Saturday, January 19, 2008

Living Silent Movie Stars

Fay Ray

A few years back when Loretta Young died, I wondered to myself if there were any other silent film stars still living. I poked around the Internet but didn't find much. Eventually I forgot about it. Then in 2004 Fay Ray (King Kong's girlfriend) passed. I had by then become a huge fan of silent movies and I felt the loss keenly. To my shame I didn't even know she was still with us.

Well I finally got around to figuring out who's left and the answer is: not many. Nobody who could really have been called a star is still with us, though there are a number of working actors who continue to creek along. There are also a number of child actors who went on to bigger things in the talkie era who are still living-Mickey Rooney is perhaps the most famous example of this.

In any case, soon they'll all all be gone and with them an amazing period of Hollywood history. Their work however will live forever.

Romney and Clinton in Nevada; McCain wins South Carolina.

Well that about does it for my guy Fred Thompson. The only way I could possibly see him as the nominee now is if there isn't a clear result on February 5th. Twenty two states hold primaries that day and if nobody breaks ahead of the pack we could see a brokered convention with Thompson chosen as the compromise candidate. If that seems unlikely-it is. The last time a convention was anything more than a public relations exercise was 1976 when Ronald Reagan tried to knock off Jerry Ford. Even worse fellow Fredheads, the last time somebody was nominated by one of the major parties without having won a primary was 1968-and that was because President Johnson unexpectedly dropped out of the race AND Bobby Kennedy was killed. It's time to face's over. The Republican nominee will be John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, or Rudy Giuliani. I guess I have about three weeks to figure out which on I dislike the least.

Some additional thoughts here.

First Temple seal found in Jerusalem

A stone seal bearing the name of one of the families who acted as servants in the First Temple and then returned to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylonia has been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem's City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said Wednesday.

What You Don't Know Could Hurt You

Another disgusting revelation about drug companies and what they do with research that shows their drug might not do much for you. You guessed it: Circular file!

In other words, the data your shrink is going by in prescribing an antidepressant might not be the whole story. Just the part that sells the drug. Even worse, drug companies bury reports of untoward side effects or get the the analysis rejiggered to make them go away (as with Vioxx).

Bill Clinton says he witnessed voter suppression

"This is ludicrous," Culinary Workers political director Pilar Weiss told Politico. She said the union is "aware that some workers aren't going to vote our way" and doesn't engage in intimidation.

"The fact that they lost a lawsuit aimed at suppressing workers' votes, and that now they're trying to hold on to these baseless claims is ridiculous," she said.

Having been involved with unions over the years and after working in politics as a Republican none of this is a surprise to me. Union goons intimidate-that what they're for. If things don't go your way-run for the lawyers and try to change the rules. What is refreshing is that, for the moment, Democrats are doing it to each other-not to me.

California Blues

At some point we Californians should ask ourselves, how we inherited a state with near perfect weather, the world's richest agriculture, plentiful timber, minerals, and oil, two great ports at Los Angeles and Oakland, a natural tourist industry from Carmel to Yosemite, industries such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and aerospace—and serially managed to turn all of that into the nation's largest penal system, periodic near bankruptcy, and sky-high taxes.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

I am not an expert on this, but my understanding is that the huge amounts of money lavished on AIDS in Africa have distorted some countries’ primary health care systems, resulting in a brain drain from primary care into AIDS treatment. Doctors who once saved lives through simple treatments now work in prestigious, Western-funded AIDS treatment programs that save far fewer lives per dollar.

Dying of AIDS is no picnic (I watched it destroy my father by inches) especially in sub-Saharan Africa. But it's worth remembering that death by malaria isn't much fun either-and malaria is a relatively cheap disease to defeat, yet AIDS gets all the funding. I suppose the problem is that malaria isn't sexy. Quick, name somebody famous who died of malaria...I can't name any either. Do old fashioned tropical diseases need a Freddie Mercury, Rudolph Nureyev, or Rock Hudson before somebody takes this seriously? International health organization and NGO's ought allocate their scarce resources on a cost benefit basis, not based on the demands of media and Hollywood.