Thu, August 31
Dissent, by Keith Olbermann—11:23 AM
In what will come as a giant shock to many of you, I'm linking to Kung Fu Monkey again. Olbermann knocked my socks off with his Rumsfeld commentary, and Kung Fu's got the transcript.
But atop the transcript is a link to the video, in case you prefer to watch – which I certainly recommend.
I always knew Olbermann was adorable. When I heard not too long ago that he was involved in a feud with Bill O'Reilly, I knew I liked him. But after this transcendent display of patriotism, intellect, and passion – Countdown is going on the Season Pass list immediately.
Tue, August 29
My high school reunion was a couple of weekends ago, and it was fun for all the reasons you'd expect, and some you wouldn't. (Read more.)
Mon, August 28
With Vanished, Fox inaugurates the new fall season with the first of three particularly weak debuts. (Read more.)
Fri, August 25
You're On Notice!—11:56 PM
Delightful! One can make one's own Colbert Report On Notice board with a single click!
I saw this used on some blog a few days ago, but I just assumed the blogger had dummied it up himself. Turns out, he created it dynamically at http://shipbrook.com/onnotice/ – by far the most convincing in a long line of dynamic sign generators.
So – call me unoriginal if you must – I thought onebee needed an On Notice board, too.
Thu, August 24
The Race War Will Be Televised—12:14 PM
All I can say is, God bless Mark Burnett.
I can't believe it's taken this long for something to bump that stupid mirror glasses post off the top of the page. When I posted it, I thought, "Surely I'll watch and review Vanished tonight, and then this will be forgotten." Later that evening, I realized I was way too exhausted from the thorough ass-kicking my circadian rhythms took over the weekend. Plus, tradition is a good thing. ATGoNFP posts come on Mondays, dammit! X=Q, forever! Don't mess with success!
Then I thought surely I'd have a column ready about my high school reunion last weekend. Or I'd write a review of Walk the Line – but all I could think of was "Reese Witherspoon: most deserved Academy Award in at least a decade." I was beginning to think my idiotic remarks about the nature of refraction would just keep on dominating the home page forever.
But then, along came Burnett and his undead army of twist-wielding zombies. They've announced that this coming season of Survivor will begin with the contestants separated by ethnicity. White, black, asian, and hispanic. This is great for at least a dozen reasons. The "separate but equal" fresh water pits; the added undercurrent of racism in the post-merge cliques; the lopsided performance on challenges involving puzzles, eating weird things, or swimming. But, most importantly, it's fantastic because it means that fewer than 14 of the 16 contestants will be white this time. What a boon for diversity!
According to the Survivor producers, the lack of diversity on previous seasons has not been a casting bias as much as a cultural divide. Only whitey is stupid enough to want to be on the show (a problem not faced by the producers of Flavor of Love). According to the statement, about 4 out of 5 audition videos are from white people. (And 4 out of those 4 feature poorly edited "skits" featuring nudity, face paint, and rustling around in the woods.) So, presumably they've had to save up these 12 non-white contestants until they had enough to do this type of season.
I did a little dance about Burnett and his minions actually listening to criticism of the show, and then I got to the paragraph about how their bringing back the disastrous "exile island" feature, and I wanted to cut my own face off.
Mon, August 21
Fleeting Curiosity Dept.—3:21 PM
If I take my glasses off and look through them the wrong way, the effect is the same as when I'm wearing them: things become a little clearer.
So why is it that if I look at my eyes in a mirror, they don't look fuzzy? I'm looking through the spectacles twice now, so shouldn't that have the effect of doubling my prescription, and making things look wrong?
Fri, August 18
In order to have a few shows canceled by mid-September, Fox is starting the fall season early. Hell or high water, we'll be ready. (Read more.)
Thu, August 17
Snakes on a Logo—10:33 PM
I'm certainly looking forward to Snakes on a Plane tomorrow. I just have one question.
Which snake does the tail on the right belong to?
Tue, August 15
I read this asinine article in yesterday's paper, which claims that some scientists actually theorize that the belief in God is an evolved trait. That some part of our brain's structure has evolved to believe in a "supernatural enforcer," causing us to do good when altruism is otherwise less evolutionarily advantageous than selfishness.
I don't have time to get into how ridiculously stupid this is, but it starts with the difference between biological Darwinism and social or cultural Darwinism, then swerves through the territory of John Nash's non-cooperative equilibrium. Also, the big study that's cited in the article is that some people put a drawing of some eyes next to the honor-system jar in the shared coffee room, and the contributions doubled. So, therefore, the feeling of being watched triggers that brain part and reminds them to be good.
If that's a controlled scientific experiment, then I'm a purple hermaphrodite ocelot.
The thing that bugs me about this is the same thing that bothers me about Intelligent Design: it starts from a foundation of, "This seems strange and complex. Rather than admit that it's a complicated universe, I'll embrace some flimsy explanation."
Why are people good, when avarice seems more beneficial? Maybe it's as simple as those adorable new Coke ads. They always make me want to be a better man.
Soup from Hugs—11:52 AM
One of the things we do at work – besides designing beach houses for the rich and famous – is listen to the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. You should check out some audio clips from the site if you want to hear the sound of a woman having a stroke for the duration of an entire interview.
Searching for that link was the first time I'd seen a picture of Diane. I'd always assumed she was at least 112 years old and missing an eye. The show is actually fairly interesting and she's at least as insightful an interviewer as Terry Gross. But I spend the whole hour cringing at her voice. You've heard the expression, "He's got a face for radio"? Diane Rehm has a voice for painted portraiture.
Mon, August 14
See movies the way I do: remain completely silent, stay till the very end of the credits, and notice every single mark on the print. (Read more.)
Fri, August 11
The decision to ban liquids from all commercial air travel strenghtens my ambition to buy my own jet. I think that would be cheaper than buying all new lotions and tinctures after every flight. (Read more.)
Thu, August 10
TV is a good thing. Just because Lincoln freed the slaves while not watching TV is no reason to think not watching TV is the solution to everything. (Read more.)
A couple of years ago, when Joe Lieberman was turning a blind eye to obvious election and polling results and continuing to proclaim "jo-mentum" in his presidential bid, we all thought he was a myopic cretin. But clearly we had not realized the extent of the problem.
After losing the Democratic primary for the Senate seat he's held for 18 years, Joe says he'll sign up to run in the general election anyway, as an Independent. (Jesus – take a hint, Joe!) Now, it's obvious that this stupid decision will be a Nader influence on the election. But the question is, who will he suck votes away from? The man who bested him in the Democratic primary, or the Republican challenger, with whom his views are more closely aligned? I guess we should hope for both in equal amounts.
It's astonishing that, in a period when the Democratic party is fighting for its life (and mostly fighting with itself, shamefully), we have a guy like Lieberman, whose approach is to capitulate to the president and his mistakes. We should be electing guys like Lamont, who are talking about real change. The party should be speaking with one voice, and that voice should sound a lot more like Paul Hackett than Joe Lieberman. If Howard Dean were really doing his job, he wouldn't be allowing DNC operatives to marginalize Hackett, and he'd be hiring a "jo-sassin" with a sniper rifle.
Mon, August 7
Ask the Website—5:09 PM
I was reading the Kung-Fu-Licious John Rogers's list of top movies so far this year, which is a very good list, and raises a great point: "Either my tastes have shifted, or the movies have shifted my tastes for me." It also points out yet another way in which technology does my thinking for me.
I take the ridiculously anal step of documenting every movie I see on onebee, and assigning it a rating from 0-100. That relieves me from having to think about what my favorite movies are. I just login and ask the database to show me the highest scores thus far. Here we go!
- Lucky Number Slevin, 92/100
- Inside Man, 86/100
- Mission: Impossible III, 83/100
- Cars, 80/100
- An Inconvenient Truth, 76/100
- United 93, 76/100
Wow. See, this is why it's good to have a database telling you what movies you like, because I never would've come up with that on my own. I'd have thought my list would be a lot more like Rogers's, except for Thank You for Smoking (which I liked fine – 69/100 – but not as much as he, plus IMDb says it's a 2005 film) and The Descent (which you couldn't threaten me enough to get me to watch).
Apparently, my tastes have not shifted as much as I had thought. Then I realized: oh yeah! – I haven't seen Slither or Brick. (Not my fault: they barely played here, and I know I'll love them when I finally get my chance on Netflix. I'm sure Little Miss Sunshine will play here, but not yet.) So, out of his seven, I've seen three, and I wasn't that crazy about one of them. Maybe I thought I liked Monster House more than Cars? That can't be right, no matter how hard Rogers tried to convince me that I would. (It was close, though. He had more than a little help from the makers of Cars.)
It seems a number of things are in play here. For one, my memory of how much I liked a movie a week after the fact is often different from how much I liked it as I left the theatre. Movies like Superman Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean have aged well, because they're so big that my brain can omit the slow parts and still have a solid 105 minutes of entertainment. Movies like United 93 have not fared as well, because my persistent belief that it was a bad idea for a movie has been reawakened by Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and the inability of the film reviewing industry to give a less than stellar grade to a movie about 9/11, due to some dreamy-eyed sentimentality about what that day meant and might still mean (or worse – a fear of being labeled unpatriotic). Still, I like preserving that first impression, even though it is a double-edged sword (Five-Year Rule, after all). And I do remember thinking that MI: III was very difficult to find fault with, even if it is a summer action sequel. Also, I saw better movies this year than just the movies that were released this year, because of late viewings like Munich and Netflix viewings like The Secret Lives of Dentists. And, there's the aforementioned access problem, which kept me away from two movies I was really excited about this year, and was the #2 reason it was hard for me to leave Los Angeles.
Don't get me wrong: I still think this has been a better year for movies than we thought it would be. And these are all fine films. I simply would not have expected that United 93 would have tied for my #5 favorite theatrical release of 2006. I'm amazed that there were not ten movies I saw this year that I liked better.
Snakes on the Phone—10:53 AM
Thursday night, just as I was stepping out of the shower, I got a phone call from Samuel L. Jackson. He was calling to remind me in his most excited patter that I needed to get my ass in gear and hop into a theatre to see Snakes on a Plane as soon as humanly possible. I was so excited!
How did he know my cell number? Why was I so lucky?
Then, I found out anyone can send such a message from this SoaP website. So it was probably just one of you bastards. I'm no longer special. But I'm still headed to the movie!
Fri, August 4
Wear at your own risk—2:46 PM
My dad received this instruction card with a recent underwear purchase:
Read all directions before proceeding with installation.
With front of item facing away from self, locate waistband sides. Bending torso to approximately 45-degree angle, look over and through waistband to floor below. Accurately line up two leg openings with own legs. Once body is sufficiently bent over item and correct corresponding openings have been located, identified and brought into proper alignment, carefully balance on one leg while lifting opposite leg and bringing up and over waistband and matching leg opening. Continue to balance, and insert raised leg through opening until foot makes contact with the floor below. Carefully switch balance to foot that is now through leg opening. Lift opposite leg and repeat motion of raising over item and inserting into opening.
At this point, make sure each leg is in a separate leg opening and each foot has made contact with the floor. Once again, grasp waistband and pull upwards until waist of item rests comfortably on own waist or until pulling motion is impeded by additional body parts.
When used appropriately, item will be covered by additional clothing items and not visible to onlookers. Wash after each wearing. We recommend a wearing not exceeding 24 hours. If consistently longer wearings are desired, we suggest you purchase more than one item.
Wed, August 2
Downtime to Kill—12:57 PM
Brandon, you've been curious about the state of DreamHost during the recent outages, so I refer you to this excellent summary/mea culpa over on their blog. I think it sums things up nicely and gives reason to be optimistic.
The rest of you can just enjoy me getting snippy. I do so enjoy it. (As Kevin James says, "I'll punch your asshole!")
As a loyal DreamHoster through a few turbulent times, I appreciate the familiar folksy honesty and transparency. Not because it's cute and it's respectful (though of course that helps), but because it actually convinces me that issues like this are less likely to occur in the future. DH knows where the problems are (in the building's infrastructure, and in their own processes), so this is an actual learning experience.
I agree with those who suggest that irate customers who are losing significant profits due to downtime should seek a new solution. There are definitely options if you're looking for backups on top of backups and redundancy on top of redundancy. They may cost a little more, but compared to the "thousands" you'll lose in just three weeks of intermittent outages, it sounds like a steal. Pick your new hosting company with a quick Google search for "guaranteed 100% uptime" – it's not possible, but at least you'll get a couple dollars in pro-rated refunds if you stay up late and submit trouble tickets for every momentary network glitch you find at 4am. Apparently that sort of thing makes you feel better.
If you're like me, you selected DreamHost based on its stellar feature offerings, excellent prices, and very-good support. I've experienced some disappointing outages from DreamHost, and the occasional slow support reply, but they've also gone out of their way to assist with silly glitches in my own code or setup, and the level of access and configurability are unmatched in my experience. But I host a dopey blog; if you host a mission-critical e-commerce hotspot, you have to live with your decision to save money on your hosting bill.
If your personal zero-tolerance policy for downtime mandates that you leave DreamHost (and you'll leave your new host in a week after that), I'm glad to see you go. For those of us who stick around for the improved service as DH learns from its mistakes, the support turnaround will be even quicker now that there are fewer people clogging the tubes with 20 goddamn support requests in six months, just because once or twice a week it takes more than three minutes to check e-mail.
Thanks, as always, Josh, for an enjoyable and informative read. (!)
Tue, August 1
Give Ze a Chance—4:27 PM
By the way, onebee is now officially recommending The Show with Ze Frank.
If you're hesitant to become a viewer of The Show, believe me, I understand. I was, too, for all the same reasons (and probably more). However, I'm here to tell you that I watched a bunch of episodes and it's worth it. You may be surprised.
(As with most things, the ultimate credit/blame for this should be heaped upon Tidball.)
That is all.