Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ian Fleming and the "Terrible Grip of Blood Lust"

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Ian Fleming. His novels and short stories flesh out the character of James Bond more than most of the movies do, and you can see him arc from youthful idealism to cold realism over the course of Fleming’s corpus of work. From Russia with Love was one of JFK’s favorite books, and Anthony Burgess listed Goldfinger in his 1984 compendium Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939–A Personal Choice.

In You Only Live Twice, the last work published before his death, James Bond catches up with Ernst Stavro Blofeld and exacts vengeance for the killing of his wife in the previous novel. Battling in hand-to-hand combat in Blofeld’s Japanese castle, Bond seems to be flailing:

Blofeld saw his advantage and began attacking, making furious forward jabs that Bond could only parry by hitting at the flat of the sword to deflect it. But now the stave was slippery in the sweat of his hands and for the first time he felt the cold breath of defeat at his neck. Blofeld seemed to smell it, for he suddenly executed one of his fast running lunges to get under Bond’s guard. Bond guessed the distance of the wall behind him and leaped backwards against it. Even so, he felt the sword-point fan across his stomach. But hurled back by his impact with the wall, he counter-lunged, swept the sword aside with his stave, and, dropping his weapon, made a dive for Blofeld’s neck and got both hands to it. For a moment, the two sweating faces were almost up against each other. The boss of Blofeld’s sword battered into Bond’s side. Bond Hardly felt the crashing blows. He pressed with his thumbs, and pressed and pressed and heard the sword clang to the floor and felt Blofeld’s fingers and nails tearing at his face, trying to reach his eyes. Bond whispered through his gritted teeth, “Die, Blofeld! Die!” And suddenly the tongue was out and the eyes rolled upwards and the body slipped down the ground. But Bond followed it and knelt, his hands cramped round the powerful neck, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, in the terrible grip of blood lust.

One of my favorite passages from all the books.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Number Crunching for Fun and Profit (Well, for Fun and Coffee, at Least!)

After my post back in March about my color-coded table of the new rankings showing changes from last year to this year, I got a handful of e-mails asking about the raw data. I've gotten good at taking the PDFs of the rankings and turning them into spreadsheets, which is how I made this and other charts, and was happy to share the results of my work.

So imagine my surprise when I got this in the mail:

How nice! There's a Starbucks two blocks from my house, and though I rarely go there, they do have a CD I've been interested in.

So now we have a going rate for my spreadsheets! Ha!

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 Hurricane Season Predictions

Hurricane Season started this week and both of the big players in the prediction game are forecasting “average or below average” seasons:


Named Storms:     8-13
Hurricanes            3-6
Major Hurricanes:  1-2 

Colorado State University (PDF)

Named Storms:     10
Hurricanes:           4   
Major Hurricanes:  1

In past years I’ve only tracked CSU’s predictions at the end of each season, so maybe I should go back and see what NOAA’s track record has been since 2005 as well.
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 Jazz Fest and “Climate Disruption”

The National Climate Assessment that the White House released this week, according to media talking points, has given us a new piece of jargon: since rising temperatures have plateaued, the alarmists can’t say “global warming”; and “climate change” sounds too mild, so the new term du jour is apparently “climate disruption”.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sloppy ABA Employment Statistics

The new ABA job numbers for the Class of 2013 were released yesterday. US News & World Report asks the same basic questions and divides graduates into the same basic categories as the ABA, so these will be the numbers that will make up 14% of next year’s USN&WR rankings and everyone is looking at how their schools’ numbers changed. (Screen caps after the jump).

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