26 April 2007

Stfu b4 i smak u old git!

It's Thursday, so someone is whining about text messaging and its "threat to traditional conventions in writing." The report from the State Examination Commission in Ireland found 15-year-olds "unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary".

Now, in the land of Joyce, I can see why they'd be lamenting any move toward Hemingwayesque stylings, but seriously! Prescriptivists really need to learn to get a grip. Couldn't it be a general trend away from literacy - rather than the rise of a new mode of communication - that is the problem? Is there something inherently bad about texting's "use of phonetic spelling"?

I can be as much of a hard-ass grammarian as the next overly educated prig; however, I don't get the hand wringing and breast beating that occurs every time a new pidgin or full-fledged dialect gains popularity. Fo' shizzle beyatches...ain't no thing but a chicken wing...tarry not over such trifles, lest ye perceivest a tempest where none be.

I love my mother tongue. It's the most dynamic, fluid, vital language in the world (I'm biased, can y'all tell?). No academy or crazy Culture Minister dictates what can or can't be said. The sun may have set on the British Empire, but English prevails. Eventually, all languages are absorbed into some dialect of English (I'm waiting for Khosian and the other African click-languages) and in time, even the "standard" gets many of those additions. Its grammar and spelling change according to fashion, whimsy, and local colouration, but English prevails.

As with telegraphs and radios before, English will survive the onslaught of texting teens. English prevails.

Operation Argo

  1. Take one cwaaazy Imam, a CIA division chief, an Academy Award winning makeup artist, a rejected screenplay, and drawings by Jack Kirby
  2. Add American hostages in a country in revolutionary turmoil
  3. Toss in a dash of six Americans hiding out in its capital
  4. Shake well and serve
Wired has its most compelling story in years about the daring exfiltration of six Americans who slipped through the fingers of Iran's Revolution Guard in '79. I just hope that whomever optioned/options this doesn't plan on casting some flavor-of-the-month as Tony Mendez.

25 April 2007

John Roves a Lott

Wow! This is so exciting! Hi, all. This is Mary Rosh, guest posting again. My favorite (and the best ever) economist is in the news again today. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo says that Karl Rove got his information on vote fraud from an op-ed by John Lott. Can you believe it? Professor Lott is really moving up in the world, advising Presidents and Kings, now.

Of course, that's just one little blogger. But I'm sure Professor Lott's impact on this will be heralded far and wide, very soon. In just a few short weeks, I'll bet we'll hear about it a lot.

24 April 2007

B5 in just 98 days!

Babylon 5 - The Lost Tales will be here on July 31. Amazon is taking preorders now. I'll be getting mine, of course!

23 April 2007

Can't get out soon enough

Due to some unforeseen server issues, no software development can be done today. No access to source control, no access to global libraries, a pretty complete standstill. Our cornerstone application is in QA right now, so bossy-man suggests we focus on testing it. "Do we have a test plan?" queries yours truly. "No." Of course.

Okydoky. I "tested". Mind you, I don't even know how this app works, or what it's edge conditions are: I write infrastructure, not applications. Still, I "tested". I ran it through its paces, gleefully pressing buttons with little to no regard for what they did or were supposed to do. Unless I saw an error pop up, from my perspective all was well.

No test plan = No can test.

This has got to be the dumbest place I've ever worked, and that's not even counting the functionally retarded chick* in my department who was rewarded for having everyone else do her job by getting thanks and flowers from management.

* Not 100% sure of this, but I'd be willing to lay some serious money on a sub-70 IQ if anyone wants to bet.

20 April 2007

Something light and frothy for a Friday

Here are some cool auditory illusions. I especially like the Shepard's Paradox.

19 April 2007

Throw Wrenches at Him

PC vs. Mac
Originally uploaded by etchasketchist.

Mac really has no personality, does he?

(originally Hodg-man)

Because cremation is just silly

For the man or woman who had everything, but just got rid of some of it. (Half, if it's a community property state).

18 April 2007

The Riches: A Wealth of Headline Puns

FX ran a marathon of the first four episodes of The Riches last Friday and I figured I'd have the TiVo grab them. We weren't sure we'd be too interested, but could spare one hour for the pilot and have the rest around just in case. Four hours later...

Okay. I'm coming way late to the Eddie Izzard party, I know, but damn why didn't anyone tell me he's a frickin' genius?! Or did I just not listen?

Izzard plays Wayne Malloy: father; husband; Traveller. The ever-appealing (and sexier by the year) Minnie Driver stars as his wife and mother to their three children. Fortunately, I had enough secondhand knowledge of Izzard's career to appreciate his cross-dressing youngest son. From my limited exposure so far, the artist of whom Izzard most reminds me is Ricky Gervais. Like Gervais, there's a real pathos underlying even his zaniest moments and great intelligence in all his choices. Wayne is a "half-breed" - abandoned by his mother when his father died, left to be raised by Jesuits and bandits - on the run from his extended family and sociopathic cousin Dale, the new Malloy patriarch. He pines for his lost, idealized youth amongst the "buffers" and thinks he's found a way to steal that life back.

Some mighty bad driving by a tool in a Beemer lets Wayne, Dahlia, and their children steal the lives of Doug and Cherien Rich. While Wayne does have some big shoes to fill (literally: Izzard's stature is always a visual element and he is filmed to make his 5'7" frame seem much smaller) a lifetime of conning and conniving have well-prepared him for his new role of lawyer. A quick 18 holes here, some Russian roulette there, and Doug Rich has a nice, cushy gig as in-house council. Well, not cushy or there wouldn't be much story here, would there?

Dale's still tracking Wayne, crazy Ginny Dannegan wants to marry her...slightly slow...cousin to Wayne's daughter to forge an alliance with the Malloys, new boss Hugh Panetta is a gun-toting asshole, Dahlia's got some bad habits left over from her time in the stir, and the kids aren't sold on the notion of school. Life might have been easier in their RV.

Special kudos to Dmitry Lipkin who created this original and brilliant show. It's pretty rare for someone to become a show runner without any television experience, but he's made the transition from the stage seamlessly.

Watch this show. Catch up quickly, here, then watch this show.

How I Met an Idiot

Dude. I'm a hipster doofus. I wear $200 distressed jeans and this disheveled mop atop my head takes 40 minutes of careful application of not one, but two types of gel. I also like to write ridiculously detailed articles about super-cool pop trendzzz that no one else gets so I can bemoan their loss when corporate greed kills them off. I also wear my ignorance like a mourner's armband.

Quick tip for Mark Lotto of the Observer: it's one thing to mistake the Proclaimers for the Pogues - it shows that you were still listening to your mom's Celine Dion records in the '80s and don't know the difference between buoyant ScotPop and whisky-tinged Celtic punk. That's a little disconcerting, since you seem to thrive on detail, but whatever. But dude...seriously. It might look like a three-camera (you hedged and called it "multi-camera") comedy, but How I Met Your Mother is not. It's a single camera. Stick with your day job and make mine a triple grande with whole, no whip.

17 April 2007

Joey T's up Dick

So Joey Crawford considers it "a travesty in itself [Dick Bavetta] even being in the finals." Finally, a ref says something with which we can all agree. Uh, an ex-ref, I guess.

13 April 2007

The relatively few fans of Don Imus

CoyoteSqrl So I'm in the gym this morning and there's that guy reading the newspapers on tv...
Thick Rick1 Sandy Rivers?
CS No. The old bald dude on C-SPAN. Anyway, he's reading the papers and...
TR Oh yah, that guy. He ain't gonna bag no band camp freaks. Am I right, dude? High five!
CS Sure. Whatever.2 You want to hear the rest of this? Anyway, he gets to a story in the Wall Street Journal3 - front page, above the fold - about the "digital brush fire" behind the firing of Don Imus. Right there in the first sentence is the money line: "relatively few people were tuned into the [show]". A little later in the article, however, we find out about the "millions of fans" of the "hugely popular" broadcast. The fuck? Just how incompetent are the editors of the WSJ to let this contradiction slip? Or is it just on April 4 that "relatively few" bothered to listen?
TR Dude, it's just the Journal.
CS TR, keep up. I know you stick to Maxim, but the Journal's...oh. Huh. Sometimes you're not so dense, you know?

1 The ladies all call him that. What's ironic is that he thinks it's a compliment.
2 I'm convinced "The Todd" is based on TR.
3 If nothing else, the Journal knows its mission is all about money, so the full article's locked behind the subscriber firewall, unfortunately.

11 April 2007

An old, comfortable tennis Shue

Who'd have thought Ralph Macchio wasn't the crazy one in Karate Kid? At no point has Daniel san ever said he wanted to set aside acting and focus on being a professional martial artist. Yet here's my favorite Harvard dropout1, thinking she's going to compete.

That's right. Elizabeth Shue has been "training so hard, now [she] feel[s] like more of a tennis player than an actress." Really? 'Cause you're awfully straight-backed in these "action" shots. I'll allow that the current crop of females aren't too deep - see Martina Hingis' return if you need evidence - but they're all about power, and I just don't see a lot of uncoiling in those pics. It would be different if our adventurous babysitter had some touch, but those are some flat looking shots.

Then again, she apparently beat Jon Lovitz in a celebrity tourney. I mean, once you've bested Jay Sherman, where else can you go but the pros?

1 Billy is way down on that list, and Ballmer graduated. (It apparently doesn't take much to get outta Cambridge.)

Phoenix is not a software town

Four and a half hours ago I went to bed. Early? Sure. But I'm so perpetually depressed I see little point in bothering to stay awake. Unfortunately, I'm also so perpetually pissed off that I was unable to fall asleep. So here I sit, my alarm set for five hours hence, wondering when I might get a few minutes sleep.

Piece of advice for anyone who hasn't become dessicated by old age: don't move to Arizona.

I did. Now I'm stuck.

Maybe it's an okay place to live if you're in construction or make your living designing golf courses, or like to run MLMs. I don't know. I do know it's about as shitty a place for a software engineer as can be imagined. It's not Montana-bad. There, there are just no jobs, so no one would even consider moving there. It's India-bad. There are a lot of jobs, but they're all shit and pay accordingly.

07 April 2007

When he is risen, he's going to want bacon and coffee

Now, just in time for the Abominable Bunny to show up with a Chocolate Jesus (available in milk, dark, and white chocolate for ye of differing race) for each good girl and boy, and okra to leave in the shoes of the bad little children (or whatever it is those wacky xtians do when they should have been eating matzo and bitter herbs), here comes my thumbnail review of Christopher Moore's blasphemous little tome. I know. The interwebs are a-crackle with the excitement.

I hadn't read any Moore before, and only picked this up on a recommendation.1 After slogging through Alfred Appel's wearying, soul-crushing, pleasure-draining annotations of Lolita2, I wanted a light, fun lunch read. Can't get much more fun than the life and death of Jesus, right? At least as told by Levi who is called Biff.

Now, I'm a lot of things. As David Cross would say, 'cause my mom's vagina is Jewish, I'm Jewish. I'm also an atheist. I'm a cold, scientific rationalist. I'm also considering becoming a Comedist. One thing I am not is spiritual. I don't believe in god, gods, or God and have never really understood why others do. I've got no empty space in my psyche to be filled, and no fear of the great nothingness that comes after our short wicks flicker out. Sucks that good people suffer and the evil thrive, and it sucks that those good people have to die, but I don't need to believe in an afterlife, or reincarnation, or nirvana3 to get me through the day. Of course, it doesn't help that the Big 3 western religions are preached by and about the unfunny and self-righteous.

Where's the self-mockery? Where's the irony? Where's the awareness of life's great jokes?

If Christ were like Moore writes him (and if his best friend really had created sarcasm) it would be a much easier sell.

With a great heart (and clear faith in the divinity of his subject) Moore presents Jesus (Joshua) from a small boy reviving a dead lizard - so his little brother can repeatedly off it - to the moment of his death on the cross. This is the Gospel of Biff - nicknamed for a "slang word for a smack upside the head" - who accompanies Josh on his quest for knowledge and wisdom in the east, in order to learn to be the messiah to his people. Best friends from childhood, Biff's primary role is "to teach him to be human."

Chinese food on Josh's birthday (still a Jewish tradition), the study of Jew Do, and clever biblical references made me laugh aloud many times while reading. I was also shocked by how moved I was by the very pure love and devotion Biff felt for Joshua and the agony over his failure to alter his fate. The bittersweet love triangle between the two friends and Maggie (Mary of Magdala) adds a third color to the palette. Eros, philia, and agape are intertwined and intermixed in varying degrees throughout, making this a great love story. Plus...an elephant learns yoga, there are Chinese concubines, and Biff invents the latte.

A Douglas Adams-like comedy that made my throat tighten a few times? With Chinese concubines??? A perfect book for the spring.

1 Shockingly, the recommendation came from a waiter at a restaurant I used to frequent (out of business, sadly). Normally, I'd be a super-snob and skip a rec like that, but it came after a decent, short discussion about what I was reading at the time and I figured I'd take a bit of a flyer.
2 At the end of which, I wasn't even able to fashion a review as short and shallow as the current one. Suffice it to say that Appel ruined Lolita for me. I hope I can go back to it in a few years without the annoying, endless commentary and find some pleasure in Nabokov's linguistic acrobatics.
3 Or Pearl Jam.

06 April 2007

Billy's going to have an aneurysm (I hope)

Holy crap. I'm just old enough to remember when Geraldo's shtick seemed to be in service of *something* other than Geraldo. Before Al Capone's tomb, before his pro wrestling "expose", before skinheads with chairs, before the photo-ops in Iraq, Geraldo Rivera used to be a real-live investigative reporter. Unfortunately, for a handful of decades, Geraldo's been a joke.

But today, I respect Geraldo.

03 April 2007

Limp Unit

Shawn Ryan - he of the Greatest Show in the History of Basic Cabletm - needs to stop enabling David Mamet's weak-ass foray on the idiot box. It's a waste of Ryan's massive skills and it's a blot on Mamet's near-perfect resume. Both men have built their careers on telling stories about MEN under pressure - soldiers, scammers, salesmen, and sinners - but the constraints of network television dilute their visions.

Because of its pedigree and half its cast, we watched The Unit for a while when it premiered. The men are manly, the missions exciting, and their wives ALL NEED TO DIE. I know Mamet can write strong and interesting women, like the ones he's created for his wife Rebecca Pidgeon or for Lindsay Crouse in House of Games. I know Ryan can write strong and interesting women, like CCH Pounder's awesome Claudette. So why are the Unit wives harpies and shrews? And why should anyone care?

There are some extra benefits to be gained from killing this half-a-show: Mamet freed up to write a Simpsons centered on Gil Gunderson (or, you know, a great scam movie); my Allstate agent will take my calls again; and Scott Foley will be free to do comedy again. I've been watching old Scrubs on dvd, and damn that dude's funny. Anyone can play "the rookie" on a special forces team. I want Noel Crane back doing comedy!

02 April 2007

Why use your urinal if you're dropping your drawers?

I went to the restroom a short while ago. As I stepped into the room, I saw a coworker backing away from a urinal and refastening his pants. This isn't the first time I've seen a dude doing trouser triage at a pissoir, though I see it more at this job than anywhere else in my life.

So the question is: are these fellows hung like heffalumps - unable to fit their members through the tiny confines of a zippered fly - or like woozles - unable to clear the front of their pants?

It should just be zip, whip, grip, and drip*...right?

* Spray, shoot, and a variety of other more active verbs didn't fit the scheme.

01 April 2007

Do you know Duno?

She's coming...

Smarter, faster, and about twelve times hotter than Danica Patrick: Milka Duno's coming to embarrass Patrick and Sarah Fisher. Unless she really is the next coming of Paul Dana.