Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Exodus

ExodusLeon Uris' Exodus is an incredible novel about the founding of the modern state of Israel. Broken into five parts, the first is the source of the book's name - a ship carrying Jewish children from a British camp in Cyprus to Palestine against all odds.

The 1948 creation of Israel cannot be told without first telling of the Nazi final solution. Many of the children aboard the Exodus were Holocaust survivors, who were then again interred by the British in a colony on Cyprus as the English sought a decision as to what should be done with its Palestinian Mandate. Not all of the characters surived these camps; others were survivors of the Russian Pale of Settlement (the geographic area in Imperial Russia where Jews were allowed to locate). Two young Russian Jews walked on foot the great distance to Palestine.

The stories of the pogroms are not ignored, neither is the early battles with neighboring Arab states who sought the annihilation of the newly created Jewish state (during which fight the same children who have suffered so much are against transplanted to safety).  In all, the book is a fantastic history, an inspiration tale and incredibly enjoyable to read.

Ode of Remembrance

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

- The Ode of Remembrance from Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen (1914)

Thank you to all who have served and who serve .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Handicapped Parking Fail

On a Kaintuckeean No Destination drive, I happened upon Yuko-En on the Elkhorn in Georgetown. It is the official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden. But I couldn't help but notice a parking fail:

Handicap Parking Fail

My first FAIL submission.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Tudors

The Tudors - The Complete First SeasonM. and I have just finished enjoying season one of Showtime's The Tudors. The show is loosely, but still with much historical value, on the reign of Henry VIII and his six wives. Season one recalls the rise of Anne Boleyn, but concludes before their nuptials. It also deals with the King's growing dislike for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and for the Pope (though he hasn't yet created the Church of England, he is clearly considering the divine right of Kings).

Anyway, the show is really well done (though some scenes involve cheesy digitalized waves and other scenes that were clearly computer-generated). The acting is decent to good. Of course, it's a pay channel cable show so their is a lot of sex and nipple, so I wouldn't recommend watching it with kids around.

If you haven't seen it, you should. Especially since it is free streaming on Netflix.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Netflix, Documentaries and Food, Inc.

We just upgraded the home television set and are enjoying having a large screen area. We've also added Netflix to the mix, which has been a lot of fun. I think I'd be happy eliminating cable TV from the mix; M. would not support this solution.

Food, Inc.The best part about Netflix is the abundance of streaming documentaries. Over the weekend, I watched Food, Inc. It was a very telling story - jointly created by the authors of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation - about major agri-business in this country. The conditions of the animals, the overabundant use of corn as feed, and the diminishing quality (and explosive quantity) of food in America.

It is a sad story and only makes me more desirous to support local farmers, farmer's market and to grow my own produce. Support the Meatless Monday movement. Really, the movie is so eye opening. And where is the first geographic location introduced? Why, it's here in Kentucky because of the major chicken farms (Tyson) in the western part of the state. 

Anyway, you should check out this film. If it doesn't change how you view your next meal, then you deserve all of the partially hydrogenated soybean oil you are about to digest!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Food Roundup or Roundup in My Food?

We know the drill. Infection. Antibiotic. Evolving infection. Modified formula for the antibiotic. Repeat over and over. Drug-resistant infections.

Ruh oh. Yeah, we know this system. We've seen it before and we'll see it again. Here's one instance that I've not thought of before, but it sure doesn't surprise me. From the NY Times comes "Invasion of the Superweeds:"

American farmers’ broad use of the weedkiller glyphosphate — particularly Roundup, which was originally made by Monsanto — has led to the rapid growth in recent years of herbicide-resistant weeds. To fight them, farmers are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.

Soaking a field with Roundup. Then harvesting our dinner. (Reminder: Wash my veggies!) Pulling weeds by hand and regular plowing are great responses, though they will raise the cost of food. Increasingly toxic herbicides isn't a good option (see the repeat part described above).

Ultimately, the solution is what so many have come to. When and if you can, grow your own food. Join a coop. Support local farms where you know the methods used by the farmer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


At first glance, one might believe they were witnessing a Fourth of July parade. The signs of patriotism were certainly present. From the ladders of two firetrucks hung an American flag over Main Street. Adults held and gently waved American flags. But the mood was not celebratory. It was and is a day of mourning.

A Lexington Police Officer, Bryan J. Durman, was killed in the line of duty on Thursday evening by a hit-and-run driver. Durman, 27, left behind a wife and a four-year-old son. He also left behind a fraternity of blue.

Six hundred police cruisers representing agencies from throughout Kentucky, as well as agencies in Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and South Carolina drove down Lexington's Main Street today. The funeral procession left Southland Christian Church in Jessamine County at around 1:40 p.m. before it circled town on Man-O-War Blvd. before turning left onto Richmond Road for the trip downtown. I watched the procession from the intersection of Main and Mill where two University of Kentucky police officers stood at attention while blocking traffic. The scene was repeated at approximately one hundred intersections throughout Lexington.

Standing near me were attorneys, bankers, civic leaders, parol officers and others who took a time to pay their respects to the fallen officer. For about forty-five minutes, hundreds watched - in silence - as the procession rode by. For that hour, the loudest noise heard was a helicopter which followed the route. I believe that you might have heard a pin drop on Main Street on this Tuesday afternoon.

Knoxville. Evansville. Kippering. New Albany. Louisville. Covington. Ashland. Berea. Richmond. Nicholasville. Madisonville. Hopkinsville. These communities, and so many more, sent their own officers to pay respect. You could feel the fraternity among them. Before the procession, I passed a group of Louisville Metro police talking with members of the KSP. I could see the tears in their eyes.

Incredibly moving. This is how a friend, a few blocks east of I, described the procession. I can not think of two more accurate words to describe these moments.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Kentucky Derby

As a Kentuckian, no single day makes one prouder of the Commonwealth than the Running of the Roses. The first Saturday in May marks a day when the world turns their eyes upon Kentucky. And Kentucky always responds by putting its best foot forward.

I think what is most amazing is that Kentuckians - even those who aren't particularly interested in horse racing or horses - understand some racing vernacular and love the Derby. The weatherman describes the weather as 'sloppy' as the track will be quite sloppy due to all of the rain (good news for the 3 horses who have won before on a sloppy track, including the only filly in the field - Devil May Care).

Yesterday afternoon, I made it to Keeneland to place bets on a few long-shots. Today, thousands will gather at Churchill Downs to watch the featured race. Many of these people will fill the infield - even though few, if any, there will be able to see the race. So many more will gather here and around the world to sing My Old Kentucky Home and watch the most exciting two minutes in sport.

Drink a mint julep. Try some burgoo. Eat a hot brown. Watch NBC's coverage (locally, its on all day long) and see who is on Millionaire's Row. Celebrate Kentucky and its equine industry!