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Links 'o' the (Mon) Day   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 20, 2004 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


PORN MOGUL DEFEATS D.C. BASEBALL STADIUM: Roughly 20 percent of the $50,000 stadium opponents spent stopping The Team Formerly Known As The Expos from getting to home base came from Robert Siegel, whose business would have to move to make way for the stadium. Siegel owns 11 properties, several of which house gay nightclubs; he also owns a gay porn shop and adult theaters.

LOVE SHACK: Really hot as an oven. Left standing is the tin roof...rusted.

THE AVIATOR: I went to the sneak preview Saturday night, so here's some non-spoiler commentary. It's probably one of the better movies of the year, but this Scorsese biopic of Howard Hughes certainly is not in the same league as other Scorsese biopics like Raging Bull or Goodfellas. Indeed, I think this year's Ray may be a better biopic and I think I would say the same even if I were not a music geek. But Marty's campaigning really hard for his Oscar this time out, so I suppose he could get one on a lifetime achievement vote.

None of that sounds like a ringing endorsement, so why would I say it's one of the better pictures of the year? The competition, in part. But there's a fair amount to recommend the movie on its own merits when not measured against Scorsese's back catalog. Like Ray, The Aviator sugarcoats some of the Hughes biography, avoiding his morphine addiction entirely. Scorcese also embraces the ways in which Hughes's obsessive compulsive disorder also gave Hughes his relentless drive and ambition; he is clearly fond of Hughes as moviemaker: envious of the outrageous sum of money Hughes threw into making Hell's Angels, delighted with the manner in which Hughes took on the movie censors over The Outlaw (the latter sequence being one of the more amusing in the film). And Scorsese admirably depicts the way in which Hughes's near-truly-crazy style carried over into the then-emerging aviation industry, linking aircraft design to a future where air travel would become common.

Leonardo DeCaprio is also sympathetic to Hughes, knowing something about being in the middle of the most expensive movie ever made (and having it make a lot of money despite its mediocrity). This is one of his better performances, though that may be faint praise. Far superior is Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn -- so far superior that DeCaprio ends up suffering by comparison. Unfortunately, Kate Beckinsale's take on Ava Gardner is no threat to either. John C. Reilly and Ian Holm turn in their usual excellence in smaller roles; Alec Baldwin and Alan Alda serve nicely as the heavies. Fun cameos: Most will focus on Gwen Stefani, but check the bandleaders at the Coconut Grove, played by Loudon and Rufus Wainwright.

Like many biopics, the script for The Aviator occasionally feels like events are being rushed by the viewer too quickly. In this case, however, that's almost a compliment and a tribute to Hughes, given the movie's almost three hour running time. Those unfamiliar with Hughes's story should not be bored. I should also mention that I enjoyed the score and soundtrack also; stay through the credits for a Leadbelly ballad about the man.

STEM CELLS: Embyronic stem cells make paralyzed rats walk. Hans Keirstead and his colleagues are continuing to experiment with rats to ensure the injected brain cells do what they're supposed to without any side effects. "You don't want toenails growing in the brain," he said. Meanwhile, non-embryonic stem cells from a 7-year-old girl's fat help repair severe damage to her skull.

WASHINGTON STATE RECOUNT: Still going; newly-discovered ballots in King County (think Seattle) may swing the election to Democrat Christine Gregoire.

RINGO STARR is helping NORAD track Santa Claus this year. Merry Krimble to him!

(BRITISH) SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES: According to one study, 48 percent of British men and 31 percent of women aged 19 to 24 admit to having been blind drunk at least twice a month during the past year. But the girls are trying harder: teenage girls in Britain are binge drinking more than boys.

YOU LOSE SOME, YOU WIN SOME: National Guard recruitment numbers slip, in part because the active duty Army is growing. OTOH, the number of annual military desertions is down to the lowest level since before 2001, according to the Pentagon.

LADIES! It's pink. It's smooth. It vibrates! It's... a razor. Sorry. The silver lining is that, unlike many other products and services, the Gillette Venus Vibrance costs about the same as the equivalent razor for men. "Our testing indicated that there is an upside potential to penetrate more razors at a slightly reduced price," according to Peter Hoffman, Gillette's president for blades and razors. Hoffman seems to be referring to market penetration.

YOUNG(ER) DEMOCRATS want more of a say over the party's direction.

END OF THE WORLD UPDATE: As Aussies brace for the cane toad invasion, it turns out that their impact and infamy remains a matter of conjecture.

END OF THE WORLD UPDATE 2: Retiring veteran astronaut John Young says:

"The statistical risk of humans getting wiped out in the next 100 years due to a super volcano or asteroid or comet impact is 1 in 455. How does that relate? You're 10 times more likely to get wiped out by a civilization-ending event in the next 100 years than you are getting killed in a commercial airline crash."

THE ACLU VIOLATED ITS OWN PRIVACY POLICY, data-mining with its membership databases, according to the New York Times. but since the Times requires registration, you can read a decent excerpt at Pejmanesque, which also links to the full Times piece.

NO KIDDING: Juveniles may find it harder than adults to foresee the consequences of their actions. One experiment suggests a possible biological factor.

DEAD SHRIMP BLUES: An unusual protest against religious intolerance. At least I think that's what it is...

FASTER...? FASTER...? The Pope honors carnies. What's next? A rickety Tilt-O-Whirl blasting out "Green River" in the Sistine Chapel?

COPY-PROTECTION: In early 2005, Sony plans to try a new form of CD copy-protection that could allow limited copying for personal use.

3147 Reads

Ron's Tech Links   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Saturday, December 18, 2004 - 10:23 AM
Posted by: maxima2k


REAL ESTATE: Apartments that rotate 360 degrees.

COMMUNICATION: Can you believe it? Land lined telephones are not installed everywhere?

SCIENCE: Top 10 Advances in science for 2004.

COMPUTER GENERATED MUSIC: Here is a link to some mp3's of computer generated music. It is based on a system created by Brian Whitman who is one of the scientists at the MIT Media Lab.

3935 Reads

Links 'o' the (Fri) Day (Post-Blowout light linkage)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 17, 2004 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


CATS: Veteran journo Georgie Anne Geyer pens a book on the history of cats.

DOGS: To quote the classic New Yorker cartoon, "On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog." These two blogs may be the exceptions.

CATS AND DOGS: Separating fact from fiction regarding holiday dangers to your pets.

WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: No, really. A Wonderbra has been recalled. Why can't the company say, "it's not a bug, it's a feature!

ANN COULTER AND TIM ROBBINS: Partying together! Forget the cats and dogs living together -- this is a sign of the apocolypse!

GOING POSTAL: Stamp vending machines are watching you. And taking your picture. And storing it for a month.

ILLINOIS GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D) -- who sports a hair helmet as resilient as those of GOP stalwarts Trent Lott and Jack Kemp --is proposing to make it illegal to sell violent and sexually explicit video games to minors, a step that other states have tried with little success.

I AM THE EGGMAN: The Frosty Mug Revolution asks: Why do we all have a mental image of Humpty Dumpty as an egg?


LISA MARIE PRESLEY has almost left the building.

THE GUARDIAN announces its Bad Science Awards.

U.N. PEACEKEEPERS IN THE CONGO threatened UN staff and tried to block an investigation of alleged forced prostitution and rapes of children by U.N. troops. Coincidentally, U.N. officials have decided not to renew the contract of a doctor who coauthored a controversial memoir about life on the front lines of U.N. peacekeeping in the 1990s.

I LOVE LAWYERS: A California lawyer has been convicted of using a credit card scam to pay his way through law school.

3071 Reads

Links 'o' the (Thurs) Day (Holiday Blowout!)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 06:00 PM
Posted by: kbade


IT HAS COME TO MY ATTENTION that some of you will not be as near your screens through year's end. Accordingly, I am accelerating the holiday linkage. Time's a-wasting, so let's waste it together:

SOCIALIST CHRISTMAS LIGHTING DISPLAY: Distancing themselves from them Godless commies. PLUS: FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, have released their Christmas album. The anti-government rebel group has been mixed up in revolution, cocaine and leftist politics since the 1960's... now they offer up jolly Yuletide classics! Okay, not really: it's a collection songs praising FARC folk heroes and criticizing the corruption of neoliberalism. They're missing an opportunity, but I suppose that FARC can't be caught commercializing the season.

BEATLES XMAS: (Most of) those fab four fan club records, ripped from vinyl to MP3s. If you haven't heard them -- and at least one of you has not -- it's well worth it (the first three or four in particular). The Fabs clearly were fans of The Goon Show -- the BBC's radio forerunner to Monty Python -- where guys like Peter Sellers got their start. Alternatively, BoingBoing has links to BitTorrent versions of this stuff.

DING! A politically incorrect Christmas carol. Speakers required.

HEAR DAVID SEDARIS read The Santaland Diaries.

"A STORY SO QUEER:" You can see Flash-based video of Hardrock, Coco and Joe (and Suzy Snowflake) courtesy of WGN-TV. Most every kid who grew up in Chicago will dig it the most.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS: A real one from one of Hollywood's biggest producers, and a generic one suitable for for all lawyers.

SCREENWRITER ROGER L. SIMON says farewell to the Festival of Lights.

NOTHING SAYS HANUKKAH like garden beds featuring swastika designs.


RED AND BLUE CHRISTMAS: Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: ''Unfortunately, some of the Christian pressure groups seem to have it backwards. I think it's fair to say it's a mistaken notion that they have a mandate to put more nativity scenes up because George Bush was elected." I wonder what the Rev. Lynn would make of the rash of thefts of baby Jesuses from nativity scenes in Woodstock, Illinois (a town more asscoiated with Groundhog Day, as the movie was filmed there). ALSO: A Christian rock show is cancelled at a Toledo-area public high school... surprisingly not for reasons of taste. ALSO: BuyBlue has retailers sorted by their political donations. So has ChooseTheBlue

IS SANTA THE ANTICHRIST? An Instapundit reader thinks so.

What would the holiday season be without some end-of-year lists? Let's not find out:

POPMATTERS posts its Top 100 Albums of 2004. Some familiar names near the top, but it will be fun to pick through the lower rungs. One that didn't make the list that I enjoyed is Favorite Colors by The Sadies -- very mid-period Byrds and mid-period Meat Puppets, plus a collaboration with Robyn Hitchcock. And from late last year, I'd add Universal Blues by the Redwalls (a local treasure) -- very CCR and late-period Beatles.

STAR MAGAZINE lists the Top Ten Most Annoying People of 2004, getting it almost exactly right, down to the tie for number one.

RELATED END OF THE WORLD UPDATE: A convergence of Lohan, Hilton, Ashlee Simpson and Fred Durst! Oh, the humanity! Had Simpson's uber-creepy father been there, none of us might be here today.


Doesn't someone on your list want to smell like a Hummer? Or perhaps like Orange County Choppers? If you're still shopping offline, you can always amuse your self this way.

Other possible gifts:

PIERCED EYEGLASSES: not just freakish, but also impractical.

HOUSES OF THE FUTURE made of cardboard? I'm skeptical.

JET-POWERED OUTHOUSE probably makes 45 m.p.h. seem pretty fast.

FOR THE GEEK IN YOUR LIFE (or your own inner geek): How about a USB Christmas tree or a USB glowing snowman?

BELARUSSIAN ARMY CHRISTMAS SALE: Parachutes, all kinds of military fatigues, ice hockey boots, portable power generators, tents, shoe-making machines, electric guitars, cameras and slide projectors! Anything from heavy trucks to accordions at rock bottom prices! All Soviet junk must GO!

And a few non-holiday links...

QUEEN REUNION probable in early 2005. Well, Brian May and Roger Taylor with former Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers filling in for the late Freddie Mercury. No word on bassist John Deacon, so there's a slot open for Mike Kelly. Like Mike, there's a part of me that would consider going. But there's another part trying to finish the joke: "A Queen without Freddie Mercury is like..."

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: Study shows the TV comedy may be popular because a fair number of housewives are desperate. That doesn't explain the show's popularity with men, but a study is probably not needed to suss out that one.

LILEKS: tire-blogging, plus a bit about weddings and Chicago.

MAN BITES DOG is a journalist's cliche, but it will get coverage.

NANOTECH: Some ponder applications to medicine.

GARY WEBB: As I suggested a day or two ago, his apparent suicide fuels the conspiracy theorists, as the coroner reports two gunshots to the head. Webb's ex-wife says that Webb had been distraught for some time over his inability to get a job at another major newspaper. "The way he was acting it would be hard for me to believe it was anything but suicide," she said. But that's exactly what she would say, isn't it?

SPAMALOT -- the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- premieres in Chicago this month before heading to Broadway (much as The Producers did a few years ago). The New Yorker almost has me getting tickets.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Arnold Kling has two articles on Social Security reform and private accounts: his arguments may surprise you.

3953 Reads

Links 'o' the (Hump) Day   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 11:00 AM
Posted by: kbade


ROPE AROUND THE MOON: An unusual version of the holiday classic: It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies.


LAW STUDENTS IN LOVE: Go here, read the comments. So good that I shut up.

REMARRIAGE: Remarried men eat better, exercise less and gain weight. And they drink less.

ROB REINER FOR GOVERNOR? The Daily Kos says probably not until 2010.

RICHARD LACELYN GREEN was way too into Sherlock Holmes.

GIRLS GONE WILD: The CEO plans a pay-per-view special during this year's Super Bowl halftime show with "guaranteed wardrobe malfunctions."

IRAQ: Its main Sunni Muslim party apparently will join in the January election.

HOLLYWOOD TO SUE BIT TORRENT SERVERS, which is sorta what I predicted a day or two ago.

I ACCIDENTALLY COIN THE TERM "TIRE-BLOGGING" at Althouse; it then spreads to Instapundit, where it will be read by hundreds of thousands of people.

BBC RADIO FOUR polled for the novel that "has spoken to you on a personal level; it may have changed the way you look at yourself, or simply made you happy to be a woman". The Guardian is clearly unhappy with the results.

SOAP OPERA DIGEST tackles the abortion issue: "In six decades of daytime television, ...there have been exactly six abortions (one illegal, five legal). To put that into perspective, there were more characters who came back from the dead in this year alone."

TOM WOLFE wins a prize for bad sex. Ouch.

GOOGLE TO DIGITIZE LIBRARIES, though Harvard seems less forthcoming in this project than the others.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS is being turned from a potential loser into a modest hit by using endorsements drawn almost entirely from the "700 Club," religious-based broadcasters Good News TV and Family Net, and the Film Advisory Board, whose aim is to promote family-oriented and children's entertainment. The link requires (free) registration or BugMeNot, but worth it for the surprise ending.

MORE RELIGIOUS MARKETING: God endorses Moe's. I'll bet He loves the Flaming Homers.

3277 Reads

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