30 May 2008

Sure, the Lakers Made it to The NBA Finals, But J.A. Adande Has A REAL Scoop . . .

J.A. Adande has a nice post about the Lakers victory over San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals, but what I really wanted to point you to was this part at the very end,
Bryant, meanwhile, was off to catch a showing of "Sex and the City" at a movie theater that was being held open for him.

Kobe Bryant, is a major league Sex and the City fanatic. My world has been turned upside down. If you believe this Evening Standard article (via Drudge), Kobe may end up being the ONLY straight male in the UK, USA, and Canada to willingly venture into a showing of the Sex and the City film this weekend. That's real news right there.

Also, in the TNT post game they mentioned that this will be the 29th(!!!) NBA Finals appearance for the franchise in its 60 year history. So if they make the next two finals after this one (not impossible, though with the development of New Orleans, Utah and the talent in Portland, the West is tough), they'll have made the Finals in half of their years in the NBA. That's what you call a successful franchise.

28 May 2008

Thought Controlled Robotic Monkey Arms Can Only Mean One Thing . . .

. . . epic flings of poo. Presumably, the robotic arm could be any size, so why not something that looks like a trebuchet. I'm sure that would please those monkeys greatly if they could fling a hundred pounds of poo 600 yards in one go.

(via Drudge)

UPDATE: In other Trebuchet related news . . .

Pastor Jeff has some complaints about the depiction of trebuchet's in Prince Caspian. Talking lions OK, but perpetual motion machines, come on . . .

Also, I meant to embed a trebuchet related YouTube clip, but they all left something wanting, still, a fiery piano fling isn't a bad thing, so watch the clip above.

And in advances in prosthetics (which is what the monkey story is really about), Dean Kamen continues to rock (despite the extreme dorkiness of the Segway, dude's still a genius).

More Campaign/Administration/Post-Administration Promises . . .

So the whole Scott McClellan thing is all over the place, and your first thought probably was, 'How would XWL handle a disloyal little jerk, like that?' (what, that wasn't your first thought?)

First off, I don't hate him, he's just making a buck, the market for an anti-Bush book is far bigger than a pro-Bush book, so he is just doing his duty as a good capitalist and giving the buying public what they want.

Second, since I'll be hiring David Chappelle as my first Press Secretary, I expect he'll be too busy getting stoned all the time (or finding himself, whatever his excuse is for not doing stuff) to bother coming out with a tell-all book after he resigns his position. My second Press Secretary (I figure I'll only get about 3 years out of Chapelle, so I'll have to hire a new one just as the 2020 election campaign begins to heat up) will be Samuel L. Jackson. That should get the press off my back. He'll be too busy making seven pictures a year to bother writing a tell-all, so I should be covered for his 18 months in the job (I'll just want him around till the 2nd inaugural). My final Press Secretary will be Kat Dennings, I'll encourage her to adopt her 'blogging' persona, and be as cryptic, tangential, and uninformative as possible. The press will be so disoriented by this point, that they won't notice as I've managed to dismantle half of the federal government in my 6 years in office (and it will only be six years, I'm quitting shortly after the 2022 mid-term elections and turning things over to my VP, Bobby Jindal).

So, I think with that plan, I'll be inoculated against a tell-all book of the kind McClellan has unleashed, plus, I plan on writing my own tell-all book ripping myself sometime around 2023, and I'll make a point of highlighting any differences between myself and Vice President Jindal regarding any of the unpopular (but necessary) decisions I made during my time as President. If I beat all the disgruntled employees to the punch, the market for their petty little memoirs will shrink to nothing. Shortly after the 2024 election, I'll release another book, an auto-hagiography, detailing the brilliance behind my time in office, and after a distance of a few years, people will better be able to appreciate how I shook up the office, made it less 'imperial', secured our prosperity through a belief in markets, and drove the final nail in the coffin of big government socialism in the United States.

I guess I better get busy raising money, already, can't cash in on having been President unless first you attain the office.

NBA Conference Finals, Humiliating Update . . .

Detroit-Boston are in the middle of game 5 as I type, and the San Antonio-Los Angeles series completed game 4 last night.

I got some things right, and some things wrong with my picks.

In the East, I expected Detroit to steal one in Boston, and they did, and I expected Boston to steal both games in Detroit, and they didn't. Just before halftime looks like my prediction of a 3-2 Boston lead at this point is looking pretty good (but that would mean I was wrong about Detroit winning tonight).

My revised picks for the rest of this series is as follows, homecourt matters. Boston will continue to play well in the second half tonight and win, Detroit will gut out a tough victory in Detroit on Friday, and Boston will manage to win another game seven at home Sunday, but mainly because Chauncy Billups isn't at 100%. David Stern's prayers will be answered, and instead of another ratings killing Detroit-San Antonio finals he gets his dream match-up of Boston-Los Angeles.

In the West, I did better. I picked the victor in each game (though the how was a bit mixed up, did call a 2 point victory in game 4 though, and was only off by 2 points on final total, Kobe didn't go for 50 though), and I expect Los Angeles to wrap up the series tomorrow, just like they're supposed to. The Lakers deserved to lose last night, they mishandled the last 56 seconds and Fisher's foul on Barry could have easily been called, but the Spurs have shown class and maturity by not blaming the refs, and clearly stating that they agreed that no call was the right call in that situation. Ought to keep San Antonio area sports talk guys busy ranting for weeks, if not years, to come.

There's at least five moments in every Laker game where I feel compelled to yell at the screen and admonish Gasol to go up and grab the ball with both hands on rebounds. The Lakers managed to dominate the offensive boards, even with Gasol's weak-sauce technique, but he's going to get eaten up alive on the boards by Garnett or Perkins against Boston. The Odom v Garnett show should be pretty amazing, as will the Pierce v Kobe show. Lakers still have the deeper bench, younger legs, and more potent offense, and they've improved defensively throughout the playoffs, so the team that got blown out twice by Boston in the regular season isn't the team that Boston will be facing in the Finals. Ought to be a good show, but first both teams got to get there, and the Spurs aren't dead yet, if they can win at Staples on Thursday, the young Lakers might start getting a bit nervous, and Detroit won't give up easily, even with a limited Billups, but Lakers-Celtics is still the most likely scenario.

27 May 2008

Outlining Future Campaign Speeches (2016 Is Just Around the Corner)

So, I've already thrown my hat in the ring for 2016 (so I was a little off on that 'President Giuliani' thing), somebody has to oppose Chelsea's run at the White House, might as well be me.

Watching Sen. Obama has taught me a few things about making speeches. First, don't mix up a holiday meant to honor those that have served and died with a holiday meant to honor those that have served in our military. Seems simple enough, probably best just to not make a policy heavy speech on Memorial Day.

Second, when trying to burnish my own patriotic bona fides, probably shouldn't make up tales about the military service of my grandfathers. Don't need to make up stories, anyway. Their stories are interesting enough. My mother's father (if I were an identity politics addicted DEM, I guess I'd call him my 'white' grandfather) served in Europe, and basically did the same job he had before he was drafted. He was a letter carrier back in Buffalo, and after the liberation of Paris, he sorted and delivered mail to the big wigs, including Gen. Eisenhower. My father's father (again, if I was a DEM, I'd probably mention he was my 'black' grandfather) already was a policeman here in Santa Monica (mostly did just traffic cop duties before the war), and was sent to the Pacific. Black troops weren't frontline troops, for the most part, which is one reason why Spike Lee's complaints about Flags of Our Fathers was kind of silly. But, my grandfather was at Iwo Jima, to clean up, identify the dead, bury the bodies, and type the notification letters. An unimaginably crappy duty, but according to my father, my grandfather preferred that to the frontline. Better to deal with the dead, then risk being one of them. One reason why I'll never question Truman's decision to drop the A-Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan was prepared to fight a war of attrition to the last man, woman, and child,

I have received these stories second hand, so there might be gaps, exaggerations, or factual inaccuracies, and just as Obama recounting how his "Uncle" liberated Auschwitz can't possibly be true, it is certainly possible that his Grand-uncle did help liberate concentration camp, just not one in Poland.

So here's my campaign promise to you. I will only run on things that I have or haven't done, my grandfathers aren't running for President, I am. I will be running to be President for all Americans, not just bi-racial Americans like me and Sen. Obama (also I doubt I'll get 90% of the black vote the way Obama does, so I'll have to work on getting those gun-clinging, religious nuts that have been shunning The Obama). I'll be running as a Washington outsider, utterly and totally untainted by so much as a single moment in elected office at any level. I'll accept campaign donations from anybody and everyone, if folks are foolish enough to think they can buy me off, then I'll be smart enough to cash their checks. Finally, I love the United States, and I'd love it even more if the Federal government governed a lot less, and I'd be the man to bring the rest of the Federal government to their collective (and collectivist) knees.

I'm Sure Everything Will Be OK With Phoenix, But Who Cares, Check Out Dude's Name . . .

Fuk Li, manager of the Mars exploration program for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., says that a "transient event" on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter turned its UHF radio off. That stopped communications between it and the lander.

[in a Beavis voice] He-he-heheh, he said Fuk Li, he-heh . . .

24 May 2008

Succinct Film Reviews, Indy Edition

I'm not going to type out the whole name of this picture, you know which one I'm talking about, here's the succinct review . . .

Like going to see that Doors Like Thing™ Ray Manzarek put together at your local State/County Fair, sort of like the real thing, good for nostalgia's sake, good for making a buck, but not much else.

I'm not quite feeling as fully childhood raped as I feared (there's no full on Jar-Jar moments in this one), but I think it's safe to say that my childhood was fondled in an inappropriate way by Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas.

Other spoilerish quibbles to follow, not that there's any real plot to spoil, and it's not like any of the other Indy pictures were full of stunning plot revelations where if you know what happened in advance you'd enjoy the film less, but to remain unspoiled don't read any further .
OK, you've been warned appropriately, don't blame me if you read something that you didn't want to read in what follows. First off, Cate Blanchett's fake Russian accent was especially bad, especially when they hired actual Russians for the other roles, since she was just the over the top baddy, seems like they could have hired any comely Russian/Ukrainian lass and she'd have done a better job than Cate. She's a great actress, but this is a silly role, and she doesn't sell silly well. Shia Lebouf isn't horrible, he's actually quite good, but the Brando outfit is just embarrassing, the Tarzan moment swinging from tree to tree was ludicrous, and the big snake gag was silly.

I'm getting sick of blue screen action sequences. There's no sense of danger, it's just people running in place, or slammed around on a gimbal. You know they aren't really leaping from an actual vehicle to an actual vehicle, and it just gets repetitive after awhile.

At the beginning, they introduce a subplot that gets dropped almost immediately, and I'd like to call this the, 'I don't want people to question my big fat Hollywood liberal bona fides by making Soviets the actual unremittingly evil and ambitious bad guys in this film, so I better tack on an anti-McCarthy subplot to show that even though those poor Marxist were misguided in their ideological fervor there were people running around on our side that were easily ten times worse' subplot. It was completely unneeded, doesn't add anything, I guess the thinking is something like this, 'gee, Indy Jones survives a nuclear blast, is picked up alone at a highly secure facility in the middle of nowhere, aids Soviet agents to raid a sensitive American storage facility and they sneak away with alien technology, but the nerve of those eeeevil FBI agents in questioning Prof. Jones, a war-hero, about whether or not he was coerced in cooperating, or whether he was in cahoots with the Reds, just shows what an evil and horrible time the 50s were and how there were witch hunts left and right, even in academia (yeah, cause there certainly weren't/aren't any Marxist in archaeology departments on American campuses)'. There's even a line where they question if he really earned his WWII medals, can't help but think that was meant to recall the 'horrible' 'swift-boating' of that other pure and blameless war-hero Sen. John Kerry. This crap happens so commonly in pictures (especially the most recent Spielberg pics, plus he's credited with helping Lucas come up with that insipid 'Is this how democracy dies . . .' line in the last Star Wars film), that you just have to let it wash over you like a wave of stupidity and knee-jerk liberalism, but it shouldn't go unnoticed.

As far as on the best or worst of Spielberg pictures, it definitely won't crack the top 7, or even the top 15, but it's also solidly out of the bottom 7, so I guess that's something. If you are jonesing for an Indiana Jones fix, this is better than nothing, but not by much.

22 May 2008

Some Timely Rankings . . .

Charles Barkley caused a bit of a hoo-haa by flatly stating (then quickly back-pedalling when Chris Webber freaked out about it) that this current LA Lakers were the best team Kobe's played with. Webber probably still has nightmares about some of those playoff series against the Shaq-Kobe lead teams of 1999-2004, his Sacramento Kings might have made a final or two had the Lakers not been in the way.

But that reminds me how much fun it is to come up with ridiculously biased rankings of things you really shouldn't have an opinion about.

So here you go. 5 lists, at least three will probably make your blood boil.

Top Seven Spielberg Directed Films (that I've bothered seeing)

1) Jaws (still his best work)
2) Raiders of the Lost Ark (I refuse to put Indiana Jones in the title)
3) Schindler's List (by far his best 'serious' work)
4) Empire of the Sun (easily his second best 'serious' work)
5) Catch Me If You Can (Walken, DiCaprio, 60s Jet-Set, sign me up)
6) 1941 (hell yeah, it belongs on this list, that was a funny movie, dammit)
7) The first two-thirds of AI (If it weren't for the last 30 minutes or so, would have been a nearly perfect film)

Bottom Seven Spielberg Directed Films, From Absolute Worst, to Just Plain Bad (that I've bothered seeing)

7) The Terminal (Good lord, so many bad choices, so much schmaltz, such a waste of 2 hours)
6) The Color Purple (I haaaaaaaaate the source material, the film is better than the book, but not by much)
5) All but the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan (Outside of the opening sequence, this is a horrible, predictable, and boring film)
4) Munich (boring, boring, boring, and disgustingly morally relativistic to boot)
3) The Lost World (While the first Jurassic Park wasn't great, it was a good popcorn film, the followup, was just like a big steaming mound of Tyrannosaurus dung)
2) Hook (Seeks to be magical, but mostly it's just a mess, Williams at his most loathesome, and Hoffman at his most actorly, not a good combination for a kiddie picture)
1) The Trial of the Chicago 7 (I'm cheating a bit to put this on the list, given he's just begun shooting, but come on, Borat as Abbie Hoffman?!? You know it's going to be a positive portrayal of those damn dirty yippies (even worse than hippies), so I'm going out on a limb and forming my opinion of this turd before it's even dropped in the pot)

7 Best LA Lakers teams since Magic was a Rookie from 7th to 1st (to build suspense)

7) 2007-08 LA Lakers*** (conditionally, based on the assumption that they will win the championship this year, otherwise insert your favorite Showtime Era team that hasn't made the list in this spot)
6) 1979-80 LA Lakers (Magic's first year, not alot on this team other than Magic and Kareem, but that was enough)
5) 1984-85 LA Lakers (The first LA Lakers team to breakthrough and beat the Celtics, wouldn't be the last though, the rivalry that defined the 80s in the NBA)
4) 1988-89 LA Lakers (Wait, they didn't win the championship, they were even swept in the Finals by Detroit. But there were extenuating circumstances, injuries to Magic and Byron Scott ended what was an impressive undefeated streak in the playoffs, might have had a perfect record in the playoffs that year, but for those injuries, absurd stat from Basketball Reference, EVERY player on this team averaged over ten points per 36 minutes played, that's pretty remarkable)
3) 1999-2000 LA Lakers (The first title season for the Shaq-Kobe teams, not quite playing their best as a team, yet, even though they did compile a 67-15 regular season record, needed a miracle 4th quarter in Portland to make it to the finals)
2) 2000-01 LA Lakers (They were one insanely great performance by Allen Iverson away from having a perfect post season. Had some struggles in the regular season (injuries to Shaq and Kobe), but rolled through the playoffs. Still, you got to love a team that loses only one game in 4 post season series)
1) 1987-88 LA Lakers (A very special team, the last Showtime team to win a championship. Did not dominate in the playoffs, but ironically that's what makes them great. Taken to 7 games by the upstart Jazz (back when Stockton and Malone were young guns) in the 2nd round, again a game seven at home against an excellent Dallas team, and finally, battled a great Detroit Pistons squad in an epic Finals series that should be played on a loop over at ESPN Classics)

Top 5 Reasons to have an HDTV

5) Lost in HD
4) Summer Olympics in HD (mmmmm, Women's Beach Volleyball . . . .)
3) Torchwood in HD
2) NBA in HD
1) NFL in HD

Top 3 Reasons NOT to have an HDTV

3) Simon Cowelll's Erect Nipples in HD (in SD you can't tell his headlights are on through those sweaters, but in HD, it's obvious)
2) All those Damn CSI Shows in HD (seriously, all the pretty montages, are just wankery to make it all look 'cinematic' but it's just boring crap, and it's still boring in high-def)
1) The View in HD ( . . . shudder . . ., seriously at least 60 Minutes has had the sense to not make the switch yet)

21 May 2008

Things That Are Inevitable

First inevitable thing, the Lakers will beat the Spurs tonight at Staples Center.

Second inevitable thing, right next door at Nokia Theater, David Archuleta will beat David Cook in the American Idol Finale.

Third inevitable thing, the Downtown LA traffic nightmare to compare all subsequent traffic nightmares is happening right now with both those events happening at the same place at the same time combined with those events starting at the peak of evening rush hour.

Great planning folks!


I was only 1-2 on these predictions. LA Lakers won, even after trailing 65-45 with 5:39 left in the 3rd quarter. They outscored San Antonio 44-20 in the final 17:39 of the game. Kobe had 4 points before that point, finished the game with 27. San Antonio wasted a great effort by Tim Duncan who had 30 points and 18 boards.

Your newest American Idol is David Cook, didn't see that one coming, figured the little singing monchhichi (soooo soft and cud di leeee) would win it for sure.

And as far as the traffic, wasn't that bad, guess anyone going to the events took the day off, and everyone else knew to avoid the area. Sort of like the gridlock fears during the 84 Olympics that never materialized. Businesses had flexible schedules, and trucks were banned during rush hour, instead of a nightmare, it was the easiest commutes of the last 30 years.

Glad I was right about the Lakers, don't care that I was wrong about the rest.

20 May 2008

NBA Playoffs Second Round, Humiliating Results, Followed by NBA Conference Finals Humiliating Picks

D'oh! 2nd round, not so good, hope springs eternal though, I'm going to bat 1.000 on which teams advance, and in how many games, I'll even pick which games are won and lost by each team, just to get tricky.

But first, the 2nd round results:

Eastern Conference Semis

Pick, Boston in 5, Result Boston in 7
Who knew Boston is completely incapable of winning on the road. Thought the tribulations in Atlanta would have cured them of that fault, but no. At least I picked the right team.

Pick, Orlando in 5, Result Detroit in 5
Got the number of games right, that has to count for something. Orlando had a chance, if they had won game 2 in Detroit (and they should have), this series would have turned out completely differently. The Dwight Howard show isn't quite ready for primetime, and Detroit advances to their sixth consecutive Conference Finals.

Western Conference Semis

Pick, LA in 4, Result LA in 6
It took LA till the third try to win in Utah, though they had a real chance to win the first two (and if Kobe hadn't tweaked his back, probably would have at least finished this series in 5 games, instead of 6). LA looks like the best team in basketball right now, and I'm not saying that just cause I'm a homer.

Pick, San Antonio in 6, Result San Antonio in 7
It was a good series, as predicted, San Antonio were their usual boring selves, and managed to win all their home games and outplayed a young Hornets squad that wasn't ready for the pressure of a game seven at home.

On to the Conference Final picks:

Eastern Conference Finals (1) Boston v (2) Detroit
The two teams with the best record in basketball face off in this series. Haven't seen too many basketball experts call these the two teams playing the best lately, but they both made it here. Detroit got a ton of rest, while Boston had to hold off a hard charging LeBron to cling to their championship hopes. Here's how this series is going to play out;

Game 1) Detroit is rested, not rusted, Boston is weary from a tough 2nd round series and come out flat in this game, and trail by more than 20 points at halftime. They climb back late, but never fully recover and lose their first home game in the playoffs. Detroit leads series 1-0

Game 2) Boston bounces back, blows out Detroit at home. Series tied 1-1

Game 3) Boston has their first solid road game of the playoffs and shocks a lackadaisical Pistons squad in Detroit. Boston leads series 2-1

Game 4) After building the confidence to win on the road, they do it once again, though it takes OT to do it. Boston leads series 3-1

Game 5) Detroit, facing elimination, play their best game of the season and keep the Boston fans from being able to celebrate a return to the Finals. Boston leads series 3-2

Game 6) Detroit, back home, feeling good, roll to an easy victory. Series tied 3-3

Game 7) After losing 2 games at home against the Pistons, the home crowd is nervous, and tentative, as are the Celtics. Low scoring throughout, both teams shoot less than 40% from the field, and less than 80% from the free throw line. Detroit's experience in the playoffs is the deciding factor, and they bounce back from a 3-1 deficit to win a game seven in Boston. Series Detroit 4-3

Western Conference Finals (1) Los Angeles (2) San Antonio
The two teams with the best record in the West face off, it's their sixth meeting in the playoffs since the strike shortened 98-99 season (the first year San Antonio won it all). Only Kobe, Fisher, and Duncan were around for that series where the Lakers were swept in the semis, and Rambis was demoted to Assistant Coach and Phil Jackson was brought in as head coach. Since then, no other Western Conference team has won a title, and only Dallas has appeared in the Finals. In other words, there's some history here.

Game 1) LA Lakers, rested, ready, they roll. LA leads 1-0

Game 2) LA Lakers, tested, testy, they triumph. LA leads 2-0

Game 3) San Antonio at home, pull out all the tricks, win a close one. LA leads 2-1

Game 4) Kobe goes insane scores 50, but the team only scores 95, they still win by 2. LA leads 3-1

Game 5) LA Lakers, control this game from start to finish, San Antonio luck suddenly very, very old, and the Lakers look very young, and very good. LA Lakers take series 4-1

There, that should be specific enough to make the wrongness of how wrong I end up being very humiliating.

19 May 2008

If Those Numbers Are Really Accurate, Then We Should Get Drilling Right Away . . .

ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said it’s “astonishing” that Bush keeps asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil, rather than working harder for increased oil production at home. Tillerson called this “terribly upside down,” and went on to say the president should be fighting to open U.S. coastal waters to drilling and production on the outer continental shelf. He correctly wants to end the federal moratorium on such off-shore drilling, where kajillions of barrels of oil and natural gas are being completely ignored.

Hmmmm, didn't realize it was a full kajillion barrels of oil off our coast. How to sell offshore drilling, though?

My thought, don't just build offshore oil derricks, build floating resorts/casinos out just beyond the horizon. People hate oil companies, but they love gambling (so long as it's not in their backyard) and new places for recreational activities. Much easier sale to the public, and if you build cool stuff above the waterline and hide all the industrial stuff below the waterline, folks who would complain for aesthetic reasons could be mollified. Folks afraid of industrial accidents would be harder to deal with, but screw those folks, everyone knows they are just a bunch of neo-luddite hippies. Throw in a few massive tidal power energy projects to emphasize the 'green' nature of ExxonMobil and their commitment to helping find energy sources for the 21st century (or some such nonsense, I forget which 'green' slogan they go by), that ought to help give any Congressperson who wants to end the ban on coastal drilling a little political cover from those damn tree huggers.

ExxonMobil could afford to finance a massive building project like this one, so long as they have assurances that the coastal commission types wouldn't shut down the operation just as it was starting to make money. If it gave them access to kajillions of dollars worth of oil extracted, they could even afford to split a chunk of the profits with the citizens of the states near where the drilling is happening.

18 May 2008

An Uncanny Fallacy . . .

. . . as I was poking around the internet, I see some recent mentions of that whole 'uncanny valley' thing (example 1, Kottke, example 2, Tyler Cowen).

Masahiro Mori was way ahead of his time when he postulated this whole Uncanny Valley thing. Thing is dude is wrong, the uncanny valley doesn't exist. It's not the near resemblance to real life that gave folks the willies with projects like the Final Fantasy Spirits Within film, or Polar Express, or Beowulf, it was the particular execution of nearly realistic humanforms in those pictures that creeped people out. Humans will interact with various simulacra of humans, whether they be strictly in video games and movies, or full blown robots, the time is getting closer where the software and hardware will be good enough to not just fool the eye, but fake all those body language, non-verbal communication and other clues that when we are dealing with another human we tend to sense but not think about consciously.

On top of that, you have a generation of kids who are growing up with these simulacra (mostly in their movies and videogames), and they will be far less apt to find the weirdness at all weird.

One example I'd like to draw on from my own videogaming, in GTA IV you have a strip club you have to visit as part of developing a relationship with a fellow criminal (or you can visit on your own, but going to a strip club on your own is kind of loseriffic, whether it be in the virtual or real world). Nothing like a little male bondage in the presence of women in thong underwear (and little else). Anyway, you can pay for a lapdance, and there's where you can tell both how far they've come in realizing the richness of the human experience, and how much farther they have to go. While the stripper moves to the music, her motion is a bit mechanical, her face is largely without expression, and her breasts while large and bountiful, sit rigidly on her chest and don't have the same undulations you'd expect from real mammaries, furthermore, the whole act isn't something that's really erotic or sensual, instead it's more of a curiosity. Wait, I forgot, was I talking about in-game, or in-life, cause re-reading that bit, seems like that could describe either . . .

In other words, Tracy Jordan, don't give up your dream, it will come true, one day very soon . . .

16 May 2008

I'm Not at All Excited About the Indy IV, But You Know I'm Going to See It Next Weekend Anyway . . .

Lucas/Spielberg are ganging up once again to rape fond memories from my childhood, oh well, it's a disease with those two.

But you never know, maybe the current Indy picture isn't nearly as asstastic as it looks from the trailers (though the inability to cut together an exciting trailer from an action picture is troubling).

But, I have another reason for posting this other than repeating the common lament of somewhat geeky guys in there mid to late 30s regarding what Lucas and Spielberg have done with their stewardship of some of the most fondly remembered intellectual properties of the 70s and 80s.

I really just want to point to this post by Maynard over at Tammy Bruce's blog, here's the line that caught my eye:

And, if so, is that where we got crystal balls?

14 May 2008

LOL Edwards ?!?

Edwards comes out of the closet (the Obamite closet, that is . . .)

(original photo stolen from this April 17, 2007 post at TimesOnline by Robbie Millen pointing to this post by Politico's Ben Smith about Edwards' styling habits)

So Drudge seems to think this might mean an Obama/Edwards '08 ticket. Folks who still have their Kerry/Edwards bumperstickers on their Priuses (Prii?) can just cover up the Kerry and they're good to go.

It's all about saving the planet through recycling.

Is Edwards really going to help Obama kill the whole effete elitist crap, though? Or win back pissed of Clintonites? Or prevent the return of the Reagan Democrat?

And now that The Obama has given up cigarettes, has he exchanged that addiction for a serious nimbus addiction? Just check out the current splash page on his official website.

I'm worried about him, I think he has a serious nimbus addiction, is there a 12 step program for that?

13 May 2008

The NYT Should Embrace Their Inner Heroin Dealer . . .

The NYT should adopt the time-tested marketing approach so often employed by drug dealers, 'the first taste is always free'.

TimeSelect was an unmitigated disaster that hurt the brand and lessened the influence its Op-Ed staff have outside of their little Manhattan cocktail circles. Thankfully, they've ended that sad experiment (but the damage to their talent remains), but they're sitting on another potential disaster if they don't do something about it.

Prof. Althouse has started a new project, with a lot of potential, but only if the NYT gets wise. She's blogging the past as if there were blogs back then, taking a random year, and blogging the events of that date as covered in the NYT. Its an interesting concept and would foster interesting conversations, but only if everyone can see the articles she's linking to. Right now, .edu customers get 100 articles per month free, and NYT subscribers get unlimited access to the basic archive, but for everyone else, there's only a link telling you to shell out $3.95 to have a little peek at a musty old article from decades ago (1851-1922 are available, and since 1987, but 1923-1986 will cost you). I don't think too many people are going to be doing that.

So what would a drug dealer do?

He'd (or she'd) give out a taste for free, of course. Get people hooked on the idea that there's fascinating stuff to be mined by seeing the past as it was seen contempraneously. If I were working at the NYT I'd find a way to either bring Althouse's THE TIME THAT BLOG FORGOT directly in with all the other NYT blogs, or at least point to the posts each day. She's written Op-Eds for them, so they've had a working relationship in the past, but this project has started out as a freelance project that she's doing just as an interesting challenge and a new way to look at things (plus its a good excuse to put up that gorgeous picture of her younger self). Besides bringing the blog directly under the NYT (but don't get heavy-handed and exert any editorial control, or I suspect the good Professor would balk), the other brilliant thing to do would be to make access to the articles she links each day absolutely free to any and everybody.

Shouldn't be that hard to do that without creating a backdoor to sneak into the rest of the archive, and as people get curious about the way the past looked when it was the present, they might be compelled to start finding articles of personal interest and go ahead and splurge on the $14.95 a month (or $169 annually) for access to TimesReader (which also gives access to the archives), or even better for them, might spur people to actually subscribe to the dead tree edition (which also grants access to the archive, here in the 90404 area code it's $25 a month for home delivery).

They have a choice, be smart and act like a drug dealer, or be dumb and act like a music executive (and we all know how well holding the line against MP3s and file sharing went in that industry).

Which will it be Grey Lady?

AND . . .

(just cause it was playing in my head while thinking of this analogy, but come on NYT be 'my man' and give me a 'sweet taste')

Indeed Ballerinas are RENOWNED Worldwide for Their Fighting Spirit . . .

German designer Barbara Walter created a collection of unique tulle-skirts for soccer fans to express the sporting and fighting spirit either in ballet or soccer.

Yeah, sure.

My purpose for visiting Xinhua.net wasn't to find oddly worded passages about unfortunate German fashions, rather I followed Drudge's link to Xinhua, the state owned press agency of The People's Republic of China for their coverage of the major earthquake near Chengdu (one of those 10+ million person metropolitan areas in China and India that you've never heard of till now), and browsing through their pages is like looking in a funhouse mirror.

Besides the previously unbeknownst to me reputation of balletic pugnaciousness, there's also Xinhua's coverage of the Burma crisis, which takes great care not to challenge or refute the claims made by their fellow despots.

China may have opened up their economy some, but it's still a very closed society in most aspects. The problem with States that promise to be everything for its people, is that when bad things happen, their citizens may lash out. Past outlandish claims about being able to forecast earthquakes days in advance aren't helping matters now.

When a state demands complete control, and asserts near divine authority over its people, and even claims the ability to predict the unpredictable, or command the weather at its whim, you can expect a serious bout of collective cognitive dissonance when these claims prove to be utter bunk.

This was a terrible disaster, but earthquakes are a fact of life in many parts of the world (being from sunny SoCal I've been through a few myself), they can't be prevented or predicted within a small window of time, but they can be anticipated. Strong building codes, rigorously adhered to, and informing the population that in the event of a major quake you'll likely to be without services of any kind for up to a week is essential. This was a very powerful quake, but it was centered a considerable distance from Chengdu, so the death toll seems a bit outsized, unless many of the buildings weren't built to withstand the shaking, which seems likely.

Poorly managed responses to disasters (comingled with authoritarian hubris) are the things revolutions are made out of . . .

(and for some info from the USGS, here's a link to a 6 minute podcast discussing the event)

UPDATE: Poking around some more at the USGS site (and after listening to the podcast) there's a new tool their called PAGER, which superimposes shake maps with population data so you can quickly surmise the number of people in the worst effected areas. According to their table that over 1 million people were in areas at a X or IX Modified Mercalli Intensity which would suggest even well built places could suffer serious damage, and poorly built structures are likely uninhabitable for over 1 million people, and possibly as many as 5 million people (if those in the VIII area, are also experiencing some structure failure). This would test any government's ability to respond, but I think China will be especially challenged, given its paternalistic relationship with its people. When you promise to be mother, father, and protector to your people, letting something awful happen (even the parts that are out of your control) will inevitably lead to a backlash.

03 May 2008

. . . And If You Deny a Zucchini Its Proper Sexual Identity, Then You Have Damaged That Poor Entity Irreparably . . .

(via Instapundit)

Wesley J. Smith in The Weekly Standard points to the work of a Swiss government ethics panel as they wrestle with the notion of 'plant rights'.

Mr. Smith worries about Asparagus, but I'm more concerned about the psyche of all those wanton and lusty Zucchini you see displaying themselves on the shelves of countless produce sections. I say every Zucchini longs to be loved, not eaten, to do otherwise is to deny that Zucchini the essence of its being and identity.

(and Ladies (or Gentleman), if you do 'love' your Zucchini, be sure to wrap it up in a condom first, it will be safer for both of you)

Succinct Film Reviews, Iron Man Edition

It's the return of Succinct Film Reviews (and the return of the 'Summer movie season').

Iron Man's first up,

Wait, so you are telling me you're going to get Robert Downey, Jr. to play a talented, brilliant, substance-abusing, womanizing, jerk, who nevertheless is incredibly charming and has horrible impulse control? Wow, what a stretch (and bloody fantastic). . .

Downey sinks his teeth into the role, and then some, plus unlike most of the current crop of comic book superheroes turned movie franchises, Downey's Tony Stark embraces the role of superhero with gusto, ego, and charm. I don't know why all superheroes have to be whiny little [whiners] (insert stronger language in brackets, I'll leave it up to you, the reader, to decide the level of language with which to describe the depths of pussyfooting and whininess as portrayed by the Eric Banas, and Hugh Jackmans, and Tobey Maguires, and Christian Bales in their various 'tortured' superhero guises).

It's a fun film in all its aspects, from the origins of Iron Man, to his pursuit of a better suit, to the choice of main bad guy. It also largely eschews the usual liberal twaddle that could have easily scuttled a film like this. It's not all gung ho about military hardware, but they don't say that military hardware is bad, it's just bad when it falls into irresponsible and evil hands (and when corporations are willing to sell to the bad guys, which I know is needed for the plot, but none of our most advanced hardware has ever ended up in the hands of the kind of people they show Stark Industries equipment being used by, so while for the plot to work they did this, even though these events have never happened in real life, and never will, it gives the Hollywood execs a way to point to this film as not being a totally and unequivocally pro-US military picture, cause afterall, who would want to see that?).

All that said, there will be people on both sides of the political spectrum (and even those in the middle) who may not be comfortable with one aspect or another of the plot, but mostly this film is just a lot of fun, with solid (but not overused) effects, a great actor in the center of it (plus a strong supporting role by Jeff Bridges), and passable performances from the others in the cast (Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't completely suck the life out of her scenes, though she tries, and Terrence Howard as the love interest is OK as well), make this a winner.

Plus sit through the credits, you'll be rewarded.

(and I lied a bit about Howard playing the love interest, that would have been a little 'too' interesting, but his character definitely has a massive, and probably requited, mancrush on Tony Stark)

(and why does unrequited get so much more play then, requited, I guess when something is requited we tend to use 'mutual' instead, but I say requited makes sense to use in the positive if unrequited is used in the negative)

(OK, I think I'm done with parentheticals in the post now)

(I lied, one more, is it really all that surprising that Downey nailed the Stark role? I mean I pretty much laid it out in the red lettered blockquote above, right? I'm surprised that people are surprised, frankly)

UPDATE: Spoiler-filled (in the comment section), YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!!

OK, first part of the update, Instapundit points to this Pajamas Media Review by Kyle Smith of the film that takes issue with the latter half of the picture, I can understand how the reviewer chose to see things the way he did, but I think he's just looking for a fight and found what he was looking for.

Now to the spoiler part, read the comment, I'll post my thoughts on that (spoiler-laced) review in the comments, so if you don't want to have the plot spoiled (not that there's all that much plot, really, and not that you don't see the developments a mile away, but still, some people like to go into a film unspoilt, so I'll go through the motions of keeping things that way for you), don't read the comment section to this post, but know that I can easily recommend this film, enjoyed watching it, look forward to the next installment in the series, and think that this film series could end up being the most fun of the current crop of comics turned films.

02 May 2008

NBA Playoffs Second Round, Humiliating Picks

There's one series left, and my prognosticating abilities failed me in the first round, but that won't stop me from making a fool of myself in the 2nd round, too.

Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

(1) Boston v (4) Cleveland
I'm going out on a limb and assuming that Boston will take care of business in their game seven on Sunday. Cleveland may have had an easier time in the first round than Boston, but that doesn't mean they're the better team, or will do better in the 2nd round. Boston has had their wake-up call, and you'd expect them to be able to figure out how to not only beat Cleveland, but dominate them. Pick, Boston in 5 (LeBron will win one game all by himself, but only one)

(2) Detroit v (3) Orlando
Detroit doesn't have anybody to guard Dwight Howard, and Howard will suck up every rebound available. The only way Detroit wins this series will be if they shoot a very high percentage, thus negating Orlando's advantage on the boards. I don't see that happening. The ESPN experts except for Abbott pick Detroit (in 6 or 7), but I think Orlando's youth, inside game combined with their outside shooting will be decisive, plus Detroit still strikes me as a team that is likely to get sulky when things go badly. Pick, Orlando in 5

Western Conference Semi-Finals

(1) LA Lakers v (4) Utah
Of course I'm picking the Lakers, and I'd do so even if I weren't a life-long Laker fan. They're playing very well right now, hopefully Turiaf is healthier, and the Lakers have the benefit of 6 days rest, plus Ariza might be available to give them a boost defensively. The Lakers have too much depth, and too much Kobe, and too much Pau for Utah to handle. Pick, LA Lakers in 4
UPDATE: All the ESPN Experts pick the LA Lakers, other than Abbott, and they all pick this series to go 6 or 7 games. I think the Lakers know how to win at home, and know how to win in Salt Lake City, and will maintain the roll they are on. Things will get tougher against San Antonio (or even New Orleans) in the Conference Finals, though.

(2) San Antonio v (3) New Orleans
This ought to be a good series. Paul will push his team to a few wins, but Duncan will push his team to a few more. Parker and Ginobli won't have the trouble guarding Paul that Kidd did, but Chandler's not ready to handle Duncan, either. Only Hollinger is picking New Orleans, all the other ESPN experts like the Champs, so do I. Pick, San Antonio in 6

NBA Playoffs First Round, Humiliating Results

Oops, only picked on series correctly.

The Results:

Pick Boston over Atlanta in 4. Result Boston in 7?
Guess that's not going to happen, Boston won't lose a game 4 at home, they've won by big margins in their home games, and don't expect differently in game seven, but the fact they couldn't win on the road against Atlanta has to be concerning to Celtics fans in a match up against the Cleveland LeBrons.

Pick Philadelphia over Detroit in 6. Result Detroit in 6
D'oh! Things looked good for me when it was 2-2 and Philly had the momentum, but Detroit woke up and realized they are a really good team. Orlando might be better, though.

Pick Orlando over Toronto in 7. Result Orlando in 5
Semi-D'oh! Picked the right team, wrong number of games. Dwight Howard is a monster, he's the most intimidating presence in the paint the NBA has right now, too bad he looks like a choir boy (albeit a choir boy with a freakishly awesome body).

Pick Washington over Cleveland in 5. Result Cleveland in 6
D'oh! The LeBrons (they really aren't the Cavaliers, anymore) had one clunker, lost one squeaker, and otherwise controlled the series. They also bitched and moaned about the physical play, and sat around and watched LeBron be LeBron for large stretches of these contests. That will cost them against a stifling Celtics defense, assuming Celtics can make the adjustments needed to win on the road.

Pick LA Lakers over Denver in 4. Result Lakers in 4
Woohoo! Got one right. Possibly was my homerism talking in this pick, and my Kobe-love, but also Denver just looked like a basket-case of a team all season, even when they were winning. Melo was right, they quit as a team, and I'm not sure if Coby Karl hadn't been there to console him at the end of the sweep that George would have survived that night. Just the same, he should stay away from sharp objects for a month or two. Utah will be a handful for the Lakers, but Utah has nobody who can guard Kobe, and if they double and triple team him or go to a zone, Fisher will go wild shooting from the outside, and Gasol will have another dunkfest like he had against Denver. If they play Kobe straight up, Kobe will average over 40 points in this series and the Lakers will sweep, so the Jazz get to pick their poison. The main hope for a close series is that LA's defense is pretty lousy, and they get 3 pointer happy from time to time.

Pick Dallas over New Orleans in 6. Result New Orleans in 5
D'oh! I knew Chris Paul was amazing, but who knew about David West? Dallas will probably do some serious tweaking in the off season, and New Orleans will play well against the defending champions, but the big advantages New Orleans had against Dallas aren't as pronounced against San Antonio.

Pick Phoenix over Seattle in 6. Result San Antonio in 5
D'oh! The champs still look like champs, and they still flop like a European soccer team. Also, Duncan has never committed a foul in his entire career judging from the pained expression that crosses his face every time he's whistled. Did I mention I hate San Antonio? Can't wait to watch the Lakers pick them apart in the Western Conference Finals. They'll find a way to slow down Chris Paul, either by forcing him to be a scorer rather than a passer, or by just plain beating him up. Plus, Duncan will destroy Chandler inside, Chandler will be in foul trouble by the 2nd quarter in every game.

Pick Houston over Utah in 7. Result Utah in 6
D'oh! The Jazz are a very good team, with excellent depth, and a fantastic point guard in Deron Williams. Houston weren't at full strength, and McGrady had a terrific series, but his team still lost. The Jazz will play well against the Lakers in the next round, but the Lakers were the only team to sweep their way through the first round, and they are playing at a high level. The Lakers ought to be able to handle the Jazz, but they'll give them a serious fight.

Well, that was pretty humiliating, the tally so far . . .
1 right team, right number of games
1 right team, wrong number of games
5 wrong teams
1 result pending

Next round I'll be better . . .