31 January 2007

The Moral Dilemma of 24

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece on the moral dilemma provided in a show like 24. An excerpt:

But it is not merely a question of choosing between family and a greater good; or -- in other contexts that crop up repeatedly on the show -- between civil liberties and national security; or between torture and human rights. It is a failing of our politics that these kinds of questions, in the real world, are presented by both sides as either easy to answer or unnecessary to choose between -- or both. It is one achievement of "24" that it treats these tradeoffs as both real and difficult. They are questions that depend on the circumstances in which they are asked.

Which is not to say that the characters in the show always see things as difficult; it would stretch credulity if every character had a knack for moral subtlety. The show's characters -- good, bad and in between -- can be judged by the extent to which they are able to weigh these countervailing demands. The reputation of Jack Bauer, the counterterrorism officer extraordinaire, has survived episodes in which he threatened to cut out the eye of a presidential aide or shot bad guys in the knees because he never seems to lose sight of the larger goal of saving the country or of resolving the apparent contradictions into which he is sometimes forced in that quest. One of the president's aides, by contrast, reacts to the nuclear blast by suggesting that it's a good opportunity to round up Muslims en masse. The callousness of the idea, as much as its content, exposes him as morally obtuse and thus sinister.

In another difficult moment from last week, Bauer was forced to choose between saving the life of a known terrorist and murderer and taking the life of a federal agent and friend. If history is any guide, viewers of the show will presumably be given reason to question whether Jack made the correct decision before this season is out. But the contrast between Bauer and the agent he had to kill to save the terrorist lies in the ethical realm: Much as he hates to save the bad guy, he knows that the terrorist may be the only hope of preventing even more murders down the road. The agent he kills, by contrast, is motivated purely by the desire for personal revenge.

The entire thing is available on the OpinionJournal Page.

30 January 2007


This is long but funny, from Whose Line is it Anyway?

26 January 2007

SPOTD E-mail on the Web (#115)

I will continue my new plan and post this e-mail on the SPOTD blog. I am investigating a way to host the blog on my Spanish Phrase of the Day website, and that would simplify things too.

As always, check out Right Wing Pundit for my ultra-liberal commentary.

Today's phrase:
From Benjamin Franklin:

La puerta de la sabiduría nunca está cerrada.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Lah pwair-tah day lah sah-bee-durr-ee-ah noon-kah ace-stah say-rrah-dah.

The door to wisdom is never closed.

The Illusionist
I saw The Prestige a few months ago and really enjoyed it. It came out around the same time as The Illusionist, which I hadn't seen until last weekend. I was very pleased. I'd assumed that The Prestige was the better film and lumped them together but The Illusionist was a different sort of movie and one we enjoyed very much.

This is a list of Guitar World Magazine's 100 best guitar solos. Number one is not big surprise, and I was pleased to see one of my favorites, Slash on November Rain.

Andrew Card, former Chief of Staff for President Bush, offers some interesting insights into the world of Fast-food management. It piqued my interest.

These are some cool pictures from the upcoming Michael Bay film, Transformers. I am quite excited about the movie, and the design for Optimus Prime gives me a good vibe.

Gilbert Arenas is an NBA player and entertains off the court with his candid comments. In response to being cut from the US Olympic Team he has done his best to perform against the coaching staff that he feels wronged him. His latest boast is an entertaining one.

American Idol
Lacy & I love American Idol. The audition episodes do have some flaws, but that is due more to the producers that pre-select contestants and the editors that put the episode together. It's not the judges fault, despite what we might hear or thing.
On last Wednesday's episode there was an audition with a girl who was wearing a cowboy hat. She was pretty upset, and It was like being at a friends house as a little kid and they mouth off to their parents or get in trouble and you just sit there thinking "I don't want to be here," except that with American Idol you sort of do.

Link of the Day
Speaking of American Idol, one of the best performers in last week's shows was a guy by the name of Sundance Head. Interestingly, his father Roy Head has a number one hit in the 60's. He was dethroned by The Beatles Yesterday, but his was a tune that you will recognize when you see the chorus.
Watch this guy move. He does some crazy stuff.

24 January 2007

From the Depths

This is an incredible story. An ancient species of shark was seen off the coast of Japan. Normally it resides at depths of at least 600M. This one was clearly sick, as it died shortly after being transferred by scientists. Take a look:

You can see video of the shark from Reuters here and National Geographic has more photos here. It looks like something out of a Science Fiction film. I recommend you check out the video.

23 January 2007

Dead Pocket

This is a pretty funny video, perhaps a little heavy on the discussion of the effect of Hot Pockets on bodily functions, but as one who has eaten a Hot Pocket on occasion, if made me laugh.

Hot Pocket filled with a Hot Pocket? I liked that one.

22 January 2007

Two Things

I have two things to share, one entertaining and the other enlightening. This is appropriate, as the SPOTD has always been about entertaining and informing, not always in that order. First I would like to send a shout out to SPOTD sister-in-law Lillie Biesinger (see her excellent blog) for begging me to do this. I listen to my public.

Item 1:
Eric Snider is a humor columnist and movie critic. Every year he attends Sundance Film Festival, publishing funny diaries of his experiences there. In preparation for this visit he wrote a column, The Audubon Society's Guide to Celebrity Watching. An excerpt:

Not many celebrities are indigenous to Utah. The air is too thin, the liquor too inaccessible. They prefer to live in the more fertile climes of California. The few celebrities that are native to the Beehive State tend to be lesser sub-species, like Wilford Brimley. And the types rarely mix: If Wilford Brimley were to try to join a pack of Hollywood celebrities, they would tear his ample, walrusy flesh from his bones.

It is funny and timely. Read more here.

Item 2:
This item is pleasing because it describes a practice that I adopted several years ago (on the recommendation of my uber-hygienic mother- zapping my kitchen sponge in the microwave:

Sponges and kitchen scrub brushes can be loaded with disease-causing viruses and bacteria. So microwave them, scientists say.
Researchers soaked sponges and scrubbers in a disgusting brew of raw wastewater containing fecal bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites and bacterial spores, including Bacillus cereus spores—known for being very hard to kill with heat, chemicals and even radiation.
Zapping at full power for two minutes killed or inactivated 99 percent of living pathogens. It took 4 minutes to destroy the B. cereus spores.

It's fun to feel ahead of the curve. One of the scientists quoted is from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

By the way, thanks to Lillie, Rachelle (other SPOTD sister-in-law), and anyone else who has commented. It's fun to see your thoughts.

18 January 2007


This post was inspired by a comment I made to Lacy tonight:

"The Lowry's have been freezing and reheating pancakes for decades."

Pancakes are a big part of my family. For many years we ate pancakes every week, and the Lowry recipe has some special ingredients, so it became a part of the family fabric. This has been a new thing for Lacy, but it's also taught her some things about this favorite food:

  • Cottage Cheese make pancakes taste better.
  • You can freeze pancakes for weeks, and then reheat them in the microwave and they taste just as good.
  • Joseph III will eat pancakes when I give them to him. It's a Joe thing.
  • When I was 12 or 13 I ate 18 pancakes in one sitting (a family record that I don't want to break, though I've been close many times).

Important stuff. Writing this post was Lacy's idea.

14 January 2007

TV Loving

I am a big TV fan. I am particularly enthused about the return of 24, one of the best shows. I have been a fan from Day 1 and this year's season promises to be a good one. If you want some insight into the season you can read this TV Guide interview with Kiefer Sutherland.

This is a good time for TV-lovers. There are some excellent drams on TV, from Lost to Battlestar Galactica to The Unit. There is great comedy like The Office and 30 Rock. Even reality TV has some bright spots with enjoyable but corny Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.

The advent of DVR makes it possible for the TV lover to have a favorite show (or two) every night of the week. By avoiding commercials you can watch them in less than an hour. This means that you can do all that and watch less TV than the average American. I love technology.

13 January 2007

Joseph's New Video

I'm pleased to have another video of Joseph to show. He is almost 18 months old.

The video is in a few segments. The first is of Joseph dancing to the Wiggles. Watch him and you'll see how he tries to do the motions, which he has picked up on his own. In the second segment he does his best to catch the camera.

12 January 2007

SPOTD E-mail on the Web (#114)

I've decided to start posting the SPOTD on the SPOTD blog concurrent with sending it out by e-mail. So you can also visit Spanish Phrase of the Day to read it. I hope you would visit anyway as there are a lot of interesting things. You can see pictures of my new house (under construction), stuff about the football game, and a hilarious video, Taco Town.

Check out Spanish Phrase of the Day for new pictures of Joseph, and soon a new video. I have also written some things on Right Wing Pundit, although with less frequency. The political arena mostly frustrates me these days. But please check it out if you are into the politico.

Today's phrase:
From Napoleon Bonaparte

La victoria pertenece a quien persevera más.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Lah veek-tore-ee-ah pear-tay-nay-say ah kyen pear-say-vay-ray mahs.

Victory belongs to this that persevere the most.

The Game
I was pleased with the Gator's victory on Monday night and wrote about it on the SPOTD blog. Luke Winn of SI.com goes into how impressive the win was.
I also enjoyed this recap of different comments made on college football by Steward Mandel. I like a writer who can admit their mistakes.
On the NFL side I'm pulling for the Chargers. San Diego is my West Coast home after all.

Honoring the Fallen
On Right Wing Pundit I talked about a Marine that lost his life in Iraq when he jumped on a grenade, saving his comrades from serious injury. For this act of bravery he was awarded the Medal of Honor. The following picture was taken of the President during the presentation.

The Perfect Human
At least that's the name of the article. The man profiled is some kind of mutant runner, and he did 50 marathons in 50 days. Some kind of feat.

The Astronaut Farmer
I hope this movie is a good one. Despite a WMD dig, this is just my kind of Saturday afternoon matinee.

Link of the Day
Today's link(s) is a real winner. Some time ago (and you may already have seen it) a Yale grad sent resumes and a video to investment firm UBS AG. He was pretty effusive in self-praise. The video is 6 minutes of pure unintentional comedy.
Apparently much of what Vayner claims is untrue. That's not hard to believe. His Wikipedia page provides further insight.
What prompted me to make this the Link of the Day is this parody video with Michael Cera, best known as George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development. If you have seen the real one you will love this one.

09 January 2007

New SPOTD Headquarters

I wanted to post some pictures of our new house that is currently being constructed here in Gainesville. I tried to provide a few glimpses of the process, from the pile of dirt to the almost completed exterior.

The aforementioned pile of dirt.

The small-looking concrete slab.

The house starts to take shape.

The study with Lacy's desired bay window.

The kitchen (our favorite room).

Getting closer. We hope to be in the house sometime in March, allowing us to settle in before the arrival of Little Girl Lowry.

08 January 2007

Gators Win!

Allow me to feel a bit of pride in my predictive ability, although I never expected the Gators to be SO dominant. Yesterday I mentioned that Florida did indeed have a strong running game, albeit an unconventional one.

I found the coverage by FOX to be inferior in many respects, and thought that the commentators were guilty of drinking the media Kool-Aid of Ohio State's dominance. So much for the talk of a Michigan-Ohio State rematch. So much for the talk of USC being the best team in the country. Florida absolutely manhandled this team, this much-praised Buckeye squad, and I loved every minute of it. I still haven't forgotten Miami-Ohio State 2003.

A few conclusions from this college season:

  • Neither Troy Smith or Brady Quinn are the best player or Quarterback in the country. John Beck of BYU deserves some mention in the QB category, as does LSU's Jemarcus Russell.
  • The Big 10 continues to be an overrated conference.
  • Urban Meyer is one heck of a coach. Spurrier who?
  • The Sports media doesn't know any more than the rest of us.
  • College Football is the best, most exciting sport in the land!

07 January 2007

BCS Championship

I hope to send out SPOTD #114 before tomorrow's game, but if I don't have a chance before then I wanted to formally declare my support for the Gators in tomorrow's championship contest. I think the speed of Florida will match up well, and I think Florida has a real chance to pull this one off. Here is ESPN's central place for game info.

Most of the naysayers cite Florida's "weak" running game, but Florida managed to amass 2,000 yards rushing this year. Although they have no specific star runner, they can get the yards that they need. I like having many weapons.

It almost hurts me to say it- Go Gators!

05 January 2007


I have to admit I was among those that greeted Nick Saban's arrival in Miami with excitement. Having admired his work in Baton Rouge (with little knowledge of him previous to that) I thought he would do a good decisive job.

Well I pity the fool and the fool is me.

This article from Yahoo! Sports provides some insight into Saban's past and what kind of guy he is. He's not a guy that I respect. I am glad that's he's gone despite some concern about the state of the Dolphin's organization. I think we'll be better off without him and I hope he and the dysfunctional fans/Administrators at Alabama are very happy together. I don't think either really knows what they are getting into.

02 January 2007

SPOTD E-mail on the Web (#113)

I wanted to send out a SPOTD before I left for California, but things were busy before leaving and have been busy since. We had a great Christmas with Lacy's family in San Diego and am spending the New Year with her parents. Joseph has lots of fun with his cousins, especially Sophia. She is the daughter of Lacy's sister Lillie and her husband Ross. They are only 5 weeks apart. I will put some pictures of the trip on Spanish Phrase of the Day and the website.

Today's phrase:
A repeat, in honor of the New Year. Repetition is the key to learning.

¡Felíz año nuevo!

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Fay-lease ahn-yo nway-voe

Happy New Year!

The Miami Hurricanes had a rough season this year, but managed to pull off a close victory in their bowl game.
BYU on the other hand had a great season, after some early missteps, and finished their season with a convincing win over Oregon, 38-8. It was the most dominant performance I have seen from BYU in a long time, and against a foe that should have put up more of a fight, their record notwithstanding.
I'm rooting for Florida to kill Ohio State in the Championship Game. Dirty buckeyes!
And I couldn't care less about the Alabama head coaching job. The sports media are a little too excited about a position that matters much less than it used to.
Congrats to Tom Proctor for winning the first ever SPOTD Fantasy Football league. You can visit the league home page here.

I saw Rocky Balboa the other day and thought it was fantastic. I have long been a fan of the Rocky films, notwithstanding how poor the 5th movie was. This film was a satisfying finish to the series. Yo, go and see it.

Scoop: This film by Woody Allen went largely unnoticed, but its a fun one. The writing is very good and the story is clever.
The Holiday: This is a better than average Chick Flick. The story, while containing the usual Hollywood serenditpities, is more believable than most. Normally the genre relies on ridiculous decisionmaking by the protagonists to create dramatic conflict. The Holiday avoided that and it was a good choice.
A Prairie Home Companion: More of a love letter to the long running radio program than anything else. Clever and sometimes very amusing, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

Awesome Video
Defies description

2nd Amendment
I don't own a hangun, but I have always enjoyed shooting. Recently I've decided that I would like to own one, and while the decision to buy has not been made, my weapon of choice has been identified.
It's a nice weapon.

Link of the Day
Check out this funny piece from http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2006/10/10bryan.html '>McSweeney's.
There is renewed talk of the 4th Indiana Jones movie being made this year. Hopefully it will work out.