Thursday, October 30, 2014

Looking back at Roland Winters as Charlie Chan

To me, and I think to most observers, Warner Oland was the best of the three actors to portray detective Charlie Chan in the series of movies. Generally, Roland Winters is the last choice (after Sidney Toler) because his acting is too stiff, not convincing, etc.

However, after due consideration, my opinion of Winters has risen. True, he does not have the quiet dignity of Oland, but Toler, although much funnier and more enjoyable to watch, just did not seem Oriental at all. His humor was almost always with a twist that made it seem like the Caucasian he was. Winters' halting English and much more reserved personality made him seem more Oriental, even if his more imposing physical stature did not.


Cruel and bloodthirsty men

"Then love in every heart would reign
And war would cease to roar;
And cruel and bloodthirsty men
Would thirst for blood no more."

This is a portion of a hymn written by William Cowper. I have sung it from my earliest memories. In recent years, as modern communication has made us ever more aware of the disgusting behavior of men in the farflung corners of this globe, this verse has come to mean more and more to me. Truly there are many of this sort, and but for the grace of God Almighty, we would all still be like that. Indeed, He is the only protection, ultimately, from such designing and unscrupulous sorts. May God have mercy!

More HERE about hymns

The ability to write and speak with precision and beauty

Grammar and vocabulary are essentially matters of fashion; they change from generation to generation to some extent. So, writing or speaking according to the fashion of the time is not strictly necessary. However, it is most valuable to be able to express oneself in such a way that those to whom we communicate will have no excuse not to know precisely what we mean. This ability involves the skillful use of vocabulary, syntax and grammar. Further, most people can learn to express themselves adequately in this regard just by reading good writers and paying a little attention as they read. (Of course, no one reads today, and that is the problem.)

Here is an example of poor expression: "Will someone go down to the bus station and pick up a woman there who has a little time to spare?" Obviously, it is not the woman at the bus station who has time, but the person picking her up. Thus, "who has a little time to spare" should be placed after "someone." Just attention to little things like that help make our communication more precise. Also, the use of specific vocabulary helps in that regard. For example, how many more descriptive synonyms are there for the word "walk"? Stroll, saunter, stride, etc. If you want people to know precisely what you mean, then say what you mean precisely.

In this high-tech world, it is also refreshing to read or hear words used beautifully. The ability to turn a phrase in just the right way is an increasingly-rare ability. Consider the skill of Sir Winston in 1940. Had he been an American of today, he likely would have said, "We will be in trouble if we do not win this war." Instead he used loftier phrases, and created something that will last as long as the English language is used: 

"Behind them - behind us- behind the Armies and Fleets of Britain and France - gather a group of shattered States and bludgeoned races: the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians - upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend, unbroken even by a star of hope, unless we conquer, as conquer we must; as conquer we shall."

More HERE about writing


Cheap UGGS Boots?

Now there is an intriguing website name. Evidently it is some sort of Australian boot. Warm looking. And even at "cheap" they are pretty expensive, at least for my economic stratum. Hand-me-downs are a lot cheaper.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The size of ancient Nineveh

According to the book of Jonah, "Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey." That obviously tells us that it was quite large, but in order to find out just how large we have to do a little digging. John Gill tells us that this distance most likely referred to its circumference. He says that Herodotus calculated a days' journey at about 19 miles, which would make the total to be 57 miles. And, if he was to travel through the city preaching repentance, his journey may not have been in a straight line. In any case, it would take Jonah three days to do what he was going to do while walking through Nineveh.

According to Wikipedia:
At this time, the total area of Nineveh comprised about 7 square kilometres (1,730 acres), and fifteen great gates penetrated its walls. An elaborate system of eighteen canals brought water from the hills to Nineveh, and several sections of a magnificently constructed aqueduct erected by Sennacherib were discovered at Jerwan, about 65 kilometres (40 mi) distant. The enclosed area had more than 100,000 inhabitants (maybe closer to 150,000), about twice as many as Babylon at the time, placing it among the largest settlements worldwide.


Surrogate children

It is interesting how a substantial industry has sprung up to provide mainly older adults with indoor pets who serve the role of "companions," and frequently are even surrogates for children. Loneliness is a powerful motivating factor in most people, and when those are gone who for years provided the primary social stimulation, many people turn to (usually) dogs or cats for companionship. Thus, breeders have developed breeds that fit the characteristics needed. And this is nothing new, for we see references to the nobility having such pets many years ago.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The benefits of governmental stability

"Revolution, for whatever reason, is self-defeating, for violent revolution results in violent reaction. Oddly enough, the worst reaction usually comes from within the revolution itself, and the first casualty is the revolutionary."

(from Rivers West, by Louis Lamour)


Coffee in the morning

Have you ever wondered why anyone ever had the idea to roast coffee beans, grind them, and then steep them in water in order to make a drink? It seems an unlikely thing. And then who discovered that coffee worked particularly well for a pick-me-up in the morning? I assume someone has written about that.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Adjusting to disabilities

My own experience with temporary disabilities (other than those related to aging) has been limited. However, I can imagine that getting used to the idea of a permanent situation must take a great deal of willpower and courage. And faith.


Friday, October 24, 2014

The advantages and disadvantages of routine

Routine and settled habits make us more productive. We get much more done when we travel in a settled path, making each movement more efficient. However, routine also tends to make us dull, if we are not careful to keep our minds sharp. A little disruption in our lives, if not too great, can do much to make us more lively.

More HERE about routine

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Shirley Temple - young and old

She captured the hearts of America as a child actor. But as she matured into a teenager and beyond, she somehow did not fit the parts she played. Her acting was a little bit forced, or contrived, or something along that line. I guess sometimes you just outgrow your roles.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I learned a new word today, one that I should have known already, had I read my Bible carefully enough. The word is sith and is found in Ezekiel 35.6: "I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee."

As can be seen from its usage here, it is an archaic usage of "since." That would be an easy word to use to show off your vocabulary, but likely people would only think that you had a cold.