This 'n' That

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton: 23 October 1942-4 November 2008

"...As in all his other science-based novels he is pessimistic about the ability of scientists to control what they create..." This is a small portion of a review of Michael Crichton's "Prey". It is taken from 15 December 2002's edition of The Observer. This writer once had the privilege of meeting Mr. Crichton.

Our brief meeting occurred at a book signing for his latest novel of the time, "Prey". As I stood in line, waiting to have my copy of his book signed, I was already intimidated by how tall Mr. Crichton was. He stood 6'9" tall when on his feet. But it seemed to me that he towered over my 6'0" frame even as he sat and I stood, offering my purchase, his book, for him to sign. Speechless at first, I had to be prompted by him: "What would you like me to write?" He asked politely. Earlier, I had seen him posing with a few of his readers for photographs. I had failed to bring my camera and regret it to this day. He was genuinely a nice guy, though the look he gave one with his intense laser-like blue eyes gave one the initial impression that he was a cold, no nonsense type of individual. Untrue. Although, as I watched him write "To, my name", and then sign his, I somehow gathered that Mr. Crichton was extremely hard working and focused. Driven was probably the word the came to me first. I could feel his mind churning and him reigning himself in so that he could tend to the business at hand without seeming too detached. It all began at Harvard, where he earned a degree in medicine while writing and publishing one of his first novels, "A Case Of Need" under the pseudonym, Jeffrey Hudson.

Supremely accomplished, Michael Crichton also studied under Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio vaccine, at Stanford University in California. At 27 he was lecturing at Cambridge University in England. Later in life Mr. Crichton wrote and directed films, "The Great Train Robbery" and "Westworld" are two of them. "Er", the long running television medical drama, is also his creation. If one wishes to learn more about the psyche, the engine that propelled, compelled Michael Crichton, his book, "Travels" is the one to seek out.

As there was probably not enough time and/or paper for Michael Crichton to put all the ideas down that crowded his active mind, there is not enough space here for this writer to describe how fortunate I feel for having once met the hardworking man who has given us so much of himself in so many creative ways.


LaurenceJarvikOnline's take on Oliver Stone's new film, "W", is that it is a classic "Oedipal struggle between father and son."
Unlike Stone's "JFK", he chooses not to toy around with fact and history, and instead portrays President George Bush as a good 'ol Texas boy in over his head. As LaurenceJarvikOnline puts it: "...he really has malice towards none, he really wants to do what's right. He really cares when he visits wounded soldiers. The tragedy is that W's just not up to the job."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


With the aid of the Hispanic vote in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States. He is also the first African American who will reside in the White House on Pennsyvania Avenue come 20 January 2009. Election 2008 was far from being a repeat of the 2000 and 2004 elections that were stained by controversies about hanging chads and insinuations of corrupt voting practices in Florida in 2000 and Ohio four years later.

Barack Obama began to build a commanding lead of electoral votes soon after polls began to close on the east coast and never faltered. Once Pennsylvania turned a dark shade of blue, a hotly contested state along with Ohio and Florida, a win for Barack Obama had become a near certainty. And then Florida and Ohio gave up their electoral votes to the popular democratic candidate, two states that had put current President George Bush over the top in 2000 and 2004 respectively.

Change has occurred. Young voters below the age of thirty turned out to vote in large numbers. Hence, the face of the voting public has also changed. No longer do the faces resemble over thirty, white, middle and upper middle class faces that have essentially lived in a vacuum of among their own kind. Young voters of today have been and are constantly exposed to, and intermingle with varied groups of people of varied races, ethnic and religious groups. They exchange thoughts and ideas about the current state of global affairs. They are far from being nationalistic by any stretch of the imagination. What has empowered the youth of today to be more curious, informed and eager to participate in order to make a difference, a change, is access to the internet. It is a fast and efficient way of accumulating information. Some of it not all that accurate. Still their faith in what they read and visualized online never caused them to waiver in their support of the man who they believed could and would bring about the kind of change they want to see. They genuinely care about quality of life they desire to live in the next four years and possibly beyond.

One critical aspect of the Obama campaign is that they placed a good amount of trust in young voters. They were trusted to separate cotton candy rhetoric from fact, to know the real issues as opposed to rumor and innuendo. And they were invited to participate in the electoral process. Most of all these young, focused voters knew what they wanted in a president; they sought him out and aggressively lent their support from the beginning to the end. What is true now and for the future is that our youth of today are brighter, more engaged, and more willing to participate in the democratic process than some of their elders would have ever believed.