Thursday, May 29, 2008

Adding Insult to Injury

Just days after I whined about Google ignoring Memorial Day, they posted a homepage graphic celebrating the Anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest.

I'm no flag-pin wearing zealot, but come on!
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In the opening credits for the updated version of The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton, author of the 1969 novel, is listed as "J Michael Crichton." This made me wonder if he's trying to put some symbolic distance between himself and this new outing.

Truth be told, I went into the miniseries with a chip on my shoulder.

I LOVED the original novel and Robert Wise's very faithful 1971 film. I wasn't sure how it could be brought into the twenty-first century without losing something in the process.

After seeing part one, I don't think that they've succeeded.

The Andromeda Strain was very much a product of it's time.

We had just landed on the moon and the world still held all things space and science related with a bit of awe. I remember in 1969 an undercurrent of concern that the returning astronauts might bring back some sort of alien moon virus that could infect the planet.

Crichton's novel, as he would do almost ad nauseum with every subsequent effort, showed the flip-side of the technology coin as a military satellite brings back an unearthly microbe that causes instant death in living organisms through massive blood coagulation.

Enter Wildfire, a secret, underground government lab that exists in constant "standby" mode for the sole purpose of springing into action once a biological emergency (presumably alien) has been declared.

Fighting Andromeda turns into a race against time where luck is equally important as mankind's less than godlike technology. The new Andromeda Strain is less a statement about unchecked scientific advancement and more clearly a product of September 11th and the Iraq war.

As I suspected, in the hands of the Scott brothers, Tony and Ridley, the new effort feels the need to add gratuitous violence and pyrotechnics. They also, a la Alien, pull the military biowarfare conspiracy, originally a backstory, more front and center.

Frankly, I lost interest after seeing the forth head explode from close range gunfire.

At his best, Crichton keeps his plots very grounded in plausibility. He seamlessly lets the morality tale unfold through a straight forward presentation of the actions or inactions of his imperfect protagonists.

The new miniseries is more heavy handed.

The initial scenes establishing Dr. Stone's (Benjamin Bratt) strained (no pun) domestic situation felt like a bad Lifetime Network movie.

The conference room discussions between the Wildfire team (now wearing form fitting outfits that look unintentionally close to the uniforms worn by the crew of the Enterprise in another Robert Wise effort, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), start out as scientific discussions about the crisis at hand (which seem to be intended to bring the audience up to speed) before mutating Andromeda-like into barb trading arguments about the ethical implications of it all.

Rather than advance the story, the dialog struck me mostly like the banter one would hear in a bad Law and Order or Boston Legal episode.

Sure, the original Andromeda Strain, with it's green screen monitors and sometimes slow pacing is a bit dated.

But this new effort is far from a cure.
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Google Snubs Vets?

Google has once again capriciously decided (for reasons unclear) to NOT acknowledge Memorial Day with a special home page graphic, even though they celebrated the following days with "Holiday Logos" this year:

125th Birthday of Walter Gropius - May 18, 2008

Invention of the First Laser - May 16, 2008

Earth Day - April 22, 2008

Persian New Year - March 20, 2008

Chinese New Year - February 7, 2008

50th anniversary of the LEGO brick - January 28, 2008
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The OTHER Gas Crisis

Apparently, we need to develop less helium guzzling clown acts or face a world without "Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's Forty" birthday balloons.

From Washington University in St. Louis (Dec 31, 2007):

Helium supplies endangered, threatening science and technology

...The element that lifts things like balloons, spirits and voice ranges is being depleted so rapidly in the world's largest reserve, outside of Amarillo, Texas, that supplies are expected to be depleted there within the next eight years.
According to Lee Sobotka, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis:

The price of liquid helium is about $5 per liter, having gone up more than 50 percent over the past year because of what Sobotka calls "conventional" economics. He cited the withdrawal of some companies from the marketplace, and the emergence of others that are not yet in production, as the driving force behind higher prices, and not (as yet) a scarcity of the element.

Helium capture in the United States began after World War I, when the primary use of the gas was for dirigibles. Because helium is non-flammable, its use in balloons prevented another Hindenburg tragedy. The U.S. government ran the helium industry for 70 years, but since the mid-90s it has been in the domain of the oil and natural gas industries.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Curse of the President's Trophy

Although I stand by my "Team of Destiny" prediction for the Detroit Red Wings, their last two games against Dallas haven't been encouraging.

Especially when one considers the history of the President's Trophy (the award given out to the NHL team with the highest points accumulated during the regular season).

Since it's inception in the 1985-86 season, only six teams which won the trophy went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Counting this season, the Wings have won the President's Trophy six times. But in their three Stanley Cup seasons (1996-97, 1997-98, and 2001-02), only ONE (2001-02) coincided with having the best regular season record.

Of course, this kind of analysis is meaningless. I'm just saying.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

"F" it, McCain

I just found this hilarious website, Red State Update.

Here's their take on the state of presidential race.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


From (May 12, 2008)

HP-EDS Merger to Challenge IBM in IT Services

HP and EDS combined would be about the same size as IBM Global Services.

Industry sources have confirmed to eWEEK that Hewlett-Packard will acquire Electronic Data Systems for about $13 billion.

The announcement may come as early as May 14, the source told eWEEK. HP acknowledged the news first earlier May 12. (more)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Red Wings Roll On

After Monday's decisive victory for the Detroit Red Wings against the Dallas Stars, I'm getting VERY close to declaring them "Team of Destiny!"

Notice that the "T" is strong, the "O" almost there, and the "D" (for Dallas?) is just starting to appear.

But they did win the Presidents Cup this year. That's usually the kiss of death for a team seeking the Stanley Cup...

Oh hell, I'll just call it now: TEAM OF DESTINY!
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Head Shop(ing)

On the bright side, they could have been smoking crack.


Cops: Texas teens admit stealing child's skull, using it to smoke weed Houston police say three teens admitted digging up a child's corpse, removing the skull and using it to smoke marijuana.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Keeping The Faith

Battlestar Galatica's latest outing, "Faith," was GREAT!

I'm going to really miss it when it ends this year.

Some thoughts:

Roslyn's bald wig cap at the beginning looked rather fake Apparently, Mary McDonnell didn't want to "take one for the team" and shave her head.

One one could question the use of a ticking countdown clock near the end as a forced dramatic element (especially for BSG which generally avoids such clichés). On the other hand, like the shots of the dripping IV in a parallel storyline, it did support the notion of "time running out" that was developed in the episode.

As in the Sopranos, when, Tony had to keep the peace by personally killing his cousin who had capped Phil's brother, blond Six was taken out by one of the other 6's after she killed Barolay. But, I love the fact that BSG set up and resolved that conflict in only five minutes compared to the Sopranos which devoted a number of episodes to do that same idea.

I took sadistic pleasure in Gaeta's suffering because of his leg wound. He's been a bit self-righteous after his stint as Baltar's assistant.

Speaking of Baltar, is he becoming the BSG equivalent of talk radio or the blogosphere?

Lastly, a silly thought.

Since President Rosyln has always been an analog for George W. Bush, it's appropriate that, as shown in her dream, her mother resembles Barbara Bush.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Hockey Puck!

It's worth noting that today's is Don Rickles' 82nd birthday.

I was disappointed with the John Landis documentary (no fault of Don's), BUT his appearance on Late Night with David Letterman was an instant classic!

Give 'em hell Don!
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Naked Ambition

Reading the results for the New Yorker "Cartoon Caption Contest" # 143 was deflating.

Admittedly, my submission was a reworking of the punchline to a famous joke:

"I've been bringing it to work ever since the wife found it in my briefcase"
But the three "winners" are PATHETIC:
  • "I couldn't find a real naked woman to ride with me in the H.O.V. lane." - why would one NEED "a real naked woman" to ride with them in the H.O.V lane?

  • "Hey, you teach C.P.R. your way, and I'll teach it mine." - mediocre AT BEST

  • "She's my Seeing Eye doll." - that doesn't even make sense! And why is "Seeing Eye doll" capitalized?

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Palabra a Tu Madre!

From today's Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit City Council should either vote to remove Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from office, ask Gov. Jennifer Granholm to oust him or censure the mayor, according to a report from the independent attorney hired by the council to assist with its investigation of the text message scandal.

Tabloid T-Shirts
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