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My sci-fi crew!

You scored as Serenity (from Firefly). You like to live your own way and do not enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you that you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.Serenity (from Firefly)94%Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)81%Moya (from Farscape)75%SG-1 (from Stargate)75%Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)63%Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)63%Enterprise D (from Star Trek)56%Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)56%
Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? v1.0
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Ding dong, he's dead

Rumor has it that Saddam Hussein has been hanged from the neck until dead, dead, dead. I have something to say about that: Hurrah!I am a reluctant supporter of the death penalty. By "reluctant" I mean that I'd rather there was a better way of dealing with sociopaths and psychopaths. Some day we may be able to do something a la Babylon 5, and just wipe their evil personality away and replace it with something useful to the community. But alas, that day is far, far in the future.I laughed outloud earlier this year reading an article in the New York Times. To paraphrase the headline: "For more and more, life imprisonment means dying in prison." The gist of the article was to express shock and dismay that someone sentenced to life imprisonment would actually (gasp) remain in prison for the rest of their life. It's that shock that reminds me to support the death penalty, because the plain fact is that your typical left-leaning moonbat would, at some point, relea…

Living in exile

Yeah, it's a minor gripe when compared to all the other crap in the world, but I've long thought I'm currently living in exile in the Sacramento region. I was born and raised in San Francisco, you see, and even after 20+ years I've not adapted to this alien valley existence.Prime examples are that I have to wait another week to see Children of Men, which doesn't open until January 5, 2007, in Sacramento. And though today is the official opening day for Pan's Labyrinth, good luck in figuring out when it might pop up in my neck of the woods. Near as I can find out, "sometime in January 2007."There aren't a lot of films that I care to go see at the theatre, but these were the top two for 2006. Now I have to wait until 2007. Days away, sure, but I told you up front, this is a minor (if annoying) gripe.

Lileks Looks Back at the Year to Come

A marvelous start:History, a wise man said, is a pack of tricks we play on the dead. Very well: Let's get out the deck and deal. As we stand on the cusp of 2008, let's look back on the follies of 2007. North Korea returned to the negotiating table and announced it wants a Playstation 3 and a ham sandwich. Also a pony. Talks broke up when the Americans refused to supply a Playstation because they bought North Korea an Xbox last time, and it just sat in the closet. Laugh outloud funny. My favorite bit: North Korea tested a nuclear bomb attached to a medium-range missile; it was headed towards a U.S. carrier group before it was destroyed. The United States subsequently tested several nuclear missiles on North Korean soil. The tests were successful.Hee!

Superman Returns redux

When I first wrote about Superman Returns, I said I had the flu, skipped through it, and would really need to sit down and watch it start-to-finish. I thought I might need to have Kleenex handy.Well I watched and no, I didn't need Kleenex. I did need caffeine, though, so luckily I had my Starbucks Barista Expresso Machine.I stand behind most everything I wrote initially. The strongest part of film is that it offers no easy out of the threesome, Superman, Lois, and New Guy. The inner conflicts involved are nicely rendered, if never solved. I hope that Spider Man 3 does as well in this regard.But now having seen the entire thing -- twice, mind you -- the overall feeling is...ugh. The entire Lex Luthor plot is as bad as I first thought. He's not a menacing villain, or even particularly funny. He's just...ridiculous. And he's surrounded by morons. No, seriously, genuine morons. Only Parker Posey does well, but then again, she always does. (Yeah, I've got a crush. Shoot…

Hey, about that HD format business...

Absolute brilliance:Basically, what we have is a series of anti-consumer DRM infections masquerading as nothing in particular. They bring only net negatives to anyone dumb enough to pay money for them, and everything is better than these offerings. They sell in spite of the features they tout, not because of them. The manufacturers still have the balls to look you in the eye and say that they are selling because of the programs/features/DRM. Marketers, what a laugh riot.In the end, every step in this chain of consumer woe that is Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, Live, VIIV, HDCP, MCE and Vista is flopping. And that is where the better choice comes in. The consumers have voted with their dollars, and are staying away in droves. All the walls of the walled gardens are being built higher and higher, with the occasional brick landing on the head of someone who pulls out a credit card. Buy now, there is a brick with your name on it whistling down, operators are standing by. In the mean time, Piracy, the …

House Defense

I have recently become a House addict. Like the Vicodin-gobbling doctor, I can't get enough. This addiction is difficult for me, since I don't subscribe to either cable or satellite, and I can't find an antenna good enough to allow me a decent television signal. So on a friend's recommendation I Netflix'd the first DVD of the first season. Once hooked, I moved on to purchase, and bought seasons one and two. Discs in hand, I had a mini-marathon. I've watched 'em all several times. Now I'm an addict. To feed my habit, because I didn't want to wait for the next set of DVD's, I deployed a bit torrent client and snaked down the first ten episodes of season three. Doing this will tide me over until the DVD release of the entire season. I feel like I'm on maintenance at some rehab clinic, since it appears the series is on Christmas hiatus. Damnit. Hugh Laurie does a brilliant job being a complete asshole of a doctor, who happens to have the insuffe…

The Da Vinci Coma

As I sit here listening to the Hans Zimmer's score for The Da Vinci Code, I'm wondering how to recover the hours of my life that were lost watching the film on DVD. All right, that's pretty harsh, but it's praising with faint damnation to say that Tom Hanks was duller than dirt. Where the hell did that hair "style" come from? I know he can act, I've seen it, so what happened here? As for Ron Howard's "directing"...ugh. I'm not a big Howard fan anyway, but he's usually tolerable. I think his two most successful efforts were Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. This mess is far off his usual game. For all involved, this film garners the question: What the hell happened? And I haven't even gotten to the plot, yet. Wait, was there a plot? Full disclosure: I was born and raised Catholic. My father was the product of a Jesuit education. I spent nine years with nuns as teachers, then one year with the Jesuits in high school, until I flunked…

Question: What is a bastard exactly?

Quite often we ask ourselves hard to answer questions, like, “What is a bastard?”

And we wax philosophic with metaphysical postulations, incomplete aphorisms, and inconsistent sophisms that make one more and more sure that the only true thing is that a picture is worth a thousand words.

In this photo, the guy on the right is a member of a bomb squad in the middle of a deactivation.

The guy behind him, well, he's a bastard.



[Received by email, original author unknown.]

Superman Returns...but why?

[Danger, Will Robinson, there be SPOILERS ahead!]I've figured out the secret of Chinese films. They're all about love unfulfilled, love denied. They're all about unrequited love. Look at one of the best, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chow Yun Fat is literally gasping his last before he finally admits his love for Michelle Yeoh. Look at poor Chen Chang, so desperately in love with Ziyi Zhang, and she's so desperately in denial that she literally takes a leap of faith at the end in order to -- we hope -- fulfill that love. You see similar patterns in Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and even Infernal Affairs. And 2046 just drips with lost love, love unfulfilled, unrequited love, etc. I mention all that because in that regard, Superman Returns feels very Chinese. It is all about love denied; it is all about unrequited love. Throughout his history, Superman has been plagued by his relationships with humans, especially -- but not exclusively -- with Lois Lane. The films hav…

Wise Words From A Cop

I was browsing old documents and found this gem. Wise Words From a Cop, About Cops:Watch out for the CSI effect. There is no machine that we can drop an eyelash into and come up with the DNA profile, fingerprints and mug shot of the owner in 2 minutes. When you see an emergency vehicle behind you with its lights and sirens on, pull to the RIGHT, and stop. We are usually required to pass cars on the left. When you're driving in the fast lane and you see a cop behind you, don't go 5 mph under the speed limit. We are not impressed by how safe a driver you can be. We're trying to go help someone (or catch that guy in the SUV that just cut you off). Safely move over and let us pass by you, please. If you get a warning instead of a ticket from a motorcycle cop, go buy a lottery ticket, because you've already beaten the odds. When you see an officer conducting a traffic stop, or with a suspect in handcuffs, it is generally not a good idea to approach him/her and ask for direc…

Gone With the What?

I am not alone!As far as Gone With the Wind goes, I'm in the deep minority in not caring too much for it. It's beautiful at times, and the first two hours it's tolerable if not particularly engaging, but by the time the last few hours roll around, I always felt as if the film was more intent on inflicting misery than portraying it. Anyway, it's nice to know I'm notthe only one.Arguably the most over-rated movie in the history of the industry. Now I know there are at least two people in the world who agree with me.

Lord iPod, Zune Approacheth. Launch the X5!

It's been fun watching the iPod versus Zune fight from the outside. I don't own a digital audio player (DAP) -- sorry, a digital media player (DMP). I am vaguely interested in getting one, though, because my car doesn't have a CD player, and the CD player in the motorcycle is on the fritz and I don't want to fix it. Easier by far to get a DMP player, a cassette adapter, and voila, huge mobile song collection on the (relative) cheap. (As a bonus, I can then have the CD changer ripped out of the motorcycle and gain luggage space. w00t!) What's entertaining about all this is the flame wars that all the fanboi's are engaging in. Not having a dog in this race, I have a few observations. First, the iPod pretty much (but not entirely) created the market, but when it first came out there were lots of cries of, "Oh how this or that sucks!" It's easy now to look at an established empire and go, "Oooh, pretty!" but it wasn't always so. For exam…

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delivious,
May your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs! Happy Thanksgiving!
And for your amusement...

Why do Democrats want to reinstate the draft?

They say:"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.As the article then points out:Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, said he will propose the measure early next year.What the article doesn't point out is that Rangel introduces the legislation...then votes against it. He is, in other words, making political hay. He is, to put it politely, full of shit.Radicals want a draft because they know their history. They know that the anti-Vietnam war movement was driven primarily by a hatred for the draft. When the draft ended, so did the vast majority of anti-war protests. In order to st…

More damage to the legal system

Appalling:An elderly man who killed 10 people and injured more than 70 others when he drove through an outdoor farmers market was sentenced Monday to probation by a judge who said he believed the crime deserved imprisonment but the defendant was too ill.Yes, law must be tempered with compassion and mercy, but...He killed 10 people.He injured more than 70 others.There are hundreds of families ruined because of this man.The judge, in this "sentencing", shows amazing "compassion" for the victims and their families. I've seen diagrams of this "accident" scene and the jaw goes slack, the mind boggles. The judge's reasoning for his sentence is, to put it ever so politely, unpersuasive.The evidence showed that George Russell Weller maintained sufficient awareness of what he was doing to avoid hitting cars. Instead, he aimed at people. (Softer targets, I guess, spare the paint on his own car, lower his insurance liability.) The jury didn't buy his &qu…

Microsoft Office 2007

Thwack!I started with that word because, to my amusement, the spellchecker in Microsoft Word 2007 says I spelled it correctly. How many word processors or spellcheckers are you aware of that can spell "thwack"? Games aside, and I haven't been playing much of them lately, I justify owning a computer by writing. Just because it's been 20 years since I sold anything doesn't deny me the claim. So I'm always looking at what the latest writing software is like. When I leapt from my Smith-Corona to computers, I used an Atari running LJK Letter Perfect. Not a hint of WYSIWYG in that program, but it was fast, pretty easy, and the standard for real Atari-based writing. When I dabbled with Apples, I discovered WordPerfect, and when I migrated to MS-DOS machines, WP was there waiting. At the same time, though, dark forces hovered in the shadows, softly whispering a dreaded curse word. That word being, uh, "Word." I have long hated Word. It has taken me years to…

Best. Bond. Ever. Period.

The heading makes it obvious, I went and saw Casino Royale on opening night. I've been thinking about it since and have come to the simple conclusion that it's the best Bond film ever, period, end of story, the end.This is an origins film. As in: See...how Bond earns his Double-Oh status. See...why he likes Aston Martins. See...what he likes to drink. See...why it's a Vesper martini. See...why Bond is a cold, calculating killer, a blunt instrument in service to the Crown.Daniel Craig simply is Ian Fleming's James Bond. He's utterly believeable from Frame #1. This is made more so by the way one of his early opponents just prances about a construction site, while Bond heaves and grunts in pursuit. I loved it how after a fight, Bond looked bruised, his knuckles and face cut. Even when he reappeared all "cleaned" up, there were signs of the fracas. And Craig just tosses 'em off (with a grunt and a little whince) and pushes on.Excellent.Now, saying this is…

A Bond worth waiting for?

I like James Bond. I'm a fan. Not a great fan, mind you. I don't have every nuance memorized. For a while, though, I couldn't wait to see every film at the theatre on opening day.That lasted until Pierce Brosnan took over. Ugh. I waited for cable -- not even video and/or DVD -- and I've never bothered to see the last two films. The previews put me to sleep. He sucked in major, big-time ways. He was tolerable in Goldeneye, but that movie also showcased who should have been Bond, i.e., Sean Bean. After that brief glimpse of promise, Brosnan should have been recycled.So, I was intrigued when I saw that they had cast Daniel Craig as Blonde, James Blonde, The New Bond for Casino Royale. And I actually got excited when I saw this trailer. And now there's this review...Bond is back, baby. Boy howdy is he back. And he’s going to be the most divisive Bond ever. When they set out to reinvent the series and went back to the well of the original text, man oh man did they go ba…

Stranger Than Fiction

Saw Stranger Than Fiction last night and was amazed by how much I liked it. I am not a Will Ferrell fan, though I've liked most everything I've seen Emma Thompson in. It seemed an odd pairing and the previews looked too cute for words.Too cute by half, since the previews make the film look like a straight comedy, which it is and isn't. It isn't in the sense of rolling on the laughing, but it is in the classical sense, and I leave it to you to figure out what I mean.Also in the cast is Maggie Gyllenhaal, and she's casually delightful as always. And surprise, Queen Latifah is perfect in a minor but nonetheless key role. I should probably also mention Dustin Hoffman, but why? He's little more than "okay".The plot is simple: Ferrell is an IRS agent who begins hearing Thompson's voice as it narrates his life, in all its dull, repetitive details. At first he thinks he's going crazy, but becomes panic stricken when the narration casually announces he…

Saddam Hussein to do a dance

And from Iraq....An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced Saddam Hussein to the gallows for crimes against humanity, convicting the former dictator and six subordinates for one nearly quarter-century-old case of violent suppression in this land of long memories, deep grudges and sectarian slaughter. Shiites and Kurds, who had been tormented and killed in the tens of thousands under Saddam's iron rule, erupted in celebration — but looked ahead fearfully for a potential backlash from the Sunni insurgency that some believe could be a final shove into all-out civil war. Saddam trembled and shouted "God is great" when the hawk-faced chief judge, Raouf Abdul-Rahman, declared the former leader guilty and sentenced him to hang.Saddam, described by many a moonbat as a "securlar leader", said, "God is great." Wow, who knew that he and I could ever agree on anything.

I want this car...

...and I'm not even really a car fan. Motorcyles, baby, the vehicles of free men everywhere! But if I must drive a car...

So utterly and completely rude, without redeeming social value. Perfect!

Of movies and music

Like an idiot, I ordered up a flock of movie soundtracks this last week. I'll be eating Top Ramen this month, but now I've got my copies of Underworld: Evolution (Marco Beltrami) and Birth (Alexandre Desplat). The Aviator (Howard Shore) is on the way, as is Courage Under Fire (James Horner). I am resisting -- so far -- the urge to run down my Amazon wish list and click buy, buy, buy them all! My creditors would be dismayed. Besides, I have to be ready to buy the soundtrack to The Fountain (I hope that's the right link; music by Clint Mansell).Not too long ago, I wrote about James Newton Howard. I mentioned I miss the glory that was and is Jerry Goldsmith. I still do. I looked at the post and saw where I referred to this, this, and this. (Hey lookee, this time I included the links!) Those are just samples of Goldsmith, and arguably not his best. (They're just my favorites.) I look at the soundtracks I've ordered recently (see above) and still find myself wondering: …

Battle of the Browsers, Chapter...I've lost count

I'll be honest. I lept on Firefox the moment it was born, using decimal releases (when it was called Firebird) that led to v1.0. I was never a fan of Netscape, but didn't mind jumping to Mozilla. When they stripped out the browser, though, and gave birth to Firefox, I never looked back.Until now. The son unit swears that Internet Explorer v7 is marvelous. He swears, I tell you. So I'm giving it a whirl. My desktop is turning into Microsoft city anyway, what with Office 2003, Office 2007 (Beta 2TR), OneNote, and now the beta 2 of OneCare. (Hell, I'm writing this post using Live Writer 1.0 Beta.) The vast Seattle corporate diety owns me more and more, so why not the browser, too?Well, because it crashes more often than the mind can comfortably comprehend. "Unstable" is praising with faint damnation. About the only time it is usable is when running Microsoft Update. It does that all right, but I can't even log onto (Microsoft) Hotmail and check my email with…

Coming Soon: 300

All right, another movie to get excited about: 300. (Oh, movie website here.)I wrote about this battle before. And there's at least one brilliant book about it, too. This new film is based on a graphic novel.The trailer just looks...awesome. Oh, some historical inaccuracies, like the Spartans wearing nothing but Speedos and capes (like, dude, where's their armor?), but way-o. The film was done in a style similar to Sky Captain, in that there were no "sets" in the conventional sense. Most (all?) of the acting was done before green screen with the world computer generated around them in post production. While Sky Captain wanted to go all pulp comic, 300 seems to aim for a...different look.Love the look of those in the silver masks. Xerxes's immortals? Great tag line:Before this battle is over, the world will know that few stood against many.Some of the genuine lines are still there, about arrows blotting out the sun and dining in hell. The real battle has had a las…

A Negro Flyboy?

No, I haven't seen Flyboys. Frankly, I can wait for the DVD. (Which is wait of what, four months?) The preview doesn't really thrill me, though Emmett says the film is pretty good. I just can't get to worked up.Besides, thought I, there's this black guy and who is going to believe that a black guy is a fighter pilot in WW1.Oops!Eugene Bullard (9 October189512 October1961) was the first African Americanmilitarypilot.He flew for the French in WW1. Complete Wikipedia entry here. The black character in Flyboys appears to be derived from Eugene's story; the character is named Eugene Skinner.What a fascinating story. There's a book from 1972, The Black Swallow of Death. I think I'll have to hunt up a copy.Damn, why isn't this man's biography a movie already?

And they eat their young, too!

And here I was, thinking that was just a truck that San Francisco meter maids did. Naw, moonbat idiotarians are just as rabid.Click here for LGF link, and from there you can read the insanity.Oh, heaven forfend, liberals say a nice word on behalf of the US and Bush and the office of the President. Eee and gads. Admitedly it's a bit of a shock hearing any nice words from Rangel and Pelosi, but the response of the Kids et al is stunning.Oh, and riotously funny to anyone higher up the evolutionary ladder than a demented bee.

CNN, clueless revisionists of history

OMG, when I read this, I almost fell out of my chair:The pope's speech in Germany last week -- in which he appeared to endorse a Christian view, contested by most Muslims, that early Muslims spread their religion by violence -- has sparked protests around the world.Emphasis mine, because it's not a "Christian view", its historic fact. Islam came into being during the 700's and within three centuries had swept most of northern Africa, mostly by conquest and imposition. Eventually they invaded Spain and Italy.From Wikipedia on Islam:Secular historians place Islam's beginnings during the late 7th century in Arabia. Under the leadership of Muhammad and his successors, Islam rapidly spread by religious conversion and military conquest.Hello, Earth calling CNN, because what in the hell do you think triggered the first Crusade? Hello, it was because Muslims kicked the Christians out and they wanted back in!For a short-hand edition of why CNN is -- at best -- insane …

Is iTunes 7 the work of Satan?

Well, no, but it's buggier than v6. I don't even own an iPod, yet I've got iTunes as my music manager...in anticipation of getting and iPod (cough). So I dutifully "upgraded" to v7.(Cough.)99% of the time all is well. The playback is better...most of the time. But every now and again, the sound starts crackling and fluttering and sounding like exquisitely tuned crap. Apparently this is happening to a lot of people, whether they're running Windows or Mac OS. For me, the solution is easy.I pause, count to "one", then resume playback. Voila. Annoying, but not lethal.Nonetheless, I can hardly wait for the coming-soon update, patch, fix, etc.And people say that Apple walks on water.... Ha!

DVD: Find Me Guilty

Love it. Read about it here, buy it here. Or wherever.I want Vin Diesel to get an Oscar, or at least a nomination. I've like him ever since you could barely recognize his voice. And he was perfect as both Caparzo and Riddick. Here, he is almost completely out of his element; he only gets in one on-screen fight. And he loses!For me, Diesel makes the film. Sidney Lumet has done better, he's even done staggeringly great. He's also done much worse. His direction here is average and quiet, which is a good thing since it puts Diesel front and center.Bullet-point synopsis: During the longest Mafia trial in history, Vin Diesel plays a lower-echelon thug who defends himself at trial.There, that's it, that's the plot. And Diesel does a great job, better than you would imagine him doing with a talking role. Go get it, watch it, kick back and have a good time. One of the few times I didn't mind cheering for thugs!

Among the reasons I like Christopher Hitchens...

...is that he's a left-learning atheist who is honest. Others of that combo (see anything posted by the Kossacks) aren't. It's one of the reasons I admire Paul Greengrass, who made the remarkable United 93; his politics are suppressed to create an amazing drama. His art is, for wont of a better word, pure.And so I feel the same when I read...One must have a blunt answer to the banal chat-show and op-ed question: What have we learned? (The answer ought not to be that we have learned how to bully and harass citizens who try to take shampoo on flights on which they have lawfully booked passage. Yet incompetent collective punishment of the innocent, and absurd color-coding of the "threat level," is the way in which most Americans actually experience the "war on terror.") Anyone who lost their "innocence" on September 11 was too na├»ve by far, or too stupid to begin with. On that day, we learned what we ought to have known already, which is that cle…

What I said five years ago...

(Originally Posted December 11, 2001) "You monster. You beast.
You unspeakable bastard." Everyone has an opinion about September 11, 2001. Everyone is pitching their two cents worth. So why not me? Not that I am any great statesman or spokesman or a "mover and shaker." However, it has all reached a boil now, and I thought I might as well spell out a few things from my point of view. Let me begin with that morning and how it appeared to me. My alarm had gone off just shortly before six in the morning (Pacific coast time). OOMA [object of my affection], who had been up since 5:30, said that the World Trade Center was on fire. She went back to drying her hair. Sure, thought I. I sat up in bed, looked at the TV, and sure enough, one of the towers is blazing away. The "expert" guest commentator on the Fox News Channel was a dodo. He prattled on, saying we can't assume this was deliberate action, that there's a great deal of air traffic in the area, …