Saturday, October 16, 2010
Mugabe Ending Unity Deal?
Anyone who knows Mugabe’s political history won’t be surprised by this at all. He has a history of making political alliances for convenience and discarding allies at whim.
No, There should be no surprise at all.
Moscow on the Hudson through Fresh Eyes
It has been a long time since I saw Moscow on the Hudson--probably since I was in high school--but I remember liking the movie. Netflix, one of my new bestest friends, streamed the movie into my home tonight and looking at it is a little like looking back into a time capsule. In some ways, it is also like looking at a better version of America.
For those who don’t remember, the movie is about a Russian musician (Robin Williams) who defects in a Bloomingdales in New York City. It follows him from Moscow, through his defection, and through learning to live in America. It isn’t a completely easy journey for him and it shows both him and his adopted country with warts and foibles and a bit of complexity.
With all the references to the old USSR, KGB, and the Reagan presidency, it is a look at a world that doesn’t exist any longer--it excites some of the same nostalgia bursts as Red Dawn without the campy overtones. But if you look past that little, gentle nostalgia, there are also some wonderful moments in watching the immigrants’ journey that put me in mind of an America that lives mostly in my hopes and may never have been entirely real. It glorifies hard work and opportunity over government handouts, it despises hyphenated allegiances at the cost of an American identity, and, in the end, it praises, if you’ll pardon me, the spiritual necessity of liberty over the state-controlled and, theoretically, perfectible society.
Two scenes really stand out to me. First, early in the movie, the immigrant watches a room full of new citizens taking the oath of citizenship. It is very quietly affecting as the judge gives her statement before administering the oath: “Today you will become citizens of the United States of America. No longer are you an Englishman, Italian, a Pole or whatever, neither will you be a hyphenated American. From this day you are no longer a subject of a governement, but an intergal part of the government, a free man.”
Then, nearer the end, when William’s character has suffered an assault and he is questioning the value of freedom when liberty is put to particularly dark purpose, he is reminded by a diner populated mostly by immigrants (a Cuban, another Russian, a Chinese man, and the American server) of the words of the Declaration of Independence. And while, as a scene in a movie it feels almost glib and you would be forgiven for wondering how such a moment might have calmed the anger Williams was showing, I can’t help but enjoy watching these folks extolling the virtues of freedom.
It’s no great movie. The character’s transition, for all the difficulties, still comes too easy. Too scripted. It also makes the emotional choices a little too simple for Williams giving a relatively tidy ending where some of the reality is bound to be messier. Still, I enjoyed it and have to say that a few of the performances are remarkably good. Williams, himself, is wonderful. He’s a good deal better than the script and he gives the whole thing more gravity than it might deserve.
More than anything, though, it was like a visit with an old friend. Not challenging, not new, but warm and comfortable.
Moving from there to Every Which Way but Loose, is particularly strange, though. Time has done precisely nothing to make Sandra Locke’s singing any easier to stomach…
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Denver Broncos Beat the Titans
It is becoming really hard to escape the feeling that the Denver Broncos could be a good team if they could find a running game and return to the kind of offensive line performance that the Broncos were known for during the Shanahan era. Instead, the line was harrassed and bullied for most of the day and I don’t remember the last time the Broncos’ running attack was quite this bad. When you rush for only 20 yards on 19 carries, you don’t exactly deserve the win. If that sounds bad to you (and it should), then consider that the leading rusher for the Broncos was Kyle Orton with his three rushes for 11 yards--more than double the totals of either Laurence Maroney or Correll Buckhalter.
Neither Maroney nor Buckhalter managed to average more than half a yard per carry. The running backs deserve some of the blame for this, but most of it has to go to an offensive line that just isn’t doing its job.
And that failure extends beyond the running game, too. Orton was harried by an aggressive Titans team most of the day. Sacked six times, rushed on almost every drop, he still managed to throw for 341 yards and a couple touchdowns. His interception--the Broncos’ lone turnover of the day--was a bad decision. Still, when the running game is so completely useless, the Broncos have needed to take some chances in passing downfield to move the sticks.
What had to be most hopeful for Broncos fans, though, was the way the team played in most of the other phases of the game. Orton threw well and racked up yards, continuing to prove that not only is he a better QB than most people expected, but that this receiving corps is tremendously talented. In fact, a few dropped, very catchable balls would have padded those stats significantly.
On defense, the Broncos are playing far better than I expected. Martindale’s unit only gave up a few big plays, but held Chris Johnson to just 53 yards, less than three yards per carry, and no plays longer than eight yards. They also managed to keep Vince Young to just 173 yards, although his numbers would have looked significantly better if it weren’t for a handful of drops toward the end of the game. When he most needed help, his receivers left him hanging.
The special teams were mostly solid with good kickoffs, punts, and placekicking, but return coverage remains a concern. Marc Mariani’s 98 yard return was beautiful, and, boy, does that kid have some speed in those legs; but the coverage team was beat big by the blockers on the return. They can and should do better.
Still, there are reasons to feel some hope for this team. There is a deep pool of talent at some of the skill positions and the defense is showing some toughness. Kyle Orton is earning his contract extension and the passing attack is tremendous. Unless they can figure out the running game and start getting a better performance from the offensive line, they don’t have much of a shot at a return to the playoffs.
Brave prediction of the day: the Peyton Hillis trade will haunt McD for a long time. Not only has Hillis been playing really well, but his 322 yards rushing is more than the Broncos have as a team on the year. In a week where Maroney dropped a few catchable balls, at least one of which should have gone for a huge, drive-extending game, it’s also worth noting that Hillis has sixteen catches for 94 yards on the season.
Friday, October 01, 2010
The Not So Bright Life of Zomby
I’m listening to a song that hasn’t been on regular rotation in my iPod for years. Maria McKee’s “If Love is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)”, which I absolutely love. Great stuff.
However, it plays to the worst of my own personal mental defects. It plays to the bits of me that movies, music, and literature to adore the idea of suffering instead of savoring the happiness that life has handed me. When she sings, “If love is shelter, I’m gonna walk in the rain,” I’ll be damned if I don’t want to fall out of love so that I can taste a little misery.
I’ve often said that happiness is overrated--and I am pretty happy--but I meant it in what I thought was an entirely different context. I’m coming to the conclusion that I might just be emotionally allergic to happiness.
And, boy, is that stupid.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Call Me a Skeptic: Top Reasons to Worry About the Broncos
The Broncos bullied the Seahawks today. They came up with big plays, had a gaudy third down conversion rate, and made the faithful forget that Brandon Marshall fellow. It was a good and well-earned win.
But I’m worried. They also showed some seriously negative tendencies that will get them beat by the likes of Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, and the truth is that the San Diego Chargers are still a good team and the Chiefs got a lot healthier in the offseason. If the Broncos want to make the playoffs this year, it won’t be an easy road.
Here are the top five things the Broncos need to fix:
Don’t get me wrong: there were a lot of good things in the game, too.
Kyle Orton is playing well and the wide receivers played well. In fact, Demaryius Thomas showed everyone why McDaniels thought he was worth the draft pick, Eddie Royal played a really good game, and both Lloyed and Gaffney came up with big catches. While I’m missing a rough, strong back like Peyton Hillis right now, I’m not at all missing Brandon Marshall. That could change as the year goes on, of course, but the early look at this group of receivers is kind of exciting.
And as i said, Moreno’s best moment came when he caught the ball--which he did four times for 67 yards. The longest, a run of 45 yards, was a lot of fun to watch. He ran hard, he showed some speed, and reminded people that he has some talent. It’s just a shame that he can’t find that same elusiveness in the running game.
The Broncos have a lot of potential and this game extended their home opener win streak to the last 11 seasons. If they want to take that potential and make something of it, though, they need to be a good bit better in a few areas
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Is it Just Me? (The Brett Favre Edition)
Is it just me or did it look like Favre really needed a little more training camp before the season started?
TeleTech Hiring More Than 2,000
If you are jobless in the Denver area, this won’t count as great news, but it might count as good news. According to the Denver Business Journal, TeleTech will be hiring more than 2,000 people in the Denver area. Unfortunately, many of those jobs are temporary, part-time, work-at-home positions--which won’t solve your job problems, but might well help in the short term.
Talk About Your Infinite Jests…
To be fair, I tried this with three different posts. I was curious to see if there would be a dominant style. The first post gave me Arthur Clarke, the second was HP Lovecraft, and the third was Wallace. Apparently consistency of presentation isn’t my strong suit.
Thanks to Wheels for pointing this out.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
A Few Late Night Observations
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
We’ve just started--really just started--a social media push at work and I’m still ironing out the kinks. For Twitter I decided to follow a number of industry publications and some of the larger businesses but am purposely ignoring competitors (other manufacturers). One of our competitors is now following us. When I say competitor, I mean direct competitor in one of our biggest product families.
They have manufacturing in the city as us, they make the same kinds of equipment as us, they sell in the same markets to the same people, and they have much the same goals as us. We are a young company and we’re looking up at a lot of higher cost, more established competition--these guys, on the other hand, have us in their sites.
What should I do? Ignore them? Block them? Unless someone can offer a compelling argument as to why I should do so, I can’t imagine following them.
Midnightish Music Lamenting the Ending of Summer
Louder than my normal midnight musical offerings, the The Raveonettes’ “Beat City” has a kind of has a My Bloody Valentine meets early sixties pop thing going on (which might also explain this little ditty). Mostly, though, it’s a bit of noisy fun.
I hate it when summer starts to go away.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Skype Can’t Be Happy About This…
Suddenly Skype seems so much less necessary.
I’ve set it up, I’ve tried it, and I love it. Works beautifully.
I already use Google voice for all of my international calls--the rates are pretty reasonable--but the fact that it ties into my Google Voice account is a nice bonus. The only significant negative with Google Voice--and it is a significant negative--is that I have missed a few incoming calls. Apparently there are a few carriers who refuse to acknowledge the existence of Google Voice. Since I use this for business, again I say: this is a significant negative.
Sadly, it doesn’t even block the salesman who has called me about fifteen times since last Thursday. I gave him an hour of my life on Friday, listened to his pitch, and told him that I didn’t have the budget or the inclination to buy right now; I even told him he should call back toward the end of September when I was looking over the marketing plan and the budget for next year.
Funny enough, I really was going to consider a trial run with his product, but the constant calling after I told him to leave me alone until I had a chance to look at next year’s budget has solved that particular problem. There is no way that I am buying from him.
Let this be a lesson to any of you in sales: don’t harass the prospect and don’t talk yourself out of a sale.
I do wonder what they’ll be charging for it next year, though. If it is a reasonable annual fee, I’ll be happy to add that onto my Google tab (along with my added storage and those international calls).
Update: Just going through my bills right now and looked at my cell phone bill and there was one international call. A few days ago I called one of our partners in Australia and chatted for a grand total 8 minutes. The charge for that 8 minutes? $29.12. That same call in Google Voice would have cost $1.12.
Still trying to wrap my head around a $29.12 call that lasted only 8 minutes.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Kindle v/ iBooks
This wouldn’t surprise me in the least:
Friday, August 13, 2010
Apparently Some People Really Do Read it for the Articles
Apple’s strict no-nipple policy in relation to apps sold through the iTunes store is probably a smart decision. If not for that, my guess is that wandering through the app store would feel something like wandering the Vegas Strip. Everywhere you turn, some guy is pushing a little sheet urging you to partake in Becky’s Big Boobieporium.
I have nothing against porn in a general sense, but I really hate it when porn gets all pushy.
Which is why I’m not particularly uptight about the G-rated version of Playboy for the iPad, but, then, I also don’t get the point. Do people really read it for the articles? Are those articles really that good? Or do they need a giant pair of fake, airbrushed bosoms to keep them afloat? I honestly wouldn’t know since I never read it for the articles. I was always in it for the photography.
For cranky folk who will decry Apple’s censorship, I say: if you need porn on your iDevice, then use the browser. Even better, you could buy an Android-based device--Google really does have the porn advantage.
Billie Joe Armstrong Embraces His Inner (Very American) Idiot
Britain’s Q magazine--one of a handful of music magazines that I still read regularly--published a sort of musical overview of the last decade that, of course, incorporates a look at the political events that shaped these years. Predictably, my opinions weren’t well-represented. In fact, reading music journalists writing about the musings of rock stars on some of the weightiest issues of our times isn’t likely to wake any slumbering brain cells. It is rarely interesting, it is even more rarely insightful, and it is close to never useful to any larger debate.
Witness, for instance, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s take on Obamacare:
There’s a nuanced view of health care that neither seems to have any understanding of what assistance was in place for the poor before Obamacare nor of any of the practical issues of how to properly administer any healthcare plan. Deep thought is not this man’s strongest suit.
Of course, if he had simply said that I wouldn’t be writing this post. That’s a very tame grade of dumb. What is more impressive is the full-on weapons grade dumb that he exhibits when asked this by Q’s interviewer, “If you went for a beer with Bush, do you think he’d turn out to be quite a nice guy?”
Billie Joe’s answer is, well, inflammatory.
What a ridiculous, silly little man.
If you’re inclined to read the interview, you can find it on page 61 of the January, 2010 issue. Why, yes, I am a little behind on some of my reading. Why do you ask?
Update: Having read the magazine, I find a very specific trend to be intriguing. Of all of the interviews in the issue, when the musicians were asked about the best and worst of the decade, those who went political answered almost unanimously.
Worst of the decade was President Bush. Which seems a tremendous hyperbole when you consider the global economic meltdown, the terrifying natural disasters, and the rise of Real Housewives of Wherever.
Best of the decade was President Obama. Which seems just as tremendously premature. I imagine, though, that his actual job performance won’t be changing their minds.
And precisely none of them mentioned Osama bin Laden, terrorists, or the 9/11 attack. Defining the “worst” thing of a decade is always difficult, but here’s the thing: no matter what you think of former President Bush, he did not go into office intending to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, he had sounded during his first campaign, like a mild isolationist. The worst thing of this past decade could very easily be that thing that precipitated the wars that no one really wanted: the terrorist attacks that murdered thousands of innocents. Not just terrorist attacks in the US, but around the world.
I find it mind-boggling that not one of the people interviewed noticed that the worst “thing” of the decade was the surge in deadly, radical Muslim terrorists working hard to destabilize governments around the world.
I truly love music, but these are not serious people.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Give to a Good Cause
I will be donating to the cause. No CMH winner should ever go to his final resting place in Arlington without his family in attendance. I would feel ashamed if his service meant that little to us.
I will work to find information about donating after I’ve left work today. I will post details as they are available.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Congratulations to Ryan Frazier
In the Republican primary for the 7th Congressional District, Ryan Frazier won over Lang Sias. I look forward to doing everything I can to help Frazier win this race--I have complete faith and confidence in the man to represent us well. From the moment I met him a few years ago, while he was running here locally, I knew that he had the potential to be a big player at a much higher level.
It won’t be an easy fight against incumbent Ed Perlmutter, but it is a winnable race.
Read the rest. If you live in the area, consider signing up to help Frazier win this seat; he is a thoughtful and accomplished conservative and the kind of person who I will be proud to have represent us.
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