The Grand Illusion: What Do You See? No You Don't...

Even if you've seen this illusion before, you still don't believe it, do you?
Squares A and B are exactly the same shade of grey. Yeah, that's right. Identical.

But Square A is much darker than Square B, isn't it? After all, this is a checkerboard.

Even when we're provided with the overwhelming evidence of reality, our mind still rebels.

What gives?
We believe that our senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell provide us with a hard-edged view of a concrete world. But we have no idea how much of what we believe is purely objective is in fact totally subjective.

What we see is not what we get. Instead, what we see is a masquerade-of-the-mind disguising a reality we haven't the capacity to even imagine.

Navigating this illusion is impossible enough on our own. What happens when peer pressure is factored into the equation?

The Asch Experiment examines what happens when our view of reality crashes head-on into the community consensus. It addresses the question -- what is more valid, what we see or what we think others see?

How does Groupthink affect our sense of ethics and morality?
In the following experiment, subjects are tested to see whether their willingness to lend a helping hand is influenced by peer pressure. How do you think you would respond?

... Are you sure?

Bond vs Bond: The Connery / Craig Showdown

connery craig


Our Best Bond post giving Daniel Craig the edge of Sean Connery produced quite a debate.

Well, not so much a debate as an outcry from loyal Connery fans. We feel that Craig's portrayal is truer to the character in the Ian Fleming novels. That's our story and we're stickin' with it.

Connery: The Quintessential Bond
We do that though with full deference to Sean Connery who we referred to as the Quintessential Bond. Without Connery, there would be no franchise today for Craig to enjoy. Connery had a massive impact on the role and the culture.

We know. We were one of the many young boys who spent hours in front of a mirror trying to get that left eyebrow to arch without the right one going up with it. Seriously.

Spotlight on Sean
Given all that, we felt that we hadn't given Sean nearly enough credit for his remarkable achievements with the role. So after giving Daniel Craig the spotlight on Monday, we thought today we'd show some deserved respect to Connery, Sean Connery.

Let's start with the two actors in question.

Daniel Craig: "Connery is my favorite Bond"
In a 2005 interview, Connery called Craig a "terrific choice" for the role of Bond. "He's a good actor. A completely different departure." But before the release of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, in interviews, praised Sean Connery as his favorite Bond and commented that he was a big fan of the actor as a child.

And from Pierce Brosnan; "Goldfinger was the first movie I ever saw"
Pierce Brosnan also spoke of his great admiration for Connery. Somewhat ironically, Sean's Goldfinger was not only the first Bond movie Pierce ever saw, it was the first film he ever saw on the big screen. "Little did I think that I would be playing the role someday," he's quoted as saying.

Who's the Best Bond -- Poll Results
A joint poll conducted earlier this year by and determined that Connery was not only the favorite Bond, but that he bested Craig by a two-to-one margin!

sean connery graph

Not everyone liked Sean...
While we are great fans of Sean Connery's portrayal there is one person who thought he was an absolutely dreadful choice for the role. That would be character-creator Ian Fleming. Fleming is quoted as saying he was "looking for Commander James Bond, not an overgrown stuntman."

Physically, Fleming pictured a guy who looked like a less attractive version of 1920s songwriter Hoagy Carmichael.


O--kay... Hmmm. Maybe Fleming didn't have as good a fix on the true character of James Bond as we thought...

How About James Bond Movie Themes? and also conducted a joint poll rating the themes of James Bond movies in March 2009.

Favorite James Bond Theme Songs:

Live And Let Die - Paul McCartney and Wings
Goldfinger - Dame Shirley Bassey
Diamonds Are Forever - Dame Shirley Bassey
Nobody Does It Better - Carly Simon
James Bond Theme (Dr. No) - John Barry Seven and Orchestra
We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong
GoldenEye - Tina Turner
View To A Kill - Duran Duran
Living Daylights - A-Ha
James Bond Theme - John Arnold (ANI)

Goldfinger #2?!
We reacted to these poll findings much the way that many readers reacted to our picking Craig over Connery. Dame Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger taking second place to Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die is wrong on so many levels, don't you think?

For our money, we'd move Tina Turner's Goldeneye somewhat higher on the list.
Tina captured the Bassey growl yet made the song her own.

We notice that Matt Monro's From Russia with Love is nowhere to be found here on the list of best bond themes ... and rightfully so.

Apoc Post 11/23/09: Seven for 007: Who Was the Best Bond of Them All?

Seven for 007: Who Was the Best Bond of Them All?


Scene from Goldfinger (1964):
Bond is strapped to a table. A razor-thin laser beam blazes its way ever closer to Bond. In mere seconds he will be sliced in two, the hard way. Amused and slavering, the evil Goldfinger, the man with the Midas touch -
a spider's touch - looks down on it all.


Do you expect me to talk?!

Goldfinger: No, Meester Bond. I expect you to die!

For some reasons, Bond villains like to call 007, Meester Bond.
It's required. That pseudo-deference somehow makes the bad guys seem more menacing. Try it. Meester Bond. See? You sound scarier already.

Since Ian Fleming first created the character way back in the early 1950s, a number of actors have played Bond on the big screen. Here's our ranking of the seven best, in reverse order.

7 George Lazenby The Forgotten Bond -- On Her Majesty's Secret Service

George seemed like a nice enough guy.
He somehow got caught in the negotiations-crossfire between Sean Connery and the Bond producers and ended up with the job, looking more shaken than stirred.

Connery had just left the role for the first time when George came on board for his single Bond mission, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Connery, afterwards, returned to the franchise for the embarrassing Diamonds are Forever.

George was a little stiff on screen. Maybe if he'd had a longer tenure, he'd have had the chance to loosen up a little.

6 David Niven The Recommended Bond -- Casino Royale (1967)

That 1967's Casino Royale was the worst Bond film ever is an understatement.
This movie may be the most confounding piece of cinema ever. But David Niven's special pedigree earns him a position in this ranking ahead of George Lazenby.

You see, when the character was about to make the leap from the printed page to the big screen, Niven was author/creator Ian Fleming's personal choice for the role. It's even rumored that Fleming developed the character in his novels with David Niven in mind. And if that wasn't enough, two of Fleming's Bond novels actually mention David Niven, as an actor, by name.

Niven's personal blessing from Fleming earns him this ranking position, but in no way excuses this confused, meandering mess of a movie.

5 Roger Moore The Cartoon Bond -- 7 Films

roger moore

Roger Moore made James Bond more of a caricature than a character.
What Adam West brought to Batman is what Roger Moore brought to James Bond. Connery's replacement spawned the campy, cartoonish era of the series.

But Moore's contribution is not to be overlooked. He sustained the franchise for seven films.

Moore's stuntmen were in their own way more important to those seven films than he was. The Spy Who Loved Me had this iconic chase moment that Moore didn't even need to leave his trailer for:

4 Pierce Brosnan The Madison Avenue Bond -- 4 Films


Pierce Brosnan would have been Bond sooner but couldn't because of his NBC TV show, Remington Steele.
By the time he got the role, the whimsical side of of his TV persona was gone. Brosnan was more realistic in his portrayal and a welcome relief from the tired tenure of Roger Moore, but seemed to be a somewhat detached, walking showcase for dozens of product placements and merchandising tie-ins.

3 Timothy Dalton The Bad-Timing Bond -- 2 Films

timothy dalton

Timothy Dalton's problem was timing.
Dalton was actually one of the first actors considered to take over the role the first time Connery walked. He turned down the offer to play 007 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service because, at only 23 years old, he thought he was too young for a license to kill.

Less gimmicky, more gritty
He was also offered For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy but turned them down, apparently because he didn't like the whimsical direction the franchise had taken. If he was going to play Bond, he wanted the films to be less gimmicky and more gritty.

He got his wish with The Living Daylights, a box office winner. His second Bond movie, Licence to Kill, had a sluggish reaction in the US but did well worldwide. Goldeneye was to be next but a five-year long dispute among production companies held up the project. Dalton got tired of waiting and Pierce Brosnan got the call instead.

2 Sean Connery The Quintessential Bond -- 7 Films

What? Number 2?!
By all rights, Sean Connery should be Numero Uno. After all, he invented single-handedly not just the role but the modern spy genre. For 50 years, every TV and movie spy has been a variation of Connery's theme. Connery made Bond a household name and made 007 everybody's lucky number.

But though Connery starred in arguably the best of the Bond films, like Goldfinger, Thunderball and Dr. No, he was also in Diamonds are Forever, a double-oh-dreck effort as bad as anything Roger Moore ever released.

Toward the end, his boredom with the role was undeniable. It just didn't seem like Sean was having fun anymore. His non-canonical return to the role in Never Say Never Again was a treat for his fans but had a certain I'm-only-doing-this-for-the-money feel to it.

1 Daniel Craig The Rebooted Bond -- 2 Films and Counting...

daniel craig

Back to the Basics

The James Bond that Ian Fleming created wasn't a suave, wise-cracking playboy. He was a hired killer, a blunt instrument designed to inflict a mortal blow as necessary for Queen and country.

The producers were lucky to be able to reboot the franchise with a film based on the novel that launched the Bond books. They used that opportunity to retool 007 in a manner more aligned with the original concept.

Daniel Craig offers a new minimalist take on 007, respectful of the characters roots yet aligned with today's post-Cold War realities.

Ironically, our choice for the best Bond of them all is also the shortest of them all. The actors who have played the role are all over 6 feet tall. Though there are a range of estimates of Craig's height, all register under the 6' mark.

connery craig
Bond vs Bond: The Connery / Craig Showdown

Other Choices
Other actors had a shot at playing 007. Check out the screen tests for Sam Neill and James Brolin

Sam Neill

James Brolin

Apocalypzia Question:
Now that the Bond series has been rebooted should some of the Fleming books that became Moore movies be remade with Daniel Craig?

The Magic Bullet: The First Weapon of Mass Destruction


It has been 46 years since John F. Kennedy was cut down by assassins' bullets in Dallas, TX.
The president was 46 years old when he was killed. It was the most widely-witnessed hit-job in human history, involving the most famous person on the planet at the time.

Lee Harvey Oswald, an avowed Marxist acting alone shot the President and wounded the Governor of Texas as moving targets, 200 feet away from 6 story window, with a $12 Carcano war-suplus rifle and was, himself, murdered two days later by the grief-stricken owner of a Dallas strip club.

That's their story and their sticking with it.

Whose story?

For nearly half a century the debate has raged on about whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

For the record, we have no idea whether he did or he didn't.

But we do believe that whether or not the US Government was complicit in the murder of the President of the United States, it had a vital and vested interest in selling the Lone Gunman Theory to the American people.

Imagine in the worldwide impact on a Cold-War world to the following headlines the morning of November 23, 1963:

Soviet Agent Assassinates US President; LBJ Orders Retaliatory Nuclear Strike on Moscow
If you think that headline is far-fetched, you're probably too young to remember that just one year before this assassination, the US and the Soviet Union came within a heartbeat of thermonuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Bloody Coup in US, Government Militants Execute President, Seize Control of Washington
If the US Government or any of its agencies were involved in the murder it would have resulted in not just the death of a man but the death of the 187 year old American experiment. With one bullet, fired by, or allowed to be fired by, agents of the US Government, the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence would be forever more worthless pieces of paper.

Rogue Marxist Terrorist Group kills US President; Who will be Next?
What kind of impact do you think that headline would have had on the financial markets and international alliances?

JFK Killed By Hired Gun of Jealous Husband
We've always found it interesting that people were quick to believe almost any rumor or innuendo of how JFK lived but were just as quick to reject mountains of data that there was more to his death than a lone gunman with a $12 rifle.

The Magic Bullet Theory 2003: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Knowledge of a conspiracy of any manner would have been too difficult to deal with. It would have pushed the US Government into untenable confrontations and might likely have resulted in worldwide panic rather than grief.

Maybe the Lone Gunman Defense is true, but it is the most improbable of all scenarios. And isn't it interesting that of all the things that might have been, the incredulous Lone Gunmen Theory was the least problematic way to frame the tragedy?

And if the American people could be convinced to buy the idea of a Lone Gunman -- or a Magic Bullet that stops and changes direction in mid-air -- or a victim's body, after being shot, falling toward the shooter rather than away from him, what else might they become convinced of with the flimsiest of evidence?