Thursday, September 30, 2010

Turnabout Is Fair Play

You know, they should broadcast Dharun Ravi's first prison rape online: Sep 30 21:09:51 via web

The More I Read About the Carolina Theater ...

... the more I like it.

Expert testimony on Chaplin retrospective | Film Beat | Independent Weekly:
Gold says that the extent of his impact in popular culture is not fully understood by many people. 'It's hard to really grasp this, but Chaplin was famous in a way no one else has been famous before or since,' Gold says. 'In 1914, he was just another comedian, but by the end of 1917, his face was the best-known face in all of human history.

Studio 60: Where'd You Go?

I've been watching the criminally under-rated Studio 60 on Netflix the last few days. Enjoying it even more this time around. That was a heck of a cast they pulled together, from the leads to the minor characters, so many talented performers. It's only been three years since it went off air, but I figure it was largely ignored when it was on, and some of the actors went on to become famous (or near famous at least) in hit shows, so it might be worthwhile pulling together some where-are-they-now notes:

Bradley Whitford
Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford): As I've mentioned previously, I'm still checking in occasionally to watch Mr. Whitford play it broad next to a plank of wood on the USA Network's The Good Guys. What? it's not on USA? Well, it sure looks like a USA show.
Matthew Perry
Matt Albie (Matthew Perry): He's got a few movie and TV appearances since Studio 60, but nothing I've seen or think I have any interest in seeing. I imagine in most minds he's still most famous for playing Chandler on Friends? He was hilarious, probably the best thing about that show. Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing his Mr. Sunshine; he's got some other Sorkin alums joining him: Allison Janney, with whom he worked on The West Wing, and Nate Torrence from Studio 60.
Amanda Peet

Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet): A toothsome lass if ever there was one.(Toothsome, in my lexicon, is another way of saying "pretty girl with big teeth.") I last saw her on Letterman after the birth of her child. She's been working, but I wouldn't sit through 2012 to see here. She's been on HIMYM recently, so that'll probably be a "hey look, there's Jordan from Studio 60" moment sometime I bored and settle on a rerun. Probably won't see her in Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels either
Sarah Paulson

Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson): Ms. Paulson was given a tough task in Harriet Hayes, and she played the character well. Her reward for being a talented actress? She gets relegated to guest spots on primetime soaps. Meanwhile,  charmless stick-figure Angie Harmon gets the lead in Rizzoli & Isles. Hardly seems fair.
Nate Corddry
Tom Jeter (Nate Corddry): Why would anyone name a character "Jeter?" I have to spit like a gypsy after saying that name. Looks as if he's the only actor to crossover to 30 Rock from Studio 60? I see he's got a role in the new David E. Kelly legal drama, Harry's Law. That doesn't sound promising. They're still letting Kelly make legal dramas?
D. L. Hughley
Simon Stiles (D. L. Hughley): Mr. Hughley has primarily been working on D.L. Hughley Breaks the News recently, according to IMDB. Plus, he's got a Serbo-Croatian B movie coming out that looks like garbage. That's a shame.I vaguely remember some kind of controversy or legal trouble for D.L. but a quick search isn't giving up any particularly interesting details.
Steven Weber
Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber):It's been a long time since Wings. He's got a bunch of credits but they seem a bit beneath him, on the whole. He's guested on both Monk and Psych in recent years, but not in episodes I've seen.
Timothy Busfield
Cal Shanley (Timothy Busfield): Doing more directing than acting these days, looks like just one Law & Order appearance in front of the camera since Studio 60 ended but he's got his fingers in lots of pies on the other side of the lens.
Simon Helberg
Alex Dwyer (Simon Helberg): He's most famous now of course for The Big Bang Theory. Last I saw, his johnson was in the grip of a robotic masturbating arm. He also got moist to sidekick for Dr. Horrible. His Nic Cage was great on the show within the show in Studio 60.
Nate Torrence
Dylan Killington (Nate Torrence): The "Rook" on Studio 60 he's working with Matthew Perry again in the upcoming Mr. Sunshine.
Columbus Short
Darius Hawthorne (Columbus Short): I'll probably end up catching Death at a Funeral one of these days, so I'll seem him there at least. Most likely won't see any of the Stomp the Yard franchise though.
Kim Tao

Kim Tao (Julia Ling): She's been the heartbreaking Anna Wu on Chuck, but I'm not sure if her character will be back. Looks like she may be moving on to feature films, at least she's appearing in a little indie flick soon.

Theists, Always Spoiling for a Fight

Disputed India Holy Site to Be Divided, Court Rules -

The case focused on a site in the city of Ayodhya, which many Hindus have long claimed as the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram, but which also was the site of a mosque, known as the Babri Masjid, built in the 16th century by India’s first Mughal ruler. In 1992, Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri Masjid, sparking riots that would claim the lives of about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.
This ruling has a direct impact to me at work because I have colleagues in Bangalore that aren't in the office today due to concerns for their safety. From the perspective of an otherwise disinterested secularist, I can't help but wonder, "Seriously people, this is something to fight and die for?"

Related: Google News section related to the Ayodhya ruling

"... It Takes Two to Lie. One to Lie and One to Listen." - Homer

'I faked religion to find a school' - Andrew Penman - The Independent -
My plea: guilty. I am an atheist, but for at least two years before my son reached primary-school age I went along to the local church, along with my wife. And so it came to pass that our son got the school place.

My mitigation is this: whose fault was it that we had to go to church to get our son into the local primary school? I didn't choose the selection criteria that meant that half the places were reserved for churchgoers, thus discriminating against local families who did not follow this particular brand of religion. This was not a situation of my choosing. I went to church under duress, because that was the only way to be sure of a place, even though that school was literally the other side of the road from our house. I didn't pretend to be a Christian for several years because I wanted to offend anyone, or because I thought it was fun – I promise you it wasn't.

This article deserves a serious discussion. If I were half the blogger I ought to be, I'd be dissecting the ridiculousness of the state (any government) using religion as an entry requirement for schools. But, honestly, I just keep cracking up at his quip on whether passing was fun, "I promise you it wasn't."
Homer "Passing"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Known Fact: The Mating Call of the Sperm Whale is "Brass Bonanza" | The American Hockey League | Connecticut Whale logo unveiled

I like it. They used the right colors.  And, I like that they're the Whale, not the Whalers. I mean, it always seemed a bit backhanded to use a whale as your logo when your team was called the Whalers. Whalers kill whales, after all; it sent a mixed message.  Anyways, the new whale made me think immediately of this:
View of the Giant Sperm Whale

Just because I'm in Carolina now, doesn't mean I'm suddenly down with the Hurricanes. You can take the boy out of the Constitution State, but you can't take the Constitution State out of the boy.

"But That's Got Nothing To Do With a Good Time"

Armond White: The Social Network Is No Soul Man -- Vulture:

Like a film critic supervillain who only grows stronger when faced with a 100 percent full Tomatometer, the New York Press's Armond White has delivered the pan of The Social Network you knew was coming from him, and it is a doozy.

Free Range

Report: N.C. among states linked to guns used for crimes ::
Nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines and were used in crimes in 2009 were sold in just 10 states, according to a report being released Monday by a mayors’ group.

My (Nearest) Local Gun Store
North Carolina is identified one of the ten states supplying guns to the rest of the country. Congratulations, Death Merchants, you're putting us in the national spotlight.

Look, I won't mince words: private citizens should not have handguns or assault weapons. (Let's leave aside sport rifles for hunting. I think that's a separate discussion.) The 2nd Amendment makes it pretty clear the right to keep and bear arms is for the purpose of being able to maintain a well-regulated militia for the national defense. You can parse the language all you want, but this argument has been settled to the satisfaction of all reasonable people. The language of the amendment is archaic, obscures the intent to modern readers, and has been twisted to ridiculous purposes by a well-funded lobby of blood-thirsty cranks. We, the tax-payers, are footing the bill for a huge military; we shouldn't have to worry about our fellow civilians running around with handguns as well. Want to shoot stuff? Join the armed forces, I'm sure they'll be happy to arrange a tour of lovely Afghanistan for you.

So, since it's going to be all but impossible to fix the Constitution, I'd like to propose we give the NRA and the right wing everything they want in this regard. And, by everything they want, I mean let's get the government out of business of regulating firearm manufacturers for the civilian market. Let's do away with those pesky safeties and trigger-locks, real macho men don't need those things forced on them by nanny state liberals. Licensing and registration? Useless bureaucracy. Handguns for everybody, no waiting.

Firearm manufacturers should be allowed to outsource the actual production of weapons to whatever country they want, wherever labor costs are cheapest, they need unfettered access to those markets. And let's not use tariffs and tax incentives to cripple the free-market here. If child labor in Asian sweat-shops can crank out guns and bullets faster and cheaper than those commie union types here, more power to 'em.

Also, let's limit the liability of firearm manufacturers for death and injury as result of injuries incurred while operating firearms. If a shoddily made handgun explodes in the user's hand, or a gun accidentally goes off killing a child, I don't see why the manufacturer should be held responsible for that. I bet we can clear some frivolous personal injury lawsuits by not letting people sue.

Further, we should get the government out of the insurance business as much as possible, right? So how about we let insurers refuse to cover medical costs for handgun related injuries, whether accidental or deliberate. Shot? You must've had it coming; you should be paying those expenses out of pocket. Your kid shot himself in the face playing with your handgun? Why should my premiums go up for that? Take care of it yourself.

This post has been sitting in draft status for a couple days. The kid that killed himself (with an AK-47?! -- why again are people allowed to get these things?) and scared the crap out of a bunch of folks got me thinking about what it might be like if more people carried. Sure, we can imagine a situation where a shooter starts firing off rounds on a college campus and a hero with a sidearm takes him out before anyone is injured. Sounds great, right? Is it that much harder though to imagine this scenario:
The suicidal kid pulls his gun out in the library and starts firing. People are crouching under tables, hiding in the stacks, calling 911 and checking twitter to find out if anyone knows what's going on. They learn the police are searching for multiple shooters. Our hero from the NRA's utopian scenario is in the library, he gets a shot off, killing the kid who first drew a weapon. Now, some other would-be student heroes also in the library but hiding in the stacks after the first shots poke their heads out and see a shot kid on the ground and another kid with a smoking gun. What odds you suppose the first hero is shot before anybody can sort the situation out? Let's say the second wave of heroes shoot the first hero. First hero's friends think, "oh crap, those guys over there must be with the first shooter," and next thing you know all our well-armed college kids are shooting at each other.

Far-fetched?  Maybe. Maybe not.  Colleges are a sea of testosterone, booze, and pot. Does that sound like a place that would benefit for having more guns in it?  Apparently, John Lott, Jr. would have you believe so. I don't buy it.

You might argue "the police could make the same mistakes." I'd respond, "police are trained to handle these sorts of situations. We expect them to follow protocols and use superior judgement than what we could reasonably expect of a 19 year old business major." The idea that if everybody carried a weapon, we'd all be safer just doesn't fly.

"Sonneto Voce"

You know what I can't abide? The "poetry voice."  That stagey, reverential, monotonous tone used by (most) people reading poetry aloud. We might also call it the "NPR voice."  Nothing ruins a nice collection of words carefully chosen quite like hearing them spoken as if to an easily frightened child, or a jackrabbit about to bolt.  Beats and spitters amp it up a bit, but even they, it seems, can't help using that tone of voice.

How Can These Games Be Troubled?

They've got large monkey security for crying out loud!
"Who Goes There?"

Delhi Deploys 'Super Monkey' Security Guards For Commonwealth Games:
Delhi authorities were set to deploy a contingent of langurs -- a large breed of monkey -- at Commonwealth Games venues to help chase away smaller simians from the sporting extravaganza.

Trying Out Kindle for the Web

Of course, I went to see how a Kim Stanley Robinson book looked first ...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Actually Been A Pretty Good Decade For Some Of Us

Terror Mosque! Gay Attack On Marriage! Sharia Law In The USA! Immigrants! Marijuana! Social Security Insolvency! Death Panels! (Remember that one? Seems like old times.) These are not things reasonable people are afraid of. However, that is not to say there aren't things reasonable people should be afraid of.

These following two things, taken together, are a dose of terror scarier than any of the above. Scarier, in fact, than all of the above (which is to say, "not at all") combined, plus sharks.

  • 131 Million Non-Farm Jobs in Q1 2000, 130 Million in Q1 2010 [1]
  • Increase in Corporate Profits over that same period: 108% [2]

Think about that. Over the last decade we've lost 1M jobs. Meanwhile, corporate profits have more than doubled.

When the wealthy whine about taxes. Think about that. When businesses say they can't hire because of "uncertainty." Think about that.

When thinking about whether or not it matters that the Supreme Court has, in effect, ruled that money is speech, consider who's got all the money.

When somebody refers to the Tea Party as a "grassroots" movement, follow the money.

If you're afraid of the government, what is it that scares you? Is it eroding civil liberties? Fair enough. Is it taxes and socialism? If that's what scares you, friend, you've been duped. Bamboozled. Hoodwinked. That anger you're feeling? Misdirected.

If you still self-identify as a Republican and/or are thinking of voting Republican this fall, you're asking for more of the same. Is that really what you want? Another decade of the corporate boot on the throats of the middle class? Now look, I'm not saying the Democrats are that much better, but until we get a proper progressive movement up and running in this country, they're the best we've got. Our livelihoods are on the line and these Tea Party knob-shiners want to gut Social Security so there's no safety net waiting at the end of the line for those of us lucky enough to have jobs now, but don't have a pension to look forward to, and whose 401(k)s rise and fall with Wall Street. (So, basically, the biggest part of our retirement savings can be wiped out with the next wave of corporate scandals and fraud that inevitably follow Republican deregulation fits.)

Obama's problematic enough as a Democrat. We can't afford to turn Congress over to the GOP. Those guys are losing the internal struggle with their lunatic fringe. If you think of yourself as "fiscally conservative, social moderate," ask yourself, is the Tea Party either of those things? Is the GOP either of things?

Surprising Exactly Nobody

Atheists Outdo Some Believers in Survey on Religion -
On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

h/t Teller:

No surprise: a survey shows that atheists know more about religion than believers. Sep 28 07:10:35 via web

The Hound of the Beck-ervilles?

Conservative Jones' latest case - This Modern World -
Tom Tomorrow @ Salon

Unlike the dog in the night-time, wingnut fearmongers never stop barking.

Hagiography Hindering

Lexington: The perils of constitution-worship | The Economist:
When history is turned into scripture and men into deities, truth is the victim. The framers were giants, visionaries and polymaths. But they were also aristocrats, creatures of their time fearful of what they considered the excessive democracy taking hold in the states in the 1780s. They did not believe that poor men, or any women, let alone slaves, should have the vote. Many of their decisions, such as giving every state two senators regardless of population, were the product not of Olympian sagacity but of grubby power-struggles and compromises—exactly the sort of backroom dealmaking, in fact, in which today’s Congress excels and which is now so much out of favour with the tea-partiers.

John Lott, Jr. Still Speaking Tonight at UT?

Student Movement Update: John Lott at UT-Austin | Students For Liberty

Fuck you, Mr. Lott, fuck you.

Irony: Conceal-carry advocate John Lott to speak at UT tonight on "More Guns, Less Crime" #utshooting (via @JFalcon4)Tue Sep 28 14:55:32 via TweetDeck

Monday, September 27, 2010

Now, Look, I'm Not Complaining, But ...

... Maybe Dee could convince Sue to join the photo shoot? No harm asking, right?
Taurasi and Bird in the ESPN Studio

Diana Taurasi and Amar'e Stoudemire in ESPN's 2nd 'Body Issue" - Game On!: Covering the Latest Sports News:
"Among those posing nude or semi-nude in the issue's 'Bodies We Want' section, ESPN said Monday, are: Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi; ; New York Knicks free agent Amar'e Stoudemire; PGA golfer Camilo Villegas; Olympic skier Julia Mancuso; Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek ; the San Francisco 49ers' Patrick Willis; the Florida Marlins' Hanley Ramirez; volleyball player Kim Glass; wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer; and a dozen members of the USA Water Polo Women's National team."

Like I Needed Another Good Reason to Drink Beer

Homebrewed Raleigh Tickets On Sale Now | New Raleigh

Sons of Anarchy and Cancer

The New Big Tobacco: Inside Canada’s underground tobacco industry, a five-part series | Posted | National Post:
Tuesday: The organized-crime problem. Evidence is mounting that the Hell’s Angels, mafia, Russian mob and other gangsters are involved in the lucrative contraband tobacco business. We also hear from a Mohawk businessman accused of consorting with outlaw bikers, who says the allegations are baseless and that he always wanted to operate his factory completely above board — until politics got in the way.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's More Than "A Little Obscene"

CNBC TRANSCRIPT: Warren Buffett on Recession, Taxing the Rich, and Capitalism's 'Regenerative Capacity' - CNBC
BUFFETT: Well, I don't think they'll end up being passed for no one. So, I-- I think that-- but Peter did put the argument that way. He-- he didn't say this is the most desirable policy, he just said this is the most politically feasible policy. But-- the-- way the tax system has gotten tilted toward guys like me over the last 20 years is-- as opposed to the middle class, you know, in my view, is a little obscene. So, I-- I think-- I'm not saying $250,000 necessarily. But-- but-- at the-- at the high end-- and-- and the people who are getting their huge incomes through capital gains and-- I just-- I just think that-- when a country needs more income and we do, we're only taking in 15 percent of GDP, I mean, that-- that-- when a country needs more income, they should get it from the people that have it.

BECKY: You think it's okay to raise taxes at a time when the economy's uncertain?

BUFFETT: I think-- sure. On some people. Yeah. I-- I don't want to raise 'em on 90-- you know, 98 percent of the people, but-- but-- no, I think the inequities that have gone into the tax code in the last 20 or 30 years compared to the situation that existed when this country was very prosperous in 1960, 1970, 1980 and so on, I-- I think it's-- I just think it's been tilted toward the rich.

More on the New Gaming Lounge Opening in Fuquay

Strafe Gaming Lounge- Launching 10-16-10- Fuquay-Varina, NC
Raiding the Tombs
of Downtown Fuquay

Apparently, there'll be some costumed characters roaming downtown Fuquay promoting the new gaming lounge opening in October. So, if you see a Mario on Main St., that's why. They're on Facebook and Twitter, links on the page linked above. Check 'em out.

Concert Alert: A.R. Rahman's Jai Ho Concert at RBC, Sept. 29

Saathee Magazine - A Features Magazine for the South Asian Community of the Carolinas & Beyond, Saathee Magazine
Link above is to the splash page for the contest entry to win a pair of tickets for the September 29th concert at RBC Center in Raleigh. Even an Anglo like myself can appreciate the crazy fun of the Bollywood musical numbers.
Click Image to Access Entry Form at Saathee Magazine

Reminder: History is Complicated

New England’s hidden history - The Boston Globe:
Detail from Brian Stauffer's
illustration for the Boston Globe

As the nation prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in 2011, with commemorations that reinforce the North/South divide, researchers are offering uncomfortable answers to that question, unearthing more and more of the hidden stories of New England slavery — its brutality, its staying power, and its silent presence in the very places that have become synonymous with freedom. With the markers of slavery forgotten even as they lurk beneath our feet — from graveyards to historic homes, from Lexington and Concord to the halls of Harvard University — historians say it is time to radically rewrite America’s slavery story to include its buried history in New England.
As a "Yankee" (hate that term, rather be called a "carpetbagger") living in the South, it's helpful and humbling to remember not all in the North were noble heroes, just as not all in the South were wicked degenerates.

On a related note, I heard a story on NPR the other day (it may have been a week or a month ago), and now can't find the link for it, but it was about North Carolina's internal divisions with regard to slavery and the Confederacy. I thought I might find the information at the NC Museum of History site, but am not seeing it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Appearances can be ... deceptive."

Burn After Reading (2008) - Flickchart

It was bugging me that this Coen Bros. movie was out there and I hadn't seen it yet, finally got a chance to watch it tonight. It came initially at #234 in my Flickchart. It was Ghost World that I first picked up over it as I was thrown random movies to rank against. I think as I continue to rank it, it'll climb a few more spots, at least.

Boy, they didn't do a very good job promoting this movie, as I remember. It looked a bunch more like Pitt and Clooney clowning it up in a comedy in the trailers than what it actually is: a movie nearly as dark as Fargo. (Isn't Frances McDormand great, by the way? She's as casually evil here as she was casually heroic in Fargo. Stupid evil, not a deliberate Bardem-like evil.)

A few matchups later, here's where it fits in my Coen Bros. rankings:

Intolerable Cruelty is number 8. Raising Arizona is in the Netflix Instant queue and due for a rewatch. I haven't seen it since it was in the theaters, back when was I working for the (abandoned) Showcase Cinemas in East Hartford.

Mark Your Calendar, Baseball Fan

Ken Burns proud to present 10th inning -
"The Red Sox’ World Series drive in 2004, coming after the cliff-dive in 2003, is the “big major set-piece” of the film, said Burns, with Pedro Martinez chipping in his two cents on that and other topics."
I'm staving off the depression resulting from the fact that this late season Sox-Yanks series is meaningless by looking forward to this airing next week: Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8PM ET according to my local listings.

Update: Good grief. It's lucky I looked at a calendar and realized the 28th is Tuesday. I originally had "Wednesday and Thursday" in this post. Since I've done away with DVR, I guess I need to figure out to use my DVD-R machine again tonight, it's been a while.

Too Close for Comfort

Fuquay-Varina Family Captures Shark Encounter On Video - Wake County -
A Fuquay-Varina family had quite a scary encounter during their trip to Carolina Beach over the weekend.
Hugh Hudock, tells NBC-17 that his family were swimming about a mile south of the Carolina Beach fishing pier on Sept. 14, when they saw a shark in the water.
'The ocean was a bit odd that day, very placid with gentle waves. There was some fish activity throughout the day with larger mullets jumping out of the water at times,' said Hudock. 'Just got lucky to catch the shark encounter on video.'

Too funny. My wife and I took the kids to Kure Beach (not far from where this family was) only a few days before their encounter.

Skin Color Map Probably the Least Interesting Option

Raleigh: Mapped by Race by Eric Fischer | New Raleigh

I'd like to see the same method of mapping applied to other types of classifications: income levels, political party affiliation, religious (and lack thereof) affiliation, education level attained, etc.

Can We Get A Sign Artist to Follow Sarah Palin Around?

"On This Spot Stood Sarah Palin, Looking At (What She Mistook For) Russia"

The guy making these could do the job:

Picard Is Disappointed In You, Jersey Shore Fan

America is - Like really, really, really, retarded

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Freedom Road Socialist Organization" FBI Raids

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK | FBI raids in Minneapolis | Twin Cities Daily Planet
On Friday morning, three houses in the Minneapolis area are believed to have been raided by SWAT Teams. While we have few details right now, the F.B.I. appears to be targeting people associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Besides the raids in Minneapolis, houses in Michigan, North Carolina and Chicago were also targeted.
I've seen some reports that there was a raid in NC as well, but nothing reported locally yet that I've seen, just mentions of NC as in the article above.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Updated (9/27/10): An anti-war activist in Durham was questioned in the same timeframe the Minnesota and Chicago raids were taking place. (WRAL)
2nd Update (9/27/10): Durham activist speaks out regarding FBI questioning to the Independent Weekly. (

Skepticism FTW

Skeptic » eSkeptic » Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010:

The control of intervening variables and the testing of specific claims, without resort to unnecessary hypothesizing about what is behind the “power,” is the lesson modern skeptics should take from this historical masterpiece. The other historical lesson is clear as well — true believers remain unaffected by contradictory evidence, in the 18th century as well as today. So why bother testing? Because the vast majority of people are neither true believers nor skeptics, but just intellectually curious and looking for a natural explanation for an apparently supernatural phenomenon.

'Chip That Dog Like It's A Spy

AKC is offering microchipping for $25 tomorrow in the Holshouser Bldg. Watch this demo of how a microchip works: Sep 24 20:15:02 via HootSuite

Great Clemens's Ghost!

Vonnegut looked more like Samuel Clemens than ever when he was sitting on the porch of his (Clemens's) house:
Vonnegut at the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT
Part of an album of celebrity visits on the Mark Twain House Facebook page.

Was There Ever Any Doubt?

BBC News - Neandertals were able to 'develop their own tools'
Neanderthals were keen on innovation and technology and developed tools all on their own, scientists say.

New Krugman - Banana Republic, Here We Come

Op-Ed Columnist - Downhill With the G.O.P. -
On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.

U R Not Doing It Right!

Some great entries beyond the winner of the Stick Science Contest 2010.

Detail from James Radomski's Entry
Per my modus operandi, you'll need to click through to the source for the rest of the comic. The Family Tree/Evolution is also clever.

Progressivism: It's the American Way

Dissent Magazine - Online Features - Defending Progressivism -

Dewey’s point is straightforward enough: liberty is not only a matter of leaving individuals alone. At times, government must act positively to give all individuals a minimum chance to live freely. Put another way, liberty without opportunity would be a farce, if only its social, political, and economic consequences weren’t so tragic.

Hopscotch 1: Pictorial Retrospective

Hopscotch Year One in photos | Hopscotch Wrap-Up | Independent Weekly
Public Enemy Perform at Hopscotch

There's also a flickr pool for the Festival. I should've chosen a concert or larger crowd photo to highlight this, but couldn't resist grabbing one of the artsy tributes to PBR. Oh, hipsters ...

The Article's Fine, But It's the Tool I Love

The Fed, Translated Into English : Planet Money : NPR

I would like to see Plain English available as a tool to use in blogger. Nerds, get on it!

"There’s an arrogance that has alchemized into real nastiness."

Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter of The Social Network, talks to Lynn Hirschberg about the film:

Sorkin (image via

What entranced Sorkin, who has always gravitated toward the overlapping and conflicting spheres of idealism and power, was the realization that the invention of Facebook contained all of his favorite themes: the longing for acceptance, the wish for success, the idea that work will give you a home, and that home will solve your problems. But just as Mark Zuckerberg, the computer whiz who dreamed up and developed Facebook as a Harvard sophomore in 2003, was sued by, among others, his original business partner, fellow student Eduardo Saverin, the flip side of the creation story is almost always the destruction of relationships. As Sorkin saw immediately in the proposal, the Facebook saga was the speeded-up version of nearly every business narrative: In just five years Facebook went from a dorm room prank to a global brand worth billions. In that story was the foundation for an even larger, classically American subject—what you lose when you win.

I have a feeling I'm going to watch The Social Network, then re-watch Citizen Kane. I'm skeptical Sorkin + Fincher can match Welles. But, I'm hoping that they can get close. Mys sense is it's Sorkin, of the two, that gives them the best chance of having created something worth mentioning in the same breath.

2010 Escapism Film Festival | Durham, NC

2010 Escapism Film Festival:

Your favorite childhood movie heroes are back: Jack Burton, Buck Rogers, Admiral Kirk, Snake Plissken, Kermit the Frog, Indiana Jones, and so many more. From the imaginations of Steven Spielberg and Jim Henson to the extraordinary animation of Don Bluth and through the amazing designs of some of the greatest special effects wizardry in the movies, Escapism recaptures the magic of your favorite fantasy and adventure movies from the late Seventies and early eighties. The ones you remember watching with your friends on Saturday afternoon matinees during summer vacations. Timeless examples of what movies do best of all--free ranging fantasy adventure, epic in scale, heroic in concept, and imaginative in execution. They're fun movies. They're meant to be.

Despite modern advances in digital technology, these films will never look as good on DVD or Blu-Ray as they do when exhibited in their original 35mm formats. Anything other than 35mm is a reproduction of the original. We've spent months searching through studio archives to present some of the rarest prints in existence. The black monoliths of the Manhattan skyscrapers in Escape from New York, dark and seemingly lifeless, are much more menacing within the 1000-seat Fletcher Hall auditorium. Khan's ferocious attack on the Enterprise in Star Trek II is even more breathtaking when watched on a screen that's more than thirty feet wide. The eye-popping visual effects of Big Trouble in Little China are truy realized in a room whose history pre-dates the invention of color motion pictures. Escapism is proud that all of our films will screen exactly as the filmmakers intended, their visions unaltered, and no DVD or Blu-Ray reproductions.

Raiders on the big screen again! Such a great idea. My kids are a little too young to bring to this so it's probably not something I can do this year -- this is me pulling a sad face -- however, I heartily encourage my fellow Triangle-area denizens to pack the hall and make this thing a huge success so I can plan for future years.

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Two Robots Discuss the "Impending" Social Security "Crisis"

Making robots use profanity on the interweb, who knew it could be so diverting? And, yes, 2037 is when the impending crisis will occur if some minor changes aren't made in the next several years. Not so say we should wait 25 years to protect Social Security from insolvency, maybe once we've dealt with, y'know, the actual crises we're dealing with right now. And no, I don't think raising the retirement age is the right idea either, but it seems like we should have the actuarial tables and technology by now to figure out how much and when to pay out benefits without bankrupting system. Krugman has weighed in on this topic several times, including quite recently.

And yet, Nevada is threatening us all with Sharron Angle. And Pennsylvania is pointing Pat Toomey at us. Every time you hear "the Tea Party is making gains" on the news, remember that's the sound of our nation getting ready to roll the calendar back to the beginning of the 20th century and undo all the progressive gains we enjoy today.

#FF @bazecraze

I may be suffering from adult onset failure to thrive.Sun Sep 19 22:15:11 via Echofon

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hey NC, Our Crazy Is Showing

“No Ground Zero Mosque” as Political Platform | Unreasonable Faith:
Isn’t it sweet how she equates the mosque with terrorism? Her thoughtfulness and intelligence are stunning.
The rest of the country is laughing at us.

Reflections On Nearing 40

Three months until I roll the big 4-0. I'm not giving it much thought but, to the extent I've reflected on it, it's about what these guys said:

As I near 40, I realize I age like a fine wine. Alone, in a cellar.Sun Sep 05 09:21:40 via Twitter for BlackBerry®

There's also the portliness:

Looks like I'm about 3 1/2 months overweight.Sun Sep 05 21:46:45 via Twitter for iPhone

I have an amazon wishlist, but I imagine this is what you're thinking:

A gift card is a great way to say: "I'm too lazy to think of a gift to get you, and I'm pretty sure you'd buy booze if I gave you money."Mon Sep 06 21:43:10 via web

I Guess He Had It Comin'

Local music worth sharing: Inflowential's "Sheriff," a pretty tight update of "I Shot the Sheriff."

Sleep on the Left Side / Keep Your Sword Hand Free

Posture and political psychology: Left-leaning liberals | The Economist:
Whether the fact that only leftist tendencies were affected by grip and posture reflects a general wishy-washiness of leftist thinking, with conservative thoughts being less flexible, or that the volunteers were significantly pro-Democrat in the first place, or something else, is unclear. According to Dr Oppenheimer, however, these findings add to the body of literature which indicates that voter behaviour is irrational and that factors totally unrelated to politics affect the outcomes of elections.
Leave it to The Economist to find a dig at Leftist's in there, eh? 

My lean to the left is so left it's gangsta, y'all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RIP Eileen Nearne (Agent Rose)

Few Knew Her Real Identity: 89 Year Old Was 'Agent Rose,' A World War II Spy : The Two-Way : NPR

This was an amazing woman. A spy during WWII, she was dropped into occupied France to help the resistance, served with valor, saved many lives, then was captured by the Nazis, tortured (never revealing she was a spy), sent to a concentration camp, escaped, and lived out her life in anonymity.

Music Discovery Query: Music of the World, But Not World Music?

Is there an easy way to find out what college kids in different countries are listening to and get a hold of some of that music? I'm assuming that, as in the U.S., students at University get to hear the best bands playing on campus, have college radio stations that play the best of the up-and-coming bands; basically, that there's a rough analog to our indie music scene in other countries. I'm not concerned so much about Canada, Australia, and the U.K., I can find that stuff easily enough.  But what about in Paris at the Sorbonne?  (Actually, my rusty French should be good enough I ought to be able to work that one out for myself as well ...)  How about in Spain, what are the bookish youth in Barcelona listening to?  How about the beatniks in Bonn?  Undergrads in Uttar Predash? Hipsters in Helsinki? Juco transfers in Johannesburg?
Soul Patch Wearers of Seoul

I'm doing the google search thing so don't bother pelting me with lmgtfy links for "international indie music" or variations thereof, I got that covered. I'm curious if anyone has more direct sources, such as favorite radio stations overseas that post playlists online or if there are independent and/or college weekly newspapers that have reliable music reviews online?

Friendfeed: Not Dead Yet, So I Continue to Advocate

image via
It's been a bit creaky these past few months: search only works sporadically, well, almost never; if you send a picture it might show in a minute or two, or several days later; and, a few days ago it stopped consistently updating supported service feeds like, flickr, youtube, even twitter -- although they appear to be working again today. Taken all together, that sounds pretty bad, but really, I'm still enjoying FF much more than Twitter or Facebook, even with the hiccups. Post natively using the bookmarklet, interact with the other users on their posts, and it's well worth it.

For a new person, I'd suggest subscribing to a handful of users right away -- I'll list a few below, they have public feeds and you don't need to register for the service to check 'em out -- and then get into the group for new users. The community is pretty supportive. There are certain very popular users I would suggest not subscribing to right away, or making sure you put them in a list so they don't overwhelm your main feed. Lists are your friend.

My Suggestions for First Follows:
Eivind - a hail fellow well met if there ever was one. A cheery skeptic with broad interests who's unfailingly polite. He consistently 'likes' and posts intriguing content.
Jenny R - another cheerful and active poster/commenter. She's got good (meaning similar enough to my own) taste in music to boot.
Mark J - a good-natured (I'm sensing a theme here) Wisconsin bloke. I like people from Wisconsin. Must be something in the cheese.
Maitani - what drew me to Maitani was the posts on history, amazing Old World places off the beaten track, and the posts on linguistics. I'm not a linguist, but I've lived in different parts of the U.S. and have done a little traveling abroad, enough to get me fascinated by regional variation in speech.
RenĂ© Wirtz - I'm a fan of aggressively progressive political commentary. I think, even if you're not, you'll find RenĂ© open to reasonable discussion. 
Soup in a Tardis - lots of librarians on FF, Soup's recently become one of them. A fellow Whovian. (You'll find several of us on FF.)

I'm following about 250 people, this is just a handful of names that leapt to mind, but I could've easily rattled off several more.

There are a few super-users that it's sort of de rigueur to follow, but I recommend corralling so your feed doesn't get hammered.

Alex Scoble - his brother is apparently famous in tech circles, and Alex is certainly famous on FF. He gets tweaked a bit by other power-users for his opinions and, if you're into drama, I think you'll get exposed to as much as you might want through his interactions with them. If you follow and don't assign him to a list, you're feed will be a Scoble-blitzkrieg.
Louis Gray - probably needs no introduction. Famous IT blogger. Like me, he's a father of twins. Fathers of twins know what's up.

There's a cadre of cultists and trolls of various stripes, just like you'll find on any service: christians, libertarians, fanbois, Republicans, tree-huggers, what have you ... you (or I?!) may be one or of them, so you'll either fit right in or be able to tell pretty quickly who's ... well, to be blunt ... too stupid to talk to.

Finally, here's why I prefer FF to other social media sites:

  • I hate that Google Buzz is in my Gmail. It looks like shit and I have no patience for it. It offers nothing to me beyond what I was already doing just fine in Google Reader: discovery, sharing, commenting, and saving for later. I have no idea why people like Buzz, frankly. But, people do, so there must be something there I'm missing.
  • Facebook is for my friends and family. I don't share publicly and want to keep it that way. Plus the UI is horrible. And I don't play the games and don't want to know what games anyone else is playing or what they need help with.
  • Twitter is fine. I like it quite a bit. But you can't have a conversation there, it's full of spam, people tweet too much, and I'm verbose so 140 characters is a bit restricting. It's also failing all the time. (Friendfeed, as I mentioned above has its own issues, but at least I can consistently check the site and post the way I like.)
  • Orkut ... well, Google is just all over the place aren't they? Nobody I know uses Orkut (one guy, actually, but he doesn't use it much either) so I don't get anything out of it.
  • Amplify, Lazyfeed, and a few others I'm forgetting have some good features but nothing that made me want to switch away from FF. I might use one of them more if FF perishes, but not until then.

There's a Friendfeed widget with my recent activity at the bottom, you can scope it out without even leaving this page.
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