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|Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009|
|Tuesday, November 17th, 2009|
|Just Some Numbers
|Wednesday, September 9th, 2009|
|Robert Jordan Fans - New Chapter Available
The sample chapter for the new Wheel of Time book is available on tor.com but you have to endure an annoying registration process first. It's not bad. It was written by Brandon Sanderson from RJ's notes about how the series ought to be finished. It's not bad, but not much happens (which makes it a lot like RJ's work honestly). The first couple paragraphs feel a bit off, for instance I don't think RJ would ever have used the word metaphor. It gets better though. Despite my twitch-inducing hatred of what Brian Herbert did to the Dune universe, I'm going to give this a shot and maybe check out a couple of Sanderson's other books too while I wait for the release.
|Wednesday, August 26th, 2009|
I am trying to be even-handed. I think about how I felt when Reagan died. It's politically correct to say that your thoughts (and usually your prayers too) are with the family, but to me that always felt trite, I mean, unless you know the celebrity's family firsthand or at least feel some sort of connection with them. Well, when Reagan died, it's true; my thoughts were not of Nancy's well-being but of Iran-Contra and how this man was somehow being sainted despite what he did.
Now it's Ted's turn, and it doesn't matter if you write a thousand lines praising him and one mentioning Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick is what people are thinking about. Some are remembering his 1980 speech at the DNC, some are mourning the apparent end of the legacy that his brothers started. But it's especially tragic that a man who embodied the best of Christian ideals, who lived his life a true public servant and champion of the poor and powerless, will always be remembered by, in his words, his "indefensible" behavior the night Mary Jo Kopechne died.
Now all these years later, we can finally move on from that. In my life, I think the only speakers who I have ever heard who could hold a candle to Ted Kennedy were Jerry Falwell and Bill Clinton, and honestly I don't think either were his match. He was brilliant, eloquent, and he exuded a charisma that would have made him a celebrity no matter who his people were. As a long standing member of the Senate from Massachussetts he had the freedom to espouse the sort of ideals that politicians from, shall we say, less enlightened states are compelled to water down.
You'll hear people lionizing his life but harping, with differing degrees of regret, on that one black mark on his record. As I think back to Reagan I am reminded that this is the narrative with all liberal tragic figures; great personal failings that manage to detract from their tremendous public accomplishments. Clinton. Kennedy. Edwards. The conservative tragedy narrative is the reverse, a man of great personal virtue who falls from grace through the abuse of power. Reagan. Bush. Nixon. I know which of the two affects me most directly. We will miss Ted Kennedy, Lion of the Senate.
|Tuesday, July 21st, 2009|
I send and receive a lot of mail since I buy and sell trading cards over the internet, and I have to say that after hundreds of transactions, I have had virtually no problems at all with the Post Office. The USPS does a great job with residential service and I just think that people take it completely for granted.
So anyway, yesterday I was at the Post Office and I asked the lady at the counter for a coil of Forever stamps. She tells me "Forever Stamps don't come in coils", which seemed strange to me since I had just pulled such a stamp from a coil not more than 15 minutes prior to mail out a card order. She was insistent, and while I knew my eyes did not deceive me, I saw no profit in arguing philately with a pro so I just asked for the equivalent number of stamps on sheets.
So today I go to Google to be proven right as usual but in a stunning turn of events, I was wrong! ( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, July 17th, 2009|
|Harry Potter and the 0.5 Blood Prince
Saw the new Harry Potter last night. I'll try to keep this spoiler free.
I liked it, despite some flaws. I think I felt the same way about this that everyone else felt about the wretched Star Trek reboot a few months ago. It was a well executed genre flick, not changing my life in any way but entertaining me more than competently for a few hours. Let's do top 5 best and worst list, shall we?
Worst things about the new HP movie:
5. There were a few slow moments. I'm at a loss now to remember them precisely but those are the moments when you realize you have to pee and it might be a good time to sprint to the restroom.
4. The characters most definitely do not look like they are only 6 years older than they were in the first movie. Draco has some serious crow's feet. It's not horribly bad and I know movies take time to produce, but you can't ignore it.
3. Helena Bonham Carter's teeth were made up to look bad, presumably because she's evil and evil=bad teeth. Or something.
2. The major secret of the movie is revealed in an off-hand way and we have no idea what it means or why it's important. Oh how I wish good writing and consistent plots were correlated with the financial success of movies.
1. Sir Ian McKellan called. He wants his Gandalf wig back.
Best things about the new HP movie:
5. Harry's adoptive parents do not appear. This is the first time that's happened I think, and it really helps to cement the idea that we've moved from the whimsy of childhood to the serious struggles that the characters have to face.
4. The Hermione/Ron relationship. I really liked what they did in this movie. In a way it was all over the top, but for a sublplot in a movie that's the only way to do what they wanted to do. These characters feel very, very real to me, in fact everyone in this movie felt that way to me, even Harry Potter himself for the first time in all the movies (even if his only thing is the difficulty he has dealing with his fame).
3. Special effects. They were not overstated, silly, or fake looking. I thought this movie, visually, was simply amazing. I'd like to identify my favorite moments but I'm afraid I'd give things away if I did.
2. Helena Bonham Carter. She doesn't get a lot of screen time, but for some reason when she plays a character like this I find her irresistibly (yes that's spelled right :) ) attractive. What I like about her character here is the same thing that I like about Tatiana del Toro, guess that says more about me than the movie. Anyway she gets one really tremendous special effects scene where she's on a rampage in Hogwarts that was just about worth the price of admission all on its own for me.
1. Dumbledore (played by Michael Gambon). The first actor who played him put me to sleep. This guy is great though. He keeps reminding me of Kevin Spacey minus the smugness. His character got a lot of screen time this time around.
|Friday, July 3rd, 2009|
Possibly the only person capable of breaking the Michael Jackson news cycle. I can only hope that this resignation signals her intention to seek higher office. As long as the Republican '12 Presidential primary process eliminates her that is; is it reasonable to count on that? Reckless?
|Saturday, June 20th, 2009|
Apparently perk is an acceptable short form of perquisite, but perq ain't a word at all. Passing strange, that.
|Monday, May 11th, 2009|
|Trek: At A Loss
What I find most infuriating about the new Star Trek movie is not that it was bad or a waste of my 2 hours 6 minutes. No, what drives me nuts is that so many other people liked it, which means that I'm horribly out of touch. See, for me, this wasn't a close thing and hardly even a matter of taste. The writing was bad, the plot was neither interesting nor internally consistent, and while there were bright spots in the acting the bad far outweighed the good.
So, I am in one of the situations I fear most in life; what is obvious to me is completely imperceptible to almost everyone else, meaning either my ego has run away with me or I am wrong.
|Friday, May 8th, 2009|
I wanted so much to like this movie. Maybe I wanted it too much. I have to spoil a major plot element to tell you why I didn't like it unfortunately.( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, May 6th, 2009|
I've been watching Deadwood and I was skeptical at first since western isn't usually my bag, but wow. The characters are really deep and halfway through season 2 I haven't seen a disappointing episode yet. The dialogue is smartly written, and the tie-in to historical events makes me feel like I'm almost learning something. My suspension of disbelief is complete, even during the occasional extended monologue that goes a little over the top.
Highly recommended. I guess the show ran for 3 seasons, if it starts to suck I'll be sure to report back here.
|Tuesday, May 5th, 2009|
I think the world will be well served by Miss California
as spokesmodel for traditional marriage. Oh I'm sorry, "opposite marriage". Catchy!
|Wednesday, April 29th, 2009|
|Weight Loss: What Worked For Me
I have lost a significant amount of weight the last couple years, on the order of about 40 pounds (I'm now just a bit under 200 pounds at 5'11"). I started writing this as an email to a friend but then I decided that others might find what I have to say useful so "chmod a+r" as we unix-geeks say. I'm not looking for any kind of congratulations or anything else like that, but any constructive advice you have to add would be most welcome.
The most important thing is motivation. You can't just willpower your way through it. You just can't. Instead you have to create motivation. You have to create habits and passive curbs on your behavior that make it so that even if you do everything else wrong you at least don't make it worse, and so that it's easier to do the things that help. Again, forgive me if this seems patronizingly obvious but I see so many people try so hard to stick to something unsustainable rather than changing their habits forever.
Here's the list of things I did that worked:
1. Eat a salad every day. Every single day. This is probably the easiest since you're actually adding food, but tricking your body into eating better food by slipping a proportion of fresh veggies into the mix.
2. Make fresh fruit more easily obtainable than other snacks. Personally I like oranges, so I try to make sure there's a bowl right in the kitchen with 3 or 4 of them. I also always keep some raisins around for when I am out of fresh fruit. I try not to keep chocolate or ice cream in the house at all. Create a habit of snacking on the good stuff.
3. Don't eat after 9pm. At all. Ever. Watch Gremlins, watch what happens when you feed them after midnight :) Seriously, from all that I've read it seems your body takes late night food and converts it into fat all night long, which has the unfortunate side effect of also messing up your sleep cycle. If you don't get to bed around midnight pick a time 3 hours before bedtime, but stick to it even when you need/plan to stay up later. I'm not perfect about this but it's gotten to the point where if I'm looking for a snack at night, I look at the clock and at least second guess myself. They say if you do something for 3 weeks straight it becomes a habit, and I've found that to be true in this case.
4. Skip a snack and feel good about yourself. Don't take reduced portions and don't make up for it later- just take a time when you wanted food but didn't eat it and tell yourself what a moral giant you are.
5. Exercise 30 minutes every other day at minimum, and at least once a week in the winter when it's super inconvenient (as it usually is). I have found that there is no solo exercise in the world that can compete with jogging, and for me doing it on a treadmill isn't the same as doing it outside. sonbanon
and I have actually talked about moving to a warmer climate for this sole reason, so that it will be easier to get convenient exercise all year and hopefully I won't need bypass surgery in my 50's like my dad did.
The last thing, and I'm afraid I might not be able to help you with this one, is that you should have a lovely spouse who will replace some of your habitual evening restaurant meals with healthy and interesting home-cooked ones that have not been test-marketed to the customer base of TGIFriday's. If you don't have a lovely spouse to help you out with this then you may have to make other arrangements or even begin cooking yourself.
I won't wish you good luck because luck ain't got no say.
|Tuesday, April 28th, 2009|
So Arlen Specter has now aligned his interests with the good guys. This gives the democrats, once Franken is seated, a filibuster-proof majority. I'm hoping this means we'll finally get health care reform.
|Monday, April 27th, 2009|
|Wednesday, April 15th, 2009|
You like stale peeps, right?
|Tuesday, April 7th, 2009|
| The prosecution screwed up in Senator Ted Stevens corruption trial
, and the Times article asserts that the prosecutors cut corners in order to cheat and get a high profile conviction. The exact opposite seems likely to me- that a Republican justice department would cheat in hopes of getting caught and eliminating the conviction (which is what happened). Obama's Atty. General Holder replaced the prosecutors when he took over but it was too late.
Am I crazy for thinking this?
|Wednesday, April 1st, 2009|
|Too busy for April Fool's
I was up late last night making some last minute tweaks to a presentation I'm giving today. I was having trouble staying awake and I've spent the last 15 years developing an immunity to
coffee so the 3 cups I had weren't really doing it for me. So I decided to take it to the next level.