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Friday, April 29, 2005


HHGG returns 

Ok, so, it's out. The reviews are actually pretty positive. But I don't find them at all convincing. Why? Well, in this mostly positive review we get the following concession
But if the director, music-video whiz Garth Jennings, can knock you silly with a visual punch line, he can't get the timing of a verbal one. He doesn't trust the long take; he chops up scenes and loses the extra, awkward beat that great English comedy demands.
Anyone who knows Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy knows that it is all about verbal comedy. Droll, absurdist lines, with deadpan delivery. What this reviewer is saying is that the director completely fails at conveying the essence of the work, while inserting something that has nothing to do with the original. It's like saying the director of a Harry Potter movie can't produce a convincing magic or fantasy scene, but he's got real talent at depicting the romantic relationships. All that clever humour stuff you liked in Douglas Adams' books? Gone. But if you like the Three Stooges, have we got a movie for you!

And this not-that-negative review says
As I watched the film in a packed screening audience I kept wondering "What's wrong with this picture?" Fans of the book, who are as dedicated and picky as fans of Harry Potter or Star Wars, have been heaping the movie with garlands of praise, and long lines had been waiting to get into the screening. But they weren't laughing. They seemed to appreciate and respect the movie, and at the end gave a long round of sincere applause. But while the film was rolling they studied the screen silently.
So... they liked the movie. They just didn't find it funny. Sorry. I like my comedies funny. Call me picky.


Well, as you can see, it's winter around here again. It's been snowing for a couple of days now, and it's been snowing on and off all day today. Mostly wet stuff and it tends not to stick, but there's still snow on my lawn. Posted by Hello


Spring Flowers... with snow. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005


More games 

Guess a Google (via ACE)

Big hole in ground 

This is pretty cool.

Economic Ignorance 

From the AP-
Buffeted by rising energy prices and weakened consumer and business spending, the economy grew at an annual rate of just 3.1 percent in the first quarter. The slowest pace of expansion since in two years was evidence of a new "soft patch."
Ok, so it's the slowest rate in 2 years, which I suppose is worth reporting on. But the fact is, 3.1 percent growth is just dandy. Rates of higher than 3 percent are generally not considered to be sustainable over the long term. I suppose it's too bad that we aren't experiencing the absurdly high growth rates of previous years, but let's be realistic, this is like getting blackjack five hands in a row, and then being upset because you were only dealt a 19 on the sixth hand. The article does eventually say
Although a 3.1 percent growth rate is disheartening to economists , it is a decent pace of expansion, nevertheless.
But... why is it "disheartening"? It's not a bad rate, and above average rates can't be expected to go on forever, so..... Shouldn't this be reported as an "as expected" story, rather than as a "crisis" story? And besides which, why hasn't there been more coverage of the fact that economic growth has been consistently above the norm for a couple years now? It becomes newsworthy only when it ceases to be the case, which seems kind of strange.

Unless you were operating under the assumption that the press tries to downplay economic success when Republicans were in power. And that would just be silly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Geography quiz 

More good Geography quizes. Here and here. (Via the corner)

New face, same problem 

This is so misguided.
The House on Wednesday approved a new gold-colored coin bearing the faces of presidents to join the unpopular $1 Sacagawea coin in circulation, hoping a new design will spur use of dollar coins.
The reason why people don't use the $1 coins has nothing to do with the picture on it. It has to do with their shape and size. The fact is that $1 bills are much easier to carry and keep track of than $1 coins. Thus, people will always opt for the bills over the coins as long as the bills are available. If they want to make people use the $1 coins, they'll have to do what they've done in Australia and New Zealand, which is discontinue the bills, so people have no choice.

New Movie 

Ok, so it looks like HHGG is a bust. But this movie actually looks quite good.

It's apparently based on the show Firefly, which I've never seen, but heard good things about.

Big Mistake 

Don't assume, like I did, that the people behind the counter at FedEx actually know what they're talking about. Because it turns out, they don't.

You would think when you say you want something there "as fast as possible" and you use the phrase repeatedly, you would actually get the fastest possible option, not the second-fastest. When they tell you you want FedEx Priority Overnight, they're lying. You want FedEx First Overnight. And I sure wish somebody would have told me that yesterday. Because, as it is, I'm pretty screwed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The verdict is... 

Via Ace, We get this review of the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Movie.(Many spoilers)

It very convincingly argues what I had come to suspect based solely on the previews and the clips made available. It sucks. Really, really, bad. I noticed that none of the clips, or previews had anything that could be described as... what's the word?.. oh yeah, funny. Which, seeing as how this is supposed to be a comedy, is kind of a problem. The conclusion is as follows
However, in the movie a lot of those great ideas have been either messed about with, so that they no longer make sense, or eliminated altogether and, worst of all - and I cannot emphasise this enough - the film-makers have taken most of the jokes out. They have taken the jokes out and replaced them with unfunny lines - jokoids - or in some cases really, really crap humour of the 'give me a hand' variety. Or sometimes not replaced them at all.

I wasn't expecting this movie to be perfect. I expected a curate's egg. But what I got was a rotten egg. Apart from the Magrathean factory floor/Earth Mark II sequence, nothing in the film really works. It's an unsalvageable mess which will annoy fans and will confuse (and annoy) non-fans.

I feared that I might find a funny sci-fi movie which bore a passing resemblance to Hitchhiker's Guide, but what I found instead was a desperately unfunny sci-fi movie which bore a passing resemblance to Hitchhiker's Guide. All that time, all that effort, all that attention to detail - wasted. In fact, I believe that is where the key fault lies. The film-makers put so much effort into the details that they lost sight of the bigger picture. They were so obsessed with filling the screen with things like jewelled scuttling crabs, replicas of Douglas Adams’ nose and other things that, really, no-one gives a damn about, that important things like a coherent plot or well-rounded characters went out of the window, along with any line of the original that might be considered funny.

Maybe this guy is completely wrong... although I doubt it. As it stands, I am not seeing this movie. I will not reward this kind of abuse of fan-trust. The TV adaptation sucked, but at least it had low-budget as an excuse.(Strangely, the reviewer here actually liked the tv adaptation) Maybe if I hear or read sufficiently convincing contradictory opinions, I might reconsider. But that seems unlikely.

Travel tips... 

When you're going to go on a trip, make sure you have your passport. Well, in advance, a good month, if not more, beforehand.

Because I didn't check until a few days ago, and that's going to cost me $355.04. To put a precise dollar figure on it. *$#*%&*#.

Friday, April 22, 2005



Friday cat Posted by Hello

The institutional environmentalist 

I have been inclined to think for some time that the "environmental movement" is much more concerned with the "movement" part than they are with the "environmental" part.

This piece in Slate, an environmental movement analysis by a typical corporate-style environmentalist, doesn't do much to disabuse me of the notion. Lots of tactical advice on how to sell their agenda, bemoaning the influence of "well-organized conservatives" (Because the Sierra Club isn't well-organized), etc. But he has no interest in looking deeper for the problems of the environmental movement. Of course, he belongs to that class of people who make their living off the current environmental product, the last thing he wants to admit is that it might be a fraud. No, no, no, it can't be the product, it must be the message, that's it.

In one sentence he unintentionally hints at what the real problem might be, but he is either unable or unwilling to see it.
But energy boondoggles and dirty air didn't move voters.
That just begs the question, doesn't it? How dirty is the air? Well, glad you asked. It just so happens that pollution(in the US at least) is the lowest it has ever been since people started measuring it. Isn't it amazing that an author could write an article about "the Environmental movement's mid-life crisis" without once mentioning this remarkable fact? Isn't that cause for celebration, not lament? Why, one would almost get the impression that people like Mr.Sabin see their goals as growth of their organizations and increase in their political influence, not actual measurable improvements in the environment.

Or am I just being cynical?

Baseball 

Ace on the things he doesn't like-
On the other hand there's baseball, a game invented primarily to give uninteresting men something to talk about with other uninteresting men and thus perhaps avoid those awkward pauses during which homosexual coupling becomes a dangerously real possibility. Were it not for interminable discussions about slugging averages and on-base percentages, upwards of half the male population would be humping each other like rabbits in high rut.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


HHGG 

The new Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy movie is coming out, and I have to say I'm uneasy about it. The clips that are available just don't seem that... funny. The falling whale sequence, for example, which is pretty much taken intact from the original radio show, doesn't seem right. It's too rushed, the comic timing is off. I don't really have enough material to judge from, but, like I said, I'm uneasy.

Not that I won't see it. I watched the godawful BBC television adaptation, and it can't possibly be worse than that.

One thing I will say, from the few glimpses that I've seen, they seem to have gotten Trillian right. Kind of nerdy and frumpy, but in a really cute and sexy sort of way. One of the great crimes of the BBC television adaptation was turning her into a blonde, squeaky-voiced bimbo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Meteors 

While reading a comment thread inspired by Eugene Volokh's post on language(a subject he often writes on), I came across this comment-
I've never understood the phrase "meteoric rise." To me, meteors fall, crash, and burn.
She's absolutely right. And I've never seen this pointed out before. Meteors don't rise. They fall. So where does the phrase "meteoric rise" come from?

The Hollywood Ten 

Roger Simon directs me to this article on "the Hollywood Ten". These were the ten communists at the center of HUAC hearings in 1947. According to the contemporary conventional wisdom dispensed by Hollywood and others, they were brave dissenters martyered by anti-communist extremists. The truth is they were pretty much unrepentant Stalinists who blindly followed orders from Moscow.

Media reaction to the pope 

From ACE-
But it is rather revealing that our "diverse" media cannot view a centuries old spiritual institution, concerned primarily with, you know, salvation and God and Jesus and all that stuff, through any other prism but the nakedly political. The Church exists, in their minds, only to either thwart or advance their domestic material-world agendas. It is just an NGO like Amnesty International, only with weird headdresses and censers and subpar wine.

To be fair, as an agnostic and non-Catholic to boot, that's sort of the way I view the Church, deep down. I'm not religious and I never received Communion and frankly it doesn't really matter to me what the Church might have to say about transubstantiation.

But, you know, I'm just a lowly blogger. One would imagine that these idiots could manage at least the pretense of acknowledging the Church as something more than the Red Cross with Latin lessons.

....
....

The left talks a great deal about diversity and freedom. And yet they seem awfully angry about any voluntary institution which stubbornly refuses to accept and promulgate their agenda.

Is there any room in this world for institutions to pursue a non-liberal or non-leftist agenda? It would appear the answer is no, by the MSM's lights. Diversity and freedom are all well and good, so long as your diversity is their "diversity," and you will always be guaranteed the "freedom" to live and worship according to how the liberals and leftists believe is proper.

As someone pointed out, regardless of who was selected pope, he was going to be somebody who opposes abortion and gay marriage. Don't like that? Fine, don't be a Catholic. But don't be surprised that the head of the Catholic church believes in Catholic doctrine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


On Bush-loathing 

Interesting remark in this comment thread(although not really on-topic)
I think there may be substance to it, and it's a mistake to misunderestimate the personal loathing the elitist left feels for a guy like Bush, who is so clearly a traitor to his class. Come on, he went to Andover, to Yale and Harvard, and instead of using the big words that he must have surely absorbed (even a dolt like AlGore learned some big words just by living Ivy for a while) Dubya prefers instead to "pass" as a Red State guy. He knows a lot of baseball stats, he would drink beer if he could. He drives an old pickup truck around his ranch and clears brush and mountain bikes around the back 40, rather than yachting or hanging out in Paris like somebody of his wealth and background should do.

I think personal loathing is why the smarter center-leftists hate Bush so bad. It can't be bitter policy differences, since Bush's muscular democratic paternalism (at home and abroad) is congruent with what Marty Peretz and others in the wonkish left center smart-set have been pushing for so long.


New Pope 

I am not a Catholic, and so have little opinion on this, but one thing did jump out at me that I haven't seen others comment on yet-
Now, at 78, he has become the 265th pope of the Catholic Church and the first Germanic pope since monarchs imposed four men from that region in a row in the 11th century.
78. 78 years old. The normal retirement age in most professions is what, 65? Seems to me he's not likely to be pope for very long.

Monday, April 18, 2005



Aspen Bud Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 16, 2005



Spring Flowers Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005


An infinite number of monkeys 

This is quite funny-
A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeremy Stribling said on Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation.



Near Moab, UT Posted by Hello


Near Moab, UT Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005



Near Moab, UT Posted by Hello


La Sal Mountains Posted by Hello


La Sal Mountains Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Top Ten 

Frank J's Top Ten UN slogans.

Moynihan on Terry Jones 

On the "Airline Peanut Joke" -
A few bons mots from the Jones manifesto: "But how is ‘terrorism’ going to surrender? It’s well known, in philological circles, that it’s very hard for abstract nouns to do anything at all of their own volition." Oh, how droll! We at the Spectator call this the “airline peanut joke” (or, alternately, the “men pee on the toilet seat” joke)—you can probably figure out why. Hideously unfunny, sure, but also hideously cliché; a joke repeated by every half-baked political comedian and Bush-bashing pundit ever asked to be on Hardball. Gore Vidal: “It’s an abstract noun. You can’t have a war against an abstract noun.” Michael Moore: “You can’t declare war on a noun!” John Stewart: “We declared war on terror—it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” Oh John, you are so clever! (But at least the others correctly identified terror as a noun).



Gas station puppy Posted by Hello


View from Hualapai peak Posted by Hello


Hualapai State Park Posted by Hello


Mandalay Bay: The office nook Posted by Hello


Mandalay Bay: the bedroom. The bathroom is off to the left. I didn't get a picture of it, but you'll just have to trust me when I tell you it was ridiculous. Posted by Hello


Mandalay Bay: This is the main room only. And there's no mirror there making the room look longer. Posted by Hello

The joys of cat-ownership 

Well, I'm back from Las Vegas. I lost $100 on craps in half an hour when I abruptly remembered why gambling is so stupid.

I was there to celebrate my friend's 30th birthday. He rented a suite on the top floor of the Mandalay Bay in which you could land a small airplane(pictures to follow). We went to very expensive restaurants and hip nightclubs, and it will probably be years before I go to Las Vegas again.

Afterward I travelled through northern Arizona, stopped at Hualapai state park, went on to eastern Utah, hiked through the snow in the La Sal mountains, and returned home to clean cat-vomit off my reclining chair.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005



I'm gone for a week. I leave you with this cat picture. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Kaus on Dean 

'There, there, you worried irrational people. My pollster's told me about you. We're on your side, however illogical your pathetic little fears!' ... From vilification to condescension. This is progress in the Democratic Party.
-Kausfiles

As National Review said once, "Please nominate this man". I think Dean is, in fact, representative of a substantial portion of the Democratic party base. They live entirely within a self-reinforcing media bubble, incapable of understanding how anyone rational could possibly disagree with them. This is, I think, evidence to support the hypothesis that the liberal media bias ends up hurting liberals in the long run.

Monday, April 04, 2005


Daylight Saving Time 

John J Miller on why Daylight Saving Time sucks. I have never liked daylight saving time. It's like changing to counting your money in mexican pesos so that you seem richer. But guess what? You have the same amount of money either way, and similarly, you have the same amount of daylight either way. Want to get up an hour earlier? than just do it. There's no need to give the rest of country jetlag twice a year.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Independent Counsel 

I was having a discussion with someone the other night who insisted that the Republicans were being hypocrites for not applying the independent counsel to Rep. DeLay, or whoever. I said the Independent counsel law has expired and as such is no longer applicable. He denied this. Guess what.
This chapter shall cease to be effective five years after the date of the enactment of the Independent Counsel Reauthorization Act of 1994, except that this chapter shall continue in effect with respect to then pending matters before an independent counsel that in the judgment of such counsel require such continuation until that independent counsel determines such matters have been completed.
Expired in 1999, looks like to me.

He was a journalist, by the way.


Spring Flowers Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Spring Flowers 


Flowers Posted by Hello

Blackstronauts 

Bet that's a word you never thought you'd hear. Check out the Old Negro Space Program.

Friday, April 01, 2005



Friday cat Posted by Hello

They'll steal anything... 

Funny story. (via Ace)

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