Friday, November 29, 2002

James who?

The latest James Bond saga is the best I've seen in quite some time--certainly the best of the Pierce Brosnan entries. The espionage plot, while not completely believable, isn't too over the top, and the same could be said for the exciting action sequences. There's also an interesting subtext involving the maliablility of identity. Bond starts out as a secret agent (of course), but then becomes a prisoner of war, then is rescued but fired by his boss at MI5, then redeems himself and becomes an agent again. One of his female colleagues turns out to be not at all what she appears to be--not just once but twice. The villain undergoes the most extreme transformation of all, virtually becoming a different person--or is he? The screenwriter seems to have had a little bit more on his mind this time than escapist daring-do and the usual 007 cliches, which is refreshing. A-

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

More Useless Facts

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a famous king from history:

Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs - Alexander the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar

But now I'm wondering: what about the queens?

Monday, November 25, 2002

Quote of the Day

Madness takes its toll; please have exact change.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Fried Nuts

When I use my ancient ThinkPad (laptop), I usually don't place it on my actual lap--or, if I do, I put a towel or something over my legs. That's because the computer's bottom puts out quite a lot of heat--which can be uncomfortable for us guys after a while. It can even lead to injury. Read on:

Scientist Burns Penis with Hot Laptop

How this guy managed to do this to himself without realizing it, I can't figure. I guess those scientists really must be absent-minded.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Where in the world is New Jersey?

According to a National Geographic survey, among 18- to 24-year-old Americans given maps:

87 percent cannot find Iraq
83 percent cannot find Afghanistan
76 percent cannot find Saudi Arabia
70 percent cannot find New Jersey
49 percent cannot find New York
11 percent cannot find the United States

Amazingly, only 71 percent of the surveyed Americans could locate the Pacific Ocean, the world's largest body of water. Worldwide, three in 10 of those surveyed could not correctly locate the Pacific Ocean.

The full story: Global goofs: U.S. youth can't find Iraq - Nov. 20, 2002

Coming Attractions

A real bomb? Check out this "movie poster":

Gulf Wars, Episode II: Clone of the Attack

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

What's in a name?

Saddam Hussein: When you don't use his full name, is he Saddam, Hussein or Mr. Hussein? The continuing debate:

Call him Saddam?

Did you know that his full name is Saddam Hussein al-Majd al-Tikriti? (Say that 10 times fast.)

Monday, November 18, 2002

Quote of the Day

"We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it, and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live instead . . . in the Twilight Zone."
–Rod Serling

I'm beginning to wonder . . . .

Sunday, November 17, 2002

An airbag that plays the national anthem?

If you're an inventor who's stuck for new ideas, here's the site for you:

The Prior-Art-O-Matic

It generates random product ideas, many of which I'm sure are not as silly as some of the applications the US Patent Office receives.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Harry Potter and the Digital Video Projector

I took my son and two of his friends to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets today. Much to my surprise, the theater was equipped for digital video projection, so we were essentially watching a "video" on a 40-foot screen. I must say the resolution was fine--I wouldn't necessarily have known it wasn't a "film" film--though the colors seemed a bit flat. Some conventional movies have rather flat color, too, though. The sound, surprisingly, was muddy and for several minutes included some kind of background distortion that sounded vaguely like a steam locomotive chugging down the tracks in the distance--as if the Hogwarts Express was constantly passing by. It may have been a problem with the theater's system and speakers rather than the movie itself, though--some kind of feedback, I guess.

Overall, an enjoyable experience, though one of the kids said there was "too much talking" in the movie. That didn't bother me, but I didn't think this second installment was much better than the first--as some critics have said--and not as good in some respects. The novelty of seeing Hogwarts and the characters from the books come to life has warn off, so all that's left is the plot, which I didn't find that exciting (maybe I'm too old and jaded). The effects were better than in the first film, though--the flying car and the Quidditch match were thrilling--and some of the character acting was quite entertaining. Kenneth Brannagh (sp?) was great as Professor Lockhart, and whoever played Lucius Malfoy was terrific. B+

Friday, November 15, 2002

Read any good books lately?

The following statistics were true as of 1996 (American Booksellers Association stats, most recent survey results). I doubt they've improved much since then.

80% of US families did not buy or read a book in 1995.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last 5 years.
58% of the adult US population NEVER reads another book after high school.
42% of US college graduates NEVER read another book after graduation.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Knowing Without Knowing How You Know

Here's an interesting article on the value of intuition (despite the cheesy Star Trek example cited):

Scientific American: The Captain Kirk Principle

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Quote of the Day

"The future held no interest for her; she desired eternity; eternity is time that has stopped, come to a standstill; the future makes eternity impossible; she wanted to annihilate the future." -- From Ignorance by Milan Kundera

I've read some Kundera, but I'm not familiar with this book. I found this interesting, somewhat chilling quote on the Web. It occurs to me that it explains the mystery of suicide, or some suicides.

Monday, November 11, 2002

The Thief of Time

Here's some analysis of and advice on procrastination. Interestingly, the root causes of "putting it off" have to do with insecurity--not laziness. The page is geared toward college students but seems universally applicable. So what are you waiting for? Read it now.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Former English Major Blows Off Steam

Sometimes, I just feel like hurling Shakespearean insults:

Thou crusty botch of nature!
Thou fawning flap-mouthed clack-dish!
Thou beslubbering lily-livered joithead!
Thou puny beetle-headed dewberry!
Thou dankish weather-bitten malt-worm!
Thou goatish pottle-deep miscreant!
Thou bootless half-faced gudgeon!
Thou gleeking boil-brained popinjay!
Thou yeasty tickle-brained foot-licker!
Thou dankish motley-minded strumpet!
Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.
Thou qualling base-court horn-beast!
Thou tottering spur-galled lout!
Thou infectious half-faced haggard!
Thou odiferous doghearted pignut!

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Quote of the Day

The purpose of life is to matter - to count
to stand for something
to have it make some difference
that we lived at all.
--Leo Rosten

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Inspiration Station

Need some fresh ideas? (If you're a Democratic Party official, better say "yes.") Here's a page full of links to creativity tools and techniques:

Creativity Web - Resources for Creativity and Innovation

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Never fear, Smith is here

Well, another little piece of my childhood is gone, except for the memories--and the reruns. Lost in Space was my favorite TV show as a kid. I met actor Jonathan Harris (who played Dr. Smith) in 1997 and thanked him for the many hours of pleasure he gave me as a child. "That is something I never tire of hearing," he said. May he rest in peace.

'Lost in Space' Villain Jonathan Harris Dies

Haiku 4,693

A small stone temple
Stands at the edge of a field
Shelter from the cold

Saturday, November 02, 2002

A Web Without Spiders

The article below is an attempt to diagnose (and diagram) the problems of today's publishing industry--and other "brokers" of creative work--from the perspective of writers and artists. I'm not too sure about the author's proposed solution, but it's an interesting analysis.

Untangling the Design and Production Lines