Monday, November 30, 2020

I'll Take "Think Outside the Box" for $100

The recent death of Alex Trebek leaves the venerable TV quiz show Jeopardy more than a little adrift. The show taped only half its season before going on break, and it doesn't want to just write off half a season. The studio probably wouldn't like to lose that much money coming out of pandemic-related hiatuses anyway, plus the many people who worked on the show with Trebek say he would have disliked a mid-season shutdown for its harm on the people with everyday kind of paychecks.

So far it seems like the plan is to get a rotating roster of familiar Jeopardy faces to finish out the season before making a move to a more permanent successor. The first is all-time winner Ken Jennings, whose 74 consecutive wins tops all other contestants. Some folks suggest Jennings should get the job permanently, but there are a number of problems with that. Chief among them is that he's a jerk. Or, more fairly, that he knows how to portray one on social media. You'd hope that Jennings, like a lot of other meatheads who use the platform, simply gave in to temptation to say something in front of people but without saying it to anyone's face. But even though the miracle of pre-taping can make certain similar outbursts would never make it on air, if they happened they'd be bound to have a corrosive effect on the show and its image.

Levar Burton is another potential permanent successor and would probably do a good job -- but here's where I, who will never be found guilty of being a very woke feminist, would like to stake out a spot for women. In a conversation via comment a couple of weeks ago with blogger Brian Noggle, I suggested Mayim Bialik would be a good choice. Bialik is personable and capable of projecting some nerdy host charm and holds an actual doctorate in neurobiology -- she was the Big Bang Theory cast member who already knew the science words in her script.

Brian also suggested actress Danica McKellar, perhaps best known as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years and as the author of several books encouraging school-age girls to discount the idea that math is for boys and girls can't succeed at it. McKellar would probably also be able to project the kind of calm authority-with-a-twinkle-in-its-eye at which Trebek excelled. She's no slouch in the classroom either, graduating summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in mathematics and being a named developer of something called the "Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem," explained in a paper she and another undergraduate helped their professor research and write.

I'm not a person who figures a woman should get a prominent role just because up until now a man's always had it. But part of me would like to see strong campaigns for either or both McKellar and Bialik if only because the eventual choice to go with yet another dude would help show what a fib show business tells us when it talks about its progressive and egalitarian character.

Plus, at 63 Burton's smack in the middle of the baby boom, while both Bialik (44) and McKellar (45) are Xers. It'd be kind of a nice change to see an Xer get a job instead of yet another Boomer.

Sunday, November 29, 2020


The original John Calvin developed the doctrine of predestination as a way of trying to accomodate the absolute sovereignty of God in a world which also included the total depravity of fallen humanity. The more recent holder of that name dispenses with such matters in favor of even deeper theological questions in a reprint from earlier this week:

Could tigers be happy in a heaven where they couldn't eat people? And would people be happy in a heaven where there were no tigers?

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

Over at Twisted Sifter, we find a link to a article about a scientist who was studying the riding of bicycles. In an experiment related to his paper, he turned a bicycle loose without a rider 800 times and mapped the different routes it followed before falling over.

The interesting thing is that the number of repeititions led to a largely symmetrical collection of paths. Although it's unlikely the bike followed the exact same path more than once, it begins each time on a similar straight line before beginning to wobble. Bunches of the wobbles start out the same before diverging, and only in a very few does the bike travel the longest distance before it falls over.

The map shows a couple of things -- one, we can see how an algorithm works. The equation is tweaked with at one variable or another and produces a different result, and the bike is tweaked by hitting an imperfection in the road, feeling a gust of air, not receiving a push at its precise balance point, and losing energy the longer it travels. 

We also see how an algorithm doesn't always work and why sometimes, Amazon suggests really odd books for you given your previous taste. The "tweaks" in both the algorithm and the paths of the bike are random and can't be predicted with much precision. Until more data gets entered -- in the form of more tweaks in either the algorithm or the bike path, there's not very much that can be predicted about where the bike will end up on this attempt. When Amazon's algorithm acts before it has enough data, it might wind up recommending you read a book about and printed in ancient Sanskrit. You'll tell it no and it will make that another tweak in its path.

And by the way: 800 times! I hope that was done over a couple of days or so.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Fraud Fraud?

The most interesting response in this Gizmodo story in which some scientists were asked to name the biggest scientific fraud of the last 30 years comes from a lady named Felicitas Hessellmann, a researcher at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Most frauds, she said, aren't all that big. Really big frauds can be hard to pull off, especially in a world of instant communication. So most frauds are middle of the road, making it hard to find a big one, let alone name one as more fraudulent than another.

On the other hand, the ones the other two interviewees name -- the tobacco industry's in-house research labs and the claim that vaccines cause autism -- were pretty big frauds. So maybe the answer's usually somewhere in between.

Thursday, November 26, 2020


Ate meatloaf.

Not sorry.

May you have much for which you are grateful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


By several accounts, President Trump is acknowledging that his attempts to question and even overturn vote totals he believes are in error will not succeed. He's set the transition process into motion and directed his staff to cooperate with the incoming folks likely to be working in a Joe Biden administration.

But of course he's not stopping his claims that the 2020 presidential election was so steeped in fraud that, rather than narrowly losing, he actually won by an amazing landslide. Both the president and his legal team continue to lay the blame for his defeat at the hands of incompetent or dishonest election officials. Or an electronic voting system run by a company whose leadership donated extensively to Democratic caniddates. Or thousands if not millions of fradulently cast mail-in ballots. Or anything, apparently, other than his own lack of discipline, immaturity and manifest character deficiencies and the fact that, as lousy of a candidate as Joe Biden is and as much of a grifting hack as Joe Biden is, he possesses the indisputable advantage of not being Hillary Clinton.

And here's the thing I think a lot of people overlooked. He's going to keep doing so. Donald Trump will literally never stop claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him until he's buried in a hideously garish golden coffin. And major media outlets will remain consistently unable to see that what they claim are an endless series of dunks on the president actually give him exactly what he wants: endless notoriety. And everybody who predicated their support for Biden on the idea it would send Trump home to obscurity will have to put up with seeing and hearing about him almost as often as they do now.

It's kind of ironic. More than one anti-Trump pundit or politician hinted that in order for some of the civil unrest the nation's been responding to in various cities and states to disappear, Biden would have to win the election. That'll probably turn out to not be good enough in the long run to keep the break all windows crowd at home.

What would have been certain if Trump had won, though, was that his time on the national stage would have a natural end. He'd serve his four years and then go the way of ex-presidents, especially if they are Republican: To being treated as if they did not exist. The one use to which they are put -- comparison with some current Republican as a way of proving just how crazy Republicans are today -- would clearly not suit the president. Yes, he'd be president and yes, the media would not be able to shut up about him for five seconds and they'd keep shoving his face onto the screen. But after four years it would be over, because there are term limits on presidents.

There are no term limits on whiners. The president can and will, once he leaves office, continue to claim the election was stolen. He'll use it as a launchpad for a 2024 run. He'll never go away now, and everyone who thought they were getting rid of him will find out he'll perform a kind of perverse Obi Wan Kenobi and become more powerful even though they thought he'd been struck down.

And his opponents have only themselves to thank.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Somebody Wake Zarathustra

A helicopter with some folks from the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource was flying in southern Utah, counting wild bighorn sheep when it spotted something.

A shiny metal monolith, standing all by itself in a red rock cove. The different departments are investigating but as of today still didn't have a handle on what exactly the thing was supposed to be or who put it there. The best theory right now is that it may be part of some oddball art piece, which, maybe. I dunno.

I mean, I'm not saying it's aliens...

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Latest

James Grant has been writing the adventures of Jack Reacher since 1997 and as he's come into his mid-60s he's been wanting to take a break and retire from that work. So he talked with his younger brother Andrew Grant, himself the author of a few adventure thrillers, to see about first partnering and then taking over the series. The logistical issue comes in the names involved -- James Grant writes as Lee Child and Andrew Grant under his own name. So Andrew Grant became Andrew Child for the purposes of the Reacher series, and their first collaboration hit bookshelves a few weeks ago under both of their names: The Sentinel.

Reacher's traveling through a small Tennessee town when he spots a man about to be ambushed by some thugs. Despite his lack of permanent ties he's not in favor of that sort of thing so he stops the attack -- emphatically. After the thugs make their escape -- some less conscious than others -- Reacher learns that he's saved a man nobody in town likes much at all. Rusty Rutherford was the town's information technology manager and a ransomware attack has locked up all of the town's information. Although he'd been warning them about the security breach, the town government and the rest of the citizens would rather blame Rusty than blame themselves and he's the town's most hated guy. He's trying to prove his innocence but doesn't know why anyone would try to kidnap him, which intrigues Reacher enough that he starts digging into the matter while hanging around to watch Rusty's back. The whole mess turns out to involve Russian cyber-warfare, sleeper agents, neo-Nazis and some good old-fashioned murder. All Rusty has is Reacher. Anyone who's read any of the previous 24 books has a pretty good idea how that is likely to turn out.

The younger Child brings pluses and minuses to his first outing with the iconic hero. On the plus side he offers some of liveliness the series had in its first ten years or so. Never chatty, Reacher had grown more taciturn and misanthropic and made recent books something of a drudge to move through. On the minus side he doesn't have his brother's economy with words and comes across as more of a Reacher pastiche than an actual Reacher adventure. That may settle out as he moves forward.

Sentinel's plot is more than a little outlandish once all of the layers of the onion are peeled back, but that's not exactly foreign to the series. As the series creator James Grant is more than entitled to continue it in whatever manner he wishes and he's also entitled to think his brother is the best choice to do that. Over the next couple of books, if we see Andrew Grant write more and more like Andrew Child then Reacher may become both more recognizable and more interesting.


We observe Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly's main character, from outside of his head -- the Bosch books are in third person and although there is some interior narration it doesn't often hit a level of deep introspection. Usually the introspection has been left to the first-person books featuring lawyer Mickey Haller, Harry's half-brother, and lately detective Renee Ballard. The Law of Innocence continues that trend, diving even deeper into Mickey's heart and mind as he finds himself defending the one client he can't afford to let down: Himself.

A fishy traffic stop leads to the discovery of a body in the trunk of the Lincoln Lawyer's eponymous ride, and judges and prosecutors who have lost out to Mickey in the past are not predisposed to cut him any breaks. Mickey knows he's not guilty and the people who know him best agree. He's pretty certain he'll be able to get a "not guilty" verdict but he knows that won't be enough: If he wants to continue his life as a lawyer he'll need to prove himself actually innocent and the only way to do that is to find the person who really killed his former client. But clearing that extra hurdle won't be as easy and he has a greater chance to end up on the wrong end of the jury's decision.

As mentioned above, interior dialogue and introspection have been a feature of the Haller books, as we learn about Mickey's character when he explains how lawyers do things during a trial and how he approaches them. Those observations are sharpened by his predicament and when he finally confronts the reality that he may not be able to expose the falsehoods marshaled against him we see further inside Mickey's head and heart than in any earlier book. Innocence has some flaws -- some characters leave the stage in a rather perfunctory fashion and wind up rendering their part of the story far more superfluous than is good for the overall story. The eventual resolution of the case seems to sputter more than detonate and robs the story of a potentially powerful element as it closes out. A little more time and energy spent in either or both of these areas would move Innocence into clear four or even five-star territory but even thus limited it's a reminder of why people who like compelling and thoughtful legal and police procedurals wait for Connelly's next book. 

Friday, November 20, 2020


A grandfather in Vietnam showed his grandchildren, who were expecting, how they needed to hold a baby when they bathed it, using a video link and

The purpose of the video was to demonstrate the way to support the baby's head, how to dry a baby by wrapping, how to clean behind the ears and keep water from going into the nose and so on. The cat apparently cooperated quite well.

No water was used in the simulation. Grandpa didn't get this old by being dumb, you know.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


Today's Calvin and Hobbes reprint offers two propositions. One of them is clearly true while only time will tell for the other one. The potential one is that Calvin will be legendary.

The clearly true proposition is that "Any idiot can be famous."

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Error in Judgement

There are several rising tides on Facebook recently -- the eternal upswing of everyone telling everyone else, "You're doing it wrong" when it comes to COVID-19 is just one of them.

Another old familiar friend is the assertion that all of the people who didn't vote like I did didn't just arrive at different conclusions or err in interpreting facts or proceed from mistaken assumptions. They were flat-out stupid (or evil, or racist, or whatever.) I just can't get behind this idea, and not only because I have friends who didn't vote the way I did. It just defies logic to assert that 153 million Americans were not only wrong, they were evil and stupid...

Monday, November 16, 2020


Problem: You have a donor kidney that needs to travel the 300 miles between Padua to Rome as fast as possible, and the Paduan hopsital doesn't have a helipad.

Solution (if you're the Italian State Police): Fit out the trunk of your department's Lamborghini Huracan as a refrigerated compartment and hit the gas. You'll get there in two hours.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Worst!

The "winners" of the 2020 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been named, crowning the writer with the worst opening sentence for a supposed novel.

The contest is held by the San Jose State University English Department and is named for Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose purple prose often wound up being not descriptive or evocative -- but just bad. His opening sentence of the 1830 novel Paul Clifford began with the simple phrase "It was a dark and stormy night" but quickly falls apart into a sloppy mess. Paul Clifford was, despite the scorn heaped upon it over the years, a best seller.

San Jose State has held the contest since 1982. Most of the time it's fairly interesting, although after almost 40 years one tends to get the impression that the entries are just pacing over familiar ground. Since none of the sentences are from actual novels and since they are deliberately composed to be as bad as possible, my suggestion for livening things up a bit would be to use actual novels published during the year of the contest. It seems like it would be more in the spirit of an actual Bulwer-Lytton novel, since those were not deliberately written to be bad and since many of the touches a modern audience derides were often a part of the common way of speaking of the time.

You'd probably have to limit it in some way, though. The ability to self-publish brought about by ebooks would produce far too many candidates to be sorted through -- even though there are some hidden gems in the field the rest make the value of good editing abundantly clear. And it would probably be a good idea to retire some best-selling authors after their first win or two or they would dominate the field.

Friday, November 13, 2020


I suspect that a lot of political satirists have been divided during the presidency of Donald Trump. On the one hand, he's a serious goofball who offers a wealth of material of which fun can be made. On the other hand, every time someone jokes about what the president might do, using wacky exaggeration to make the point in a funny way, he'd go ahead and do exactly that thing or something so far beyond it that they just give up and stare dumbly at the screen.

Although he's still insightful and perceptive and he still knows how to throw a funny line in a way that a lot of supposed modern online commentators and satirists can't match, P. J. O'Rourke's A Cry From the Far Middle has a distinct atmosphere of staring dumbly at the screen in a few too many places to be some of his best work.

The idea hinted at by the title is that someone with a long history of libertarian and conservative policy ideas finds no home with the protectionist, undisciplined and shallow man in the White House. But if opposing him means throwing in with the even wackier and lunatic wokery of the Democratic party that person doesn't feel like that's a choice either. Thus, "the far middle." Spectator USA columnist Bridget Phetasy uses the phrase "politically homeless."

A couple of longer introductory essays offer this idea as a frame for the pieces in the book, many of which have already appeared in O'Rourke's American Consequences magazine. And of course O'Rourke is a consistent enough thinker that his worldview does stay more or less connected to this central thread. But sometimes it's more less than more, and several of the short essays don't really hang together as solidly as some earlier books, such as Holidays in Hell, Give War a Chance or the magnificent Parliament of Whores.

One of the things that anyone following the news to any degree over the last four years could probably discuss ad æternum is how exhausting the process has been. The news cycle has operated at warp speed, with major events being subsumed and forgotten in mere weeks, if not days. Cry may be laboring with that burden, rendering even O'Rourke's mighty satirical eye a little sleepy. Reading it, you'll still probably laugh and learn -- just not as much as you might have wished you could.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Meme Loaf

I didn't really have the time to do this but thought it would have been funny -- the overall 2020 election furnishes at least three opportunities to create memes that use songs by the vocalist Michael Aday, better known as Meat Loaf.

Meme #1 would have a picture of the Democratic leadership team of the House of Representatives, with the caption "I want you." Next would be a picture of President-elect Joe Biden, and the caption is, "I need you." Then the third picture is Mitch McConnell and the caption, "But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you," and then the fourth frame or however it's built would just be text: "Darling don't be sad: Two out of three ain't bad." Of course, this meme presumes that the Republican candidate wins one or both of the Georgia runoff races, or maybe that West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin gets tired enough of people like Sheldon Whitehouse or Richard Blumenthal that he wants to stop seeing them in caucus meetings and switches parties.

Meme #2 begins with a picture of President Trump and is captioned, "I would do anything for love." Then we have a picture of the president-elect and a repeat of that same phrase. And in the third picture is a ballot marked for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgenson and the final caption, "But I won't do that."

And Meme #3 is just a picture of the president-elect at a podium giving a speech, with former United Kingdom parliament member the Right Hon. Neil Kinnock standing next to him over the phrase, "You took the words right out of my mouth."

As for the Loaf's best-known hit, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," well, that doesn't seem applicable to anything about the current election. You'd probably have to go back to the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee or the top of the 1992 and 1996 tickets to get a good fit for that one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


In 2015 the prolific Christopher Nuttall introduced Katherine "Kat" Falcone, a young officer in His Majesty's Tyrian Navy taking her first command. The youngest of one of Tyre's ruling families, Kat was widely seen as having had her path smoothed by her powerful relatives to a position she was not qualified to hold. But she proved more than equal to the task and soon became a top commander in the Tyrian Navy's fight against the expansionist Theocracy, a space nation bent on enslaving every world possible to its repressive religion. In 2017 Kat led the assault on the Theocracy's home world, setting the stage for a second sequence of novels that Nuttall called "The Embers of War." With Debt of War he closes that trilogy and brings the Tyrian civil war that bloomed in the aftermath of the war with the Theocracy.

Kat and forces loyal to the king are on Caledonia, one of the main Tyrian words and headquarters of the groups loyal to the throne. The House of Lords remains on Tyre, marshaling resources to defeat the king and bring him to heel; they're led politically by Kat's brother and militarily by her best friend, William McElney. Nearsighted politicians on both sides try to goad the respective military forces to attack, but even though Kat knows that would be a risky move she also knows that the king's side can't afford a long war of attrition. The Tyrian homeworld will soon be able to return to war footing production and overwhelm the king's forces with sheer weight of metal. William, on the other hand, has just learned information that completely upends the basis of the conflict and could convince Kat she has been wrong all along -- can he manage to get it to her?

Despite his high-volume output Nuttall doesn't rush material into print; Debt of War's style flows cleanly if not with any particular flash of bells and whistles. He also keeps his characters straight; Kat remains pretty much the same throughout the series, as does William. There's a bit of a disconnect between King Hadrian in the initial books and in the trilogy that shows signs the transition between the two roles he plays in the different storylines wasn't as smooth as it could have been. And the frequent observations about the need to take a risk to end the war even though the downside is complete disaster grow a little tiring. The Debt series could probably have fit into two books. But still it's a pretty interesting take on the space opera genre: What if the brave and insightful commander at the center of it all, the one whose dash and daring brought victory after victory to her homeworld...chose the wrong side?


Alex Cassidy has a pretty good reputation as an FBI senior agent but she's been put in charge of a crop of misfits. Several of them have been eased out of other offices because they're more of a problem than they're worth in the eyes of their previous supervisors. Nevertheless, they work for the FBI and they're supposed to solve crimes, so Alex will make them work as a team and get the job done in Mark Ravine's first novel, The Tech. As for the odd coincidences and breaks that seem to serendipitously make their jobs easier and offer leads when it seems there weren't any to be had? Well those are just plain good luck...or are they?

Each chapter in The Tech outlines one of the cases the unit is handling, and highlights Alex's efforts to smooth out their rough edges and get past whatever hangup kept them giving other supervisors trouble. As they do, evidence that something else is going on, both on the side of the bad guys as well as the good guys, continues to mount and indicate conspiracies behind the crimes they're facing. Alex and her team had better solve at least one of them or else they may be in danger of more than reputations as troublemakers.

The Tech is full of first-novel touches, including stilted dialogue and frequent choices to tell instead of show the reader something. The different team members are tough to keep separated and sorted as to what their trouble spots where, especially when those seem to vanish and reappear according to no real narrative pattern. There are some interesting ideas here and clear hints of an overall storyline with some real legs to it, but subsequent novels will need a lot of polishing to bring that out.

It could also be considerably shorter. The individual cases might be necessary to peel back deeper and deeper layers of the conspiracy and other mysteries surrounding this particular FBI field office but put between the same covers they make for a pretty long slog. The Tech could have benefited greatly by being a series of short novellas with a slightly longer resolution novel, like Stephen King's The Green Mile or Dean Koontz's "Nameless" series. Sure, King and Koontz can make a publisher do any number of things that a first-time novelist can't, but it's hard to argue that slicing the chapters up into even more distinct chunks could have helped refine and tighten the overall story and given the two interesting final answers some more impact. If Ravine returns to these characters maybe he'll have the chance to do something like that.

Monday, November 9, 2020


In today's Sherman's Lagoon, Hawthorne the crab gives a clear picture of the way that government most often operates. It's one we'll probably have even more chance to learn about during the new administration, too.

Sunday, November 8, 2020


The platypus was already a weird critter. It's got a bill shaped like the bill of a duck. It's got a beaver-like tail. It's got otterish feet -- the back ones of which, in males, feature a venomous spur. It uses electrolocation to find its prey, which means it literally senses the electric fields of other animals. It lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young like most other mammals.

So how does one of the world's weirdest animals handle itself in one of the world's weirdest years? By being found to glow in the dark under UV light.

We can't be living in a simulation. Nobody could make up stuff like this.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Coming to a Close

Over at the long post blog, a long post in the form of a review of Terry Brooks The Last Druid, the 29th and chronologically final book in his world of Shannara novels.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Prepare to Twiddle!

I read some updates on rookies my preferred baseball team has drafted over the last few years. Checked out the story about how a retiring favorite player closed out his career with an eighth Gold Glove. Caught up on midweek reports about my preferred baseball and football teams. Read some more from a third book in a space opera series I like. Paid my bills. Called a friend to wish her happy birthday but had to leave a voice message. Every now and again looked at a Tweet stream from National Review writers about how some different candidates were doing.

Going to bed glad that loosened ballot access let me escape yet another Sophie's choice election, but without knowing who actually won. They'll still have won in the morning.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Gathered Up

-- Apparently the players of the National Basketball Association would like the next season to begin in January 2021. Team owners, though, are worried about the potential revenue loss if they start after Christmas. That loss wouldn't necessarily happen on the front end but during the playoffs and finals (which amount to the only real part of the NBA season anymore anyway), when they would compete with the rescheduled Summer Olympics. The situation prompts two thoughts: 1) When you're worried your league will lose viewers to the Olympics, whose 2016 ratings fell anywhere from nine to 25% from the ratings of the 2012 games, you may have bigger problems than scheduling. And 2) I hope it happens and the billion dollars is a wild underestimate. Until the league realizes that the people being oppressed by the Chinese government are people before they are a revenue stream I hope it loses money by opening the door and turning on the lights in the office.

-- Tomorrow is the election. There may not seem to be much for which to be thankful but I am glad I live in a state that eased its ballot access laws a few years ago, so when the major parties come to me and say, "Pick your poison," I can say, "I'll just have water." Sure, water that has foreign policy ideas that made more sense in 1920 than 2020 and a running mate who may be an actual anarchist, but still, it's better than poison.

-- Writing at Real Clear Education, Mike Sovo highlights a resource called iCivics, which he says can "help students make sense of the 2020 election." iCivics was founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and although she was definitely a sharp and intelligent person, I think "making sense of the 2020 election" asks more of iCivics than it -- or maybe anything less than Holy Writ -- can do.

-- Reading the Variety obituary for Sean Connery, who passed this weekend at 90, is a reminder that he was both a larger-than-life action star and a top actor. Perhaps towards the end of his career he was in some ways just showing up onscreen and being Sean Connery the way that John Wayne spent most of his last dozen or so movies just being John Wayne. Even so, his presence gave weight and entertainment value to some pretty dull movies that would have never been heard of without him in the billing, and his uncredited cameo in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie showed that sometimes he didn't even need the billing.