Mike Beversluis

Thursday, November 30, 2006

RollerToaster Wheee!


Fortunately I don't already own a toaster, so my ROLLERtoaster won't be redundant.

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Wait - Are you're telling me that square pegs go into square holes?


Man, my whole square-peg/round hole paradigm has collapsed! How to drill square holes.

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Sleep factoids

40 facts about sleep.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happiness

Dan Gilbert talks about happiness. Which I clumsily reviewed here.

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Like a Rock

Ah, the tables have turned and now the hunter is the hunted! Asteroid's Revenge.

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Get Your Cranky Old Guy On

Poorly designed everything. (Stupid designers!)

And what's the deal with airlines? Air travel is horrible! Etc.

Actually, CD's could use a version 2.0, even if most people would say that's an MP3.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fake cover, real cover

It came to my mind that using YouTube I could have done a small series of posts on covers of famous american songs made by italian singers. Some time ago (~ 20 years) an artist called Adriano Celentano made an LP (at that time there were not yet CDs) of covers. I discovered today that the only one song in that LP I can find on YouTube is the only one of them which is probably not a cover. I could not resist the temptation to post the link anyway, because A. C. is able to mix a good singing performance with a good amount of kitsch-iness. At the beginning there is a dancer that comments on her appearance in the show ... and the whole thing won't be necessarily liked by all.

Not a cover?

In order to give legitimacy to this attempt, here you are a real cover: the italian title is "Preghero'" ("I shall pray") and it is a cover of "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King, as I found out secondhandsongs.com. The singer is still Adriano Celentano, 30 years younger





And I found one more ...

Time as a spatial construct


It would seem that airports are pretty busy the day before Thanksgiving.

Lysergic acid diethylamide

Review: The Auto LSD button. Toyota claims this stands for "Limited Slip Differential" which wouldn't have ever made it into a Beatles song.

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My Lifetime of Bad Posture Is Validated

Aching Back? Sitting up straight could be the culprit... And no, like all scientists, I am not interested in any evidence to the contrary.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flowcharts for Everyone and Everything

Men's Dressing-Yourself Guide.

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Fax Pass

Wikipedia's list of World-Wide Faux Pas seems to have been recently rototilled. I suppose you can either take them under advisement, or perhaps more like a very extensive to-do list, after which point you can make a movie.

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I am not Bershon

The I'm So Bershon [1] Pool, in which, weirdly, people wished they looked Bershon even when they really don't. What's up with that?

[1] "The spirit of bershon is pretty much how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture, and you could not possibly summon one more ounce of disgust, but you’re also way too cool to really even DEAL with it, so you just make this face like you smelled something bad and sort of roll your eyes and seethe in a put-out manner.

Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills, 90210 is the patron saint of bershon, as her face, like most other teenagers’, was permanently frozen in this expression."

Things That Don't Make Sense

13 things that do not make sense: A list of current scientific problems.

There is a tendency to look at our forebears with a condescension - how could they not realize this or that? As if all of the easy problem have been solved, and that nothing will change or nothing new be discovered 200 years from now.

Anyway, I once took a class in coherence theory from Emil Wolf, and one of the interesting things he showed was that depending on the coherence state of the light, the measured spectrum of a source can change with propagation through space.

I am not an astrophysicist (duh), but a lot of the above mentioned problems in cosmology have seem to caused by the apparent size and motion of the universe. I believe that these measurements are made using Doppler-shift measurements of atomic emission lines from distant stars and galaxies, and that this is the only effect taken into consideration. However, if other effects are present, like spectral shifts due to coherence-effects, the derived velocities could be wrong. Which might explain why the universe seems to be doing things it shouldn't.

I don't know if this is true or not, but it seems at least as reasonable as "dark matter" or "inflation", both of which sound like ad-hoc curve-fitting to me. Our own version of epi-cycles and ether as it were. Anyway, two-hundred years hence, don't expect the scientific dogma to be the same as it is now, and don't think everything has been figured out.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Movie Scripts at Your Finger Tips

Movie Scripts. For instance, The Night of the Hunter.

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The Remains of the Day

Toasted Turkey Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions.

Note to self: Don't Live in a Flood Plain If It Can Be Helped

A map of the ancient courses of the Mississippi river near Cape Girardeau, MO. [via Pruned]. Growing up, the Snoqualmie River would flood every five years or so, which isn't exactly related to the above picture, but anyway, there was always a news cast with someone surveying the flooded wreck of their home and proclaiming that they would rebuild. Which is a common response, but still frustrating.

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Time to Release My Obnoxious Amnesia Gas

The Blowfish List: A List of Blowfish Defenses (To use when a critic gives you a negative criticism). For example, here are some that I have actually used:

43. Peanuts
Make the wah-wah sound that Charlie Brown's teachers make when they talk.

48. Taxi Driver
Re-enact DeNiro's famous mirror scene until the critic backs down in fear.

73. Pardon
Simply state, "I'm going to pretend you didn't say that."

88. Identification
Respond sarcastically, "What are you, some sort of critic?"


Note, the best defense is a good offense.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Fountain

I wanted to like Darren Aronofsky's latest movie The Fountain, but it's a cinematic doodle. It feels like an 2 hour-long dream-sequence from the Lord of the Rings, hosted by Moby, intermixed with 1492 and a more austere than usual chick-flick. And despite the spiritual pretension, it seems to come down to "If you're scared of dying, you'll see demons ripping your life away. But if you've made your peace, they're really angels, freeing you from the Earth." with a pantheistic flavor, e.g., the Inquisitor's freedom through death policy. (A loose end never tied up; Whatever happens to him?)

I suspect the major problem is that the film never really grounds itself in reality - for instance, in the way that all of the lose ends in the three time-periods aren't really resolved or connected at all - and so the whole thing comes off as hallucinatory instead of profound. So, if you want to see a magical-reality story about accepting death, albeit with elements of horror, I'd suggest Jacob's Ladder, the source of the above-quote, or in the less magical, more reality vein, Wit.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Anatomy of a Black Hole

Kneebone's connected to the event-horizon; Event-horizon is connected to the ?

Take a left, a sharp left, and another left, and I'll meet you on the corner

Malfunction Junction. Seriously, wtf?

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Women

Women: Know Your Limits.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I am such a voyeur and I am judgemental too

"Hi, I live in NY and have a lot of money. Here is how I spend it" (6x).

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How to make a film, part 5

Dirty Harry on Movie Themes, or a comparison between good and bad liberal films from a conservative perspective.

Norma Ray isn't a favorite of mine, but I agree with his perspective. I've been watching The Wire now for four seasons, and think it has been one of the best shows on television, and better than most movies too. If you watch the two behind-the-scenes specials, you will see show's producer David Simon speaking very strongly about his beliefs about the problems in America's inner cities and with the drug trade (which happen to fall on the leftist side of things). But because The Wire creates a world of fascinating human characters and monsters, it's quality doesn't rest on its political beliefs. And there is enough depth that even the shows overall judgements are open to questioning based on what happens. Well, the first three seasons anyway. The fourth has been about inner city schools, and has been the most preachy, least charismatic, least funny, and least profound. Too bad that they can't succeed when they are trying so hard. It's still okay though, and it looks like a place-holder penultimate season for next year.

Anyway, I'm watching Topper on TCM and it's great.

Test your musical skills

Or skillz, as the case may be, with this online musical skills tester. I was surprised at how, um, not badly I did. [via growabrain]

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USS Mariner Off-Season Analysis

The internet, and as it turns out baseball fandom, is full of nerds: Bill Bavasi's Off-Season Adventure.

OFFSEASON ADVENTURE

You are in an open offseason in your office in the headquarters of a successful west coast baseball team. It is dark and raining here. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
There is a suitcase here.
There is a neatly stacked set of travel documents here.

> examine documents

You have been booked on a ten PM redeye flight from Seattle to Naples, Florida. There is a long layover in Atlanta.

> Oh, no.

I don't understand that.

An staffer enters your office.
"Sir? I'm ready to drive you to Seatac. Oh, Lee says that the Cubs signed Aramis Ramirez."

> examine Aramis Ramirez signing

Aramis Ramirez signed for $75m over 5 years.

> what?

You must supply a direct object.

> are you kidding me?

I don't understand that.


Hilarious (to me) and true!

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Merry Thanksgiving!

Still no turducken. P.S., it ain't cool being no jive turkey so close to Thanksgiving. Yeah!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kitchen 3

The doodling never ends. Plus, it's a lot easier drawing them than building them, or for that matter, cleaning them. Man, I need a robot butler.

Finally, a practical use for SUVs

Touareg V10 TDI tows a 747. Note bene, they added nearly 8 tons of ballast for traction.

Also, just for fun, I looked up the mileage of a jet plane (~3.5 liters per 100 passenger kilometers according to the redoubtable internet). If you and three friends tool around in a car getting 20 mpg, then you are swigging about 3 liters per 100 passenger kilometers. I suspect this gets worse if you try to drive across the Pacific.

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Worldmapper

Speaking of maps, worldmapper.

Folding maps


Probably not as good as sliced bread, but these self-made popout maps are pretty good. Or you can just buy some. Or you can just have your robot butler drive you.

Bleu Cheese Candied Yams

The marshmellow & syrup versions seem too saccharine to me, so I am going to try this bleu cheese version of the yams. Normally I just cook them in a skillet with a little butter to begin with, but since pears and gorganzola work well together, I think this should too. Maybe yams and gorganzola would be something to try too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

[LMS] Powaqqatsi

Powaqqatsi, di Godfrey Reggio (USA 1988)

This movie is the second of the series that Godfrey Reggio made on the relationship between man, nature and technology; the titles of the movies are words in the Hopi language. This "Powaqqatsi" means "a way of life that consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life." (obviously I copied the translation from a website).

A brief description of what the movie is about: it is a collage of images and music (in the same style as Koyaanisqatsi on which I posted some time ago) that shows lifestyles and daily happenings in pre-industrial societies and grafts on this scense that shows the effect of the contact between advanced technology and societies different from the one that created the various advanced technologies.

I just dive into two comments.
It is easy to understand what is the dilemma that the movie points out, but at least for me it is difficult to take a position. The invasion of modern technology makes it so that traditional forms of knowledge are lost; on the other hand without moderm technology food (for example) would cost much more than it does: the Nobel Prize for peace in 1970 was awarded to Norman Borlaug because he contributed to create some new varieties of rice and wheat that helped feed many nations, among which India.

The second comment is that looking at villages set in beautiful landscapes I recalled something that i read time ago in a very nice geography book: the people that built the villages did not plan them with an aesthetic goal in mind, but nevertheless the result they achieved is aesthetically pleasing.

As a conclusion, my preferred shot is the one in which someone (a boy maybe) is leading a horse in deep waters. A fantasy of mine is that this guy needs to bring the horse in the water out of some practical necessity, but in doing so he experiences much joy.

Jeeves and W

Christopher Buckley envisions W a la Wodehouse in the recent issue of Cracked for AP-students. Although, I have a hard time seeing George as Bertie. He's more like an ancillary friend of Bertie's from the Drones club who played rugby and stole policemen's helmets in his youth. Anyway, aside from making black-short-wearing fascists the butt of many a plot, Wodehouse was pretty apolitical.

On the other hand, my folks lent me their copy of Yes, Prime Minister, which does have a distorted Wodehouse sensibility. Servants have become civil servants, and replace a plot with a marriage engagement with one about some bit of legislation, and somehow combine Jeeves and Aunt Agatha into one character.

Also, dating the English way, which like some English cuisine, sounds more like a dare than an invitation.

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Welcome to the DC exurbs

No idea where this originated.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ha ha dating

Dating can be a torturous path to tread, especially if you're looking for that mirror-image version of yourself, or if you're specifically avoiding that mirror-image version of yourself, or if you're calculating the nexus point of genetic potential will allow your ubermensch progeny to outnumber the stars, or if you, like all generals, are fighting the last war, etc, etc. Anyway, shared interests and backgrounds count for a lot, but there should be some leeway.

So, even though it's nominally set in SanFran, this bit on "eco-sexual dating troubles" reminded me of the similar passive-aggressive folks in Seattle. I'm in no position to cast stones, but really, allow me to cast some stones:

"I shopped at Rainbow; she shopped at Safeway" is how Monte Gores, a 33-year-old Berkeley stock-trader-turned-acupuncturist summed up his differences with a woman he once dated. "One night she told me she’d just eaten half a chocolate cake for dinner," he says. Not exactly a "mindful" way to eat. "If you’re thinking about a long-term relationship, that’s a red flag." They broke up within two months.

Sometimes couples actually agree on their lifestyle choices but find themselves in a game of green one-upmanship, with disastrous results. Claudia, for instance, wasn’t happy when her boyfriend bought her a kitchen composter so she could recycle leftovers. "I was miffed that he was trying to tell me what to do, and he was miffed that I wasn’t using it," she says. They, too, eventually parted ways. "It wasn’t just the compost," Claudia says, “but it raised some control issues that we couldn’t resolve."

Between the non-mindful eating and recycling-power struggle, it seems like they're stuck in Annie Hall. Anyway, Greens are the new Victorians, except that they are more uptight.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mad World

If you want, you can get all emo and watch the Mad World video straight up, or the Donnie Darko version. Either one is better than the original, which was way too up tempo.
(Plus, Head over Heels if you're so inclined.)
(My calc lab partner looked just like the character Gretchen. I knew her husband pretty well, and was best man at her wedding; a choice which probably worried her immensely. She went on to get an MBA @Harvard and now she's a Master of the Universe.)
(Killing Moon, which I think is actually a better choice than When Worlds Collide, parenthetically speaking, which apparently was the original choice and which then latter supplanted it in the Director's cut.)
(Glad I own both, Gosh!)

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Casino Royale

It's pretty good. It is to the Bond franchise what Batman Begins is to the Batman series - a goofy premise executed without the total camp of its predecessors. The violence is less cartoonish, and the dialog even has its erudite moments. Bond and Vespers sizing each other up was a humorous deconstruction of the whole series. On the other hand, it has its dumb moments too, like when they too broadly explain the "intricacies" of Bond's poker strategy. But it's a Bond movie, not Shakespeare. I liked Daniel Craig in Layer Cake and I liked him here. This review does a decent job at summing things up.

P.S., the theme sequence lacks naked women silhouettes, which was taking the rebranding movement a step too far.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Jet Powered Fire Extinguisher

One bottom-half of a Russian tank + 2 Mig21 jet engines + water = kinda awesome.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Stop Clapping

Bono of Contention:

IRISH supergroup U2, due to play in Adelaide next month, recently held a concert in Glasgow, Scotland.

Halfway through the concert, lead singer Bono stood in a spotlight on stage and asked the audience of 30,000 for complete silence.

Gradually the auditorium fell quiet.

Then Bono began slowly clapping.

The audience was spellbound. Was this the beginning of a song? Did he want everyone to clap with him?

He took the microphone and said: "Everytime I clap my hands a child dies in Africa."

The spell of silence was broken when a wag in the front row shouted: "Well, stop clapping."

My own U2 urban legend: Peter Brandt said that he went to sequential U2 shows in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., and that in both shows a fight seemed to break out in the front row at which point Bono intervened and broke them up.

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Movies

I haven't been to a movie theater in awhile, and I wondered if there were fewer movies that I would like than normal. I decided to write a list of movies I liked since 1996:

2006
?

2005

Serenity - Gina Torres is hot.
Walk the Line - Artful hagiography.
Thank You for Smoking - Best film of 2005.

2004

The Incredibles - Most cartoons have more wit than most real-life comedies. Or is that just my infantile sense of humor?
Harry Potter 3 - Watch as he turns into Macaulay Culkin.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Michel Gondry is a playful, awkward genius.
Kill Bill 2 - I feel guilty about this one.
Napoleon Dynamite - I am not using a catch-phrase here.
Layer Cake - My favorite of the super-hip, over-directed, nasty Brit-gangster films (e.g., Lock Stock, Sexy Beast, etc.).

2003

Return of the King - 2 best of the series. Frodo's a dick.
Kill Bill 1 - Still feeling guilty. I channel surfed past some show where Tarantino was backstage at a Fiona Apple concert; They deserve each other.
Lost in Translation - "I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses... taking pictures of your feet. "

2002

LOTR: The Two Towers - Not the best of the series.
Spiderman - Spiderman, Spiderman; Doing things a spider can....
City of God - Electric.
The Ring - Slept with the light on. (Did before too)
28 Days Later - Is man's fallen nature the subtext of zombie movies?
About Schmidt - As good as it gets.
Habla Con Ella - Kinda creepy.
The Bourne Identity - Proficient action movie; the villains are too cardboard though.

2001

Training Day - You're high on PCP! Also, I liked Fuqua's The Replacement Killers even if nobody else did.
Amelie - Cloying, but pretty.
Lord of the Rings - Saving you best for first.
Mulholland Drive - Lynch's nightmare, part 23.
Donnie Darko - Cult classic.
The Others - I see dead people.
The Royal Tennebaums - Attempt #3.
Spirited Away - I have to watch it again because I don't remember what happened.
Wit - Cancer sucks; John Donne is number two name dropped after Sylvia Plath.
Ocean's 11 - Enjoyable despite Brad Pitt.

2000

Memento - Beautiful but mean.
Gladiator - Weak ending due to an overly flamboyant villain.
Amorres Perros - To blame for over-saturated color scheme used in too many films recently.
Almost Famous - Sparks is a great song.
High Fidelity - I like this movie, but like the book and much of the angsty lit, the protagonist doesn't believe in anything except not wanting to be himself. Do you really think marriage is going to fix that?
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - What a great movie.
Meet the Parents - I have never been a theater with a full audience enjoying themselves more.
X-Men - Darker and less campy than the sequels.
Erin Brokovich - Activist film done right, but Soderberg peeked with Out of Sight.


1999

The Matrix - Mold-setting. Reeves perfectly cast as clueless pawn. They should have let him die in the end.
The Sixth Sense - I like Toni Collette. M Night is going to have to make a non-twist movie at some point. We should have a contest to predict when.
Toy Story 2
Being John Malkovich
The Straight Story - Literally, the straightest story Lynch will ever tell. Weird.
Iron Giant
Bowfinger
Ghost Dog - Jarmouch's most accessible (and hence best) film. Forrest Whitaker is great here.
Office Space - Classic. Anyone seen Idiocracy?
Fight Club - Get your inner-meat-head on.

1998

American History X - Norton's best film?
The Truman Show - Jim Carry = Jimmy Stewart.
The Big Lebowski - Like, that's just your opinion man.
Run Lola Run - Lattice of coincidence - see Repo Man for details.
Blade - Competent.
Rushmore - Bill Murray's best film.
Pi - Crazy!
The Wedding Singer - Sandler's least dickish, least retarded film.
Out of Sight - Great movie. Clooney was well cast as fuck-up.
Bulworth - Speaking Truth to Power! Nothing has changed!
Zero Effect - Bill Pullman at his best.
Dark City - Missed the boat; Keifer does his weird breathing scientist/doctor act.
Smoke Signals - Indian's have nerds too.
There's Something About Mary - Beans and franks.
Saving Private Ryan - It's a good thing I was shell shocked after the first fifteen minutes.

1997

L.A. Confidential - Raging bull.
The Fifth Element - Prince on crack is less hammy than Oldman.
Austin Powers - Why did they get rid of Hurley?
Jackie Brown - Firing on 6, maybe 7, cylinders.
Nothing to Lose - Now, I really feel guilty about this one.
The Game - David Fincher takes himself way too seriously.
Grosse Pointe Blank - My favorite Cusack movie.
Cop Land - Favorite Stallone movie. Being right is not a bullet-proof vest.
The Apostle - Hallelujah!
Ulee's Gold - Peter Fonda's brief renaissance.
As Good as it Gets - Jack Nicholson is too old to be hitting on 40 year old women.
Gattaca - Climatic 400 m freestyle finale!
Wag the Dog - Someday the dog is going to wag the tail.

1996

Trainspotting - More stylish, evil people from the UK.
Romeo+Juliet - The first half is great. The second half... kindof a downer.
Slingblade - Jarmouch is selling fries.
Bottle Rocket - Wes Anderson Attempt #1.
Waiting for Guffman - We'll position the snipers here and here.
101 Dalmations - See Hugh Laurie acting dumb and evil for a change.


SO, what am I missing?

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Things to read

From Clive Davis: Christopher Hitchen's on the very polite Americans in Borat's movie (I totally think he deserved that recent punch in the nose). Also, somewhat proving that you can't review a bad book without showing off, here's an essay on Dawking's The God Delusion. And for fans of Malapropisms here's an introduction to The Inscrutable Americans, which I am now curious to see how it turns out (Amazon) [via Orrin Judd].

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Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude was on TCM the other day, and it struck me as the film that Wes Anderson has been trying to make his whole career. Sam Mendes (American Beauty, etc) too. I never realized how derivative their work was. I like these sorts of movies, but I think they succeed in part by passing counterfeit currency; They tend to cast very charismatic actors into the role of a misfit and then flatter them further by surrounding them with overbearing caricatures. You get all of the moody introspection and none of the matted hair and trench coats (Not so much Rushmore).

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Quote

"I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me."

Dave Berry

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Videogame Portraits

Word to the wise - ixnay on the portraiture while playing Gears of War.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Micro-Loans

Cool Tool on Micro-loans:

This year the father of micro-finance and founder of the Grameen Bank won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in inventing and promoting micro-loans in the developing world. A micro-loan is as little as a few hundred dollars invested into a one-person business with minimal qualifications. That tiny borrowed amount can launch a vegetable stand, repair shop, or bicycle taxi -- a living in other words. As each micro-loan is repaid (and most are), the effects of that small goodness are amplified and leveraged by being loaned out and invested again and again. Micro-loans are the world's only perpetual motion machines.

I have a story that is not going to reflect well on me, but when I was a kid I was given donations in my name for Christmas to something similar to these micro-loan organizations and it made me feel bad. I felt bad because I wanted a toy or something cool and instead I got a certificate of donation in my name, and then I felt bad because I was so selfish. God loves a cheerful giver, and one out of two doesn't really cut it.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mike's Photo of the Day


I drove past a De Lorean on 495 today, but couldn't get a nice picture in traffic. So instead I present you with the classic statue of Romulus and Vulcan being raised by Beowulf.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Viral

The Amateur Gourmet: Chutzpah, Truffles & Alain Ducasse. [via Growabrain]

"I got promoted to an officer in my World of Warcraft guild"

Hehe: "Sorry I haven't posted in awhile."

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Friday, November 10, 2006

EZ Catch Chicken Harvester

It's like the Matrix for chickens.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Am Like A One-Man A-Team

Aligning the segmented mirror of the Magic Gamma Ray telescope. Gamma rays are extremely energetic photons, and slough their way through the atmosphere like a speeding taxi through a giant puddle of slush when your standing on a curb in winter. By way of analogy, since astronomers can't see the taxi, they go around asking pedestrians if they got splashed recently.


I am pretty sure I have seen an installation of Fred Eerdeken's shadow art before; either way, I like it. Previously, A4 Papercut.


Frito-Lay Angrily Introduces Line of Healthy Snacks.

From the Department of I Am Easily Amused, Which I think Is My Best Feature: New Jersey cracks me up, e.g., The Timberline Lavish Estate. At first, I just thought that, based on their driving, the Garden State was the worst place in the world (Massachusetts?), but then I saw the humor in the, you know, totality of the situation. NJ, don't ever change.

Finally, courtesy of Quote of the Day, I bring you the portable Mignon McLauglin:


"No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why."

"I'm glad I don't have to explain to a man from Mars why each day I set fire to dozens of little pieces of paper, and then put them in my mouth."

"It's innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn't."

Mignon McLaughlin


Now, please excuse me while I get back to work.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NYCotD


Monday, November 06, 2006

Hee Haw the Next Generation

Your moment of Zen: Hee Haw: The Next Generation.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Brian Regan's Comedy Special






Good clean fun: Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Not quite as clean, which is to say, in bad taste: Emo Philips on coffee and kittens.

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Feed the bears, but No Camping

DCist: Inside the House: Camping is for Yellowstone

It’s close to nine o’clock, and my 8:45 four-top is lolling at the bar.

The party at the table where we planned to seat them is leisurely browsing their dessert menus. They’ve been there since six. By all accounts, they should have been out by now. But half the party came in late, and the other two didn’t want to order until everyone arrived. They look comfortable.

I need to them to leave. I want that table vacated, re-set and ready for the next party. Preferably in five minutes or less.

I walk through the dining room and nod at their waiter. He follows me into the kitchen.

“Table 47,” I say nervously. “How long?”

“I don’t know. They’re taking their time.”

“Dude, the 8.45 is here already. Can you get them out?

“I’ll see what I can do.”
Restaurant-insider articles and blogs offer as good as look into deep-seated entitlement of the upper-middle-class as you could ever want. Which might not be very much.

English Russia


Speaking of commie driving, in Russia, traffic gets stuck in you. I don't like myself for making that joke, but there it is.

Chinese Driving Exam

Driving Them Crazy [By Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post Staff Writer]


You are motoring down a stretch of Chinese highway outside Chengdu, when, glancing at the side-view mirror of your Xiali 2000, you notice flames shooting from your gas tank.

Quick -- do you:
a. Strip off your cotton clothing and use it to smother the flames.
b. Toss water on the blaze.
c. Dig out your trusty carbon-dioxide fire extinguisher.
d. Call the U.S. Embassy for help.

The answer is definitely not (d). Only a handful of the hundreds of U.S. diplomats posted in China, we're told, (and none in the Chengdu consulate) have passed the Chinese driving exam, from which the slightly-modified question above is drawn. The "correct" answer, by the way, is (a).

[...]

Jian Huali, first secretary at the Chinese Embassy, had no pity for our sweat-hog foreign service officers. "You think this is funny? I don't think they are studying," he said. "Washington has a half-million people. Beijing has 3 million cars. . . . We need people to be more aware of what they are doing on the street.

"Ninety-five percent of Chinese can pass the test. I passed with only one question wrong."

Well. It seemed only fair to test Jian Huali with three sample questions. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

"If you asked me in Chinese, I could do better," he said. "Also, I haven't been in China for four years. . . . The traffic regulations change every day."

Then he asked: "Are you going to put my name in the paper and say I have gotten three questions wrong?"

Check out the article for a bunch more questions. Via Book of Joe.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Anglo-saxon humour vs ...

As promised I am doing a detailed analysis of the distinction between anglo-saxon humour, the american version of it, italian humour and sardinian humour.

Let's start by quoting some anglo-saxon humour, taking it from one of Mike's posts:



"John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
(Russell Beland, Springfield)"


It is anglo-saxon because it is intellectual: it pretends to define the characteristics of something while not really doing it; and it makes it quite clear that it is not doing what it pretends to do. In synthesis, it is a sort of intellectual humour, and it is very kind to everyone: John, Mary and the reader.

On to american humour. The step that we do is adding either a certain amount of nastiness, or of grossness, or of smartness (it is necessary to outsmart the reader):



McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup.
(Paul Sabourin, Silver Spring)


for nastiness and grossness



His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free
(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)


for smartness.

Italian humour is more ironical and "tongue-in-cheek" (I am not totally sure that I amusing correctly the english expression here). A particular expression of italian humour is the so-called "colmi", that in english I would translate is as "full-measures". The initial question of each one of the "colmi" is "What is the full measure for ... ?" that means "what could be the most ironical situation in which ... could be found?". Most of the "colmi" involve playing with words, so that they are impossible to translate. I have found two whose translation is possible.



What is the full measure for a chicken? - Having ... goose bumps!!



What is the full measure for a hangman? - Not being able to kill time.


In a way, the italian humorist is taking part in a big party, and cheering up the audience. It does not always work, of course.

Sardinian humour is even more ironical but there is little of the "big party" feeling of the italian humour. I'll try my best to convey the irony with one of the jokes that I heard at home



A sardinian guy is talking about his experiences in WWII. After having boasted a lot, he concludes saying that he had walked back home from Russia to Sardinia. Someone in the audience is suspicious, and asks: "Walked back ... but what about the sea?". The guy is unabashed: "Come on ... who would care about such a trifle as the sea in war time?"

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Yeah, Hi, I'd like a Shot of Espresso Please

This is pretty cool: From weapons of war to great coffee [By Amber Henshaw, BBC News]



In biblical times they said "turn your swords into ploughshares", now in northern Ethiopia a tradesman is bringing the saying into the 21st Century.

In his workshop in Mekele, just 120 km from Ethiopia's border with Eritrea, Azmeraw Zeleke is turning burnt-out shells into cylinders used in coffee machines.


Incoming!

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I am in love

Unleash the inner Swedish-bikini-team model and my Volvo crush goes to 11:





For those so inclined, check out these C30's: One, Two, Three.


I said that I wanted to own a Volvo someday and that this didn't make sense, but now if feels like the nerdy girl just took off her glasses and let down her hair, and Voila! she's totally hot.

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Emo Philipps...


My sister had a baby. We could have company over and she'll be there with her breast out, feeding him... cereal, or whatever. The other day she took me aside and said, Emo, can you babysit little Derek while I go to the carnival... and look for the father? I said, OK. So I'm pushing him through the park, and he's crying... because I forgot the stroller. I take him home and I'm trying to rinse out his diaper in the toilet - you ever rinse out a baby's diaper in the toilet? Yuck. Anyway... I accidentally let go of his foot. And he's spinning around, crying, and I'm trying to get him out with the plunger... because you can't use Drano, that HURTS a kid!