URL du Jour Addendum

Shawn Macomber (aka "UNH's own Shawn Macomber") describes the scene at First Church of Roxbury yesterday. Go read. Shawn endures the rhetoric of John Kerry et. al. so that we more sensitive souls don't have to.


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URLs du Jour (10/31/2005)

  • Everybody I like seems also to like Judge Alito for the Supreme Court. Best place to go for links is Michelle (ma belle). But Jeff Goldstein has a unique scoop: Senator Feinstein's crib sheet for the upcoming confirmation hearings. And (more seriously), he has a handy post with quotes from noted libertarian (as opposed to conservative) sources.

    Since I'd written to Senators Sununu and Gregg asking them to oppose Harriet Mier's nomination, I dropped a note this time around asking for them to support Alito.

  • Via Geek Press, an impressive picture of the Grand Canyon Skywalk. My knees go a little weak just looking at the picture. Note: "glass bottom and sides." I can safely predict that this is pretty "high up" (heh) on the list of places you will never see Mrs. Salad.
  • Need a handy example of how someone can handle a dreadful disease with extraordinary bravery and class? Read Cathy Siepp.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:03 AM EDT
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Quadrophenia

[Amazon Link] [3.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

The Who's Quadrophenia is one of my favorite albums ever, undimmed after … waitaminnit, let me look it up … Holy Crap … nearly 32 years. (It was released in America on November 3, 1973, Britain on October 28.1973.)

However, I hadn't ever seen this 1979 movie based on the album. (Maybe I had a bad reaction to the Tommy movie.) Blockbuster has come to the rescue.

Well, it's OK. But it turns out that my mind's eye had already made a better movie, sorry, so this was a bit of a disappointment. Jimmy is supposed to have four personalities, but the main one we get is "whiny loser."

I, personally, would have had Who music playing though every second of this film.

I didn't know (or maybe didn't remember) Sting was in this, playing the Bellboy.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:04 AM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/28/2005)

  • The New York Times ran a story on recent military casualties in Iraq; among the soldiers mentioned was Corporal Jeffrey Starr. Read Michelle Malkin to find out what the Times could have found "fit to print" about Corporal Starr, but didn't.
  • On Scooter Libby, go see Jeff Goldstein, and the Minute Man. And that's all I have to say about that.
  • Suppose you were introducing a brand of clothes specifically aimed at nursing mothers. What clever name could you think up? Whoa, hold on, smart guy, don't make it too clever!

    I've got a good brand name for the baby's clothes, though: "Suckler's Raiment". Ha!

    (That might be the first ever actual pun here at Pun Salad. Sorry.)

  • An optical illusion of a type I hadn't seen before: Mr. Angry and Mrs. Calm. (Via GeekPress, who has a link to the paper describing the trick.)

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:05 AM EDT
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Sahara

[Amazon Link] [2.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

I rented this movie because I thought it would be dumb fun, but it turned out to be more dumb than fun. (Although that might just be me; Mrs. Salad really liked it.)

Just a lot of mindless action, one-dimensional characters I didn't care too much about, mostly flat jokes, an absurd plot. Even the sainted William H. Macy gives a lackluster performance. (But Delroy Lindo was good, in his 1.8 minutes of screen time!)

An actor named Rainn Wilson has a role in this, and I kept trying to figure out where I'd seen him before. IMDB coughed up the answer: he plays Dwight in The Office (American version) on TV. OK, I guess that's good acting.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:57 AM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/27/2005)

The Harriet Miers nomination for Supreme Court Justice has been withdrawn, and I'm for one relieved, because I cannot for the life of me remember how to spell her name without looking it up; my precious time will be saved. Obviously the opposition of this blog was the tipping point. Sources tell me Dubya was muttering "Et tu, Pun Salad?" repeatedly for the past few days.

On to the usual miscellany:

  • Spurred by the death of Rosa Parks, Thomas Sowell writes on the secret history of the segregation policies that dictated Mrs. Parks should have to give up her bus seat to a white man:

    Far from existing from time immemorial, as many have assumed, racially segregated seating in public transportation began in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Those who see government as the solution to social problems may be surprised to learn that it was government which created this problem.

    On a related note, say you were an editorial cartoonist, and you wanted to pen a cartoon on the topic of Mrs. Parks' passing. What would you draw? Go ahead, think on it a bit, I'll wait …

    OK, got an idea?

    I'm sorry, it's been done.

  • Ooooh, I want an Olive Symphony; it's reviewed by David Pogue here and it costs a mere $900!

    Well, probably not really. I don't see anything here that I wouldn't be able to do on a more conventional computer, and have a certain amount of fun in setting up. But the Symphony does look very cool and seamless. (And probably quieter than a real computer.)

  • And (staying in the consumerism theme), this is just amazing. (Via Lileks. Like him, it doesn't make me want to scurry on down to the Ikea outlet, or even want to hang out with any of the people in the ad, but still … whoa.)
  • My close personal friend Dave Barry says:

    Just because this blog has no electricity or gasoline or hope for the future or Cheez-Its, that does not mean we are just sitting around wallowing in self-pity.

    That cheered me somewhat: I have two out of those four things, and I know where I can get Cheez-Its. (Ba-dum!) Plus which, Dave wrote an actual new column.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:01 AM EDT
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A Look Into the Mind of Howard Dean

Andrew Sullivan is fast becoming a reliable source of unintentional amusement. He points approvingly to this Shockwave Flash page, calling it "jaundiced but funny."

Well, go ahead and look. To my mind, it's a sad look at how some Democrats think: basically, Republicans are without exception (pick any combination) evil, stupid, demented, bigoted, violent, shallow, and/or delusional. The proper view of them is an angry combination of fear and hatred.

Every time I get depressed enough about Republicans, something always seems to pop up that depresses me more about Democrats. When are they going to learn that "I hate Republicans" is not a winning slogan?


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URLs Du Jour (10/26/2005)

  • John Podhoretz has a clarifying column discussing the real reasons behind the dung-flinging between Judith Miller and everyone else at the New York Times (Free registration, but it's worth it.)

    OF course, none of this Miller character assassination has anything to do with the Valerie Plame story. Rather, it has to do with the war in Iraq, weapons of mass destruction—and the peculiar solipsism of both the staff of The New York Times and the paper's liberal readership.

    Convincing, certainly more so that Andrew Sullivan declaring the sliming to be "impressively honest and appropriately self-critical."

  • Many "Blaine Amendments" in state constitutions prohibiting government aid to students in non-government schools were couched in the anti-Catholic bigotry of the late 19th century. This is part of the "secret history" of modern dogmas of church-state separation: born in less-than-noble impulses that its admirers neither admit nor (probably) know about.

    Alex Tabarrok similarly points out the "secret history" behind minimum wage laws:

    Progressives, including Richard Ely, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, the Webbs in England etc., were interested not in protecting women but in protecting men and the race. Their goal was to get women back into the home, where they belonged, instead of abandoning their eugenic duties and competing with men for work.

  • If (for some reason), you are not in total despair with the fiscal profligacy of the Republican-controlled Congress, Glenn Reynolds might push you over the edge with his Tech Central Station column about the proposed 3 Gigabuck subsidy proposed for owners of analog TVs not served by cable providers. Promoting this is Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Glenn comments:

    I suppose that there are worse ways to waste the taxpayers' money -- I can't actually think of any at the moment, but given Congress's ingenuity I suppose that Ted Stevens and his colleagues probably could -- but this strikes me as pretty pathetic, especially when the government is laying off scientists for lack of money. Subsidizing TV and starving science seems like a recipe for something short of national greatness.
  • Via Galley Slaves: Father Neuhaus takes on major point of religious strife between two of his parishoners. If Father Neuhaus were the priest at our local church, I might convert.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:02 AM EDT
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URLs Du Jour (10/25/2005)

I'm tiring of current events, aren't you?

  • Via Geek Press: Top 10 things likely to be overheard from a Klingon Programmer. (Number 5: "Debugging? Klingons do not debug. Our software does not coddle the weak.")
  • UNH alum Shawn Macomber links up Boston's Fruit and Vegetables Gang and the satanic metal underground. Well, the link's more than a little strained. But bottom line: there are lots of folks out there that you don't want to meet, ever, even as part of a culturally-broadening experience.
  • It seems nearly everyone has blogged the cool "rotating pink dot" optical illusion, but if you haven't seen it yet, go.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:06 AM EDT
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No Real Surprise Here!

UPDATE: to quote Prof Bainbridge: "I'll take a cashier's check, but I'll need two forms of identification."


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:10 AM EDT
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FCC Gores College Oxen

Inside Higher Ed has an article today on new FCC rules issued earlier this month that demand that colleges allow law enforcement entities the ability to remotely install "wiretaps" on the college networks. (A subpoena is still required as before.)

The article points out that such changes are extremely complicated and expensive, and are expected to generate little gain over the current situation (where wiretaps need to be installed with the cooperation of the college network gurus, bless their hearts):

The American Council on Education, based on analyses done on a number of campuses, estimates that making these changes would cost colleges approximately $450 per student, or a total of $7 billion.

College groups that are objecting to the new rules say that they are particularly upset because there is no history of federal authorities having difficulty placing wiretaps in college networks because there is no history of them seeking to do so. "This is an awful lot of money for very little gain," said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for public and government affairs at ACE.

So let's see here: government regulations with cost/benefit ratios totally out of whack, where costs are pushed onto consumers, typically "invisibly" via cost increases. Most people with even a smattering knowledge of the libertarian critique of government regulation will respond: nothing new here!

Of course, the Inside Higher Ed folks are off base in picturing this as a particular problem for colleges: private ISPs will have to comply with the rules as well, and similarly pass the costs along to their customers.

It would be nice if people would wake up to the perniciousness of burdensome regulation everywhere, not simply when their ox is being gored.


Last Modified 2005-10-24 6:20 PM EDT
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URLs Du Jour (10/24/2005)

It's "bash the New York Times day" here at Pun Salad.

  • Roger L. Simon shakes his head in dismay at Nicholas Kristof's review of a new Mao biography.

    Kristof:

    Finally, there is Mao's place in history. I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao's legacy is not all bad.

    Comments Roger:

    Kristof's blithe "the ends justify the means" contempt for human life boggles the imagination. 70 million dead? 40 million dead? At numbers like that who could know really? The Great Helmsman was a mass murderer beyond comprehension. To excuse it in on any level is morally repellent and deeply dangerous to the future of humanity.

    Roger also points to BizzyBlog who notes "Kristof's 'Hitler did good things too' excuse-making." Luskin also comments: "Walter Duranty still works at the Times."

  • Also making waves the past few days is the increasing strife between (Pulitzer) prizewinning NYT reporter Judith Miller and (it seems) everyone else at the Times. Gratifyingly, the pissfest is being carried out largely in the public eye for the amusement of all who care.

    Mickey Kaus cares, of course. In a longish Kausfiles posting, he analyzes a Maureen Down column (which recommended "nail[ing Judy Miller] to a chair", figuratively, of course) and editor Bill Keller's e-mail to NYT staff. He dubs such responses "incoherent." (Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand deems Keller's memo "impressively honest and appropriately self-critical." Read 'em both and decide for yourself who's more on target. To my mind, it's Kaus.)

    It's hard not to be on Judy's side here, because she has the right enemies. Many, if not all, of the sins she's ostensibly being pilloried for did not affect what actually appeared in the Times (unlike the work of, say, Kristof).

  • And today's NYT has an editorial today supporting guess what?

    There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. … The best solution is to increase the federal gasoline tax, in order to keep the price of gas near its post-Katrina highs of $3-plus a gallon.

    Did the NYT ever see a problem to which a tax increase was not the answer?

    Now, non-silly people have also made the argument for increasing gasoline taxes. But claiming it would decrease terrorism depends greatly on the likelihood of a very Rube Goldberg-style chain of events hinging on the behavior of Saudi Arabia in response; see Arnold Kling in Tech Central Station for reasons to be dubious at best.

    Even a fuel consumption tax would not reduce world demand for oil by as much as it would reduce our own consumption of fuel products. That is because as the price of oil declines, demand will increase in other countries.

    A similar point can be made with respect to the tax increase's effect on global warming. (Even if you buy into the dubious premise that incremental changes in gasoline consumption will significantly affect global temperature changes.)

    But to the editorial writers at the Times, it's simply taken for granted that shoveling more money into the government maw will have beneficial effects.

  • This isn't particularly recent, but (hey) it's new to me: a straightforward tribute from Joe Bob Briggs about Bob Hope. In keeping with today's theme: it should have been in the NYT, but wasn't.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:18 AM EDT
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A History of Violence

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Movie weekend concludes with a solo trip to the theater to see this impressive flick. Ed Harris and William Hurt contribute their superior acting chops; Hurt in particular delivers an over-the-top performance that gets pretty funny. And Maria Bello delivers her usual hot mama bit. Viggo Mortenson, the protagonist, kind of watches it all go by without a lot of expression change.

The title has an interesting double meaning. One refers the supposition that the hero has had a violent past; the other lies is the more obscure use of "history" as an exploration of related phenomena: we see violence generated by many different situations and with many rationales.

On the other hand, it's pretty easy to watch it on the straightforward thriller level.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:37 AM EDT
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Saw

[Amazon Link] [2.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

I saw Saw. Did you see Saw? So I saw Saw, sue me. Sigh. What can I say about Saw?

Well, a couple things: Cary Elwes looks worse in this movie alive than he did while being dead in The Princess Bride. The girl who played the ditzy receptionist in Becker (Shawnee Smith, I looked it up) plays a more serious part here; gosh, she can do more than play ditzy.

And, yes, it's all moody and icky and creepy. But I had a hard time buying the premise that an evil mastermind can really plot things out quite so meticulously. And when his hideous motivation is finally revealed, it's kind of hard to buy that too.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:59 AM EDT
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Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Movie weekend continues. Pun Daughter and I went to see this in the theater; I may have been the oldest person there. I'm pretty sure the average age was below 13.

But it was great fun. For a G-rated movie there are sure a lot of double entendres. But mostly just non-stop hilarity and sly cleverness.

It looks to me as if many of the human characters were designed with the late great Don Martin (MAD magazine illustrator) in mind; I haven't seen that mentioned elsewhere, though.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:35 AM EDT
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Today You Die

[Amazon Link] [2.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Movie weekend begins with Steven Seagal's latest direct-to-DVD movie. He plays a Robin Hood-style crook trying to go straight. Unfortunately, by sheerest coincidence, his first straight job turns out to be a heist of twenty million dollars in an armored car. Steven winds up in jail, and the money winds up missing.

The plot mainly exists to support a steady flow of bad guys for Steven to shoot, stab, slash, and blow up. (Some lessers may have been merely maimed, but it's hard to say for sure.) I kind of lost track of who they all were.

There is also some supernatural bushwa involved with Steven's main squeeze having some sort of Tarot-like visions. This doesn't turn out to be relevant to anything else in the plot, as near as I can tell.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:55 AM EDT
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RSS Feed Added

In response to the urgent requests of absolutely nobody, I've added an RSS 2.0 feed to the blog. It should be (um…) over there on the right side somewere. (UPDATE: ah, there it is.)

Much gratitude is due to Pete Freitag's web page "Howto Create an RSS 2.0 Feed" which (unlike many other sites) just describes what you need to do. So good on Pete.

Also the stylesheet for the feed was shamlessly ripped off from an article by Evagoras Charalambous "Improving an XML feed display through CSS and XSLT" Good on him too.


Last Modified 2005-10-20 7:25 PM EDT
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Moan

From the Morning News Beat:

The Wall Street Journal reports that "in a move that signals the increasing importance of animal-welfare issues to the food industry, Bon Appètit Management Co., which operates 200 cafeterias in colleges and corporate campuses, plans to buy eggs only from hens that have not been confined in cages.

Right. That is a marked improvement: cutting out the middleman and paying the hens directly. And (obviously) if they're not in cages, they'll be wanting some walking-around money.


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My Breathlessly Awaited Position on Harriet Miers

I've written our New Hampshire senators that I'd prefer they vote against the confirmation of Harriet Miers. Sorry to those folks on the other side; the nomination will almost certainly be withdrawn now that this blog's mighty clout has come into play.

This is (as far as I can recall) my first letter to my senators. I'm a little worried that this is the first step down the road that ends with semi-coherent letters to the editor and deranged rants at town meetings. Well, those folks have interesting lives, I suppose!

UPDATE: I oppose the Miers nomination. My bid for fame and fortune, well fame anyway, at The Truth Laid Bear.


Last Modified 2005-10-23 4:41 PM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/18/2005)

  • In a refreshing change from the usual, an assault on collegiate free speech from the right wing. Inside Higher Ed reports that a pro-evolution website developed by UC-Berkeley is the target of a lawsuit alleging a violation of the separation of church and state. Because?

    The site contains a links section that notes the many religious organizations that have stated that faith is not incompatible with evolution, and these links violate the First Amendment, according to the suit.

    Interesting tactic: pit two clauses from the First Amendment against each other.

  • Mark Gauvreau Judge examines a publication for college students recently emitted from the folks at Newsweek and finds it uniformly predictable and dull.
  • I shamelessly forgot to mention that a newspaper article by UNH's own Tom Olson entitled "Americans Prepare to Celebrate Genocidal Racist Slaver Day" made the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web last week.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:19 AM EDT
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Charles Rocket, RIP

Tim Cavanaugh writes, in Reason's Hit&Run blog, that Charles Rocket, member of the Saturday Night Live cast for part of one awful season (1980-81) recently committed suicide by cutting his own throat in a field near his home in Canterbury, CT. Yeesh!

Semi-guilty confession: I've been a Saturday Night Live fan since 1975. But at least I have some authority to claim: There were less funny SNL cast members than Rocket, although not many. Cavanaugh writes that Rocket was allegedly a "repackaging" of Bill Murray's attitude, but Bill Murray, unlike Rocket, always seemed to want to let us in on the joke.

He had a reasonably successful post-SNL career in TV and movies. This was unfortunately not enough to save him from that old dark night of the soul, which can nab even the ultimately hip.

Fearless prediction: there will be no "SNL: Best of Charles Rocket" DVD.


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I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

[Amazon Link] [3.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

This is putatively a noir thriller, set in gritty London. Clive Owen is an ex-gangster, back in town to find out what happened to his brother, who (it turns out) has committed suicide in response to humilating brutalization.

The most remarkable things about this movie: (a) the time it spends on tangents not directly relevant to the main plot thread; (b) the way it ends, with things not entirely resolved.

Apparently we're also supposed to buy a romantic relationship between the 60-year-old Charlotte Rampling and the 41-year-old Owen? Dubious.

But (all in all) not bad, if you're in the mood for a thriller without a lot of action.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:59 AM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/14/2005)

  • Drudge links to this article from the BBC which discusses the (apparently) unexpectedly low orbit attained by China's Shenzou VI spacecraft. It contains the howler:

    Shenzhou VI, which has two astronauts on board, is in a low enough orbit to be affected by the Earth's gravitational pull.

    … for which, I assure the BBC, the astronauts are very grateful. Consider the alternative.

  • David Limbaugh's column today opens:

    I hate it when I am sympathetic to arguments on both sides of an issue as it threatens my image as a benevolently close-minded, dogmatic, doctrinaire ideologue.

    Yeah, me too. Except you can elide the "benevolently" in my case.

    His column is (no surprise) on Miers. He makes a useful distinction between critizing the pick and advocating her Senate rejection. At least I think it's useful. As I type. Given my wimpiness open-mindedness on the issue, I'll probably change my mind for the next person to argue otherwise.

  • Speaking of which: this doesn't help at all. (Via Volokh.)
  • No geek will want to miss the slide show accompanying the CNET article about teeny-tiny artwork etched onto microchips. (And this is, not surprisingly, via the indispensible GeekPress.)

Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:58 AM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/13/2005)

  • Mark Steyn has the best description of the movie Serenity that I've seen:

    …it's what Star Wars might look like if George Lucas had less money and more to say.

    "Read the whole thing."TM

  • Michael Fumento debunks the living legend, Erin Brockovich, and laments the low standards of the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • I know literally thousands of loyal readers have been waiting for the answer to the question: will Pun Salad endorse Harriet Miers for Supreme Court Justice?. (And when I say "literally thousands of", I mean: "some non-negative integer value, almost certainly zero".)

    When I start entertaining such questions seriously, please someone lend me a nail I can use to puncture my overinflated ego.

    Go see the big legal brains (e.g., Bainbridge, Reynolds, Althouse, Hewitt, et. al.) discuss the merits; you can read 'em as well as I. I'm impressed with the mutual respect and general high level of the discussions between the bloggers. (Well, there's always an exception: Andrew Sullivan refers disdainfully to "little Hughie Hewitt". Classless.)

    I do sometimes wonder where the Official List of Objective Qualifications for Supreme Court Justices were written down. I'm pretty sure everyone is not working from the same up to date copy. Still, everyone's so certain Harriet is/isn't qualified, I'm pretty sure such a List must exist.

    Anyway, what I meant to say here is: John Fund has a real impressive article at Opinion Journal today about the "vetting" process for Harriet. He says the process was badly flawed; it's hard to disagree, if he has his facts right.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:20 AM EDT
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Kung Fu Hustle

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

An Amazon reviewer does a fine job of putting this movie in a nutshell: Looney Tunes meets Kill Bill. It's a good deal of fun to watch. The writer/director/star, Stephen Chow, obviously loves movies; there are a number of quick homages in scenes and dialog.

Overall, it's a welcome relief from Hollywood's cookie cutter factory. I can almost guarantee that you've never seen a movie anything like this.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:59 AM EDT
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Point Blank

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

This is a weird little movie, based on The Hunter, the first novel in the "Parker" series by Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark). Lee Marvin plays a renamed protagonist, Walker, who's been betrayed and shot by (respectively) his unfaithful wife and his unfaithful partner in crime after a successful heist.

This is an early John Boorman movie, and it has a lot of arty photography and a nightmarish feel. Dialog is (seems to me) intentionally unrealistic. And the plot is ludicrous. But it's a lot of fun to watch.

It's also interesting to compare this with a later movie version of the same novel, Payback with Mel Gibson. Mel's character is also renamed for some reason as Porter. Porter kills a pile of people on his way to retrieving his just deserts. Walker, on the other hand, kills nobody (something a lot of reviewers miss, I've noticed); people keep winding up dead, though. Porter winds up with his money and the girl; Walker winds up with nobody, and it's not clear whether he gets the money or not.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:56 AM EDT
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Star Trek: Nemesis

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Another testimony to my inability to resist buying movie number ten when I've bought one through nine. You know those old cartoons that would turn a character's head into a lollipop (helpfully labelled "Sucker") when he was gulled? I'm sure that's how Paramount looks at folks like me.

But, like Star Trek V, it's not that bad. It's just that there's a lot of bad stuff in it. There's a pointless-action driving scene, batting barbarians on a desert planet; was this just to satisfy some moron who said "we need some action at this point in the movie"? Or to have something to put in the video game? Who knows?

Equally superfluous is a loooong one-on-one fight between Riker and a baddie who's transported himself onto the Enterprise. Instead of being drawn into the movie, I'm wondering whether Frakes demanded this be inserted as a condition of his contract.

Extra disk has a lot of, well, extra stuff. A number of deleted scenes made me wish they'd been left in and some other stuff cut out.

This looks like it was the last roundup for the Next-Generation crew. That's a darn shame.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:56 AM EDT
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Bang On

Pretty sure you don't care, but I've been looking for someone to say exactly the way I feel about things. Jeff Goldstein does it here.


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URLs du Jour (10/7/2005)

America today needs true presidential leadership to guide the cowering masses. It's time for General Zod! More background at www.generalzod.net.


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University Folly Update

The folks at Inside Higher Ed report that the professor responsible for the Native-American-only sections of a many-sectioned freshman English course at Arizona State has been told "you can't do that" by ASU administrators.

They link to said professor's ASU web page (which has had the notice of racial segregation removed). The professor is truly a child of the 60's.

UPDATE: You might want to check out FIRE's reaction, in which they use the Internet Wayback Machine to check on how the statements of ASU admins match up with reality. The admins wind up reality-challenged.


Last Modified 2005-10-07 3:07 PM EDT
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URLs du University Follies

A collection of University related antics.

  • The heroes at FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) publicize the existence of racially-restricted classes at Arizona State. These are called the (I am not making this up) "Rainbow Sections" of their English Comp classes for freshmen, and are open to Native Americans only.

    What sort of self-respecting student of any hue would want to be in a course taught by such clowns? (Via Joanne Jacobs)

  • Or for that matter, who would want to subject themselves to the education program at Washington State University? The travails of one Ed Swan are described here.

    A national civil liberties group is defending a Washington State University undergraduate because the College of Education threatened to terminate him from the education program this fall after he expressed conservative religious and political views in class last school year.

    The group in question is FIRE again; their article is here.

  • I'm not exactly prompt with this one, but Evan Coyne Maloney has been all over the furor at Bucknell caused by an e-mail ad for an event sponsored by the university's conservative group:

    Where were you during the months following September 11? Major John Krenson was hunting terrorists.

    Administration (apparently) hit the roof over the "hunting terrorists" bit and called the responsible parties in on the carpet. Worse, they then tried to obfuscate their role in this bit of free-speech chillin'. Read all about it here.

  • Fellow denizens of the bottom rungs of university employment are often puzzled by the bizarre behavior and gross incompetence of higher-ups. It's kind of like watching Animal Planet with the sound off, so you can't hear the helpful British narrator explain what's going on. It will perhaps help to read an essay at the "Inside Higher Ed" website entitled "The Peter Principle in Academe" by Margaret Gutman Klosko, explaining where these people come from, why they act the way they do, and their inevitable destiny.
  • But, if you're interested in that, you should also read Arnold Kling's recent article at Tech Central Station on "'Economic Man' vs. 'Status Man'". Thesis: deep-thinking people like to look down their noses at folks with economic ("money-grubbing") motives. What deep thinkers leave unexamined are the non-economic motives to behavior: they can be, and often are, worse, as in status-seeking. The effects are magnified in Academia.

    Professors are fond of speaking of the higher motives of academic life, such as the pursuit of knowledge and truth. Accordingly, they would reject economic approaches such as tuition vouchers or giving credit on the basis of test results rather than institutional status. In reality, academic resistance to such ideas is driven by the basest of motives -- the drive for status. The status-serving myth is that colleges and universities are more "pure" to the extent that they operate on a basis other than economic motivation. However, I believe that the opposite is the case: economic motivation would represent a step up from status-seeking.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:21 AM EDT
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Redundancy at Achenblog!

Joel Achenbach's blog at the Washington Post is an occasional read. He's smart and funny. But this entry contains an egregious blunder, referring to a recent column by George Will (referenced below):

You have to love Will: No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier, and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic.

I thought that was extremely clever wordplay … for about a minute, then realized there was less there than met the eye. Precisely half as much, in fact.

Suppose we have a graph expressing multisyllabosity versus gutsiness. (Or should that be "multisyllabaciousness"? Never mind.) We'll arbitrarily rate both quantities on a zero-to-twenty scale, because 20 is the first number I thought of:

[Will One]

Let's, again arbitrarily, give George a score of 10 on both quantities:

[Will Two]

We could put other columnists on there, but that would be invidious.

That allows us to divide Punditdom into four regions, which we will pretentiously label with roman numerals:

[Will Three]

So in region I are the pundits who are more multi-syllabic but less gutsy than Will; inhabitants of region II are more multi-syllabic and more gutsy; region III holds the less-gutsy short-worded wimps, and region IV contains monosyllabic gutsier-than-George knuckle-draggers.

Now when Joel says

No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier …

that's the same as saying there's no pundit in region II of the graph. And when he says:

… and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic.

that's, well, also saying there's nobody in region II. Hence, redundant, and unworthy of a professional writer.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:23 AM EDT
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URLs du Harriet

It's seemingly all Harriet, all the time, out there in Blogville.

  • Harriet has made George F. Will so mad, he may have spilt tea on his favorite necktie. Anyway, if you want to similarly hit the ceiling, check out his latest column. No excerpts here, it's a closely reasoned argument and you should just go Read The Whole Thing.
  • But then go read "Will's Idiocy" on the American Spectator blog. Dude, can't we just all get along?
  • On a lighter note, Iowahawk has (no doubt surreptitiously) obtained Harriet's job application. You won't know whether to laugh or cry! Well, you'll probably laugh.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:26 AM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/3/2005)

  • La Shawn Barber was asked to "respond" to Bill Bennett's remarks on hypothetical racially-selective abortion's effect on crime rates, and she's all over it. (Amusingly, her previous post claimed she was getting lazy about blogging. She got over that pretty darn quick.) Full of good links that will help you get up to speed on the issue, if you're not.
  • Why is government getting so big? Nathan Smith has the answer at Tech Central Station: it's clever libertarians.
  • At Reason, Tim Cavanaugh comments upon the trailer for the upcoming movie V for Vendetta. Nothing earth-shattering here, save for this description of Queen Amidala I found extremely funny:

    Portman, a thespian I wouldn't believe if she were reading the line "Your name is Tim Cavanaugh," looks as unpersuasive as ever, …

    I love that; I hope I remember to steal adapt it to my own use at some later date.

  • And Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has a blog! How about that? First article: "OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M THE NOMINEE!!!"

    Hm, waaaaait a minute …


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:27 AM EDT
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You're Not Paying Attention, Leonard

Howard Kurtz reports on the Washington Post's in-house "critiques". It's very inside-baseball stuff, so most normal people would probably be indifferent. But it's illuminatory as to the attitudes driving an allegedly influential major newspaper. What really caught my eye, was this quote from Marie Arana, editor of the "Book World" section:

The elephant in the newsroom is our narrowness. Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions. . . . We're not very subtle about it at this paper: If you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat. I've been in communal gatherings in The Post, watching election returns, and have been flabbergasted to see my colleagues cheer unabashedly for the Democrats.

No real surprise there, I suppose, other than Marie's straightforward honesty. I'm far less flabbergasted than she. However, the response by Executive Editor Leonard Downie is, well, …

Downie says he is concerned if some staffers are openly displaying political preferences but that Arana's comments were valuable and "made clear that we do have a diverse staff when it comes to ideological backgrounds."

What? No, Leonard, that's exactly the opposite of what she said. Are these the reading skills you're bringing to the job of freakin' Executive Editor?


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Night Moves

[Amazon Link] [4.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

I'm a fan of the private eye and film noir genres, and this is kind of both, and just a fine movie overall. Gene Hackman gives an understated and subtle performance as Harry, an ex-football player turned private investigator. His dialog is classic wise-cracking PI, and things start out as a straightforward detective story. But this movie tries to show that his profession is built on corrupt and shaky foundations (a little heavy-handedly).

Also dancing on the fine line between clever and annoying is the interplay between the movie's title and Harry's reference to "knight moves" in the chess game he's analyzing. The player he obviously identifies with had a win if only he'd seen the correct knight moves. Observes Harry: "He played something else and he lost. He must have regretted it every day of his life. I know I would have." And, sure enough, Harry misses his correct moves too.

This movie was made in 1975, and displays that era's more casual attitude towards showing boobies.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:57 AM EDT
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xXx: State of the Union

[Amazon Link] [0.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

Whoa. This movie is impressively bad. Boring, I fell asleep a couple times. A complete waste of time. It's like an action-thriller parody where they forgot to put in any humor whatsoever. There are a couple good actors here, but they deliver their lines as if they were concentrating on calculating how many dollars per spoken word they were getting paid. Special effects by Industrial Light and Magic, but they must have contracted with their bargain-basement department specializing in cartoonish-looking shots.

And I actually kind of liked xXx, the previous movie in the series. But this movie is obviously aimed at coldly extracting money from the pockets of idiots who mindlessly see action movie sequels. Uh, like me.

Ebert gives this two and a half stars, which further cements my opinion of him as nearly totally worthless.

Avoid at all costs.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:56 AM EDT
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School Days

[Amazon Link]

The indefatigable Spenser returns once again, and this indefatigable fanboy lines up to read about it once again. In this series entry, our hero is hired by a no-nonsense older woman to clear her grandson of a mass shooting at a snooty suburban private school. The only problem is that the kid seems undeniably guilty. So Spenser concentrates on trying to figure out what really happened, which nobody really wants him to do.

If you follow the series, this one is notable by the minimal presence of Susan Silverman, who's out of town for nearly the entire book. And Hawk is entirely absent. Lacking these two usual conversational foils, Spenser starts talking to Pearl, Susan's dog, quite a bit. Also himself. I appreciated this, because as much as I love Hawk and Susan, the conversations between them and Spenser have long since gone utterly predictable.

In a disturbing development, however, Spenser wears a Pittsburgh Pirates ballcap at the beginning of chapter 22. What's up with that?


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:56 AM EDT
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URLs du Jour (10/1/2005)

  • Your Google Search du Jour is insinuendo; try to guess the number of hits before you click. Inspired by this post from the Man Without Qualities, dissecting a Times Select column by "Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman."
  • Protein Wisdon provides all you need to know with respect to Bill Bennett and the manufactured controversy over his radio show comments about hypothetical selective abortion and the crime rate. Most interesting is the claim that Bennett should have known better than to use a formulation that could be yanked out of context and kerfufflized. Saith Mr. Wisdom: "such an argument effectively gives the interpreter power over the grounds of interpretation and relativizes language." And of course, he's right. But for the folks who engage in that sort of thing, that's exactly what they want.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:28 AM EDT
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Serenity

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

One of the things I did with the Blockbuster online rental program is to rent the DVDs of the TV series Firefly. Both Mrs. Salad and I were extremely impressed and eagerly awaited this movie.

I liked the movie, but didn't absolutely love it. The things I liked were the same things I liked about the series: witty dialog, interesting characters, twisty and quick plotting. But what I didn't like is spoiler-laden, and will, I hope, be hidden below in most browsers. Highlight with your mouse to reveal.

I didn't like: (a) the arbitrary and pointless deaths of two characters from the series, Book and Wash; (b) the deus ex machina of turning River into a (literally) unbelievable indestructible killing machine; (c) at the end, our hero "wins" by the convenient expedient of the primary bad guy essentially giving up, for reasons that don't make a lot of sense.

But overall: recommended.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:30 AM EDT
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