Monday, October 16, 2006
A Small Request
For those of you who are so inclined--as I am--my good friend Patrick has asked that we keep his father in our prayers.
X-Man: Because Wolverine is All Sorts of Popular
For fans of the X-Men movie, you’ll be happy to learn that the script for Wolverine’s solo outing has been completed. Which is nice for fans of the super-sideburned mutant hero.
As for me, I’m a little worried about the franchise. While X3 wasn’t a bad movie, it really didn’t reach the same level as the first two. Somewhere between overexposure and the sort of mediocrity that grows as most movie series drag on (James Bond, Matrix, Star Wars, Revenge of the Nerds), there is a great movie to be made about the most popular of the mutants. He has the sort of compellingly dark and tragic history that makes every teenage boy wish they could be mysterious, complex, and close to invulnerable, too.
Besides my fear of overextending series, though, is the news that the screenwriter is the cat who wrote Troy. That is something less than inspiring.
Still, the Wolverine movie has to be better than the surprising Chicago-Arizona game going on right now.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Denver Broncos v/ Oakland Raiders (Updated)
While I’ll have thoughts at half time and when the game is over, but Darren it again doing the blogging play-by-play.
Half Time Update: The Broncos have a strong
This one is far from over, but every time the Raiders look like they are about to do something good, something tremendously bad happens--and it’s an even bet as to whether the “bad” was something that the Raiders did to themselves. They look like a team that doesn’t really care about what happens next. The season isn’t half over and they’ve already called it a day.
Now, here’s the big thing: eighteen quarters and one overtime into the season and the Broncos have still only given up one touchdown. The Broncos have a fast, smart defense that knows how to capitalize on opportunities. They aren’t the most dominating (Bears?), but they are one of the most disciplined.
The offense is still a mystery, but they continue to do enough to help win games. If the Broncos go on to win this game, the Broncos won’t have any better of an idea about their offensive game--the Raiders defense just isn’t that good this year--but they will again have done enough to win a game.
Update II (The End): The Broncos looked a little disinterested in the second half. While the defense played with some urgency, the offense played a safe, slow, bland game. A decent opponent might have taken advantage of the opportunity, but today the Broncos were playing the Raiders. The Raiders have nothing this year.
And the Broncos have a defense that has allowed precisely one touchdown in five games, which is simply phenomenal. If defense wins championships, then the Broncos have to be considered a contender despite the lackluster offense.
Just a Few NFL Thoughts
Kansas City Chiefs v/ Pittsburgh Steelers:
Second: Johnson’s post-interception tackle of Troy Polamalu might not have been illegal (it wasn’t) but it certainly wasn’t very nice. Actually, it was less the tackle that bothered me than it was Johnson’s attitude after he pulled Polamalu down by his hair; it wasn’t what you would call a classy play on his part.
Third: Here in Denver, they actually switched coverage from the KC game with something like 10 minutes left so that we could watch the closer Miami game. That doesn’t happen often and, for local KC fans, it cant’ feel very good.
Dallas v/ Houston
Second: Dallas beat up the sad (but not, so far, as sad as the Raiders) Houston Texans. The tough thing about beating a team like Houston is that no one is impressed. If you beat them, well, so what? You were supposed to beat them. If you lose, well, that’s another story entirely.
Third: Which is, of course, why I’m a little worried about tonight’s Broncos-Raiders game.
Miami v/ New York Jets
Second: Miami still didn’t win, but it seemed like there was at least a chance.
Friday, October 13, 2006
First Commercial Wave Energy
In the discussion of renewable energy resources, one of the more intriguing potential sources is wave energy. That is, harnessing the energy generated by the waves of the ocean--a reliable and consistent energy. Now, the first commercial wave generation plant is getting ready to go online.
Energy production with minimal environmental impact and reasonable cost is a beautiful dream; I happen to believe that technologies like this can bring us close to that dream. This has precisely nothing to do with my skepticism about the worst of the global warming alarmists and precisely everything to do with my belief that even something good (clean coal and natural gas energy production, for instance) should ultimately be supplanted by something better (solar, wave, and nuclear energy production, for instance).
Here’s to progress.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Not a Review: The Break-Up
Vince and Jennifer’s The Break-Up is heading for a DVD review and the ad campaign is making the same mistakes that the movie release campaign made. Namely, this movie is being marketed as a hilarious comedy, and that’s just not the truth. Anyone seeing The Break-Up and expecting something like Wedding Crashers or Dodgeball is in for a serious shock.
The Break-Up is a tragedy with a few laughs. It’s a brutal exploration of a failed relationship--failed because of his selfish insensitivity, her foolish attempts at manipulation, and their combined immaturity. There are a few laugh-out-loud bits in it, but there are even more bits that leave viewers squirming in discomfort of the type you feel when couples fight in public. You feel that sense of too much intimacy with someone else’s problems.
And the chemistry between Vince and Jennifer isn’t so much romantic as it is familiar, confused, and angry.
This isn’t a romantic comedy; it’s a post-romantic tragedy with some funny bits. The end is almost anti-climactic. Without rising to a typical Hollywood ending, it only manages something happy-ish and unsatisfying.
Kind of like much of real life.
I recommend the movie, but only in an eyes open and minor way. It isn’t a major work of art, but it is a stab at dramatic legitimacy from a movie that I had fully expected to be a standard romantic comedy. It’s imperfect, uneven, and occasionally uncomfortable, but is also well-acted, sometimes insightful, and quirky.
Just don’t buy into the talk about it being a comedy.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
10 Reasons To Vote for No One
Smartmoney.com is running a fun article entitled “What Your Congressman Won’t Tell You.” It’s a sort of top ten list of reasons that your representatives have life far better than you--and this really isn’t a partisan issue. The truth is, our reps like to live by different rules than we do. You can call it perks, tritely announce “rank hath its privileges”, or just recognize the hypocrisy in telling the rest of us to live with the empty promises and insecurity of Social “Security” while they have a pension plan (funded by the taxpayers, of course) that the rest of us could only dream of.
Or, take this as another example:
Think about this: they have a job where they can vote themselves raises, they enjoy amazing job security, and many of them have sterling careers as lobbyists and paid speakers when their time in office is up. They live a charmed existence and we pay for it; that they would have the balls to then tell us that our Social Security and health care plans are good enough is almost as funny as them sending their children to private schools but telling us that the public schools are just dandy for our own kids.
With the elections fast approaching, now is a grand time to indulge the inner cynic. Read the article and feed the little feller a little more red meat.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Now That’s A Mighty Good Question
Click through and tell me: what would your answer be?
What Nuclear North Korea Means to Me
Sitting at my desk today, slaving away over hot pixels, I noticed a new nuclear wind blowing hot against my neck.
If you take my meaning.
Anyway, there is no doubt that if North Korea has actually detonated a nuclear weapon our world will look very different over the next few years. Not just in the political sense, but even to the core of our entertainment industry. I pondered this for some time and realized that I wanted to know precisely how the nuclear North Korea was going to change my world.
Here you go:
Let’s all smile and celebrate this new nuclear age we live in; there’s grand fun to be had for everyone.
Broncos v/ Ravens: A Little Advice A Little Late (Updated and Then Updated Again)
Okay, guys, there are three things you really don’t want to do when you’re facing the Ravens: turn over the ball, give up the early lead, and burn time outs in the first quarter.
Oh, wait, sorry…
Update: For something closer to intelligent about this here game, Darren is liveblogging the event from the press box. I’m so jealous…
Another Update: Isn’t it nice to see Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie patch things up? I mean, a girl doesn’t find her air-headed, useless, spoiled brat best friend just anywhere.
And, Probably, the Final Update: The Broncos offense continues to underwhelm as much as the Broncos defense continues to impress. Allowing just one touchdown over 16 quarters (and one overtime) is impressive as hell. I still don’t know how good this team is, but I do know that this defense is special.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Shouldn’t Oughta Make Predictions
Just before the Philly-Dallas game started today, I read this article from Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Perloff:
Which just goes to prove how difficult the prediction business can be. Now, I don’t know who will win the game, but after three very early turnovers (one by Philly and two by Dallas), an Eagle’s rushing touchdown, and not a thing so far for Bledsoe and the Cowboys, Perloff is looking like his prediction of a relatively easy victory for Dallas is a little off.
This is why I try to stay out of the oracle business; it’s far too easy to get caught out when all your logic collapses in the face of reality.
For the record, he also predicted the Broncos over the Ravens. I’m not exactly filled with confidence.
It’s a Good Day for a Sunday
First I noticed that Shawn linked me up in American Spectator‘s blog. Which made me realize that my plans for world domination continue to march onward.
Then I noticed that Hathor sent me (along with some others) a very sweet thank you for a very small gift. Thank you for the gracious words.
Speaking of Funny, This Isn’t It
For CU fans, this season can hold nothing but pain. Losing to Montana State in the first game was bad enough, but to lose six straight to start the season (ten straight if you go back to last season) is heartbreaking.
And the fact that it took three overtimes to lose yesterday’s homecoming game to Baylor shouldn’t fill anyone--even the most die-hard homer--with inspiration and hope. Keep in mind that Baylor hasn’t won back-to-back Big 12 games since they joined--that’s ten years for anyone who’s keeping track…
These are awfully bleak days for Buffs fans.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Because Drugs Taste Good
This is some funny stuff to me:
The funny part is that this could possibly be a big story. No serious discussion of drugs can take place--whether from a “legalize now” or a hard-core drug warrior stance--without admitting the obvious: drugs are fun.
Okay, that’s not entirely fair, but it’s useful shorthand. Closer to the truth would be to say that people use drugs because they get something out of them. Maybe they get that mild, social release that comes from drinking a few beers with some friends. Perhaps it’s to ease pain or anxiety or to escape in large and small ways from the difficulties of daily life. Sometimes drug use is harmless (as with a friend of mine who is what I would consider a functional addict that needs his morning hit to get going but is never late for work and works harder than anyone else in his department) and sometimes it’s wildly self-destructive (as with the man who I considered a second father, who couldn’t sleep without being falling down drunk, who couldn’t find a way to live with himself, and who ended up dying a painful, bloody drunk’s death).
Talking about drugs in some monolithic way--treating “drug use” as one topic without distinguishing between the different kinds of drugs, casual users, functional addicts, dysfunctional addicts, and all the rest--is dishonest. For that matter, without talking about drugs in the context of legal drugs and controls (as with alcohol) is just as dishonest. We’re a society that likes our drugs in a myriad of forms; from our morning caffeine and our happy hour two-fers to our pack-a-day nicotine habit and our chopped power on a tabletop.
On the illegal side of the ledger, I’ve used coke, meth, pot, and more. I’ve abused legally and illegally obtained prescription drugs and had a strong love of morphine for quite some time. I tried to get my hands on opium, but the guy I paid disappeared with my money (and, yes, I’m still cranky). Why did I do it? Sometimes because I was curious about the effects and sometimes because I found that I liked the effects.
Coke made me happy like you wouldn’t believe. Meth was harsh and had a horrible aftermath. Pot left me bored. Morphine left me (physically and mentally) in pain, but far from caring.
There were times that I drank because I didn’t have the balls to kill myself and times that I drank because I couldn’t imagine tomorrow being better than today. Now I have a few drinks because it frees me to put my daily stress at arm’s length. That might not sound healthy--and maybe it isn’t--but I rarely drink and my drinking has yet to affect my relationships or my work life.
This isn’t a blanket encouragement to others to indulge in their own self-destructive behavior. I have the scars to prove that isn’t always such a great idea. I tend to think that people should be allowed to pour whatever chemicals they want into their own body--with the same kinds of rules and regulations that govern alcohol use, for instance--but would privately encourage people to understand why they use whatever they use. What need is it filling up in their lives?
I stopped using a long time ago mostly because the drugs weren’t that important to me. They didn’t feel a need most of the time; they filled a want. The potential damage to my career and my life is hardly justified by the transient, relatively small release afforded by an eight ball.
An honest, reasonable drug policy can’t be found until we have an honest, reasonable conversation about drugs and drug use. Even if you believe in abolition and have never touched an illicit drug, you aren’t being honest if you don’t acknowledge that the grand majority of users go on to have none of the Hollywood tragedies. If you’ve pulled yourself up from some addict’s hell to become an anti-drug crusader, you are being dishonest when you don’t admit that most people don’t end up the way that you did. And if you are a legalizer who doesn’t address the potential cost of a more liberal drug policy on individuals and a society, then you are missing a vital part of the conversation.
In the story about Graham Norton, at least the Martin Barnes admits that people have fun with drugs while noting the undeniable fact that illegal drug use can have negative consequences. Far too many people take the National Drug Prevention Alliance spokesman’s angle, seemingly afraid that any admission of the fun bits will completely invalidate their arguments.
Let me say this for the record: I had a great time on drugs. But I’m happy to be clean.
Update: Read this post from SJ Howard and then follow the link at the end. Apparently, Mr. Norton has been horribly misunderstood.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Seriously Overestimating My Loyalty
Love my Apple, really I do. But the truth about any computer is that it is only a tool for doing a job; if the tool stops being useful then I will be forced to buy a new one.
No, this isn’t about back-dating stock options or crankiness that some pet aspect of OS 7 didn’t make the cut in OS X’s interface. This is a response to an article that posits that graphic designers--probably something like half of which work on Apple computers--are more loyal to Apple than they are to the tools that they use in their trade. Here’s the spot that grabbed my attention:
First, building an application with the tools, the plug-in structure, the stability, and the maturity of something like Photoshop isn’t “trivial.” It’s a big task with a lot of code and a lot of space for screwing up. Even more importantly, Apple doesn’t always get everything right and Steve Jobs doesn’t walk on water--he just manages to paddle a little faster than most. The same warning that applies to all new applications applies to Apple stuff: waiting for version two is usually good practice. Let the bleeding edgers deal with the bugs and crashes.
Second, I have a lot of time and energy invested in mastering the tools of my trade. I’m good with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign--and unless there is a really compelling reason to switch to a new application, I won’t be making changes any time soon. I like Adobe products (although the prices hurt).
How much do I like Adobe? Enough that the cost of software on my computer towers over the cost of the computer itself. I’m a very loyal Apple user but only to the extent that their computers continue to be tools that help me do my job; once utility vanishes so will my loyalty.
This is an academic conversation, though. Adobe will release Universal binaries next year so that the Intel-based Mac boxes will be even better than their PPC counterparts and Apple’s Aperture doesn’t really compete with Photoshop--and I doubt that it ever will.
For that matter, if Adobe ever did completely abandon the Apple market, multi-OS fast user switching would solve that problem right away.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Artificial Breast Blow-Out (And It’s a Good Thing)
Offered without comment (but a good deal of juvenile giggling).
Sudan and the Concept of Sovereignty
Although the small African Union force tasked with peacekeeping in Darfur has utterly failed in its mission, the Sudanese government is opposed to UN sending troops to assist.
Sovereignty is not just the right of a government to keep its own house, nor it is an absolute injunction against international interference, though. Sovereignty also implies obligations and responsibilities that the Sudanese government is utterly failing to meet. Few people would argue that the UN should respect a nation’s sovereignty if a government is standing by and allowing an ethnic minority to be slaughtered in the streets.
The Sudanese government has stood powerless to stop the killing and the destruction in Darfur. While refugees flee to other countries, militias rule, ineffectual local peacekeepers dither, and the government blunders on, the only potential to stop the killing is to send in international troops. The UN has obligations on this front that it has so far failed to meet.
In allowing the AU troops to try to solve the problem, the UN actually did make the correct choice. Africa, as a whole, will never be truly successful until it has the capacity to police its own problems on the continent. But when it became apparent that the AU troops were going to fail, the UN was bound by its own charter to act to stop genocide. Of course, the UN has failed to act and will probably continue to fail to act and will probably make excuses for its failure to act even as people continue to die. And then, some day in the future when “normalcy” has returned to the region we will hear stories of atrocities, watch movies about the brutality, and raiser our voices and say, “NEVER AGAIN!”
Until the next time it happens because, let’s be serious, it will happen again and the UN will fail its mission.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Context is King
The context of a statement is hugely important to understanding the actual intent of the author. So, remember that when you read the following (and forgive me when I tell you I was laughing):
Why I Won’t Be Voting Democrat in the Upcoming Elections
I’m not particularly socially or politically conservative and, although I’ve been a registered Republican for as long as I could vote, I don’t really identify myself with the stereotypical Republican. I’m not wealthy, I don’t come from an established family, I’m not particularly active in any religion (although I do self-identify as a Christian), and I support a number of things that the “typical” Republican probably doesn’t (gay marriage and drug legalization, for example). I won’t be voting for Democrats this year, though, unlike some others.
As long as people like Michael Moore are treated as serious thinkers by the left, I won’t be voting Democrat.
As long as people like Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean occupy positions of authority in the party, I won’t be voting Democrat.
As long as the party marginalizes reasonable people like Joe Lieberman, I won’t be voting Democrat.
As long as Democrats refuse to even acknowledge the growing problem with Social Security--much less offer anything resembling a solution--I won’t be voting Democrat.
As long as Oliver Willis likes a candidate, I can’t imagine myself voting for the person.
Anyone who reads this site or spends a few minutes talking with me will know that I’m not a rah-rah cheerleader of the Republican party. My disappointment on many fronts (Medicare bills, disappointing performance in bringing us smaller government and controlled spending, and a wide range of other issues) doesn’t mean that I’m willing to vote for a bunch of people who promise answers that I’ll like even less.
Like Fouad Ajami, I believe that huge mistakes have been made in the war in Iraq; like Fouad Ajami, I am hardly ready to give up hope nor am I blind to the very real social and political changes that have been simmering through the entirety of the Middle East since the United States turned full attention to the region. Difficult does not necessarily equate to failure; I remain hopeful that the multi-generational commitment to combating radical Islamic terrorists will ultimately make the world a better place.
Iraq is broken, but not irretrievably.
Now, this doesn’t make me right and I’m not criticizing The Commissar’s choice. This is simply my line of reasoning--some of the things that inform my decisions when I’ll be voting in a number of weeks. It also shouldn’t be taken as an attempt to sway any other votes. Every one of us has different priorities and views about the leadership of this country and the idea that any one person could speak for all of us (in a literal sense) is a little foolish.
For a time, I had considered not voting in these elections; I’m rejecting that as being, essentially, a passive vote for the other guys. However disappointed I might be with the GOP, I can’t in good conscience vote wholesale for a party that will take me even further from my priorities. For now, I will stay with the GOP, I will continue to agitate for change from within, and I will hope that the choices we all, collectively, make will lead this country toward a better future.
(H/T to Andy.)
Another update: Kindly linked by Standfast.
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