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August 19th, 2009

08:34 pm - Watch me be disappointed
So, Kim & I watched Watchmen last night. Now I'm not steeped in comics like, say, roninspoon. But I've loved Watchmen since I read it ten years ago and I reread it every year or so. There's a lot there to absorb and so far each re-reading has been rewarding. I was looking forward to the movie.

Having said that, I was sorely disappointed in the way the movie was put together. A lot of the negative reviews claimed the movie's problem was that it was too rigidly faithful to the source, while a lot of the positive reviews cited that as its greatest triumph; I'm not sure what that means other than being proof those reviewers are snorting really bad coke. There were huge gaps -- things that didn't make any damn sense if you hadn't read the comic. Every book-based movie has some of that, but this movie it seemed like every five minutes I was going "Wait, from that straight to that?"

[here there be spoilers]Collapse )

The only thing more puzzling to me than the reviewers' reaction to all this is Alan Moore's reaction. He famously hates everything to do with movie adaptations of his work, even to the point of publicly calling Joel Silver out as a liar for saying that Moore told Larry Wachowski he was "very excited" about V for Vendetta. On this one, he almost seems to praise the movie (although he apparently never watched the finished product), calling the script "as close as I could imagine anyone getting to Watchmen". What? All I can figure is that either the script he read was much more faithful to the comics, or he's just being a dick and fucking with people's heads.

Overall, I give it 6.5 out of 10; better than a typical action flick, but not as deep or as deeply satisfying as the work that spawned it.
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed

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August 17th, 2009

12:37 am - American Original
I am an American. I like capitalism. I like being offered my foods with no salt, extra salt, ranch flavor, barbecue flavor, nacho cheese flavor, jalapeno flavor, you name it, I'll try it. I like choice and variety.

However, I am also a man. By default I tend to prefer the regular size, the original flavor, the traditional or unscented aroma. And I have noticed this option is becoming much harder to find among all the COOL MOUNTAIN MIST scents and EXTRA BLAST OF GARLIC flavors and MEGA FIREHOSE THIRST ANNIHILATOR sizes.

An exercise: Go into a few of your local grocery stores. Pick a well-known brand, like say, Dial soap. Go into the bathroom aisle and look for plain, original scent, non-antibacterial, Dial bar soap. No? Don't see it? Isn't that it? No, down there. Lower. Wayyyy in the back there. Yep, that one, on the disused shelf behind the display of EXTRA LARGE bottles of FRESH RAIN scented Dial body wash, with a sign saying "Beware of the Leopard".

Why must soap (or any other product) be so complicated? If I want Vitamin D on my skin, I'll go over to the pharmacy aisle and find some kind of Vitamin D goop and slather that stuff on. If I want exfoliating beads, by God there's an equipment rental company right up the road that will be only too happy to rent me a sandblaster for whatever ill-conceived skin-stripping purpose I desire. And no "rain" or "mountain" or "ocean" or "floral" scent has ever smelled remotely like whatever it is that it's supposed to be, so it generally serves only to annoy me in an uncanny-valley sort of fashion.

I want a store where all they carry is the regular stuff. Regular Dial and Lever 2000 bar soap. Original-scent deodorants. Good old regular Doritos and plain Lay's and Ruffles chips. And hopefully, plain, unmessed-with Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes.
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated

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August 9th, 2009

10:29 pm - Euphemisms?
Why is it always called "single-payer" healthcare? In every case I know of, the "single payer" is the government -- so why not just call it "government-funded healthcare"?

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July 26th, 2009

12:29 am - Half-Blood Prince in 15 Minutes
If you haven't seen the movie yet, go see it so this won't spoil you (and will be funnier). Then experience the Awesome.
Current Mood: amusedamused

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July 19th, 2009

10:52 pm - Give a hoot, don't pollute
Things found while picking up the yard yesterday & today:

  • Many, many beer and soda cans -- including one beer can old enough to be pull-tab instead of pop-top
  • Many, many beer and soda bottles, both plastic and glass (the latter often represented only by fragments and shards), including a depressing number of Bud Light bottles and Michelob cans
  • Plastic and styrofoam cups and pieces of styrofoam filler
  • Several dozen sheets of plastic and plastic bags, both whole and in fragments. Many of these were partly or mostly covered by dirt.
  • Food wrappers and containers of all kinds
  • Bottlecaps
  • Pieces of car parts (a complete headlight housing, fragments of a hubcap)
  • Several yards of string
  • Pieces of brick and cinderblock
  • Pieces of asphalt shingling
  • Pieces of some sort of bluish styrofoam about half an inch thick (I don't know what this stuff is but chunks of it are all over the side and back yards)
  • Two iron stakes embedded in the ground with orange plastic flags tied around the ends. One was circular and hollow, the other was circular and solid with six lands around the outer edge.
  • A kid's toy car embedded in the dirt
  • A fossilized Aerobie
  • The stake and hub of a plastic sunflower windmill like this one
  • A swatch of bubble-wrap
  • An odd beer bottle -- brown glass, short, like the bottom half of a modern beer bottle with a stumpy neck. Embossed "No deposit - No return - Not to be refilled".

39 years, man. That's how old this house is -- and who knows what might have been already on and in the ground before that. Some of this litter undoubtedly goes back close to that far.

Also found:

Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted

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10:34 pm - Cooking with food... with Phil!

I'm proud to say I know this guy.
Current Mood: sillysilly

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July 10th, 2009

11:47 am - Insensitive? Maybe. Hilarious? Definitely!
Maybe it loses (or gains) something in translation, but if your business is body bags and memorial urns, maybe "todiefor.biz" isn't the domain name to register for your website.
Current Mood: amusedLOLLERCOPTER

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July 1st, 2009

11:31 pm - How much better can things get?
Sometimes I look at the advances in information technology since I started working with computers and it blows my mind what we have today that nobody even conceived of in the early 1990s. (Except of course for a few visionaries, like Vannevar Bush who pretty much originated the idea of hypertext, predicted digital photography, and defined many of the essential features of a web browser, like bookmarking -- all that in one essay written in the 1930s.)

So, looking at computers and the Internet in 1994:

  • Typical home PC: something like a 60-100 MHz Pentium with 32 MB of RAM and a 250-500 MB hard drive.
  • Typical Internet connection (counting AOL, BBSes, etc. -- basically anything with an Internet gateway): 14400-baud modem.
  • Popular websites: Nearly nonexistent. Gopher was the dominant method of interactive information browsing. Wired and the White House were just getting on the Web and CNN had yet to get there. Yahoo! was still two grad students at Stanford.
  • Media technology: Downloaded video files, typically with a resolution of 320x240 or less and low color depth. MP3 was just appearing -- for instrumental music most sites still offered MIDI or MOD files.
  • Lead search engine: The state of the art in web search was Webcrawler, the first search engine I remember to use the "spider" metaphor for web indexing.
  • What you couldn't do yet: Streaming any kind of media. Buying anything. Ordering pizza.

Now I carry around something like 3 times as much raw computing power in my pocket as that relatively powerful machine of 15 years ago had -- and my iPod has over a hundred times as much storage, can play high-definition media, can browse the Internet and download audio and video wirelessly (you could sort of do that in 1994, but you had to have connections to packet ham radio) and uses an intuitive touch interface that would have made Steve Jobs' eyes pop out of his head back then.

At a best guess, I'll see another two or three spans of time in which, presumably, computers will be revolutionized just as much. They're already producing actual playable games with mind-based controllers -- by 2024, will mind-control be how we manipulate our computers rather than how others manipulate us? Will we be transcribing full sensoria as easily as we transcribe sound or images today? What about 2039? And is it even useful to try to imagine what computers will so much as look like in 2054?
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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June 24th, 2009

09:48 pm - Disturbing children's books
Oh my God, who writes things like this?

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June 14th, 2009

12:42 am - Renaissance Faire after humans...
Some of you remember the old Virginia Renaissance Faire site, the one owned by REC. Just recently I've run across some photos of the old site taken recently.

It still mostly stands, although nature is steadily reclaiming it.

Sometime in 2007? (with commentary)

May 2007

March 2009

May 2009

For those of you who didn't know, some pharmaceutical company (Best Industries of Springfield, VA) bought the site and apparently dicked around a group of people who tried to buy it later. The original 249-acre site appears to have been subdivided into a 161.5 acre parcel still owned by Best, and an 88.2-acre parcel that was sold to be developed as a subdivision.

It's kind of a sad end for a great old faireground.
Current Mood: melancholymelancholy

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