Archive for November 18th, 2006
I’ve been going through a string of mediocre movies—most of which I don’t even finish—but finally I got a satisfying movie that kept me watching: Lucky Number Slevin. And quite a cast: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman (miscast, IMHO—needed a more threatening figure, not so grandfatherly), Sir Ben Kingsley, and Stanley Tucci, among others. But better than the cast was the script. Good photography and editing, too. Worth checking out.
Take a look at this, from the Miami Herald:
Amnesty International today derided as a ”white elephant” Pentagon plans to build a massive legal compound at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
”Once again, the Defense Department seems to be operating in — even constructing — its own universe,” said Larry Cox, executive director of the human rights project’s U.S. division.
“The new rules for the proposed military commissions . . . have not been made public, and not a single charge has been filed under the new system. And yet the Pentagon wants to build a permanent homage to its failed experiment in second-class justice.”
The Defense Department has notified would-be contractors that it seeks a design and construction plan for a military commissions compound at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.
It would have two courtrooms; housing for up to 1,200 U.S. forces, lawyers, members of the news media and other visitors; a 100-car motor pool; an 800-person dining facility; conference and closed-circuit television facilities and a secure work space for classified material.
Total tab: Between $75 million and $125 million, with a July 2007 completion deadline, according to a presolicitation notice dated Nov. 3, which The Miami Herald learned of on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
Via Lifehacker, check this out: 13,000 free fonts. (You can get just some of them, of course.)
Here’s a detailed review of Stikkit, a generalized reminder package with some smarts. In the course of the review, he mentions Backpack, which also looks interesting. I’m a sucker for this sort of software, which promises the El Dorado of being totally organized as an automatic by-product of jotting down random notes.
Here’s some basic Taser info. It seems clear—from incidents like that at UCLA yesterday—that Tasers are often used in situations that don’t call for this sort of force. And, given that they can be lethal, more controls are needed.
Alert Reader points out this story of the origin of the oldie The Martian Hop. Good fun.
Someone on AskMeFi wanted the origin of the phrase “perverse incentive,” and though I don’t know that, it did remind me of Bill Oncken’s phrase “vicious compliance”: that occurs when a boss antagonizes the team so that the members do exactly what he says, even if it’s stupid or short-sighted or overlooks some obvious drawbacks. Oncken’s point is that, if you manage the team right, they’ll take what you say and look at the goal and make sure that they achieve it. If you fail in your management, you get vicious compliance.
Good book for managers and aspiring managers, and well worth reading: Managing Management Time, by William Oncken.
A while back, both Sophie and Megs abruptly decided that they didn’t like their Wellness Salmon Kibble. For both of them, the sudden distaste coincided with starting a new bag, so we suspect that there may have been a change in the recipe.
The pet store gave us little packets of various brands of kibble to try, and Megs liked the Innova Evo and Sophie liked the Natural Balance Venison and Peas. All is well.
Then this morning I saw this question on AskMeFi:
Should I switch my cat to a high-protein wet food? If so, what kind? When we went to the vet this morning, Ronnie weighed 9 pounds, up from her usual steady 8 pounds. She is 5 years old. She is small-framed, so I had definitely noticed the weight gain over the past year, though she is far from fat.
She eats half a packet of Whiskas wet food a day, and has regular dry Iams available at all times. She is an indoor cat but very active. She is healthy except for some premature tartar buildup, which the last vet had me feeding her tartar control treats for.
The vet recommended I feed her a high protein diet to prevent further weight gain. He claims high protein (50%+), very low-carb (10%-) wet diets are better for cats, because they mimic cats’ historic diets. He also said the old story about dry food being better for cats’ teeth is wrong; dry carbs can actually make tooth decay worse. And he said high protein has not been proven to cause kidney problems, which used to be a concern.
He gave me some reading material, which I’ve gone through critically. I’ve also done some general internet research and read a bunch of abstracts on PubMed. And I still can’t tell whether the high-protein argument has general support in the veterinary community.
I am willing to spend more on cat food, but not insane amounts, and I have neither time nor inclination to prepare Ronnie’s food myself using whole rabbits, organ meats, and a variety of supplements. Advice?
One of the answers: Read the rest of this entry »
For the first time in quite a while, I played a real-time game of Go on Kiseido Go Server, using their excellent CGoban 3 client. I was well ahead, and then blundered—twice. :sigh: I am kicking myself repeatedly. It’s a little like a car accident in that you keep going over it in your mind and trying to make it not have happened. Only no physical injuries or insurance claims, of course. I suppose I should start playing regularly and see if I can restore my Go powers.
I try to avoid news about celebrities, but in this culture it’s next to impossible not to see some. Thus, I read recently that Brittney Spears and her husband, Kevin Federline, are divorcing, as are the Hollywood couple Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe.
This leads me to conclude that it was a mistake to legalize opposite-sex marriages. It’s just not working out. Half of them fail, leading to the destruction of the American family. In Spears’ case, her two children will now grow up without a father.
I knew it was a mistake to give in to the heterosexual agenda. These heterosexuals have done nothing but make a mockery of our traditions through opposite-sex marriage. Also, many of them are promiscuous. Stories continue to circulate that Phillippe had some sort of extra-marital relationship. That’s so typical of heterosexuals and opposite-sex couples. They just can’t stay faithful.
I’ll go further: It’s time to question the mainstreaming of heterosexuality in government, education and popular culture. For years we have allowed opposite-sex couples to flaunt their sexuality in movies, books and other forms of mass media. You even see them kissing on TV. It has only served to weaken our society. The next thing you know, heterosexuals will be targeting our children, trying to recruit them into a lifestyle where half of all marriages fail.
We need a change of direction. I’m suggesting ballot referenda — a series of votes in the states to add amendments to the state constitutions banning opposite-sex marriage. I’d also like to see a federal amendment to outlaw opposite-sex marriage.
It’s time to face facts and accept that the grand social experiment of opposite-sex marriage and government acceptance of heterosexuality has completely and utterly failed.
Zadie Smith has an excellent comment on reading:
But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, “I should sit here and I should be entertained.” And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.
Yesterday I happened across a blog that asked what one’s ideal morning ritual would be: the actions on awakening to start the day with a positive experience. My answer:
This is an easy question for me, because I’ve actually thought about it and worked it out. It starts with a shower and then a leisurely morning shave, using a good razor, a badger brush, and an excellent shaving soap or cream. Then I make a fresh pot of coffee in my vacuum French press and sit down at the computer to find out what’s happened in the world—and what moves my Go opponents have made on DragonGoServer.net. Very satisfying.
I wondered about the word “leisurely”—it certainly feels leisurely, my shaving, but how much time does it take? So today I checked the bathroom clock: started at 7:15 with putting hot water on the shaving soap (today Provence Santé, a tallow-based soap from France) prepatory to washing my beard with soap and water. (You then pour the water off the soap and charge the wet brush—in this case, my bespoke Superior Brush with the Persian Jar handle and 22mm knot.)
I didn’t have to change the blade—a Feather—in the Vision, the razor I used, though that would be a matter of less than a minute. Three passes—with, across, and against the grain—with glycerine as a pre-shave for pass 2 and 3. Do the hot- and cold-water rinse, apply Saint Charles Shave Bay Rum Aftershave Balm, and then rinse and put away equipment and dry off sink. 7:26. No nicks, very smooth shave.
So 11 minutes feels leisurely and I feel pampered and I had a great shave. At the outside, with dithering, four passes, and the like, it couldn’t amount to more than 13 or 14 minutes—certainly less than 15 minutes. So little time, such great pleasure.
The coffee today: Yemen Mocha-Java from Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co.
UPDATE: One person pointed out that, with a Mach 3, he can complete a shave in 5 minutes, and “If this routine adds six minutes to your daily shave, you’re looking at three months over an eighty year life dedicated to making second passes with your 50s shaving tekmology [sic].” My view is that 11 minutes of enjoyment and pleasure is better than 5 minutes of routine chore (YMMV), and one must remember this cautionary tale.