Friday, January 30

Fascinations

I have strange fascinations. One is with large crocodiles from Africa, which are at the same time terrifying to me.

Another is with huge catfish. They're disgusting...and I can't take my eyes away.

There may be a new record. (If you dont' read the whole article (who would?), be sure to scroll to the bottom for the last pic.)

Matthew on IKEA

I've seen the references all over the Blogosphere, but didn't bother to read them, because I didn't know it was Matthew (defective yeti) Baldwin. His take on IKEA is not-to-be-missed. If you want a laugh today, go and read it!

Wednesday, January 28

Two quick thoughts...

on items I want to log in more depth some time.

1. I'm on the record as saying I'm confused about the gay marriage issue. They had a piece about it on Marketplace tonight. It does seem unfair that any heterosexual couple can get hitched in Vegas (including Brittney and friend) and get some significant societal and economic benefits (including stuff like legal rights, benefits, medical directive authority, etc) that committed homosexual partners have to have legal documents to get.

Christopher also wrote about gay marriage today.

This brings up one of my major objections to demonizing homosexuality: there are so many unhealthy (even sinful) heterosexual relationships, in and out of marriage that get a relative pass. We wink at them. At least it's 'normal'. I think God created people for loving marriages between a man and a woman. So much of our emotional and sexual behavior falls outside of those lines, but many Christians and Conservatives demonize only the homosexual part.

2. NAFTA, outsourcing to India, etc.

The latest Wired cover story is about outsourcing to India. Out of the gate (don't shoot), I'm pretty sympathetic to the tenor of the article which argues (gently) that USAmericans should adapt in the job market, even though it's painful, and that, ultimately this will be a good thing. In principle, I want to see free market principles in play. I don't think we should prop up American agriculture and I don't think we should prop up white collar tech jobs.

I could totally be wrong about this. And, of course, I want our policies to include compassion.

Maybe your comments will help me work through this more.

Three from MeFi

Scientists at JILA have announced the creation of a new form of matter known as fermionic condensate the sixth known form of matter -- after gases, solids, liquids, plasma and Bose-Einstein condensate.

Dude, I didn't even know we were up to five. But it's stilll cool.

An excellent thread on the current situation in Saudi Arabia. I would say our national involvement with Saudi is similar to our involement with Israel is this respect: There are massive objections to supporting them so completely, but the number one trump, national interest, takes the trick. I think this compromises us morally (though it can get in line).

And one really funny line (I don't care about the rest of the thread):

I, for one, welcome our new telepathic parrot overlords.

Virus warfare?

Experts: Vicious worm 'Linux war' weapon

Tuesday, January 27

Hey, it's the 1st Anniversary...

of my getting laid off. I really am happier in my new job. We're going to celebrate by going out to eat tonight. (Christine and the twins are gong to meet me at the Union, where they haven't eaten before. That way, they'll get a better idea of where I go and what I do. And the foods not bad.)

Favourite movies (sic)

via blogdex, I found this poll of favorite movies.

My favorites from this list:

Casablanca, Blade Runner, 2001, The Maltese Falcon, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Princess Bride, Raider of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars.

Movies I don't like from this list:

- Dr Strangelove
- Goodfellas: too violent
- Lawrence of Arabia: I find Lean's movies to be pretty and large, but empty (and maybe that's the point, but I don't have to like it)
- Citizen Kane: I'm sure it was revolutionary, but, anymore, it's pretty boring.
- Gone with the Wind: leaves me cold

Movies I need to see from this list:

Vertigo, This is Spinal Tap, The Producers, Rear Window, Blazing Saddles

Truth is stranger than fiction

Lieberman says he's got 'Joementum'.

Ronnie James Dio for President?

(via Matt)

Someone has worked really hard on this.

*Update: Judging by the comment he left, I'd say that someone is Matt. Strong work!

Very clever young man...

I really liked this quote in An Illustrated Brief History of Time (have I mentioned I've read the whole thing :-). So when kottke linked it (at the bottom, for different effect), I decided to post it, too.

In A Brief History of Time (Bantam Books, 1988), Stephen Hawking tells the story of a well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down."

Monday, January 26

Marsh Arabs

It sounds like a contradiction-in-terms. John's got a cool picture up:



It's from the longest post I've ever seen (outside of 1142, that is).

Now that's funny

From an article on all the money George the Second has spent.

[He] signed the farm bill, which was a non-kosher piƱata filled with enough pork to bend space and time

Other thoughts from Eric's post:

Regardless of what you call it, I think that Jonah's somewhat correct to point out that liberal's over-the-top rhetoric about how this is the most conservative administration since the dawn of time is a bit, well, over-the-top.

Bush is very conservative, morally speaking, relative to most politicians. He just is very spendy when it comes to economics, though he also rammed through a huge tax-cut. So where's the money coming from? Deficit spending!

And I have to say, I really object to a lot of this spending.

That is all.

Best work since The Matrix

Joel Silver, the producer of the Matrix, bought and is restoring the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in South Carolina, Auldbrass. My sister-in-law's father lives near there, so maybe I can take it in sometime.

Rare violins seldom heard

I was doing some research *cough*working on a crossword puzzle*cough* and came across an interesting article:

As prices for great Old Master string instruments escalate in the collectables market, only banks and investors can afford to own them. They're increasingly out of reach of even the best musicians.

Birthday party madness

Ohmigosh. Dave Barry has an incredibly funny piece about moms planning birthday parties. Take out the stuff you know is totally over the edge, add a little back in, and that's how Christine plans birthday parties for the twins.

Interview with the linguist

Dorothea links an interview with David (language consultant for LotR).

Saturday, January 24

Social networks

Christopher invited me to orkut, and I thought, what the heck. Apparently it's still invite only, so if you'd like an invitation from me, let me know. I'd be happy to supply one.

Johnny 13...

has a really funny story about his brothers. Of course, I like most everything John writes, one way or another.

Howard Dean, felinicide

Jaq posted the pic to Collaboratory and it's really pretty funny.

RIP, Captain Kangaroo

Bob Keeshan died yesterday.

I wasn't a huge Captain Kangaroo fan, but I sure appreciate the guy's work.

Friday, January 23

Metallica and Napster

I know, it's so 2000.

I like Metallica's music. I think they're talented guys. But I've been against them since the whole Napster thing, mostly in an uninformed way. Anyway, it occurred to me that for all of my badmouthing Metallica, I'd never actually read their position. My thoughts:

- actually, the origin of the leak must have been in their studio somewhere.
- if Metallica wants money for their music, that's their prerogative.
- you know if you've been reading my site that my biggest objection in this whole thing is to the RIAA and their parasitism as the middle men in the system. We, the consumers, need a change in business and distribution. We deserve it. The fact that there hasn't been a viable alternative for so long points up the monopolistic nature of the RIAA.
- the music industry, as it currently stands, is not diverse enough. Too much of what is put out is just the offscouring of the machine. 'We need more boy bands!'
- intellectual property is valuable and important. But it shouldn't last forever. Out copyright system is too restricting. And how can we really stop China from 'stealing' intellectual property?
- everyone knows that CDs have gone down in price to make, but that savings hasn't been passed on to the consumers. Why should we trust the RIAA to pass on mp3 savings without pressure?

Well, I think that about covers it for now. What do you think?

(Also, I posted about Justin Frankel, the creator of Winamp and Gnutella, over on Collaboratory.)

RSS feed

Ok, Bloggers. Did you notice this morning that Blogger now has a built in RSS feed called Atom? It'll make your site available to the cool kids who read weblogs in RSS readers. Also, it can update sites like BlogRolling to let people know when your weblog has been updated. I've had an RSS feed for awhile for that purpose, via blogmatrix. Now I've got the Atom feed turned on as well. Why don't you try it?

Thursday, January 22

My one hit wonders

One Hit Wonder Central

(via, again, MeFi)

Venus, Here Comes the Sun, Afternoon Delight, Because The Night, Video Killed the Radio Star, Rapper's Delight, Tainted Love, Come on Eileen, Keep Your Hands to Yourself, It Takes Two, I Melt with You, I Love You Always Forever, Tubthumping, Bitter Sweet Symphony

What are yours?

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars...

Two cars modded to Star Wars ships

I thought Red 5 was fun for her. Then I saw the H-Wing, which is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.

(Jaq and Kathy, have y'all seen these? You might want to sit down before clicking through...)

Road Squadron is a whole website for this stuff.

(it all came from MeFi)

Leathery goodness

Matt's living room looks pretty awesome to me.

cassettes2cds

Here's a company that will turn your cassettes into cds or mp3s. I don't plan on using it, but it looks like a good idea for a business. (via MeFi thread on LPs to CDs)

Wednesday, January 21

Yahoo labs

Imitate Google much? Right down to the name and the URL...

Christopher's back, too

He's been off for a week or so. He's back with comments on the State of the Union and representing for Cleveland.

Jason's back

Look out! Jason's irregularly updated Finches' Wings (still a great name) has fully five new post featuring Rachel Carson, bees (I hope you dad gets a copy of that one, Jas), Frederick Douglass, Buffalo Blog, and kids. Go read 'em all!

Processing the State of the Union Address

CNN has the transcript.

- He has a point: there have not been any more attacks in the US. However, the world is not a safer place. The UN isn't the way to go, either. We should be strong, but we should also have better foreign policy and better diplomacy. Unilateralism does not make the world safer.
- The tax cut does appear to be working. However, I still think it was too deep. Maybe it works and helps to create wealth when rich people have more money to spend. But my default position is that people who make 100k+$ don't need tax 'relief'.
- We must be careful with the 'Patriot' Act. Erosion of civil liberties would be a bad thing. Indeed, it would signify some success for the terrorists. Read Slate's analysis of the Patriot Act.
- Education: testing is not the only way to evaluate education. And there are many stories of teachers just having to teach to the tests. There are arguably better ways.
- We do need to find a way to limit the costs of health care.
- Professional sports should ban performance enhancing drugs.
- I don't know what to think about the legality of same-sex marriages. Personally, I don't believe such relationships are good for people. I think that's the teaching of Scripture and the way God made the world. But I'm not sure it hurts society for homosexuals to formalize unions.

Your comments?

Monday, January 19

Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Baptist minister and scholar Michael Eric Dyson proposed a 10-year moratorium on listening to or reading "I Have a Dream"

There's a documentary on PBS tonight entitled Citizen King. CNN describes it (the quotes are from this site).

They focus on the controversial King:

the man who moved into a drafty, run-down flat in a Chicago slum to call attention to the plight of poor urban blacks, and who preached fiery sermons against the war in Vietnam, denouncing "Western arrogance."

Dr King was a great man (though a flawed man). The fight he fought was well worth it. And it almost goes without saying that here in the US, especially, and around the world, we have a long way to go.

Sunday, January 18

More Return of the King

I missed linking Jaq's review of RotK when I was out of town. Fixed that.

Patriots win!

Since Jaq called their victory, I'm going to take it easy on him (that's taking a page from my online playbook - you come in humble, people can't smack you in the mouth if you lose). The Patriots played great and so did the Panthers. I'm happy for both of them. I wish them both well. I think you have to favor the Patriots at this point.

Saturday, January 17

My complete 'Return of the King' review

OK. I promised it. Here it is.

The first time I wrote, I only listed the things I liked, with no spoilers. Let's review them, this time with a few spoilers included:

- Miranda Otto/Eowyn - loved most everything about her. Whenever she's on screen I call out 'Choose her!'

- Aragorn was more regal, and Christine said she felt Viggo's performance was better.

- Sir Ian McKellen continues his star turn

- a lot of the Pippin stuff, including Billy Boyd's singing

- really, all the Hobbits do a good job. Christine called this 'The Movie of the Brave Hobbits'

- Minas Tirith

- Frodo's and Sam's relationship (with one objection, below)

- the lighting of the signal beacons

- Grond, the hammer of the Underworld

- the ride of the Rohirrim at The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

- Minas Morgul

- The Straight and Winding Stairs to Cirith Ungol

- Shelob (though I think it would have been scarier if they hadn't shown so much, if it had been darker)

- the Phial of Galadriel

- Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol

- Galadriel is chill at the end

- an addition: that they didn't hook up Faramir and Eowyn, since he didn't deserve her.

- the ending

Let's talk more about the ending. I've seen more than one review that dissed the ending for being drawn out. The critics speculated that Peter Jackson didn't know where to end it. That's patently not true. These people must not be familiar with the books. The aftermath of the War of the Ring and the destruction of the Ring takes up all of book 6 in TLotR. I felt Jackson did a very good job of including enough when there was so much material. I missed the Scouring of the Shire, but I'm ok with that choice.

I liked, too, how he brings the end back to family. Frodo has made the world safe for humble people, but he is ruined for it. Sam is not, and he returns home to his growing family (though in the appendices of the books we find that Sam later joins Frodo across the sea).

Indeed, I wondered if the ending wasn't personal for Jackson. It's often been remarked that he looks like a hobbit. His children appeared in all of the movies. His wife collaborated with him. This has been a massive personal undertaking for Jackson. That's really the number one reason why I cut him a lot of slack: he had to make the movie he wanted to give his life to for 5+ years. At the end, his family remains, and he returns to them.

Ok, on to the stuff I didn't like.

Right now, though the distinction is a moving target, I'd say my favorite LotR movie is The Two Towers' (all of the pre-Helm's Deep Rohan stuff is so good and Eowyn is so awesome). I know RotK has taken over number one for most people, but I don't think that's me. Maybe after I see it more. Jackson didn't screw up and I'm hoping he gets a couples Oscars at least (basically for the whole body of work, at its end). I agree with Matthew at Defective Yeti that this movie could not top the last two, or, rather, it didn't. It could have topped them for me, of course, by being truer to the books, but that wasn't going to happen.

My biggest complaint is: Jackson went too far in insinuating Gollum in between Frodo and Sam. And for Sam to actually order Frodo away...that's asinine. Hated it.

#2: They should have left the Cracks of Doom alone: Gollum bites off the ring, dances insanely, and falls to his death. No need to draw it out with more scuffling and a literal 'cliff hanger'.

#3: I agree with the commenter on Defective Yeti who objected to the series-wide 'Buffooning of Gimli'.

#4: Denethor was totally miswritten and misdirected. He despaired because Sauron twisted him through the Palantir. He ended in madness, but it was the madness of despair and depression, not psychosis. And his leap off the pinnacle was silly.

#5: Legolas taking out the mumakil, similar to him taking out the cave troll in FotR, was unnecessary and looked like CGI.

#6: Eowyn wasn't quite strong and grim enough in defeating the Witch King. I actually like the cartoon's treatment better here. I wanted more.

#7: the reforging of Narsil into Anduril should have been left in the first movie.

#8: I wish they'd left Faramir's return to the fight as the defense of the Rammas Echor (far outer wall) and not a return to Osgiliath, from which he returns dragged by a horse. One more denigration of Faramir.

#9: Of course, I object to all things Liv Tyler/Arwen, but you know that. The surprise appearance at Aragorn's coronation and impulsive, open-mouthed kiss were not appreciated by me.

Well, that's all for now. Comment some and I'll tell you more.

Startide Rising by David Brin

I just finished this novel, and it was wonderful. It is a Nebula and Hugo awars winner, and justly so. It happens to be in the middle of a trilogy, but you really should start with it if you're interested and then read the others if you want to.

So from there I went to David Brin's Official Web Site. There's quite a lot over there. He's much more optimistic about science and human progress than I am. There's much more to say, if I felt like working on it now. Maybe later.

Understanding Airport Codes

Airport ABCs: An Explanation of Airport Identifier Codes (via language hat)

Matt's interview, part 2

As you can see, the interview with Matt is tied for 7th most popular link on Blogdex (as of this writing), which I contributed to.

Friday, January 16

I am not stalking Matt Haughey

for real, yo, dawg.

I haven't posted about Matt for a long time. But here's a long interview with him.

Top ten movie lists

(also via kottke)

a summary of year-end lists, concluding with a histograph.

Movies that I want to see, therefore:

American Splendor
Bend it like Beckham
Capturing the Friedmans
Down with Love
In America (maybe)
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander
Pirates of the Caribbean
School of Rock
Seabiscuit

How about you?

The Passion of the Christ

Mel Gibson's new movie

official web site

trailer (via kottke)

I'm open to liking this...

Monday, January 12

Retraction

In case you missed it...

Jaq took me to task below for linking Aaron's article 'Downloading is not stealing', and I decided he was right.

Jaq and I still disagree about downloading and intellectual property, but Aaron's article was not a good one.

Jaq is not, however, right about the Patriots :-)

Football update

Well, that's all on Jaq and the Patriots, anyway.

Remember when I said, earlier this week, that football was less exciting without fantasy?

I take it all back. What a great weekend for football. I watched most of the games and they were very exciting. They were new-style football - more offense than defense - and it sure is more exciting the Marty Schottenheimer-type teams (when he was in KC, anyway) slamming the ball with the run and playing tough defense.

I would've like to see the Rams win, but I was happy about Carolina, too. I like Delhomme. No one gave him much credit and he's really played well this year. He leads the NFL in 4th quarter/OT comebacks at (if you count saturday) NINE. That's huge. The kid's got heart. Fox seems like a good coach, and I'm glad for him.

Of course, I was pulling for New England all the way. I don't like the Titans anyway, so it was good to see them get beat.

I went into the next game pulling for KC, but Peyton Manning won me over. He was unbelieveable. He never had to do anything flashy because he destroyed KC and didn't break a sweat doing it. The way he calls the plays at the line is amazing.

And, finally, I was definitely pulling for Philly and was glad to see them win. I like Brett Favre but, being a Vikings fan, I cannot pull for the Packers unless it helps the Vikings. I was glad to see them lose. Indeed, McNabb's 4th and 20+ completion to ice the packers was pretty like the play that the Cardinals beat the Vikings on to get the Packers in in the first place.

(Not that I think the Vikings should have been in the playoffs. I said beforehand, if they couldn't beat the Cardinals, they didn't deserve to be in the playoffs. I've taught my kids that the Vikings are out favorite team. I've also taught them that the Vikings stinks so bad they don't get to play until the twins go to Kindergarten!)

Patriots update

Jaq says I'm delusional and calls the Patriots 'stupid'. That is all.

Sunday, January 11

Hey Jaq...

Can I have your phone number for when the Patriots win? I wanted to call you last night, but I didn't have your number...

:-)

Actually, Jaq, for your reading pleasure, I found a post of mine that's a little critical of the Patriots. They hadn't won me over yet.

Whoa, I found another one! I hope you're happy!

defective yeti stuff

Matthew compares pregnancy to destroying the one ring in Lord of the Ring of Fire.

Matthew reviews Return of the King with spoilers and some good criticism in the comments.

Now the only thing left is for me to write my complete RotK review (with spoilers). The masses are clamoring for it. Well, Scott asked for it. Can Scott be a 'mass' by himself?

Saturday, January 10

Is downloading stealing?

I liked Aaron's Counterpoint, but, then again, I would.

twinlog update

We posted a few updates, but don't get your hopes up too much. I'm not changing the sidebar parentheses yet...

Cthulu in Legos

I especially like the people running away.

(Thanks Jaq)

Friday, January 9

Cocky wins!

Did you see that Cocky won National Mascot of the Year?

Cocky truly is a fine mascot, certainly better than Brutus Buckeye, who was leading the voting.

Welcome back, Christopher

Just when you'd given up all hope, Christopher Alvarado returns with his weblog and *gasp* its own URL!

You should check Chris' stuff out. Among lots of goodness, he's a fellow Morissey fan.

The Sindarin page at IMDb

(via Dorothea)

Wicked cool.

From the news

So, reports say Bush wants us to go back to the moon. I'm all for it, of course. I'm skeptical about why he's had this sudden revelation (want to comment Jaq? Macon?), but still enthusiastic.

*Update: Jaq did comment.

In other unlooked for developments out of Washington, Joe Gibbs is returning to coach the Redskins. He seems like a class guy to me, and I wish him well.

Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Coach Gibbs? We were both living in Charlotte and I got on a plane one morning and there he was in first class. I said, 'Good morning, Coach.' and he said 'Good morning.'.

I thought I played that pretty cool.

Thursday, January 8

Have you noticed...

a slight pickup in activity over here? I bet you can guess why. Four words: no more fantasy football.

However, letting my weblog activity diminish was not for naught. I won my league again, thank you very much.
Football seems so much more bland these days...

Wednesday, January 7

David Salo, Tolkien Language Expert

Dorothea's got a fun post about a talk her husband David gave at the Lisle Library in the Chicago area.

(You remember that David was the Language Advisor on the LotR movies, right?)

Noteworthy: David signed a lot of autographs. He thought singing them in Tengwar would discourage people. Foolish boy...

Tuesday, January 6

Dean and Clark

OK, while I've got your attention (nice work on the Wal-Mart/NAFTA thread, people), I've been thinking a lot about the Democratic nominee, whoever he ends up being.

My first thought was that, pursuant to my previous thread of thinking, Clark is the best candidate for the Dems, vis: he's not an insider and he's not too liberal to elect.

However, then I read How the Internet invented Howard Dean (clever title, by the way). I still think Dean's too liberal to elect. But if this stuff about his approach to Democracy/Republicanism is true, and if he really gets the power of the Internet, I could be persuaded to think a Dean candidacy would be a good thing...

What do you think?

Monday, January 5

Boycott Wal-Mart

'interact' correspondent Kurt Graves sends in this piece on Wal-Mart's draconian tactics with suppliers. Wal-Mart bad.

a McKinsey & Co. study concluded that about 12% of the economy's productivity gains in the second half of the 1990s could be traced to Wal-Mart alone.

I've long argued that Wal-Mart is all about cheapest price and nothing else matters: worker conditions - here and overseas, the health of rural Iowa communities, environmental concerns, humane business practices. If that's you, then, by all means, keep shopping at Wal-Mart.

One corrollary to this story that I don't know the answer to is: what have been the results of NAFTA. Has the open market been good? more and more I'm hearing 'no'.

Sunday, January 4

College football

The Hawks beat up on Florida, so that was great.

OU lost, which disappointed me. Is it mostly attributable to the distraction of Mike Stoops leaving?

We are moving inexorably to a college playoff. It is not necessary, but it will happen in the next couple years. D-1 college football becomes more and more like the minor leagues because that's what the public wants and, therefore, it's where the money's at. The days of student-athletes are pretty well gone in big-time D-1 football and basketball. D-3 is more where it's at for real student-athlete action. Will is still follow D-3? I'm sure. But I wish there were a better way...

Well, I'm back...

We're back from travels hither and yon.

I had a good time at Urbana. One highlight was communing and worshiping in the Assembly Hall with 20,000 other people as the year turned.

And while I was there I got to have lunch with 'interact' correpsondent Kathleen Kern, a childhood friend of mine. It was great to catch up with her. Thanks, Kathleen!