Friday, April 08, 2011

Roger Ebert Likes "Arthur"

Interesting review:
The casting of Greta Gerwig works nicely. Did you see her as the assistant to Ben Stiller's brother in "Greenberg" (2010)? The thing about her is that she is indeed Cuddly. We sometimes talk about personal chemistry as something that happens in casting. It probably begins at birth. She's a woman you instinctively feel good about, like Amy Adams in "Junebug." This quality goes a long way toward filling in the psychological gaps in her relationship with Arthur. Nice people can get away with more and take bigger chances.

...This “Arthur” is not as laugh-out-loud funny as the earlier one, its scene of a dinner in a staid hotel dining room isn't as successful, and it doesn't have as much fun with the father of the Naomi character. But the dialogue is well-written — witty and quick and not clunky. The visuals in the Grand Central Station scene may be overdone, but they are impressive. (When did architecture lose its faith in grandeur?) And Russell Brand takes on a thankless task and earns at least some thanks.

Storms Here Getting Progressively-Weaker

Yes, indeed, it's spring! There are several storm systems passing by this coming week, and initially there were indications it would rain here, but the latest forecasts say no, probably not. We are moving towards summer, and at this latitude storms progressively weaken as time goes by, until we have the perfect rain nullity known as the California summer. And so, what it means is, we are transitioning towards summer.

The Look You Want

Image from smallbrainfield at B3ta.

That's It; No More Music For Me

Or it would be if I could just stop sobbing:
Teenagers are more likely to be depressed if they spend a lot of time listening to music, while teens who read a lot are less depressed, according to new research.

...How did Primack and the other researchers investigate the connection? They called 106 teenagers on special cellphones as many as 60 times over eight weeks and asked what they were doing. About half of the teens had been diagnosed with clinical depression by a psychiatrist.

When called, the teenagers reported that they were watching TV or movies 26 percent of the time.

...The big surprise in the new study is that once the numbers were crunched, there wasn't a big correlation with depression and TV. Instead, it was music that matched with depression.

...Primack figures that may be because reading is far less passive than watching TV or listening to music. "You really have to engage a lot of your brain" when you read, he notes. "It may be that people who are depressed just can't gather enough energy to do that type or thing."

Feeling Inferior Because I Don't Have A Western-Looking Web Site

I love spam! (Well, not all spam, but stuff like this is fun):

Dear Sir/Mrs

Would you like to develop an attracting website? Does your website have an effective westernised outlook? Our company, xxxxx, provides services such as Web Design and Development, Software Offshore Outsourcing, Search Engine Optimization, Content Management System and Graphic Design.

We believe that not having a website with an effective outlook may seriously damage the competitiveness of your company within the market. Separated by hundreds of years of cultural history western customers think and act differently. In order to attract clients worldwide, it is essential that your website be developed in a style that best suits your target population and with the growing influence of the Internet, this means having a website that promotes your company using unique and up to date designs.

Xxxxx offers you the solution you need. We employ experienced western web experts and offer a range of services to help you get your website looking and feeling western, hence giving your company a competetive edge.

We sincerely hope to have an opportunity to work with you!

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, April 07, 2011

So, What Does It Mean?

I promised I would keep the news secret, and I will, grudgingly, but I wonder if it means I visit LA too?

Such A Strange Review Of "Arthur"

Is it a review, really?:
With his enormous head, enormous feet and cascade of black ringlets, his impressive but strangely proportioned physique and his ability to look beautiful and ugly at the same moment, Brand does not quite appear male or female or even exactly human. He looks like a member of a related species from elsewhere in the galaxy, or perhaps an Afghan hound who's been changed into a person by a wicked sorcerer.

When Harry Met Sally 2

Via Mark Ettensohn....

Theater Perk

To my surprise, last night at the theater, Jean gave me two new dress shirts.

Jean's daughter had bought them from the Mervyn's closeout sale for her husband, but the size was wrong. She gave them to her mother to donate to the theater, but Jean was satisfied that she needed no such shirts amongst the costume holdings at this time. She started looking around to see where they could best be put to use, and recognized that they would fit me. So, bingo!

Every so often, non-profits surprise!

It Makes You Wonder Why

There are some extreme things on the Internet, but nothing beats what happens south of the border. The most-amazing thing is how matter-of-fact the violence is. War has a way of doing that to people, of course, but still, I'm shaken. It just shows how far things have gone, and how hard it will be for Mexican society to recover.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Who Says Unwed Motherhood Is A Bad Move?

Clearly a good move, in this case:
Tax documents reveal that an anti-teen pregnancy foundation paid Bristol Palin seven times what it spent on actual teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Bristol Palin, the 20-year-old daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was appointed as a teen ambassador for the Candie's Foundation in 2009. Actresses Jenny McCarthy and Hayden Panettiere have also served as ambassadors for the foundation.

The "Sarah Palin watchdog" website Palingates first reported that Bristol Palin received at least $262,500 from the Candie's Foundation in 2009.

Jezebel reported that the foundation paid $25,000 to the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center and $10,000 to the National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy in 2009, a little over a tenth of what they gave to Palin.

Marc Valdez and Glenn Beck - Separated At Birth?

Gabe is a touch skeptical about my description of Glenn Beck as a liberal in disguise:
It must be that liberal point of view that Beck espouses. Yep, that’s it.
Somehow I don't think Gabe is persuaded, but it's clear enough to me. Glenn Beck peddles liberalism to conservatives, whereas I do the opposite. We can see from our respective stations in life which is the better approach.

Wisconsin Landslide

A bit narrow:
The final tally, pending a recount, has Kloppenburg with 740,090 votes and Prosser with 739,886. That would be 50.006892 percent for Kloppenburg and 49.993108 percent for Prosser.

But no matter what happens, and no matter how sharply and evenly divided Wisconsin has proven itself to be, this is still a fairly amazing result. In February, Kloppenburg managed to get only 25 percent of the vote in a primary contested by four parties. Prosser, a former state representative and speaker of the state assembly, was considered a shoo-in. Even more remarkably, in November 2010, Republicans swept overwhelmingly into office nearly everywhere in the Midwest. But just six months later, the Tea Party tide, at least in Wisconsin, has been matched by a wave in the opposite direction.

You Aren't In Kansas Anymore; You Are In Tucson

Here's a story from last weekend. An Arizona dust devil picked up a jumping castle and hurled it across the street with two kids inside. I love those jumping castles (here is a picture of me in one), but they are helpless against whirlwinds!

This happened at 11th & Speedway in Tucson. That is only a few blocks east of the Speedway/I-10 underpass. I know that underpass only too well. It makes me cringe every time I think of it.

Once, racing downhill while returning from a bicycle trip to Gates' Pass in the Tucson Mountains to the west, I charged down the pedestrian walkway in the underpass at high speed. I realized at the very last possible instant, when I approached a protective guardrail separating the elevated walkway from the road proper while traveling 25 mph, that the walkway was really too narrow for a bicycle traveling at high speed. Too late!

I had the choice of pitching over the guardrail and falling into traffic, or hitting the wall. I chose as wisely as I could under the circumstances. I left this huge arc of a smear against the dirty concrete wall of the underpass that survived for years. Indeed, the smear might still be visible today. It is testament to bad things happening to clueless people threading narrow spaces at high speed. Whenever I see "Jackass"-style videos featuring incredibly-stupid people doing incredibly-stupid things that result in bodily harm, my Speedway smear comes to mind.

The jump castle problem is sad: it's more bad luck than bad judgment. Still, I wonder, is that neighborhood jinxed?

Everyone's A Critic

OK, this is different than when Steve Wynn destroyed the Picasso because of blindness-induced clumsiness. (Which didn't matter so much because he owned the Picasso, but which, for some crazy reason, induced him to sue the insurance company who insured it. The rich lead strange, opaque lives.) This lady sounds a bit like Achmed the Dead Terrorist.... Listen lady, believe it, or not, women in Tahiti used to go around topless all the time, because the climate is so pleasant, and there was no particular reason to put a top on. Betcha didn't hear that on your radio!:

Suspect Susan Burns, who turned 53 Friday, also said that the Gauguin painting “Two Tahitian Women,” which is ... valued at $80 million, is “very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned,” according to a criminal complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court. “I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you,” added Burns, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

On Friday afternoon, Burns allegedly walked over to the Gauguin painting in Gallery 214-C and “grabbed the frame holding said painting on its left side and attempted to pull it off the wall.” Burns, the misdemeanor complaint charges, then “struck the middle of the painting with her right fist.” However, since the painting was “protected by a transparent acrylic shield on the front,” no damage was observed.

On Glenn Beck Leaving FOX

My liberal friends are happy:
Plz don't cry, Glenn Beck is leaving fox! Hip, hip hooray, hip, hip hooray!!!!
A more-conservative friend (a veteran) was bewildered that FOX News' Website had no information at all on this story, and that he had to go elsewhere (remember, FOX News isn't about news at all, but about propaganda).

Nevertheless, I worry about this turn of events. I worry about who might replace him. Glenn Beck, for all his craziness, always seemed to me to be a liberal in disguise.

Don't get me wrong. Ultimately, I'm certain they'll find that Beck, full of blood lust in that critical month of June 2010, was the guiding spirit behind Jared Loughner's January 2011 Tucson shooting spree. But if you read Beck's words instead of listening to them on the TV, you find all kinds of liberal echoes.

For example, Beck's intense criticism of the Federal Reserve and the Progressives behind Woodrow Wilson echoes very closely the very-liberal criticism of Woodrow Wilson by very-liberal people like Walter Karp. In some ways, Beck was simply repackaging liberal thoughts for a conservative audience. So, if Beck goes from FOX, then someone else, likely more repugnant, will take his place. There are definitely worse people out there in the conservative jungle. Better the Devil you know!

As I've blogged before, this review of Beck, which calls him the most-successful American demagogue since Father Coughlin in the 1930's, is the most-useful:
Beck is the most gifted demagogue America has produced since Father Coughlin made his populist broadcasts during the Great Depression. In the course of one radio or television show he can transform himself from conspiracy nut and character assassin into bawling, repentant screw-up, then back to gold-hoarding Jeremiah, and finally to man of God, without ever falling out of character. Which is the real Glenn Beck?

The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary

Flipping channels two nights ago, I caught this great 80's song.

MGMT - Time to Pretend

I was very-pleasantly surprised to hear this song on the radio during my usual 11 a.m. commute into work this morning. Much better than the usual temptation at that hour (Rush Limbaugh).

"Awake My Soul" - CORE Dance Collective (Upcoming)

As promised, CORE will be presenting their Spring show soon. "Silent Noise" was presented at the Crocker Art Museum recently, and will be reworked for the Benvenuti stage and presented again. Blair says it was the Crocker's best-received performance there ever. In addition, a second piece will also be presented.

Don't miss these shows! Some of Sacramento's best dancers will take to the stage! And look at this promo! Where else can you get such a kick-ass picture of Christina Day?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

This Decompression Wasn't Explosive

When I was a kid (about 1967), I remember reading about an explosive decompression that happened to an airliner while flying over the empty wilderness of Catron County, New Mexico. The engine turbine blade shattered, sending a piece of shrapnel through the airliner window, resulting in explosive decompression. The passenger seated next to the window went through the window (no doubt busting bones to squeeze through). To my knowledge, his body was never found - not a surprise, considering the country. With the recent Southwest Airlines incident, the hole was bigger, and to some extent less dangerous:
People and objects can indeed be forced out of an airliner at cruising altitude when a large hole opens in its fuselage. This results from the substantial pressure difference between the external atmosphere at high altitudes and the air inside a pressurized cabin: When the cabin is breached, air rushes outward all at once. While such an event can involve thousands of pounds of force, it's focused in the area immediately surrounding the hole. A passenger seated just a few rows from a five-square-foot hole could probably hold himself down without a seat belt. Anyone who was wearing his seat belt would be very unlikely to sail through the gap, regardless of location. (That is, assuming their seats remain bolted to the floor.) The few people who have slipped through holes not big enough to bring down a commercial aircraft—and there are a handful of famous examples—were located right next to the breach and weren't wearing a seat belt low and tight across the hips.

Live By Propaganda; Die By Propaganda

I liked this tale of a childhood damaged by Ayn Rand:
Then he discovered objectivism. I don't know exactly why he sparked to Rand. He claimed the philosophy appealed to him because it's based solely on logic. It also conveniently quenched his lawyer's thirst to always be right. It's not uncommon for people to seek out belief systems, whether political or spiritual, that make them feel good about how they already live their lives. Ultimately, I suspect Dad was drawn to objectivism because, unlike so many altruistic faiths, it made him feel good about being selfish.

..."Being selfish is a good thing," he said. "To be selfless is to deny one's self. To be selfish is to embrace the self, and accept your wants and needs."

...I was hosting a Harry Potter-themed float party in our driveway, a normal ritual to prepare decorations for my high school quad the week of homecoming. As I was painting a cardboard owl, my father asked me to come inside the house. He and his new wife sat me down at the dinner table with grave faces.

"We were wondering if you would petition to be emancipated," he said in his lawyer voice.

"What does that mean?" I asked, picking at the mauve paint on my hands. I later discovered that for most kids, declaring emancipation is an extreme measure -- something you do if your parents are crack addicts or deadbeats.

"You would need to become financially independent," he said. "You could work for me at my law firm and pay rent to live here."

This was my moment of truth as an objectivist. If I believed in the glory of the individual, I would've signed the petition papers then and there. But as much as Rand's novels had taught me to believe in meritocracy, they had not prepared me to go it alone financially and emotionally. I began to cry and refused.

Do As I Say; Not As I Do

Spocko notes the curious conservative hypocrisy regarding guns at their own gatherings:
I did a story a few weeks ago about the fact that private citizens were outlawed from carrying guns into Sarah Palin speaking events. I decided to keep on the same topic and investigated the rules around firearms at the recent Conservative Political Action Convention held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C.

...I called the the person in charge of CPAC at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel who referred me to the person in charge of security. Instead of hearing from him, the next day I got a phone call from the District of Columbia police: Homeland Security Bureau, Special Operations Division, Special Events Branch. The nice officer from MPDC-HSB-SOD-SEB wanted me to know that attendees should not bring their guns to CPAC.

He explained that the only people who could legally have firearms at CPAC were active law enforcement and military in performance of their duties or retired officers who met the standards of HR218, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. Even then, if the hotel wanted to, they could ask for no firearms to be allowed on the property (as the Marriott did when they had a hotel hosting NRA members near the last NRA convention in North Carolina.)

...Right wing politicians and conservative pundits will publicly tell their supporters how much they love all guns and would never infringe on the rights of anyone to own any firearm or bring it anywhere. But when it comes down to their own lives their actions are clear. GLOCK BLOCK! “Keep guns away from me, even if my security people have to pry them out of my supporters hands at the doorway of the venue.” They actually listen to the people they pay to keep them safe–and that involves sane, rational gun control.

A Complaint From Sydney

Mirrors complaints up here too:
THE nanny state mentality has plumbed new depths and this time it isn't even an increasingly paternalistic arm of government shackling us with yet more restrictions in terms of the way we choose to live our own, private lives.

No, this time the owners of a unit block at Ashfield, in Sydney's inner-west, have banded together to pass a body corporate by-law that bans residents in the building from smoking in their own homes.

...If you live in this particular suburban pile in Sydney you are now prohibited from even having a post prandial puff on your own bloody balcony.

...God help the poor buggers if they dare to pass wind on their veranda the morning after a particularly potent feed of beef vindaloo there would no doubt be a lynch mob of angry residents with flaming torches and pitchforks seeking to cast out the flatulent demon.

...That said, an informed adult's decision to smoke is perfectly legal. These days we smokers are, generally speaking, a pretty considerate lot.

...But enough is enough, too.

You cannot tell me that a hint of Winfield Blue wafting from a nearby balcony or deck is going to give you cancer or suddenly render you impotent and emphysemic.

It's an odour, people. Get over it. In fact, the occasional whiff of tobacco smoke is probably less offensive than the fumes and noise inner-city residents endure constantly.

...Life is too short for this sort of stuff. Life is about personal choice and a degree of respect for others, not heavy handed social engineering

Monday, April 04, 2011

Wreckage Of The Spookiest Air Crash Ever Finally Located

AF447 will prove to be the most-important air crash ever. All the pitot tubes iced up, depriving the crew of air speed information, and effectively-rendering the aircraft unsuitable for flight. It's a huge design problem that they have to have a workaround for, because it could easily happen again. No, it WILL happen again! And again! If they can't safeguard flights against this, they need to ground the entire Airbus fleet, before thunderstorms ground the entire fleet, with passengers, for them:
PARIS (Reuters) - Parts of the wreckage of an Air France plane found in the Atlantic at the weekend contain the bodies of some of the passengers who died when the aircraft crashed off Brazil in 2009, the French government said on Monday. Air France flight 447, an Airbus 330-203 plane, plunged into the ocean en route from Rio to Paris, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board and a long search has so far failed to find flight recorders that could give clues to the cause of the accident. ...France's BEA accident investigation authority said on Sunday it had found a large part of the plane's wreckage including the engine and parts of the fuselage, and Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said on Monday there were human remains inside. "We have more than just traces, we have bodies... Identification is possible," she told France Inter radio. ...The discovery of the chunks of the Air France wreckage in a vast search radius of some 10,000 square kilometers, has raised hopes that the aircraft's flight recorders, or black boxes, might now be found. The aircraft vanished after hitting stormy weather over the Atlantic a few hours into the flight. Speculation about what caused the accident has focused on the possible icing up of the aircraft's speed sensors, which seemed to give inconsistent readings before communication was lost.

Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz

Sally called to say a friend of hers had Season Tickets to the Kings and they couldn't go this Sunday, so could I go with her? Sounded good! I pay virtually no attention to sports whatsoever. I've been to only one other Kings basketball game ever, which occurred even before I lived here - in the early days; roughly 1988, or so. May as well see what may be one of their last games here as the Sacramento Kings!

Good game: Sacramento won, 106 to 97.

Unbeknownst to me, Jetta was apparently also at this game. She had gathered with a Jewish organization. They had prepared to wave lots of little Star of David Israeli flags when the Israeli player (No. 18) came out to play. Unfortunately, No. 18 did not play on Sunday afternoon.

First free throw of the game.
Sacramento Kings Dance Team.
Silly weirdness. Slamson topples one of the Sumo guys while he tried to toss a basketball into the center basket.
Eyes on the prize.
Catholic School Majorettes.

More Sacramento Kings Dance Team.

Shredding Paper Kind Of Weekend

It was a slow weekend, for a change. I spent time filing paper, and shredding paper. Nevertheless, on Cable TV, I did watch three movies in a row: "8 Mile" (featuring Eminem), "Corinna" (an inter-racial romance), and "The Quiet American" (starring Michael Caine). All these movies were good, each in their own way. Kim Basinger has got to be the prettiest trailer-trash mom ever. Eminem doesn't have a lot of range as an actor, but then, he doesn't have to have that. "Corinna" was very charming, and very funny too. Excellent! "The Quiet American" was profoundly disturbing, because it showed quite plainly how Americans get way too involved in foreign politics, of which they know little, and cause untold hardships around the world. Excellent movie!