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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Oddly Pontifical

It seems that Pope John Paul II's time is short here in this world, and I am truly saddened by his failing health. The Pope's remarkable presence and his unparalleled talents as both a spiritual and political leader have made a lasting impact on both the Catholic Church and the world as a whole.

And who will take his place as High Pontiff? No one knows for sure, but there appear to be at least three major forces at work. First, bear in mind that Pope John Paul II personally appointed 115 out of the 120 voting members of the College of Cardinals, ensuring that his successor will have a strong conservative bent. Second, there has been a definite shift in the Church's demographics: 65% of the world's Catholics live in Africa. How the Vatican chooses to interpret this fact could influence the vote. If they want to shore up their influence at home, they could favor a European Pope, whereas a Pope from somewhere in the third world might enhance their position among their new power base. A third factor is the talk of the need for a transitional Pope. That would mean electing an older cardinal to take over for some time before a younger and more permanent candidate can be installed.

With all of this in mind, here are the odds on some of the leading papabili:

CardinalAgeNationalityThe Odds
Dionigi Tettamanzi72Italian5/2
Francis Arinze72Nigerian11/4
Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga62Honduran4/1
Joseph Ratzinger78German7/1
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino63Cuban15/2
Ennio Antonelli66Italian8/1
Claudio Hummes69Brazilian12/1
Christoph Schoenborn58Austrian12/1
Godfried Daneels70Belgian20/1

Cohabitation Illegal in North Carolina

I didn't even know laws like this existed, but apparently it's true. Cohabitation is illegal in North Carolina.

But consider the picture that this article paints: a shotgun wedding at 18, pregnant with her second child, Melissa Sheridan is cohabitating because she never bothered to get divorced, citing financial hardship. Live with whomever you want to live with, but at least file the paperwork, lady. Should a marriage be so easily ignored? Should there be no control over what defines the boundaries of a marriage?

^Soul Calibur III

Soul Calibur 3 has just been announced, slated for release sometime this year (Christmas?). The good: a customizable character in story mode, an Egyptian guy with a scythe, and a clock tower board. The bad: I have to wait all year, some chick with a bladed hula-hoop, and it's PS2 only.

24 Recap

  • Beruz: I really am starting to lose faith in the little guy. I was all convinced in the beginning of the show that he was the show's Everyman. He's the voice of the target demographic, he's the convert to the American Dream. And he doesn't want to hurt anyone. He hates his dad. He doesn't believe in their cause. He just wants to fuck Debbie. And shit. So do I. That's the American Dream, right?
  • Jack: Jack kicked two terrorists' asses while handcuffed to a wall. 'Nuff said.
  • Chloe and Edgar: All I have to say is: feel the geek hate. Oh, and what are the chances that the geek with the lisp is the terrorist plant?
  • A Newscaster Spazzes

    This video is hilarious.

    $Chad Shakes and Bakes

    Who could forget this play? And who would have thought that someone would have made it into an animated GIF?

    Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

    I decided to check out Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle because I found Danny Leiner's first movie, Dude, Where's My Car?, really enjoyable. Even though the plot was ridiculous, and the humor downright puerile at times, Dude worked primarily because of Seann William Scott's comic talent and the movie's utter refusal to take itself seriously. So I was hoping Harold and Kumar would, with a little luck, at least be another fun stoner movie. But what I got was something much, much better. Not only is Harold and Kumar a ton of laughs, but it succeeds on multiple levels.

    If you want a plot summary, you don't need to look any further than the title. Two friends with the munchies are sidetracked numerous times on their way to square burger heaven. But don't let that fool you. Under the teen movie/drug movie/buddy movie trappings, Harold and Kumar is both a thoughtful social commentary and an old-fashioned farce propelled by Kal Penn's excellent performance. Kumar is the talented-but-shiftless slacker who would rather thumb his nose at authority than buy in to someone else's idea of who he should be. Harold (John Cho) works hard to get ahead, only to be pushed down by those who would take advantage of him. It is this social disparity that is behind much of the humor of the movie. The enemy is The Man in all his forms: the police, the schools, our employers, and even the local bullies. All they have is their unflagging determination to get what they want.

    Harold and Kumar is by far the most intelligent stupid movie I've ever seen. And if you like breasts, make sure you get the unrated version.

    BSR (Base Show Rating): 7/10
    Applicable Modifiers:

    • +1 if you're high
    • -2 if you liked Dude, Where's My Car? because of Ashton Kutcher

    B.A.D.D. to the Bone

    This blog entry links to an article about the organization B.A.D.D. — "Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons". Written in 1990 by one Michael Stackpole, he discusses the founder's blatant disregard for objectivity and irrational arguments against the game.

    While she is obviously a bleeding idiot, Alex's blog and Michael's analysis do make one point pretty clear to me: there was an awful lot of pagan and occult material being churned out by TSR back in the day. And while there's nothing wrong with that in itself, I can understand how it made the fundies (fundamentalists) nervous.

    The Ring Two

    I saw The Ring Two with high hopes because I was a fan of the original. And while it had some scary scenes, I walked out of the theater a little disappointed.

    For those unfamiliar with the plot, the concept here is that an evil little girl named Samara has transcended her own death via a cursed video tape that kills anyone who watches it. In The Ring, Rachel (Naomi Watts) stumbles on the tape while investigating the death of a relative, and is drawn into the strange world surrounding the life and death of little Samara. In The Ring Two, Rachel and her son Aidan (David Dorfman) have moved away and are starting a new life, but the legacy of the tape continues to haunt them.

    The beginning of the movie is slow, but it accelerates nicely including what I am sure is the scariest deer scene ever on film. The plot is interesting, and the creep factor is good, but I wanted to know more about Samara and her evil tape. After seeing two hours of film based on a concept I already know, I want to feel like I have been immersed in the mysteries of that world, that now that I understand more, and that the possibilities are even scarier. Instead, I felt like I had just seen some scary stuff related to the first movie, but there was no sense of an overall story arc or even a well-crafted mythology. It was just weird stuff. I think that the movie failed to provide a story deep or coherent enough to propel it into a sustainable franchise.

    While researching the movie, I ran across an excellent fan site which has a very informative FAQ about the Japanese origins of the story. Having read that, I now understand much more about what the story was supposed to be: a girl with formidble psychic powers seeks to exact revenge on those who have wronged her, and does so in a way that is as insidious and personal as it is evil. I fully intend to at least read the first book.

    Base Show Rating (BSR): 5/10
    Applicable Modifiers:

    • +1 if you liked The Ring
    • -1 if you're expecting a coherent plot

    The Science of Rant

    For those of you not familiar with "Rant," it's a party-game version of the old "Back to Bacon" thing, where you link actors who appeared in movies together until you get to Kevin Bacon. In "Rant" (or at least the version my friends and I have played), you start with Steve Buscemi and link movies to actors to movies and then see who gets stumped first.

    Well I'm happy to report that a band of geeks has gotten this thing down to a science. The The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia links any actor to Kevin Bacon, and this variant links any actor to any other. Even more interesting (if you think things like this are interesting) is their analysis in Who is the Center of the Hollywood Universe? Here they show by statistical analysis that Mr. Bacon isn't even in the top 1000 best candidates, but Harvey Keitel is #5.

    Slick Speaks the Truth

    I like today's Sinfest. There's something about Ishida's opinion of religion that is always somehow sincere, even though it's humorous and often cynical. Slick is very much a 21st century Everyman, at least if you're a philosophically-minded, single man with no kids influenced by Godzilla and MTV.

    The Internet Film Laser Squad's Top 100/58 Movies Of All Time

    I ran across this bunch of funny movie reviews and had to share. Basically it's a couple of guys who decided to make their own list of the funniest movies of all time and simultaneously goof on the American Film Institute's list. My personal favorite is from #43 on their list, Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son in Law:

    Petey Wheatstraw was born on the night of a massive electrical storm right after his mother passed a watermelon through her birth canal. The AFI probably didn't get this joke because they weren't raised on the streets like me and Erik. To hardcore motherfuckers like us, seeing someone with a watermelon twin brother is like the American Film Institute seeing a man in a dress slip on a banana peel into a giant asshole.
    And in case you clicked the link for Petey Wheatstraw (which Amazon carries, by the way) and ended up back here, it's because it's the last one in the list. It's a top 100 list with only 58 entries. And they only let you page forward. So start with #100 if you want to read them. :-P

    Oh and Seanbaby? I'm going to let the cracks about nerds and Monty Python slide...

    In Honor of Saint Patty's Day

    In honor of yet another of those bogus American holidays (along with Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day and the like), Landover Baptist Church asks the burning question: Does America Really Need Another Excuse for Catholics to Get Drunk?

    It's Called "Fiction", Your Eminence

    I'm currently reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and while I'm enjoying the book thoroughly, I am amazed at people's reaction to it on several different levels. I'm amazed that people talk about the book like it's a work of genius. I'm amazed that it takes a mass market novel to introduce the public to what should be pretty obvious truths about the history of the Roman Catholic Church. And I'm amazed at the Church's reaction most of all.

    First... the book itself. It's a great read, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. (I'm only about halfway through, BTW, so don't spoil anything for me.) But let's face it, people: this isn't War and Peace. Robert Langdon is such a two-dimensional character that it becomes hard for me to care what happens to him. Sure, I want to watch the plot unfold, but let's not start handing out Nobel prizes just yet.

    With regards to the conspiracy theory that forms the basis of the plot, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so many people are hearing some of these challenges to the Church for the first time, but honestly, this has been a hot topic for maybe fifty years already. The demonization of pagan symbols, the suppression of female divinity, and the story of the Templars' heresy are all well-covered topics. A thousand books have been written on each of these topics. It's a good thing that the more people are starting to consider the fact that what they learned in Sunday school may not be the whole truth, but if your first exposure to the idea is from a guy trying to sell conspiracy novels, you should probably be careful about drawing conclusions.

    But now a cardinal is calling the book "lousy history". That's right, Your Eminence, it's called fiction. It's a telling reaction, actually. After all, they don't feel the need to call other works of historical fiction "lousy history", do they? Apparently, The Da Vinci Code is so popular and people are so impressionable that the Church wants to make sure that Billy Bob Alabama doesn't get the wrong idea. But does the Church really expect competition from a novel? According to the Church, there is a wealth of historical evidence to disprove Brown's tale. If contradictory proof were so obvious and readily available, as they claim, there would be no need to ban the book (as they did in Lebanon) or make statements denouncing it.

    Obsequious, Ingratiating, Obeisant, Infuriating

    This is driving me crazy, so I had to write about it. I have a new co-worker who is driving me up a wall. He prefaces every sentence with an apology and ends every sentence with about three thank yous.

    He comes over to my desk to ask a question and stands about five or six feet from my cube, looking at me.

    "Hey, what's up?" I ask.

    "I'm sorry, Daniel, is it okay if I ask you a question?"

    "Sure, it's fine."

    "Oh, okay. I'm sorry. This will just take a second."

    "It's okay. What's the question?"

    Notice I had to ask him to ask his question three times. He asks his question. I give it some thought. I begin to respond just as he starts to say something, so I stop talking.

    "Oh, I'm sorry," he says. Grrrrr. I finish what I was saying.

    "Okay." He stands there for a minute in thought. I wait a second, then turn my attention back to my monitor because he interrupted my Amazon shopping.

    "Well..." he starts, so I turn my attention back to him. And once I do... "I'm sorry. It's just that I was thinking that if we..." Some more of his concern or problem or whatever.

    "Well, the reason we don't do that is..." Blah, blah, blah.

    "Oh, okay. Thank you, Daniel."

    "No problem."

    "Okay. Sorry to bother you. Thank you. Thanks." Scurries away, head down.

    Now, I'm not certain why that drives me crazy, but it sure does. And on top of it, I remember trying to explain to a friend why I found him annoying and couldn't come up with a good word to explain the behavior. That's even more annoying. There must be a good word to describe someone who acts like that.

    At first, I chose obsequious, but that's not quite right, because it carries a sense of servility, and he's not servile, exactly. He's just so lacking in self-confidence that he needs to constantly apologize for himself. Then I thought of ingratiating, which is pretty good, but (to me) this word describes someone who is trying to get on your good side, which I don't think is going on here. Obeisant means deferential, so that's close, but it's not really deference. That's the thing. There's a hundred ways of saying "whiny" or "fawning" but they're not right. He's just.... infuriatingly apologetic.

    So I'm still searching for the right word. I've consulted Thesaurus.com, but it's hard to zero in on a particular shade of meaning. Anyone have any suggestions?

    House of Flying Daggers

    I finally caught Yimou Zhang's House of Flying Daggers this weekend because I knew that if I didn't see it now, it would leave the theaters and I would never get the chance to see it on the big screen. And I'm sure glad that I did. Daggers is a twisting journey through a vibrant landscape of sight and sound superior to his 2002 film, Hero.

    Ziyi Zhang (the young woman from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) plays a blind courtesan named Mei who is involved in a complex plot between the corrupt government and a band of rogues known as the Flying Daggers. Exploring the themes of love, honor and desire against this backdrop of political and personal intrigue, we discover her relationships with Jin, played with style and charm by Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Leo, who is much less convincingly portrayed by Andy Lau.

    Like Hero, Daggers is a visual feast. His use of color is exceptional, and the movie's climax is intensified by the transition from the verdant green of the bamboo forest, to the golden browns of autumn and into the stark white of winter. The use of slow motion is appropriate (unlike Hero), the cinematography inspired, and the the music is as intense as the visuals. House of Flying Daggers attempts to realize the same sort of pure, cinematographic beauty that Hero does, but does so in a much more successful way because it is more accessible. The visuals enhance the story instead of distracting us from it.

    On the down-side, there are at least two scenes that are blatant imitations of Crouching Tiger which cheapens the actual achievements of this very good film. As well, it does not provide us with ample justification for many of the more stylized scenes. Sure, it looks cool to have guys jumping from tree to tree, hurling sharpened bamboo spears at their quarry, but why? One of the reasons Crouching Tiger was so successful, in my opinion, is that it accepted the magical nature of its wire fu and allowed the audience to focus on the story.

    Overall, the movie was thoroughly enjoyable, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.

    BSR (Base Show Rating): 7/10
    Applicable Modifiers:
    • -1 if you saw Crouching Tiger
    • +1 if you liked Hero

    Southeast Asia Photos

    After seeing Alan's travel blog where he posted links to his pictures from our trip to Southeast Asia, I figured I'd follow suit and post links to mine, just in case anyone missed them.

    I've reproduced Alan's links below. Thanks, Alan!

    ^GameFly Disappoints

    About a month into my GameFly membership, I am disappointed with the service. When I originally evaluated the offering, I thought that the membership cost was too high, but I decided to join on a temporary basis so that I would have the freedom to try out new games with no risk, and buy them at a reduced cost if I liked them.

    The first two games I rented were both great (Prince of Persia: The Warriror Within and Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders), but holding them for too long devalues my investment in the service, so I decided to buy Kingdom Under Fire. I visited the website to buy the game, only to find that it is not for sale because (from their FAQ page)

    Rarely, games will not be for sale until they have been out for a month or two. However, most games are available for Keep It or Buy It within a short period of time.

    I wrote an email explaining all of this to them yesterday, and funny enough, today the game is for sale. However, they charged me the same price as Amazon! This pricing and availability policy greatly reduces the value of the service and has given me enough reason to consider canceling my membership.

    Skeletor and Gang

    This video proves that some people have way too much time on their hands. There are other episodes, too.

    EFF Founder Under Self-Imposed Interdict

    John Gilmore bought a ticket to fly from Oakland to Washington, D.C. and upon arrival at the airport, was asked to present identification.

    "Why?" he asked.

    Because it's the law, they told him.

    But when he challenged this and asked to see the law, no one could produce a copy. And that's because you're not allowed to see that law. It's considered "sensitive information".

    This thought-provoking article looks at John Gilmore, the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the group that broke DES encryption in 1998 to prove a point. The point was that there needs to be serious, informed dialogue on matters of security and privacy, and that the government does not have all of the answers. And this latest move by the privacy advocate is similar in thrust. He can't fly, ride Amtrak, or drive a car, because he refuses to present identification. And he won't, because no one can show him where the law says he has to.

    "Are they just basically saying we just can't travel without identity papers? If that's true, then I'd rather see us go through a real debate that says we want to introduce required identity papers in our society rather than trying to legislate it through the back door through regulations that say there's not any other way to get around," Gilmore said. "Basically what they want is a show of obedience."

    The very concept of a hidden law in the context of a democracy is absurd. In theory, we, the people, wrote and ratified those laws. There should be no such thing as a law that is not in the public domain, and I don't care whether the government says it's for my own good.

    Firefox

    After being reminded by a comment that I had not done a very thorough job of designing the site to be cross-browser compatible, I went back and cleaned up some of my CSS so that the site renders correctly in Firefox.

    For anyone who's been living under a rock, Firefox, built on the same technology behind the old Netscape Navigator, is the first real competitor to IE available for the Windows platform since IE's domination of the browser market. And it's a good thing; IE hasn't had a major release since 2001 and they have only now announced that IE7 is coming.

    Shame on Microsoft for resting on their laurels. This only proves what the anti-Microsoft camp have been saying for years: that one company controlling so much of the technology we use will stifle advancement. It has. I have always defended Microsoft as a savvy company that is hated because it is successful, but it took Mozilla's unflagging commitment to the technology to force them to advance.

    By the way... I have not checked the site under Safari yet, so any Safari users out there, please let me know if you have any problems.

    Aliens of the Deep

    I went to see Aliens of the Deep at the IMAX theater in Lincoln Center. This was my first experience with IMAX, and I have to say that my feelings are pretty mixed.

    First, the good. For those, like me, who have not seen a 3D movie since Treasure of the Four Crowns, you will be pleasantly surprised that the technology has advanced quite a bit since the days of red and blue cellophane. The glasses (or "headsets," as they insisted on calling them) were comfortable, covered your entire field of vision, and didn't give you a headache after watching for 15 minutes. Second, some of the underwater cinematography is truly spectacular. Probably the greatest image in the whole movie is that of a reticulated, jellyfish-like creature with a ribbon-shaped body that rippled beautifully in the water.

    But other than that, there's really very little here. I think that the target audience (I'm guessing 7- to 10-year-olds?) would probably be bored because of the lack of drama, and I, being a little older than 10, found myself frustrated with the lack of information. As eye candy goes, it was mediocre; as a documentary, it was fair. I can't speak to its effectiveness as a kids' movie, but for the adults: don't waste your time.

    BSR (Base Show Rating): 4/10
    Applicable Modifiers:

    • -1 if you're over the age of 10
    • +1 if you think hearing scientists ooh and ah for an hour is entertaining

    +Beating Referrer Spam, the HttpModule Way

    I had always wondered what one would do with an HttpModule other than implement some sort of custom security. And not too long ago, I had had a hard time finding any examples of other uses for this technology.

    But I found one last week, and here is another one, and this one is pretty cool. The concept is to filter out requests from an explicit blacklist of URL's, and the interception capability offered by the ASP.NET pipeline via HttpModules is the perfect solution.

    ~Order of the Stick #12

    This one will definitely stand as "geekiest post to date," so for my dear readers of the non-geek persuasion, best not to read this one.

    Now, as you read in a previous post, I'm a huge fan of the Order of the Stick. While reading today's, they mentioned Vaarsuvius' familiar from strip #3, which led me to re-read some of the old ones.

    Strip #12 prompted me to post about it because if Rich were a right-and-proper geek, he would remember a passage from the First Edition Players' Handbook in which Mr. Gyagax explains that there are a number of different uses of the word "level," and that it can be confusing. During playtesting, apparently, they had discussed the possibility of using the term "rank" to describe player level, "power" to describe spell level, and so on, but had decided that it was better to leave well enough alone and just call everything -- from the floor in a dungeon, to the strength of an enemy, to the experience of a character, to the magnitude of a spell -- just plain "level".

    What does this prove? Only that apparently I'm geekier than a geek geeky enough to make a geek cartoon full time.

    $LC is Back

    One of my favorite Jets has returned to the fold, and I am ecstatic about it. Laveranues Coles was traded back to the Jets for former Hurricane Santana Moss, and while I have always liked Moss, I really think we got the better end of the deal. LC is a threat to the inside as well as deep because he brings a physicality and play-making ability to the position rather than just pure speed.

    And, unlike many naysayers who will talk about how we never should have let him go in the first place, I think we made the right decision at the right time when we decided to let him go for the obscene amount of money that Washington had offered him. As a matter of fact, I recall talking to a friend who had a conversation with LC while he was still in New York, and had told him to "take the money and run". That was good advice: I don't know if any other franchise would have offered him a $35M contract including a $13M bonus.

    LC and Chad have always had a special rhythm, and I hope to see that connection return. I think Chad and LC have the potential to become known as a team in the same way Montana-to-Rice or Manning-to-Harrison are known. He also replaces something vital that he Gang had in Wayne Chrebet, a third-down receiver. I know Wayne isn't officially gone, but it won't be long any which way.

    They're building a team around leaders, leaders like Jonathan Vilma and Chad Pennington, and while we still need to work on our roster (like replacing Jason Ferguson and getting some help at cornerback), trading Moss for Coles shows a commitment to putting together a winning team.

    Spamalot

    I saw a preview of Monty Python's Spamalot on Friday, and had a blast. I would recommend the show to any Python fan or to any Broadway fan, but let me preface my review by saying that I come from this first camp, not the second. I find many Broadway shows tiresome in general and trite at their worst, but Spamalot is neither of these things. It's a guaranteed good time and the production is excellent all around. The cast, including Tim Curry, David Hyde-Pierce, and Hank Azaria, were all in superb form, and the energy in the place was palpable.

    Spamalot, for those who might not know, is based on the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The mix of old and new material is about 60/40 in favor of new stuff, and they riff on the source material pretty liberally. If you're looking for Holy Grail on stage, it's not exactly that, but the spirit of Python is throughout the script.

    Bring out your dead, the killer rabbit, and the black knight are all there, along with discussions of swallows, Sir Lancelot crashing a wedding, Sir Robin running away, and the Knights Who Say Ni... but alas, no witch! The French taunting scene was my personal favorite, and watching Tim Curry run in place singing "Run Away" at the end of Act One left me grinning throughout the intermission.

    One choice they made, however, really bugged me, and I have to talk about it. They appropriated Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, one of my personal favorite Python songs of all time. And the reason it has been my favorite is because of the way it is presented in The Life of Brian. For those of you who have not seen this very funny movie, it's worth seeing for this song alone because it's sung by a bunch of guys hanging on crosses. The overall effect is rather macabre. And then to see it put on a broadway stage, accompanied by knights dancing in the rain, it seemed to cheapen the whole effect of the original. Maybe I'm nit-picking, but it bothered me.

    Another thing that bugged me was the Lady of the Lake. She has a fairly sizable part in the play, and while Sara Ramirez's performance was truly excellent, she started to overshadow the Python bits, and then you started to see that there are really two plays here: a Holy Grail revisited and a Broadway spoof, and the two sides of this tale do not always get along. Instead of something smooth, seamless and subtle, we end up with chunks of Python floating in a Broadway soup. It's good fun, like I said, but lacks some of the genius in the original.

    Like I said, if you liked Holy Grail, then you'll like most of what you see here, and some of the new material is really very funny, but I think that overall, it could have been better realized.

    BSR (Base Show Rating): 8/10
    Applicable Modifiers:

    • -1 if you have seen Life of Brian (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life gets butchered)
    • -1 if you you don't like Broadway cheese (there's a lot here)
    • +1 if you like David Hyde-Pierece (he's excellent)

    Naked News

    While perusing the Yahoo! Netrospective covering the biggest moments in the Internet's short history, I stumbled over item 51, the Naked News. Apparently this is old news (but, as usual, I'm a little behind), but since I had never heard of it, I figured I'd share.

    Brandishing their slogan that they have "nothing to hide," the Naked News combines two of my favorite things: probing analysis of world-shaping events, and gawking at naked women. According to Time magazine, the Canadian website offers "the best international coverage this side of the BBC" and that the "naked part is gravy". I have to admit I'm intrigued. Sure, you can get better porn for $10 a month, but when was the last time you found a news program so riveting?

    Bill Gates Knighted

    Maybe I don't get the whole knighting thing, but it seems to me that this is just further proof that a knighthood is nothing more than an acknowledgement of fame. I find myself wondering... why does the Queen of England feel it necessary to bestow such a great honor on mere celebrities?

    Not to say that all celebrity knightings are bogus. For instance, Paul McCartney, IMHO, was a good choice. He's British, at least, and has had arguably one of the most influential musical careers of anyone in the last fifty years. But do people like Bill Gates, Elton John and Rudy Giuliani belong in the same category?

    Labels: , ,

    We Eat Ham and Jam and Spam a Lot

    I am going to see a preview of the new Monty Python Broadway show, Spamalot tomorrow. The tickets are sold out on the weekends through July, but I managed to luck out and find great seats for this weekend, so I decided to jump on it. So, to express my joy, I offer the following:

    We're knights of the Round Table We dance whene'er we're able. We do routines and chorus scenes With footwork impec-cable We dine well here in Camelot We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot. We're knights of the Round Table Our shows are for-mi-dable But many times we're given rhymes That are quite un-sing-able We're opera mad in Camelot We sing from the diaphragm a lot. In war we're tough and able Quite in-de-fa-ti-gable. Between our quests we sequin vests And impersonate Clark Gable It's a busy life in Camelot I have to push the pram a lot. —Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

    Oh... and I stumbled across "All Too Flat" while looking for Monty Python information (the name is an obscure reference to a fish sketch). The scientist trading cards are awesome. I may just buy a set as a tribute to sheer geekiness.

    ^GameFly

    I started a little experiment recently with a company called GameFly. Now, I have heard people singing the praises of Netflix for some time now, and GameFly is the first company I've encountered to try to apply the same model to video games. Since I love games, it seems like a perfect fit.

    I think the model is a perfect fit for video games because a game's lifetime is sort of limited. The average video game obsession lasts about a month, for me. Maybe a few months, but rarely more than 6 (maybe Madden and Starcraft, but that's about it for me). The fact that you can cycle out old games for new games makes sense. And you have all the time you need.

    I have also been guilty of shelling out $60 impulsively on a game that looks cool, only for it to turn out to be Battle Arena Toshinden 3. Yikes. Having the flexibility to try a game for no risk means I will be able to play more different games, and that's the biggest appeal of the GameFly/Netflix model for me.

    The problem is, unfortunately, that I think GameFly's service is overpriced. For $25 a month you get any two games out at a time. Or, for the same amount of money (roughly), you could buy a new game every other month, and not have a recurring fee that 3-month period when you're not playing as many video games because you're busy at work or that 6-month period when nothing good is coming out.

    I'm paying for it primarily for the freedom-of-experimentation aspect of it, but I know I'm getting robbed.

    Blogs are Beautiful

    Reading up on Hunter S. Thompson (via Patsy's link) got me reading up on a news story that's now about a week and half old.

    Yes, as usual, I'm a little behind.

    Anyhoo, this James Guckert nonsense is really something. Apparently, some guy regurgitated the wisdom of Rush Limbaugh at an impromptu presidential press conference "clarifying" his inaugural address. This apparently has some figuring that Karl Rove is insidiously spreading his conservative agenda via losers like Mr. Guckert. Personally, this is way too involved and conspiracy-sounding for my taste already, but these are certainly interesting political times we live in. Give that blog article a read.

    ~The Order of the Stick

    For those of you not familiar with The Order of the Stick, it's a Dungeons and Dragons comic strip with dozens of inside jokes that require a heavy dose of geek to get. Which means I think it's hilarious. I guess there's just something about homicidal, stick figure halfling rangers that I just love.

    Well, rejoice OOTS fans, because the "Giant in the Playground," Rich Burlew, has just announced his first Order of the Stick book, which you can preorder now.

    Truth to Power

    I just wanted to give a shout-out to the wild and crazy Patsy L and her communist blog. Okay, it's not communist, but (self-admittedly) leftist to be sure. And while Patsy and I may disagree on many topics, we both hate that chimp-faced ass-fucker, Bush.

    Now, I'm not much of a conservative... I always have thought of my views as being fairly centrist, but I sure feel like it living in ultra-liberal New York City. But that's the wonderful thing about Bush, right? He brings people together in hatred from both sides of the political spectrum.

    Labels:

    +A non-security-related HttpModule

    Finally, someone has come up with something to do in an ASP.NET HttpModule that's not security-related.

    Second Post

    Already, a problem. Okay. Blogger is the hundred-pound gorilla in blogging, but now I remember why I didn't take this route in the first place. No way to categorize my posts. Or export them. That's why I decided to write my own.

    However, I'm not going to let that stop me from rambling on self-importantly until I'm good and ready to finish my own blogging system, so like a good programmer, I'll just hack it.

    I will prefix the programming posts with a + so at least those can be filtered out. I'll use a ~ for gaming, and no prefix for general stuff, like this one. I'm sure that list will expand.

    PrefixCategory
    noneGeneral
    ~Gaming
    +Programming
    ^Video Games
    $Football

    This way, when I'm done, I can at least allow my old posts to have categories. Sheesh.

    First Post

    The first post should say something about the purpose of the blog or something, but being that I don't have the inclination to do so at the moment, that will just have to wait.

    Suffice to say that I will be writing skeptical nonsense, dogmatic half-truths, technological fallacies and other materials concerning the seven pillars of intemperence, greed, concupiscence*, laziness, self-absorption, mendacity and malice.

    *I spelled that right on the first try!

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    Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida

    Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew
    The Red Bull Diary Is
    The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.