Mike Beversluis

Monday, June 27, 2005

What would Walkin do (wwwd)?

How do I put this... Philadelphia sucks. Alot. PennDOT does too.

Remarkably, together PennDOT and Philadelphia can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch through a garden hose. Yes, I know, that's pretty impressive, but that's what happens when you dedicate yourself to your craft. Philly, I salute you.

Happily I did not have to spend time there, but rather I was only driving by. I went to a wedding in Bethlehem (congrats to Mary and John) and I kept thinking, this is just like The Deerhunter. Fortunately, the backroom Russian roulette was optional.

Also, it's been fairly warm and humid here, which leads to two observations - it's actually not that bad, it's just like permanently getting out of the shower. 2) Ladies, leave a little more to the imagination. Actually, unless you lose some weight, most of you can leave a lot more to the imagination. Men, you too. Goddam -> NO shorts unless you are playing a sport. Nor sandals. Nor capri pants.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ha ha lexicon

In the email this morning:

Office Speak

TESTICULATING - Waving your arms around and talking Bollocks.

BLAMESTORMING - Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER - A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

ASSMOSIS - The process by which people seem to absorb success and advancement by sucking up to the boss rather than working hard.

SALMON DAY - The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die.

CUBE FARM - An office filled with cubicles.

PRAIRIE DOGGING - When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see that's going on.
(This also applies to applause from a promotion because there may be cake.)

MOUSE POTATO - The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

SITCOMs - Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids or start a "home business".

STRESS PUPPY - A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

XEROX SUBSIDY - Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE - The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

ADMINISPHERE - The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the "adminisphere" are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve. This is often affiliated with the dreaded "administrivia" needless paperwork and processes.

404 - Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found," meaning that the requested document could not be located.

OHNOSECOND - That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake (e.g.you've hit 'reply all')

WOOFies - Well Off Older Folk.

CROP DUSTING - Surreptitiously farting while passing through a CUBE FARM, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust; leads to PRAIRIE DOGGING.

(hat tip - Neil)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Growing up in the world

As you get older, or at least as I do, Mr. Shitmagnet becomes Dr. Shitmagnet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Joe Biden

So, I just finished reading Richard Ben Cramer's (who kinda comes off like you would expect for someone who drops their full name on you at the drop of a hat) What it Takes, which is a fairly good, Right Stuff-style recounting of the 1988 presidential primary races, when up pops Joe Biden's name as he throws his name into the ring. Instapundit got premptively huffy lest people feel good while recounting Biden's plagiarism issues (large portions of his stump speeches quoted and, from what Cramer writes, mimiced the pauses, accents, cadence and all of some Brit's earlier speechs, as well as a few lines from one or another of the dead Kennedys), and claims that they were mainly a dirty trick by the Dukakis campaign with an assist to the press.

Well, first off, this wasn't the only thing Biden got called on - I think he exagerated his academic credentials and there turned out to be some ethics problems at college. Second, Reynold's defence of Biden largely falls into the everyone's doing it camp, which may be true, but since Biden bowed out on his own, how helpful is that? Clearly Biden agreed with his critics, or with the criticism and drop in support that he thought these allegations would lead to, and so ended his pursuit. I kinda wonder if Nixon could have played his cards in a more Clintonesque manner and held onto office just by refusing to step aside. Not that it would have been right.

I mean, sure filing off the serial numbers on a stump speech maybe wide spread and to suggest that you're horrified to find out that your opponent is doing so is hypocritical, but how hard is it to drop the very brief fig leaf of a citation? Hell, if you quoting from someone your audience likes, that should just add weight. By the way, I'm copying this from a speech Hitler gave in 1937, so you guys are messed up.

I guess the key is to cite it, but to step up to it and own it. Instead, Biden came off like Vanillia Ice sampling Queen, and pretending that he could have gotten out of it by going "Ding ding ding ding ding da a ding," is unrealistic. Actually, Biden had literally done this, that would have been hillarious and bizaar. He knew he was guilty and he quit.

Besides, the Dukakis campaign's real evil deed wasn't in sending a tape of original speech to some newspaper, which c'mon, is hardly dirty, but in letting the supposition float for several weeks that it had been Gephardt who had done so and letting him take the hit for the "dirty trick." As much as the revelation hurt Biden, the blowback also hurt Gephardt and pretty much sank his chances. If you really want complicity from the press, the reporter who published the original story knew exactly where the tape had come from, but was perfectly happy to let Gephardt twist in the wind. Nice.

(btw, Gephard comes across like a boringer Al Gore - which seems like it should win a charisma limbo contest somewhere.)(my place?)

Anyway, Glenn then points out that there are several real reasons to knock Biden down, but it seems to me that these might be correlated to his general smarminess and lack of integrity. Besides, isn't the fact that he ran in freakin' 1988 already enough to give you pause? I suppose his health is up to Senatorial standards, but he has been through a fair amount medically. Assuming the presidency would be rather FDR. Besides, then Dole would feel compelled to come back and run against him (eigth time's the charm, I guess). Then what, Norm MacDonald has to come back to do Bob Dole impressions on SNL?

Besides the 2nd, Biden also ran heard on the Bork showdown, which at least marked the beginning of the current litmus test fights over the judiciary. That should count for something, by which I mean, it should count for something against him.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Perverse pleasures

I like to keep a copy of How to Read a Book on my bookshelf as a sort of literary Catch-22. Which, I guess is a technical term for, uh, Catch-22.

I like genially describing books and movies to the parents of recent newborn infants. You don't have to hammer away with a dissertation on The Brothers Karamazof, but rather sneak the stilletto in here and there, and when you see that far away look in their eyes, pause to enjoy the evanescent moment and move back to, you know, diaper changing stories. You shouldn't salt the earth, just dwell long enough to waft the fragrant, spicy grown-up life aromas in their direction (Fine line - watch out for nervous breakdown/crying - think of it as reeling a fish into a boat).

Enter into political and religous discussions with people and leave the impression that you agree with them, regardless of what you actually think. They key is to not say anything directly in response to their questions - most people won't directly challenge you, but are rather trying to suss you out with little code phrases and hand signals. Just be cool but non-commital and enjoy the white lie of non-admission. Try to let their assumption of your agreement hang in the air undisturbed, like a smoke ring rising into the night. This is actually less perverse than it sounds, although it is about as Machiavellian it sounds: Once convinced of your agreement, they greatly relax and will enjoy themselves in front of you, their brother in arms. The actual upside to this is that it allows you to move onto common ground, where you can genuinely converse albeit under a false flag.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

The narrative continues

I'm having the morning pow-wow slash shared needle heroin injection ceremony with the chief, feet up on the desk, shanks akimbo, when he turns to me and says, "Hey, you polished your shoes, like, like... a person!"

The moral = Set their expectations low enough, and you too can win.

High five for the polished shoes!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Paul Graham's essays

A few months ago, I linked to Paul Graham's essay on how to start a startup; he has a lot of other interesting articles on his website.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Batman

So, the golden age of superhero movies continues with Batman Begin, which is decent. I think my brother in law Eric, he of the original packaging AT-AT collection, etc, might take my less than orgasmic response personally, but he'll get over it - somehow. By far this is the most serious Batman film yet, but how hard is that when Joel Schumacher directed most of the others into Christopher Guest camp territory. Burton did okay with the first, but it still had an air of the ridiculous to it. The good news is that if someone screws up your favorite franchise, you can just start over and retell it until you get it right. Which, I guess, is important for any future Alien movies/Star Wars/Superman/Bond. Note, the last Bond movie actually began with a feint towards this realism, something like what the Bourne movies played out like, but then decended into crap. Here's hoping for a renaissance there as well.

I'm trying to think, but it strikes me that X-Men was a serious first step in this movie trend. Batman had pretty much imploded by then, and Singer's rather dark direction and seriousness set the course for the newer breed of adaptations which followed. Sure much earlier Superman: The Movie started in the same vein, but then swept back under a goofball riptide. But man, the first half of that movie is hard to beat.

So, just to meander back onto the subject at hand: Batman Begin's pluses: excellent, excellent casting - really it doesn't get much better than Rutger Hauer, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Nieson - no false steps there. Also, unlike the Hulk, and to a lesser extent, Spider Man, the CG special effects were mostly restrained and semi realistic. The overall design is good - I guess this was the same guy who did Bladerunner, and some of the city sceens definately have that vibe.

The minuses: Choppy action sequence editing - this is really a pet pieve of mine - you can't see what's going on because the camera is too tight and the cuts come too quickly. This makes it look like they're hinding substandard choreography. Somehow, just the right balance can be hard to strike - my standards would be something like, of all things, John Cusack's pen fight in Grosse Pointe Blank, or the fights in the Bourne movies - there's something viceral in these fights that's very engrossing. But worse than a virtuouso but fake overdoing is the MTV editing version of swirling cameras which primarily serve to cover up a poor sequence.

Plus, these films are highly allegorical. Given that they are American, the superhero's struggle to assume the identity associated with his powers is meant to mirror our national identity and role on the world stage. Consequently, I don't particularly like the Batman view of the population of Gotham here - they're very passive, at the mercy of their economic and costumed overlords. Only extraordinary people are able to change their environment or control their own destiny, while everyone else is along for the ride.

3, the microwave generator makes perfect sense as a weapon, since it would fry everyone around it because we are largely made out of water too. Neglecting this is absolutely retarded and could easily have been written better. It's not just stupid, it's pointlessly stupid.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

VHS vs Beta

VHS > Beta, so there (h/t Ghost of a Flea).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Blogging versus writing

I've been reading alot the last few days, which reminded me of something I think is true - first, though, thumbs down to Bangkok 8, which starts off promising in a Chow Yun Fat as Phillip Marlow way, but rapidly goes down the drain and ends up awful - medium thumbs up to Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full, which felt like Ernest Hemingway and Ted Turner's love child accidentally wandering into a Ann Rand novel - but anyway, it seems like writing is one of those things that many people think, in a private corner of their hearts, that they could do professionally if only they devoted themselves to it. I suspect this is true in the way that many men think they could be race car drivers given half a chance (untrue).

Likewise, most people are not gifted writers (me too), but it's funny, this delusion only lends itself to certain tjobs. I doubt there are as many people walking around, thinking they run in the NBA or proving the Reimann hypothesis.

What else - cooking maybe? Woodworking? Things that have a large technical aspect to them, which can seemingly be mastered through simple practice, as opposed to tasks which are creative or intuitive?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Telling Details



Know your market, which I guess is true in blogging too.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mayor pushes Kyoto accord?

Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols is acting like an idiot, which to his credit, plays well in Seattle.

See also, various town councils censoring the Iraq war, etc.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Electric powerglide revolution

Here is an interesting article on the impact high-power semiconductor switches are going to have on our power consumption and future electromechanical devices.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lightning doesn't strike the same place twice

but it feels the same each time. Full disclosure: I haven't been personally struck, but today makes twice that I've been about 15' feet away from a lightning strike, which is actually kinda fun. Strike one was high and to the outside, just as I was driving underneath a traffic light. Just as the wire was about to pass out of view, I saw the white bolt sizzling sideways, like they're want to do. For the very brief instant before the concussion hits, you see it drifts sidesway, in a sidewinding motion, leaving an evanescent trail behind it. Then the boom hits, and boy, that's how bass should feel.

Today, pretty much the same thing happened as I drove down 270 towards home. I shut down the lasers and APD's when the lights started blinking in the lab. Once again, I was just heading underneath an overpass, and there was strike two. Pretty much the same deal.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Your choices are: (a) stupid, (b) bad, or (c) stupid & bad, but (d) ignorant, is simply not true.

I spent 2 hours yesterday fulfilling my IT security training requirements, which means I know better than to post this from here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

weird show

IFC's Dinner for Five is a talk show done over diner, and so in between the bon mots, you get to hear silverware clinking. Tonight John Heder, Tony Hawk, Seth MacFarlane, and some old skater dude (the director of the Z-boys documentary that was the basis of the current fictionalized film) are taking turns talking about themselves and their work.

Interesting factoids: Heder and his friends all got their start making a student film at BYU (Mormons, and it all makes sense now.), and he ad-libed the entire dance scene in Napoleon Dynamite, which Tony Hawk got five copies of for Christmas (GOSH). Besides that, MacFaralane used to work on Dexter's Lab and Johnny Bravo and others, which is weird given his sense of humor. Also, he started Family Guy with one of the writers for King of the Hill, which slightly undercuts my previous comparison of him to Mike Judge, and is now talking about how he was booked on the first flight that hit the World Trade center on 9/11, but missed it because he was an alcoholic.

Weird.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Thinking about sleeping

You can sleep when you're dead, which is why you should become an early riser [via American Digest].