Category Archives: Miscellany

“Beyond the Lighted Stage”

Russell's favorite moments in this Rush documentary:

  1. Home movie of Alex Lifeson as a high-schooler telling his parents he wants to be a musician; he doesn't need school.
  2. Gene Simmons wondering why, when Kiss toured with Rush, he gets all the girls, and the Canadians never did.
  3. Neil Peart talking about how he just does not want to talk to fans; it's just creepy.
  4. Geddy Lee still referring to Neil as "the new guy".

Russell’s Week with Glenn, Day 2

The theme of the episode is that GB has a problem with faith based initiatives that are designed around advancing green technology. (He uses the phrase "the EPA merging with churches" about twenty times, making it sound like some sort of Borg assimilation.) He has no problem using religious language to impart his own message, so I assume he's either simply against green technology, or believes it to not be consistent with Christian ideals. He does not make clear which of these is his stance, though either one is a hard sell to me.

GB claims that this program will be the final nail in the coffin of our churches, though he offers no indication of how or why that would happen.  More baseless fear-mongering.  (This concept may become a theme of these posts.  How about I just call it BFM from now on?)

16:00 – GB talks about how much more of his income he's given to charity than either Obama or Biden.  I humbly offer the following:

Proverbs 26:12
2 Philippians 2:3
Matthew 23:12

31:00 — "They're already indoctrinating our children. 'There is no God.'" Really?  Alot of classes in atheism in our primary schools nowadays? Not talking about God <> talking about God's nonexistence.

42:00 — GB's guest likens taxation to stealing, which is contrary to one of the commandments. I offer him this:

Matthew 22:21

GB also (I didn't get the time marker on this one) said that Net Neutrailty is Marxism.  Really?  How exactly does the ability to have non-discriminatory access to the internet going to elevate the proletariat?

As for things I agreed with, I suppose I can't fault him for criticizing the left for being silent on Obama's faith-based initiatives, when W was loudly castigated for the same thing.  Of course, Obama hasn't (that I've heard) indicated that he's President because it's God's will, so perhaps there's little need to fear he'll become some kind of theocratic oligarch.

Lost Finale Questions

Here, in roughly chronological order, are the questions I would like for the finale of Lost to answer.  I fully expect that none of them will be:

Why was the Island still getting Dharma Initiative shipments of food long after the purge?
Why did that psychic feel the need to put Claire on a doomed plane?
What was Walt's power?
Why did Charlie have religious visions that drove him to baptize Aaron?
Why did Kate (and Sawyer) see that horse?
Why didn't the Others purge Kelvin and Radzinsky?  (Alternately, why didn't they help Kelvin, if they knew his button-pushing was important?)
Why did the destruction of the Swan station not kill Desmond, Eko and Locke?
Why do pregnant women die on the Island?  Why now and not before?
Why can Hurley/Miles talk/listen to ghosts?
Why did Widmore hire all those Island-connected people for his freighter team?
Why did Ben think it was necessary to bring Locke's body back to the Island?
Why did Richard (and the rest of the Others) not skip through time along with the Lostaways?
Why did Sun not go back in time with Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid?

Please note that I didn't even bother to mention the questions that this season has raised, but I suspect might actually be answered.  (Why are there two timelines?  Will the MIB finally be killed or contained?)

Oh, Lost, it has been a fun ride.

“Daybreakers” and “The Book of Eli”

It may not make complete sense to review these two films simultaneously, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway, partly because they are both new takes on old tropes… and partly because I'm really lazy.

I saw "Daybreakers" first, and went in with only a one sentence description from some magazine.  I hadn't even seen the trailer, but I was intrigued nonetheless.  In the film, it's ten years since an unexplained plague began transforming people into vampires.  The vampires promptly took over the world, gave everyone the chance to change, and those that didn't were rounded up and put into uber-creepy blood banks.  Ethan Hawke plays a vampire hematologist working on a blood substitute, since the supplies of the real article are running low.  Worse still, if you don't have a consistent supply of human blood, you basically turn into a feral bat-creature.  So, the vampires are nearing their own catastrophe.

Enter Willem Dafoe as a human who managed (through a bizarre coincidence) to become a vampire for about three seconds, and then be cured.  He and Hawke work together to come up with a way to replicate the process, to reverse vampirism completely.

I liked the stylized look of the film, and the little details that tell us about vampire life: the houses with retractable windows, the subwalk system under the city, the stand selling coffee "still with 20% blood!"  The mechanics of the ending are important, but I won't give them away.  Coming up with a satisfying ending when the world is so ridiculously screwed up wasn't easy to do.  It's neither easy nor sure-fire, but it's modestly hopeful, while at the same time being about as bloody as any film I've ever seen.

"The Book of Eli" is another film with a very familiar premise: the world was destroyed in some cataclysmic (probably nuclear) war, and Denzel Washington is a mysterious "walker" with a precious book.  Gary Oldman is the town boss (somewhere in the extra-blasted southwest) who really, really wants that book.

The ads were somewhat cagey about what the book was, but the film doesn't take long to make it clear that the book in question is The Bible.  Washington wants to get it into the hands of someone who will use the book for good.  Oldman wants to use it to take over… well, pretty much everything.  It's an interesting tightrope the film walks between the positive use of faith, and the horrifying power of religion as a tool of mass control.  I suspect that balance is the only reason a film about religion could get made.  (Outside the "Christian" media, I mean.)

I enjoyed the film, partly because the story had very few real holes in it.  (Could people really have destroyed almost all the Bibles in the world?)  Most important, the film looked amazing.  The scenes of past destruction were affecting without being maudlin or overdone.  And the performances were good.  Denzel has rarely been so selflessly heroic.  Or so scruffy.

Serious about your data backups?

I saw this article today on the new ioSafe SSD devices.

ioSafe makes some pretty nice devices. For people who don’t trust the cloud storage services (got something to backup you REALLY don’t want someone else to see?), or, more likely, need a higher throughput (some users report up to a month for initial backups to internet services), they have some serious devices at pretty remarkable prices.

The regular ioSafe devices are impressive: Fireproof to 1550 F for 30 minutes, waterproof to 10 feet for 3 days, so they will survive your house fire AND the fire department’s hoses. And a 2 TB version is readily available for the low price of less than $375. A bit out of my price range, but the 1 TB version for $220 might not be. It is certainly tempting.

Now you can get the SSD version and have something that most airplanes would be glad to have in their black boxes: It can take a 20 ft drop/1000g for 1 ms, a 5000 lb crushing load (balance your SUV on it no problem), and even better waterproofing for 30 days in 30 ft of water (for those people living on houseboats in Hurricane Alley). The downside is it costs like an aircraft component, listing for $1,250 for a measly 256 GB. That data better be worth some serious bucks.

links for 2010-01-05

Do Not Use Allied Moving Group or Bravo Moving – Ever

My fiance recently scheduled a move from Atlanta to San Jose.  This is, of course, a long move, and will be expensive, so she shopped around, and got a very reasonable quote from Allied Moving Group.  She learned, far too late, that this is not to be confused with the respectable Allied Van Lines.

Allied Moving Group then sub-contracted with a local Atlanta company called Bravo Moving.  This company seems to be just one guy, Louie.  Louie started this move with a brilliant opening salvo: he waited until half of her stuff was already on the truck to tell her the original estimate was off… by about 100%.  Yes, he doubled the estimate. 

The original plan was always to hold the items in Atlanta in storage until she had a destination arranged.  The destination (because of this ring I gave her) changed to Seattle.  So she called them up and said, "Well, the destination has changed, and the mileage has now increased by three percent."  Yes, three percent.  Their response?  "We're going to increase the cost of the move by twenty-five percent, because we're evil."  Okay, I added the italicized part, but that doesn't make it not true.

We asked how long it would take to get the stuff after we tell them to make it happen.  They said some time in the next fifteen days.  Now, this isn't convenient, but I suppose it's understandable, since it is very nearly the longest haul possible in the continental US.  (I suppose Miami to Bellingham would be farther.)  We gave them the go ahead on November 30, in anticipation of arrival before the 15th of December.

When the 13th rolled around and we hadn't gotten any updates, we called and found out that they would be arriving on the 19th or 20th.  This was bad for two reasons: 1) I wouldn't be in Seattle, since I was planning on going home for Christmas early this year, and 2) my new building doesn't allow moves on weekends.  So, I had to contract with a local firm to: 1) accept the delivery with me not there, 2) store the items for a week, and 3) deliver the items after Leslie and I returned to Seattle.  They offered to do this for a very reasonable price (one which was less than the cost of a single day delay for the Bravo Moving driver).

But wait.  It gets better.  The fateful day arrives, our local guy has the cashier's check ready to hand to the driver… and the driver won't accept it.  He will only accept a money order or cash.  We try to make him understand that a cashier's check is exactly the same as a money order.  He seems to have selective deafness when dealing with this issue.  He tries to get Louie on the phone all day.  Louie does not answer.  The move waits for a day.

The next day rolls around, and we finally get Louie on the phone and he says they can accept the check.  The driver calls the local move guy and says he's on his way.  But the local move guy has a scheduling conflict and can't get there exactly at the same time.  There's a delay of three hours.  The driver, therefore, insists that he will not deliver until he is paid three hundred dollars (a hundred dollars per hour) for waiting.  We try to make it clear that there was an extra charge in the estimate for a "long carry", based on the distance from the loading dock to the condo.  Now since there is no "long carry" (they're carrying directly from the truck into a storage facility) there should be a discount, which should make up for some of the waiting time.  The selective deafness kicks in.

Never, ever use Bravo Moving, if you live in the Atlanta area, and never, ever use Allied Moving Group in you live anywhere at all.

Just to make sure this post comes up if anyone tries to Google either Allied Moving Group or Bravo Moving, I'm going to copy these names several more times at the end. 

Allied Moving Group Bravo Moving BAD

Allied Moving Group Bravo Moving BAD

Allied Moving Group Bravo Moving BAD

Allied Moving Group Bravo Moving BAD

Allied Moving Group Bravo Moving BAD

Allied Moving Group Bravo Moving BAD

Thank you for your patience.

links for 2009-11-28

  • I prefer a pointing stick to a touchpad, but if I had to use a notebook with just a pad, this would be *fantastic*: "Most laptop owners have experienced the frustrations of an unpredictable cursor when your wrist grazes the touchpad. Free, open-source utility TouchFreeze disables your touchpad as soon as you start typing, re-enables it when you stop."

links for 2009-08-09

links for 2009-06-13