Trials (1980, 1981) FBI sting operation reveals even more political corruption than expected.
Jean Harris Trial (1980-81) Convicted of murder; loses "Son of Sam" prison writing suit shortly before Supreme Court finds it unconstitutional
John Demjanjuk Denaturization Trial (1981) The case that won't die; was he Ivan of Treblinka?
Wayne Williams (1981) Atlanta child killer case
Jack Henry Abbott Trial (1982) "Thanks a fucking lot, Mailer."
Claus Von Bulow Trials (1982, 1985) Another O.J. variation
John Hinckley Trial (1982) "Jodie, I love you this much."
Pulitzer Divorce Case (1982) Rich people in messy divorce
Weatherman Brinks Trials (1983) Weather Underground case
New Bedford Rape Trial (1984) Case that inspired Accused
Westmoreland v. CBS (1984)
Falwell v. Flynt (1984) Bad Larry hurt Jerry's feelings; Moral Majority use First Amendment to wipe asses
In the Matter of Baby M (1987) Surrogate parenting case
Bernard Goetz Trial (1987) "I got five dollars for all of you."
Cipollone v. Liggett Group (1988) Cigarette law suit
Joel Steinber Trials (1988, 1989) Murderously abusive couple allowed to adopt children
Oliver North Trail (1989)
Texas v. Johnson (1989) Flag-burning case.
U.S. v. Helmsley (1989) "Only little people pay taxes."
Jim Bakker Trial (1989)

Pete Rose Trial (1990)
Marion Barry Trial (1990)
Central Park Jogger Rape Trials (1990)
Mapplethorpe Obscenity Trial (1990)
Carolyn Warmus Trials (1991, 1992) Psycho woman almost gets away with murder
Pamela Smart Trial (1991) Inspiration for Boston Public
Manuel Noriega Trial (1991)
El Sayyid Nosair Trail (1991) Arab shoots rabbi but idiotic jury acquits him
Charles Keating Trials (1991-93)
William Kennedy Smith Trial (1991)
John Gotti Trial (1992)
Mike Tyson Trial (1992)
Los Angeles Police Officers' Trial (1992, 1993) Rodney King

Monday, June 28, 2004

Friendly Dog Stops Massacre

I'd like to see a cat do this.
Dumbest Religion/Science Clash Yet

Not as big as idiotic disputes over evolution or stem-cells but how could you claim this with a straight face? At least the talking snakes and donkeys happened in "the olden days."
Harry Potter Rumor

In the tradition of spreading unfounded stories through the Internet, here is the title of the new Harry Potter book. (Probably not.)
British Media Even Dumber Than U.S.

Woman gives birth to frog. Yes, idiots would print it in American but primarily in the tabloids.

Please, please, please be a hoax.
That's a Catfish

I'm going to stop reading Snopes. This freaks me out more than the head on the spike.
Wild West

I always heard that Bat Masterson debunked the Hollywood gunfight decades ago. Has Bat been exposed as a fraud or is he still considered a legitimate source?
Tonight's Class

Last Monday I had to end class early to go home and throw up (my temperature reached 103). Last Wednesday I was still sick AND the copier was broken. I had nothing to do but hold in my stomach acid for 45 minutes.

Finally had a full class tonight. We read "A Modest Proposal." I'm not sure if everyone understood it was satire.

I had copies of "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" but I thought we reached our depression quota. I'd forgotten how "70s" that story is.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Super-Strong Mutant Baby

Remember the book I reviewed on genetic mutations? It mentioned that a mutation in mice caused massive muscle growth. It was suspected of occurring in humans but was never reported (probably because no one with large muscles complains about it). Now there is a confirmed human mutant of this variation. According to the comic books, the German mutants should either control metal or teleport.
Smiling Judge

I hope this is a hoax.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Another Stupid Movie Meme

Right when I started this blog, I did something like this but now apparently it's in vogue. Blame Pharyngula.

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824 Saw in theater with then girlfriend/now wife. She hated it so much that she couldn't stop yelling at the screen. Almost got me pummelled by outraged middle-aged women.
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665 Saw in theater first with my dad; later with my step-daughter. Definitely better the first time but it still holds a special place in my heart.
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459 Saw in theater as kid. Not particularly moved to see it again.
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444 Saw in theater with step-daughter. I realized that George Lucas isn't making a space opera--he's re-making Old Yeller in six parts. First you love it, then you feel obligated to unload a rifle at it.
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375 Saw DVD. Best comic-book movie ever.
6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $377,019,252 My wife and step-daughter saw it twice at the theaters. I still haven't seen it on video.
7. The Passion of the Christ (2004) $370,025,697 Wife saw it. I passed.
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000 Okay, it's brain-dead. But it has cool dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs.
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000 Haven't seen it... yet.
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) $340,478,898 First saw it last November. It's not Citizen Kane but how can idiot Star-Wars fans bitch about it?

11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367 Own the DVD. Saw it about a million times. It's still good.
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196 Wife hated it. I didn't quite.
13. The Lion King (1994) $328,423,001 Saw this a million times too. It's no longer good.
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) Or this.
15. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) $313,837,577 Got in fight with wife and went to longest movie at theater. Very happy with result.
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,588 Not if George Lucas personally drove me to the movies and bought me a coke.
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409 Only looking back do I realize, George started sucking earlier than I thought.
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059 Great effects.
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224 I liked it more than Forrest Gump.
20. The Sixth Sense (1999) $293,501,675 Probably the best pure "ghost" movie. Still can't touch The Exorcist.

21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751 One of the best SF movies ever. What the heck happened?
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243 Have always left room when on.
23. The Matrix Reloaded (2003) $281,492,479 I repeat, "What the heck happened?"
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016 Better than Nemo.
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615 Uh, how about Shrek? Or Spirited Away? Or put a bullet in my head.
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035 Uh, how about Chamber of Secrets?
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000 The only movie that I loved as a kid and still holds up. Like Jurassic Park with developed characters.
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172 Not quite as good the millionth time but good.
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924 Liked at the time. Thanks, George Clooney.
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615 Good effects. Wish I'd bought the comic years back instead of putting it back on the shelf.

31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397 Still good.
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454 I'm afraid to watch it again. I loved Return of the Jedi at first but upon further review. . .
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427 "No! I took you to Titanic and you almost got me killed!"
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000 I would rent it for the kids if not for the ghost/blow job scene.
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500 This is still in the top 40?
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) $229,074,524 Sometimes even cool dinosaurs aren't enough.
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690 Terrible science. No logic. Still kinda liked it.

41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454 Less Tucker, more kung-fu. Jackie was in Enter the Dragon. Let him fight!
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000 Thanks to this movie, when conservatives say that Hollywood is evil, I cannot disagree.
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306 Always left the room.
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219 Okay for about 300 viewings.
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491 Shakespeare in Love really was much better. And Shakespeare in Love wasn't that great.
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307 Saw it. Have no memories of it.
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780 As Covington pointed out, "Why didn't Iceman just freeze all the water so Jean Grey didn't have to die?" Otherwise, pretty good.
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163 Watched part of it on cable. No real inclination to even get it for free at the library.
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762 Liked it. Might rent it for the kids. . . someday.
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422 Same as Goldmember.

51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350 Liked it but too long to see again.
52. The Exorcist (1973) $204,565,000 Maybe not the best movie ever but best on this list.
53. The Mummy Returns (2001) $202,007,640 You do not deserve to bask in Father Marrin's shadow.
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391 "You know how Elvis used to shoot out his television? Put in that DVD and I'm starting to channel."
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278 Only Academy Award Movie of the Year I haven't seen (except for ROTK which I intend to see soon).
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855 How did that get here?
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806 At least, no annoying kid.
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000 Surprisingly good. Pixar animators actually give a damn about their movies, as opposed to those at Disney judging from Brother Bear and Treasure Planet.
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803 A couple funny parts. Uh, couldn't you make the sequel better than the cartoon series?
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866 Thought it was only okay until Ralph re-enacted it on Sopranos.

61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485 I am not gay but I think this is a wonderful movie.
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848 My God, I liked a movie with Charlie Rocket?
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112 Val Kilmer? Who you gonna get next? George Clooney?
64. The Fugitive (1993) $183,875,760 It would be great even without the countless Simpsons' homages.
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771 Wife fell asleep midway. I didn't think that was a bad idea.
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123 I'd much rather watch Passion than see this again.
67. The Perfect Storm (2000) $182,618,434 Only watched half of it. Possibly the other half wasn't so aweful.
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380 Not a great fan but this perfectly fits the model of the Classic Greek New Comedy.
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000 Wife loves it. Uh, time to walk the dog.
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115 Better than II. Neat dinosaurs.

71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237 I know I saw this but apparently not very memorable.
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740 Heston was great. Everything else sucked.
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271 Heston was great. Everything else sucked. And Heston wasn't in this one.
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268 Uh, let's watch porn instead.
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000 In my memories, it's funny.
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728 Even in high school I realized this had more movie cliches than any other film.
77. There’s Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808 Did you know Kevin Smith wanted to do a semen-in-a-girl's-hair joke in Mallrats but the producers said audiences would hate it?
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405 My kids think it's hysterical. I hate most of the voice-actors but still liked it.
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000 Kinda liked it but have no intention of ever seeing it again.
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516 "Turn that crap off."

81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,050
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435 Tom Cruise makes up for Days of Thunder
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312 Much, much better than Gump.
85. The Matrix (1999) $171,383,253 Boy, they couldn't screw up the sequels to this, could they?
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428 Debatably the best Disney film. Only saw it a few hundred times but it holds up.
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177 Might be the best Disney if not for Phil Collins and Rosie O'Donnell. (I don't hate Rosie because she's a lesbian. I hate her because she's as annoying as hell.)
88. A Beautiful Mind (2001) $170,708,996 Liked it. But wouldn't give it movie of the year.
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505 Or this.
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960 What twisted mind thinks assisted suicide should be illegal when the producers of this still live?

91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)$165,500,000 There's not enough oral sex in the world to make me sit through this again.
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464 This too. (But here scenario is much more unlikely.)
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221 Actually liked a Leo movie.
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. The Sound of Music (1965) $163,214,286 No comment.
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. A Bug’s Life (1998) $162,792,677 Weakest of Pixar movies but still better than virtually every other kids' flick.
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. The Waterboy (1998) $161,487,252

Monday, June 21, 2004

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Phi and Dan Brown

Cecil Adams looks at the Da Vinci Code.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Twilight of the Zombies

Cecil Adams answers the greatest question ever posed: if a Dawn-of-the-Dead situation occurs, how long until the lights go out.
Science Fiction Museuem

My geek-rating must have jumped--my first thought was "Road trip!"

Monday, June 14, 2004

Guy I'd Like to Hurt

Here's a British college student who is suing the University of Kent for not allowing him to graduate after admitting to plagiarism. ("But I didn't know it was plagiarism!")

I know students are turning in papers from the Internet (or ones their mom wrote) but it's hard to prove. I did find enough evidence on one student at Southern Ohio College to make it stick but most of the time you have to grit your teeth and give them the lowest grade you can justify.
Thought-Controlled Video

This technology may be used to develop giant killer androids with laser beam eyes but for now, it's making cool video games.
Bloomsday Celebration

For all the stories my grandmother told me of Ireland, holding a Joyce festival starts to make things appealing.

What author would Cincinnati honor? Pete Bronson? The Left Behind boys? Whoever did Pete Rose's taxes?
Nuts Attack Lesbian Movie

Fanatics attempt to censor and destroy anything that doesn't confirm to their religion. . . and it's not in the U.S.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Harry Shearer's It's the Stupidity, Stupid

In keeping with my roll of Simpsons' related posts, I'll review Shearer's somewhat outdated book, published in 1999.

Shearer spends 94 pages on "Why (some) people hate Clinton and why the rest of us have to watch." That might seem like a lot but it's full of lists, tangents, and other bits that Shearer admits is just filler. Sometimes the filler is better than the main point but it is like reading a Freshman English essay by a student desperate to reach a required word count.

Shearer concludes that Clinton's stance on racism and feminism is what outrages his foes. Somehow I doubt if that's what set off Noam Chomsky. There's no mention at all of the Sudan bombing which, in an even somewhat sensible world, would be the gist of Clinton-hatred.

I've heard Clinton apologists say that he only bombed Sudan to divert attention from the impeachment hearings. I'm not sure if that's much of an excuse. "I only killed those people because some prudes were bugging me about a blow job."

Shearer's a funny guy and the book is enjoyable but it comes off as hollow. It's like trying to answer why people hate Hitler and focusing on his dopey mustache and leaving out the Holocaust.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

He Had Everything

Oh that Onion.
Homer Beats England

D'oh!
More Good News for Cryptozoology

Not quite Nessie but at least a new species.
Toxic Food Exciting

Remember when Homer thought he was poisoned by the blowfish? This would have saved him.
Not Getting Any Cooler

Based on ice-drilling, we've got 15,000 years of heat.
More Legends

Just wondering how many times this has hit Covington's in-box.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

New Blog

If you just can't get enough of my blogging, I have a new page. It's primarily for NKU students in writing classes but it's open to anyone.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Reading for Dollars, uh, Pounds

I don't know if this is brilliant or moronic. . . but if you're entertained by soccer, how could any book be worse? Grass growing or soccer? Hmm, is it that fancy Kentucky bluegrass?
Good News for Crocs

The outlook is better for the American crocodile. Contrary to common belief, American crocodiles are less aggressive than alligators. It's them furrin crocodiles that's killers.

I don't know if anybody gives a damn but my parents' have a house in Florida.
New Class

Maybe it's the fact that I've almost sliced my fingers off, but this new class gives me hope. It might be that most of them are seniors so the losers have been weeded out. (Don't get me wrong--some of my best students were freshmen.)

I'm flying without a book. I'm a little nervous about it but I lasted the night without one. I absolutely agree with Ron's comment about text books often being unnecessary. If they were ten or even twenty bucks, I wouldn't mind but I hate assigning a $60 book that is only needed for a couple of classes. If I can manage it with this class, I'm going to try to use a web page in place of a text.
Soap and Lampshades

Holocaust deniers claim that these are just myths (thereby proving everything about the Holocaust is fake). Cecil Adams has a more reasonable explanation.
Reagan in Casablanca

Here's a myth about Ronald Reagan that even appears on the back of Blockbuster's Casablanca tape cases.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Troy McClure--Union Buster

A little while ago I made a negative comment about a potential part-time faculty union at NKU. My one-year old just fell asleep so I have time to explain.

The two unions I paid into (and received virtually nothing) soured me a little on unions. Some unions--farm workers, coal miners, etc.--were and remain as vital as the 13th Amendment. If not for unions, companies would still be paying in script.

However, no one can claim unions are flawless. Maybe the connections to Junior Soprano are fictitious but a real degree of corruption exists. For many unions that's just a necessary evil. For others, it's no so necessary.

When I substitute taught for Cincinnati Public, the Teachers' Union raked my salary without any real benefits. Substitutes aren't long-term draws like full-time teachers and the union knew where their main source of money came from. In a sense, you can't blame them but they were essentially shorting a minority to help the majority.

The Grocery Workers' Union is far worse. Most employees at Kroger don't seem to last very long. (Where I work, in the Deli, a girl started on Friday and quit by Monday.) I doubt if the 14-year old bagger thinks he's in a life-long career (God help us if he does).

The union knows that the majority of its members (at this store at least) are not there for the long haul. However, they also must realize that since young people rarely vote, they're even less likely to hassle the union office if improperly represented. Virtually all the benefits offered are heavily skewed to long-timers.

The union regulates that workers receive health insurance and can't be forced to work Sundays. For an older, religious employee, that's great. For the students who already have health insurance (as well as many employees who get it from their spouses), this isn't so important.

I'd be happy if I was given the choice: higher pay or health insurance. Some of the workers have no other source of insurance so I'm glad it's available but I'm paying for a benefit that I'll never use (and Libertarians don't even like that about the government).

The workers at Biggs don't have a union. They make considerably more per hour than do workers at Kroger. The baggers at Biggs that I talked to want to keep it that way.

So finally, my point. If part-timers at NKU got a union, it wouldn't take long for union reps to recognize where the money comes from. Many grad students teach a few years before moving on to something else. I can't see them getting a fair shake. Often I feel marginalized because I teach nights and weekends. I doubt if that would escape a union's attention.

Ultimately I'm not trying to bad-mouth all unions. Many professions desperately need them. Without unions, we'd probably still be on the six-day, twelve-hour work day. Some jobs have such an odd make-up that a union just wouldn't be able to help everyone.

What would solve all the part-timers' problems would be if colleges hired them to teach full time (many of them already teach more than full-time course loads). Of course that would either raise taxes or tuition so it wouldn't happen.
Private Space Plane Launched

Even if this isn't successful, I hope something positive comes of it.
Problem Solving and You

Okay, say your car breaks down and you don't have a cell phone. What's the best way to get help? This isn't it.