May 20, 2005

Star Wars et al

Watched Attack of the Clones again and I still think it's better than The Phantom Menace, and that's truly damning with faint praise. In fact, Episode I was so rotten that I finally broke my tradition of going on the first day. No, I never dressed up as a character or camped out for weeks on end. However, the original Stars Wars was so good, I and 3 of my friends in high school got our parents to write notes requesting that we all be given half a day off from school for a "family activity". We waited in line for about 1 1/2 hours for The Empire Strikes Back, and when the words started scrolling up the screen, the audience clapped appreciatively. Finally, when R2D2 managed to get get the warp drive, or whatever it's called, started in the Millenium Falcon, the audience cheered. It was the most involved I've ever seen a movie audience become. Fast forward a few more years: I asked off of work on our busiest night to see Return Of The Jedi. Amazingly, my boss didn't even bat an eye. Almost 20 years later, I bought my tickets in advance and went to see Episode I the first day. Visually, it was appealing. Overall, it pretty much reeked. It was so bad that I didn't go see Episode II until it hit the 2nd run discount movie theater in town. I still maintain that at the start of Attack of the Clones, Jar Jar Binks should have run off of a cliff and died in a big cinematic splat. Heck, I would have paid to see the movie again.

One thing in the movie did appeal to me, though: Natalie Portman. She was a pretty girl and has grown into quite a hottie. Her acting in the movie was pretty mediocre, but let's face it, it must have been hard to get geeked up for that script. Whatever. In any case, I've long since passed the point where I'll watch a movie just because it has a good looking woman in it.

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Beers are on me

Not really, but you'd be surprised(okay, maybe not) at how many otherwise dead-to-the-world drunks somehow manage to hear this phrase when you're in a bar. I figured it would work just as well in my blog. Now back to beer.

I like to cook. I like beer. Homebrewing provides me with an opportunity to combine two of my passions into one rather entertaining enterprise.(Note: I've had a batch of homebrew sitting in a secondary fermenter for more than a year without bottling. My wife would have dumped it in a heartbeat if she could lift the carboy.) Add the malt extract(all you all grain snobbish types feel free to shut up now) and the hops to the water, bring it all to a boil, clean up the boil over, bring to a boil again, cool, pitch the yeast, wait, bottle and then drink the finished product. Ahhh. Good stuff.

I enjoy the smell of boiling wort. The aroma of hops and malt fills the house wonderfully. Unfortunately, the chief HATES the smell, and I mean despises it with a passion. She let me brew ONE batch in the house right after we were married and that's it. However, wonderful lady that she is, she gave me a propane cooker so I could brew in the garage, thereby allowing me to continue with my hobby without assaulting her sense of smell.

One side note for budding brewers: be careful with your hop disposal if you use leaf hops(ignore if using pellets). Back in the 1990's, a few cases of toxic hyperthermia in greyhounds were reported after the dogs ate the spent hops. I don't remember if any other dog owners reported similar problems. Cats might also be susceptible, but most don't eat their vegetables. Meat, meat and more meat is their meal of choice. In any event, take the trash out and put in a can with a lid.

The funny thing about beer you've brewed is that you will drink it even if it's not great. Okay, it stinks. A lot. The crappy taste is offset by the pride of having made it yourself. This does not include actual beer disasters. The first cream ale I tried to brew tasted like swamp water minus the mosquitoes, only not as potable. It's the only batch I've ever poured straight down the drain. Wasting 5 gallons of beer would normally be a crime punsihable by flogging, but that batch didn't qualify as beer. Probably could have used it as a chemical weapon.

Good beer is its own reward. That's why I've flown out to Denver 5 years in a row for the GABF, and I'm going there again after a brief hiatus due to the birth of my second child. I highly recommend this trip to others. Free beer(if you volunteer) and a chance to meet other beer lovers. Me too, but that's just a bonus.

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Trouble with that web-based email service?

Some time ago, Harvey posted a link to YahooPOPS, which allows users to download their Yahoo messages in their favorite email client, such as Outlook Express. This was a direct response to Yahoo's removal of POP3 access to their system. Anyway, FreePOPS allows access to a large number of Web-only email systems. Pretty freaking cool.

Want variety? Check out Mr. Postman, too.

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Open source for Windows

If, like me, you're still mired in Bill Gates's money factory, but can't bear the thought of shelling out $500 for another necessary application, you might be interested in the OSSWIN Project. Tons and tons of free stuff that you might consider replacing your proprietary Windows software with.

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Free PC utilities

Some of them I like, some I don't, but the price cannot be beat.

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Classic computer games

more games from the 1970's and 1980's are available to download and play on your PC. Someone should tell Michele. I get the feeling that she might be interested.

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Interesting description

The caption for the photo below says "Miss Europe, Shermine Shahrivar of Germany, poses during red carpet arrivals...". Yeah, poses is the word I'd use. See for yourself in the entended entry. more...

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Required reading

Jim Geraghty hasn't lost his writing skills while living in Turkey. Excerpt:

We know what's going on. What was the one moment that things looked darkest for the Bush presidency in the last three and a half years? During the endless all-Abu-Ghraib, all-the-time abuse coverage festival from last spring. When references to the prison abuse scandal were cropping up on the Washington Post’s Sports, Arts, and Metro sections.

The Isikoff story – and the inevitable coming deluge of in-depth investigative journalism of additional tales of abuse from those utterly trustworthy al-Qaeda prisoners – are a return to the “good old days” of last spring. When Teddy Kennedy could compare the U.S. military’s handling of prisoners to Saddam’s torture chambers with a gleeful, hearty grin. When our guys on the front lines could be portrayed as sadistic, black-hearted villains. When the face of our guys wasn’t the stoic loyalty of a Pat Tillman, the pride and dedication of a Jeffrey Adams, or any other one of our heroes but the nauseating sneer of Lynndie England.

Boy, did those days feel good to the media.

Call that whatever you like. But don’t call it journalism.

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What he said

Unlike John Cole, I don't view myself as a Republican, but rather a conservative with libertarian leanings. And while the Republican party used to be the political home for conservatives, I don't believe it's really the case any more. John created a pretty detailed list of Republican offenses here.

Update: Don't even get me started on fiscal "responsibility" in Congress. Both parties are comprised of money-hungry whores. I guess that that makes me "the John", but not in the happy "at least I had an orgasm" way.

Update: Harvey makes the point in the comments that I probably owe an apology to prostitutes, and I think he's correct. At least with whores, you get exactly what you pay for, and you know in advance how much it's going to cost.

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Almost time to buy a new gun

And it doesn't use any of that nasty gunpowder, either, but rather centrifugal force*** to accelerate the projectiles.

***Note: centrifugal force does NOT exist; it's not called a pseudo force for nothing. The word to remember is INERTIA.

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Whack a hamster

Someone else loathes the Hamster Dance as much as me. Just move your mouse pointer around the group of singing hamsters to get the effect. Unfortunately, it doesn't kill the damned song. Best to "mute all" before visiting.

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Extremist judge gets nominated

But this time, it was back in 1993. Excerpt:

And, to get really absurd, let’s add that he had called for an end to single-sex prisons on the theory that if male prisoners are going to return to a community in which men and women function as equal partners, prison is just the place for them to get prepared to deal with women.

Let’s further posit that this nominee had opined that a manifest imbalance in the racial composition of an employer’s work force justified court-ordered quotas even in the absence of any intentional discrimination on the part of the employer. But then, lo and behold, to make this nominee even more of a parody of an out-of-touch leftist, let’s say it was discovered that while operating his own office for over a decade in a city that was majority-black, this nominee had never had a single black person among his more than 50 hires.

Imagine, in sum, a nominee whose record is indisputably extreme and who could be expected to use his judicial role to impose those views on mainstream America. Surely such a person would never be nominated to an appellate court. Surely no Senate Democrat would support someone with such extreme views. And surely Senate Republicans, rather than deferring to the nominating power of the Democrat President, would pull out all stops—filibuster and everything—to stop such a nominee.

Well, not quite. The hypothetical nominee I have just described is, in every particular except his sex, Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the time she was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993.

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Yummy goodness

Mu Nu's plan of world domination continues apace: this week's Carnival of the Recipes is hosted by another Mu Nu blog, Curmudgeonry. We command you to go there. Now!

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May 19, 2005

This is your brain on drugs

And contrary to the old PSA on television, I have many questions, such as "why am I laughing so damned hard?" Just curious.

Darn Jonah to Heck for posting the link to this video.

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Quote of the day(so far)

I just finished Sanctuary(part I), and this little nugget almost made me choke:

Seeing Janeane Garofolo in the flesh induces a sort of slack-jawed awe. One must go back all the way to Vanilla Ice to witness so much attitude in front of so little talent.

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Required reading

I've been checking Bill Whittle's site daily for the last few weeks, eagerly anticipating his next post. Not surprisingly, he had to break the post into two smaller parts. Sanctuary(part I) and Sanctuary(part II) are now available for viewing. Go there. Now.

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May 18, 2005

Public school budgets

John Derbyshire posts the following letter from a reader:

"A quick way to debunk the 'we need more money' claims from public schools: calculate how much they are spending per class.

"Lets suppose the district is spending $8,000 per student, which I believe is below the national average and well below what they spend in your region. If each class has 20 students, which again would be quite low, they are spending $160,000 per class. If there are 25 students then its $200,000. On what? Pay the teacher $80,000 and you still have $80,000 left for the building, administrators, buses, books, etc, $120,000 if you use the bigger class.

"Give me $100,000 to educate 20 kids for a year and I'll gladly quit my job as an attorney, rent the necessary facilities, and provide a much better education to them than the public schools do.

"As a homeowner who would under no circumstances allow any of my five children to attend any public school (which means I am giving up a $1/2 million government subsidy), I find the amounts the government spends on schools to be utterly outrageous."

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And still more Star Wars

Episode VII: The Search For More Merchandising. Or something like that.

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Evil Empire vs. Evil Empire

I received the following via email and have not located the source. Anyone who finds the link, let me know. Thanks.

Click on extended entry.

Update: Found it over at ESPN. Nick Bakay is the creator. more...

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Unsurprising results

So Susan is my love match from Desperate Housewives. Considering my decades long crush on Terri Hatcher, I'm okay with that. Anyway, you take the quiz.

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