Saturday, June 13, 2009

Terminator: Salvation

My son and I saw Terminator: Salvation today.

I wanted to love it-I really, really did.

I didn't hate it. Maybe I wasn't in the mood?

It is another exploration of the Terminatorverse, and like similar movie reboots, it has nods to the earlier films-an Arnie-looking face on a robot, the Guns N Roses song "You Could Be Mine", the faded picture of Linda Hamilton, the stock phrases-"Come with me if you want to live", "I'll be back".

I guess I just reacted poorly to the obviousness. Of COURSE the doctor is pregnant. Of COURSE the guy who is a convicted murderer has a heart of gold.

The whole big picture of this universe has always interested me-the whole time travel, change the past to change the future notion. And the movie does not lack for whiz bang-explosions, and gunfire, and crazy crashes and booms. So it was exciting, but grimly so. None of the chuckles you get from the original trilogy.

And no Summer Glau either.


I saw a really clever slogan on a t shirt, though. A young man and his date were walking in front of me as I was leaving, holding hands. The back of the young man's shirt said, "Confidence: The Feeling Before You Fully Understand The Situation".


Went to the library today, and have already started and finished Walter Kirn's "Lost in the Meritocracy". It's a memoir about Kirn's youth and adolescence, growing up in Minnesota and going to Princeton. It kind of made me want to read "This Side Of Paradise", but not enough to actually, like, go find it.

I am now starting "My Life As A Quant", another memoir, this time of a physics PhD who moved on to the world of high finance, becoming one of the geniuses who nearly destroyed the world. One interesting thing so far is that he mentioned an Iraj Kani. I had a professor in college by that name-I wonder if it was the same guy?


It's John Nash's birthday. The subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind", which was somewhat loosely based on the biography of the same name, the mathematician won a Nobel Prize and has suffered from schizophrenia throughout his life. The book is terrific. The movie is fine, but I preferred the book.


An incomparably lovely blog, and an idea I wish I had first:

Go send her some advice!


I really can't overstate the addictiveness of Some of them may be made up, but I guarantee you will feel better about your day after reading some of these stories.


I stayed up last night specifically to get my facebook ID ( In the words of Charlie Brown, now what? I'm not real clear on what the point is here. But I have it. So there.


Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Stanley Cup last night. Though it will make Dave Dameshek ( insufferable for the next several weeks. The Pens had every reason and excuse to just roll over, and I wouldn't have really blamed them if they had, but they didn't. Good for them.

Although, come to think of it, Detroit could have used a celebration, too. Both of those cities have taken economic gut punches recently.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Game Sixty One: To Be The Man, You Have To Beat The Man

(Before the Red Sox recap, the Mets just lost in wholly improbable fashion. Leading the Yankees at US Government Field (I won't call it Citi until they pay us our money back), the Mets have an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the ninth. Two on, two out, ARod up, KRod pitching. ARod pops it up into short right. Luis Castillo, Met second baseman (and member of my fantasy team) gets under it in plenty of time. Luis Castillo, who has probably been playing baseball for 25 years and has caught hundreds, if not thousands, of popups, circles under it-and drops it. It clanks right off his glove, and rolls away, and both runs score, and they lose. Wow.)

So the Red Sox go on a little jaunt down the coast to Philadelphia to face the defending World Champions. Boston takes a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but New Guy RR, in a trend which grows more and more disturbing, ties the game with a home run. The two sides battle onwards, going through the 10th, 11th, 12th, and into the 13th. Bat Masterson threw some strong ball to keep the Phils off the board, as did Sensei Saito.

Then, in the top of the 13th, against Phillie Kyle Kendrick, Bay and Lugo single with one out. Varitek walks, and then the healed up Jacoby Ellsbury singled in a run, Shortstop Without Portfolio Nick Green hit a sacrifice fly, and Mike Lowell knocked in a third run.

Now, finally, leading 5-2, it was Danny Ocean time, and the future closer struck out the side, allowing a walk and a hit by pitch, but posting one last 0 to put this epic into the books.

Interesting case

This is an interesting story. Gary McKinnon, an English hacker, is fighting extradition to the US. In 2002, he hacked into sensitive, supposedly very secure US government and defense websites looking for UFO secrets. He has Asperger's Syndrome, and has confessed that he knows he made a bad mistake.

I'm not sure prosecuting him is the right move. You prosecute to make sure the offender doesnt reoffend, and to make sure others see his example and know not to do the same thing. He's confessed already. Instead of making him a criminal, why not hire him to make your defenses better?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Game Sixty: 102 to go!

First, some employment wierdness.

On Tuesday, we're told that an important meeting was held, and that we should meet with other members of management to learn what was said. Of course, if you can send an email saying that there is something important you need to know, you can JUST TELL US THE IMPORTANT THING INSTEAD.

But whatever.

Today we learn that we have to derive an "action plan" in case our union employees go on strike. An "action plan". Like what? Run around screaming and pulling my hair out? If our employees go on strike, we do our work. Slower and less efficiently, but we do it. What's to plan?

Then, I'm asked if I'm interested in a management position.

Uh, no. I'm not into responsibility without authority, sorry.

Wild, wacky stuff.


More importantly, Brad Penny (?!?!?) stakes Boston to a 1-0 lead after 6 frames, the run coming on an opposite field homer from David Ortiz. Metropolitan District Commission, however, gives up a passel of doubles, including a clutch stroke by AFraud (giving him a lifetime total against Boston of, uh, maybe two) for a 3-1 Yankee lead. I'm not crushed by this-2 out of 3 is fine, really. Sensei Saito pitches out of the jam, and I'm ready to chalk up an L.

But in the 8th, here come the Red Sox. Girardi leaves Sabathia in a couple of batters too many, wham, bam, thank you, ma'am, in comes Aceves, and it's 4-3, Boston.

Then it's the Lord of the Dance, a groundout from Jeter on a GREAT play by Nick Green, Infielder Without Portfolio, who also started the 8th inning uprising, an easy fly to Bay, and a lineout by Tex, and it's over. Another Boston win-8 straight over New York-and a two game lead in the division, and a gut punch for the Yankees.

All in all, a nice way to end a long, long day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Game Fifty Nine: We'll Take It, Any Variety

Liveblogging the Apocalypse

New York (34-24)@ Boston(34-24)

We pick up the action one hour in, in the bottom of the second.


Chieng Ming Wang, who has gone from staff ace to Steve Blass in less than a year, has given up 3 runs and about 26 walks in two innings, giving Boston a 3-1 lead that could be much, much larger.

Top Three

Johnny Dangerously lines out to right.

Mrs. Teixeira hits a skyscraping fly that Bay can't reach for a double.

AFraud flies out softly to right.

Robby the Robot flies to center.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

Bottom Three

The GI Joe movie, which is getting mocked all around the 'Net, seems better than everyone says. At least the preview I saw did. The Johnny Depp gangster movie, Public Enemies, looks fantastic.

And Mike Lowell, American Hero, hammers a low parabola into the Monster seats for a homer. 4-1, Boston.

Big Papi gives a ball a ride, but it comes down in front of the Stop N Shop sign for an out.

Mark Kotsay, Professional Hitter, lines a single back through the box.

Nick Green, Infielder Without Portfolio, fouls a ball into the stands, just out of the reach of a diving Nick Swisher, giving Swisher a chance to buy some more street cred in Yankee Nation. ESPN, Johnny on the Spot, replays Jeter's famous dive from 2004.

Nick Green strikes out, and Girardi comes out to end Wang's night. He looks furious. Hughes is first man out for the Yanquis.

Phil Hughes, the Once and Future Star, balks Kotsay to second.

Kottaras waves at a Hughes curve to end the inning.

Top Four

Posada strikes out swinging.
Matsui and Swisher walk, and then the Melkman slashes a single, scoring Matsui. 4-2 Boston.

Jeter flies out to center, and then Damon pops up, and Tim lives to fight another day.

Bottom Four

Our Man DP lines out to right

JD TRIPLES off of the Wall in left center, just missing a homer and just barely beating the throw to third base.

Our Man Youk drives one into the Red Sox bullpen-6-2 Boston.

The Greatest Canadian Hero strikes out looking.

Lowell grounds out softly to end the inning.

Top Five

Texeira doubles.

AFraud grounds out, Tex to third.

Cano grounds out, scoring Tex.

6-3 Boston.

Posada grounds out softly.

Bottom Five

Idle thought: If you're not hitting, and you're the DH, does that make you the D?

My wife wants Ortiz to get a hit not only for the game, but to shut up JackO from Bill Simmons' podcast.

Papi walks.

Phillie Raul Ibanez is making news for bitching about a blog post implying that PEDs are explaining his hot start this year. It's funny-blogs have no credibility, right? Then suddenly they do, and the media is whining about how there is no accountability on blogs. Firstly, before blogs, there was precious little accountability in the media. And secondly, if blogs have no credibility, why are you reporting on them?
The Ibanez charge is bogus. Everyone knows that, except maybe the media.

Kotsay strikes out.

Green also whiffs.

And Kottaras rolls out to second to end the frame.

Top Six

Matsui gets one off the end of the bat for a base hit.

Swisher is frozen on an inside curve for strike three.

The Melkman flies out to right.

Jeter grounds into a fielder's choice.

Bottom Six

JD walks

DP lines out to AFraud.

Youk grounds into a fielder's choice.

JayBay strikes out to end the inning.

Top Seben

New Guy RR pitching now

Johnny Dangerously clouts one into the Sox bullpen to trim the lead to 6-4.

And Tex follows it up with a clout into the bleachers for a suddenly tense 6-5 lead.

Next is AFraud, who lives up to his .238 average with a soft grounder to short.

Robby The Robot strikes out on called strike three.

Posada lines a hit to center.

On comes the Okey Doke to face Godzilla. He whiffs on a gorgeous inside/outside combo for a swinging strikeout.

Bottom Seben

Of COURSE this game was going to be close.

Nick Swisher ROBS Mike Lowell on a diving catch in right center for the first out.

Girardi goes to his bullpen for Phil “Rum and” Coke.

Ortiz grounds out crisply to second.

Kotsay flies out to right.
Top Hate

The Okey Doke walks Nick Swisher, who is really a pain in the butt tonight.

Brett Gardner, who is much less of a pain in the butt, is in to run for Swisher.

The Melkman bunts him over.

Jeter waves at a ball in the dirt-strike three on the splitter!

Johnny Dangerously whiffs on the outside fastball for the THIRD OUT!

Wow. What a piece of pitching by the Okey Doke.

Bottom Hate

Aceves pitching for New York

Green flies out

Kottaras puts one high off the Wall for a double.

DP flies out to center

JD works a walk, and Youk flies out, and we're headed to the ninth....

Pop another Tums, and let's go.....


Papelbon against Tex, ARod, and Cano.

Tension builds.......

Tex grounds out easily to first.

One down.

ARod walks.


They put in a kid named Ramiro Pena to run for the Fraud.

Pena steals second.

Cano whiffs on the high hard one. Phew!

Posada now, who scares me nearly as much as Jeter.

Posada flies to the WARNING TRACK in left, Bay catching it right in front of the scoreboard to end it. Double Phew!

We stole this one-hits and walks and craziness, but a win and a one game lead in the division.

We'll take it.

My Wife Is Funnier Than You, Part III

Apropos of nothing...

ME: That's why, when you put a cracker in your mouth and leave it there, it will start to taste sweet.

HER: Nuh-uh!

ME: It will. Try it.

(One minute passes.)

HER(with cracker in her mouth, slowly): I hate you.

How Stupidity Became A Virtue

I finished Charles Pierce's "Idiot America" today, and it is, as I expected, a tour de force about the death of reason and logic. Very highly recommended, while not being especially uplifting.

In principle, I could have saved $19.00

I went with my son to see "Star Trek" today, thus continuing my unbroken streak of being nearly the last person to do, well, everything.

It was utterly marvelous, for geeks and non geeks alike. Exciting, funny, full of action and tension and everything you ever wanted for 90 minutes or so of your life.

Of particular note is Michael Giacchino's music. I say that not because there was anything particularly good or bad about it, but only because he hails from my current neck of the woods and was a friend of my bride's back in the day. Which, as Dane Cook taught us, was a Wednesday.

So anyway, the movie was just plumb wonderful, even if you didn't happen to care for the TV show or the other movies.

The funny and or notable part was that no one took our tickets. And by no one, I mean no one. In principle, I could have walked right in and seen the movie without paying. (In this economy, maybe they're reduced to just hoping they can sell me a soda.)

Being the online hepcat that I am, I bought tickets online, then we went early to catch all the previews. So we go into the lobby, my son goes off to play video games (for some reason, in a house full of them, console games still hold an appeal. Whatever.) (Fellow middle aged people-remember Galaga? Right? It was cool-in 1982. But you can do so much more exciting things online or on any home system-better graphics, better sound, more involved storylines, better AI. But my son is excited to play Galaga. With quarters. Riiiiiiiight.)

So we go in, we get our popcorn, he gets his fill of coin based gaming. We wait until what seems like the appropriate time, online tickets in hand. There's nobody there. So they are taking tickets at the door of the theater? Nope. We stroll right in, wait through a few songs on the PA, and the previews start.

As Kevin Smith once said, and Harrison Ford said before him, "No ticket."

Or, rather, we had tickets, but we didn't show them to anyone in authority.


Anyway, if you're one of the other 32 people who haven't seen Star Trek yet, it's worth your time. If you're even distantly familiar with these characters, you will probably love it.

Yay, Me!

I embedded a link! (See previous post.)

That's probably the first line of computer code I've written in maybe 30 years.

Rob Neyer was right (again!)

Rob Neyer posted on Facebook that, if President Obama has time to read this, so do we. He's right. A well written, long article by surgeon Atul Gawande about health care reform. It sounds boring, but it really isn't.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Game Fifty Eight: Feeling Great!

Proving Rob Neyer's point, Josh Beckett threw 6 simply awesome innings, allowing only one hit to the men from Gotham. Boston powered its way to a big lead, getting RBIs from David Ortiz, JD Drew, Nick Green, and Mike Lowell, and from there, the bullpen took over, Metropolitan District Commission, New Guy RR, and Danny Ocean sealing it up, allowing only one more hit in a 7-0 win. Boston has now beaten the Yankees 6 straight times this year.

They better be....

Rob Neyer, who is smarter than me, says that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have just been unlucky this year-balls have been falling for hits that are not really their fault. With the Newly Recharged Yankees coming to town (Now With 100% More ARod!), I bloody well hope he's right.

Five Things I Know Today That I Didn't Know Yesterday

1. Carson Daly has a television program.

2. Steven Colbert's trip to Iraq that he couldn't tell us about was a trip to Iraq.

3. No matter how many web browsers I download, I'm still not happy with any of them.

4. Wheat Thins Artisan crackers rock so hard.

5. Supervalu's store brand diet cola is the first store brand cola I've ever tasted that doesn't stink.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Stunningly Good

This American Life, from WBEZ in Chicago, produced another brilliant program this week called "The Watchmen", investigating, in really easy to understand language, the roots of the financial crisis. Well worth an hour.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pop Fouls

Excellent Dan Carlin this week, as always, about Iran and our changing attitude towards them. If you look at it pragmatically, Dan argues, engaging with Iran is really the only choice we have. I have to say he has a point.

In the second half, he engages in a fascinating thought experiment-what if corporate personhood were revoked, and corporations could no longer influence politicians in any way?

Dan is a disturbing, but fascinating way to spend an hour. I always end up thinking about topics from his show hours and days after I have listened to it.

A while ago, I posted one of those Top Five Things on Facebook about the Best Opening Licks to rock n roll songs. For some reason, last night, I was thinking that I forgot Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio”, and, of course, I did. If I had to make the list again today, and, apparently, I do, I would go this way:

1.CSNY, “Ohio”
2.The Beatles, “Revolution”
3.Pearl Jam, “Even Flow”
4.The Who, “Love Reign O’Er Me”
5.Aerosmith, “Same Old Song and Dance”


An excellent point made on this week’s “Left, Right, and Center”( bad as Muslim religious law is, in terms of its treatment of women and minorities, they are by no means the first or the only legal structure to encode despicable treatment of some of its people.


Seeing someone get handcuffed (for shoplifting, I assume-I was curious, but not curious enough to eavesdrop) is a humbling experience. In a certain way, it is a reminder of state power-the state has the ability to take your liberty away, instantly, just on someone’s say so. (They can give it back later, of course, if you’re found not guilty or whatever-but you’ll never get that time back.)It also seems a little unnecessary-assuming it was shoplifting and the person was guilty-surely shoplifting is a crime against property, and people who do it aren’t all that dangerous. Maybe they handcuff everyone. I don’t know.

Those of us who argue about government and law and justice should remember that it is real people who win and lose and live and die with these decisions


Fascinating TTBOOK (To The Best Of Our Knowledge) about men and masculinity, a topic particularly close to my heart, being, well, a guy. It is indisputably true that modern popular culture is hostile to men. It is also indisputably true that men have done much to earn the stereotypes that we are portrayed with. I’m not sure how to feel about all that. It is true that the reaction against thousands of years of sexism should not be reverse sexism. It is also true that oppressors always say this after they have been overthrown. I’m not sure how to feel about that either.


Then a tremendous TTBOOK, that I am pretty sure I have heard before, about atheism and its critics. This series is tremendous in every way, and perfect for polymaths like me-ricochets from pop culture to history and art and science and law. Lovely.

I am a Christian, albeit a nonenthusiastic one, but a reader of Richard Dawkins as well. Maybe that’s why I get so many headaches lately-I’m trying to hold too many ideas at once. Either that or a brain tumor.


School’s out, as Alice Cooper says, for summer. This event, which used to fill me with joy while a student, has just the opposite effect as a parent. I have never claimed to be an especially skilled parent-in fact, I rather steadily claim the opposite. But I am especially unskilled at parenting during the summer.


The third TTBOOK for me today is “How We Learn”, another outstanding program, this time about education. I send my child, at great expense, to what I am pretty sure is a good school. But I don’t think I know what that is-I am extremely wary of school rankings, as I am about hospital rankings. In such a hugely complicated field, the measuring sticks we are using seem inadequate.

I like to tease my son that he’s lucky I was not in charge at his school, because I would double his workload at the very minimum. But there’s a sliver of truth there-I don’t think he’s working hard enough, and I don’t have the mental energy to pick up the slack. I try to tell him that there are kids his age in India and China that are going to want his spot in college in about 5 years, and his job in 10 years, and I am relatively confident that is true. Of course, as sons do, he doesn’t listen.

Neither did I, of course, so turnabout is indeed fair play.


Game Fifty Seven: Throwing Strikes Is Not Always The Best Plan

Dice K didn't walk any batters today.

However, that was because Texas' hitters were too busy bashing his pitches around the lot. During his 5 2/3 innings, Dice managed to throw 100 pitches, nearly 20 of whom were actually effective, allowing 10 hits and 5 runs. Texas' Vincente Padilla led his flotilla to 7 effective innings, giving Texas a 6-3 win over the Red Sox in Boston this afternoon. After a day off tomorrow, Boston welcomes a resurgent Yankee team, with 100% more ARod, on Tuesday.