Monday, July 30, 2007

The Illusionist transforms into the Hulk

So Ang Lee's revisioning of the Hulk franchise with Eric Bana as the green beating machine didn't fare so well. I didn't think it was that bad, but it definitely lacked some oomph. I liked the whole "sins of the father" theme, and the origins story was an interesting twist, and I liked the fact that the Bay Area was a setting for the film (SF and Hulk make good team), but it definitely lacked something. Ang Lee is a great director, but I think his efforts in epic action-dramas might find more success with the Crouching Tiger variety.

Well Hollywood can't let a franchise rest (did they make an A-Team movie yet?), so they've reengaged with a completely new cast and production team to make the next Hulk film. IGN has most of the details.

What's the short version? Don't like to click on links to get to the meat? Who's the green meanie? Edward Norton, who also wrote the screenplay. Liv Tyler replaces Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross. William Hurt and Tim Roth will co-star. I was hoping Sam "Clean out my pushbroom, willya!" Elliot was going to make a reprisal, but no such luck.

There are no story details, yet, but it sounds like there will be some explorations of "beginnings", but it's not another "origins" film. Sweet.

Maybe there will be a scene where the Hulk breaks into the Chevron bank vault to liberate some of their record breaking 2Q 2007 profits
This spring's punishing oil and gasoline prices helped propel Chevron Corp. to the highest quarterly profit in its 128-year history - $5.38 billion - the San Ramon company reported Friday.

That's 24 percent more money than Chevron made in the same quarter last year and easily beats the company's previous record of $5.02 billion set in last year's third quarter. Chevron's profit for the first six months of this year now stands at $10.1 billion, compared with $8.35 billion for the first half of 2006.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The menu at the back of the book

I finished Lamb, and what did I find at the end of the book? A mystery recipe? A menu for the week? The last item on the list made me think of how I might feel at the end of the week after preparing more laborious meals...I just want something that requires the same level of preparation as cereal. The punctuation, spacing, and formatting I've tried to retain from the source. I've fixed some spelling...I think.

Given the subject matter of the text, I found the references to matzo made in honor of the characters, but then the Mediterranean cuisine also made me think that the person was of Roman descent, and felt guilty and had to throw in the matzo as a peace offering. However, I keep coming back to the last item, which totally throws me for a loop.
- 1 chix breast
+ cream in processor,
mayo, some mustard or curry

- spread on matzo w/tomato + cube.
pasta + prosciutto w/ tomato + fresh herbs
4 oz wine
gnocci w/ marinara or pesto
+ shaved parmesan
italian sausage w/ peppers + onions
black pepper too
grits + scrambled eggs
By the way, the book wrapped up just as well as it could. I recommended it to everyone, so sorry if I got all pedantic on the topic, but faith and humor go so well together that I couldn't stop myself.

Friday, July 27, 2007

You should read this book because it's good

You know you're to expect something irreverent and provoking when you read one of Christopher Moore's books...especially when the title is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend. Check out the samples available from this can't read the entire book, but you can definitely get a feel for it.

It's like reading something Mel Brooks, Kurt Vonnegut, and Monty Python would've constructed after drinking pints of ale laced with "special" mushrooms, whose use, of course, I cannot condone.

If you're at all familiar with basic tenets of Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism, or you're a reformed member of one or all of these faiths, then you'll have a blast. If you're Dubya, you'll have to look up big words like "sarcasm", and even if you're Mark Foley or Tom Haggard then you'll have a wonderful time knowing that while you are sinning, hypocritical, meth-tweaking neo-Inquisitional acolyte you're not alone, and that with a little moderation and some therapy you're going to be okay.

I've read most of his books, but so far this has been my favorite. Maybe it was all the churchin' I had when I was younger, and my boyish fascination with how in the hell did some of those Old Testament guys live to be 600 years old, but I found this to be a read to which I could relate.

There's religion, cursing, lots of sex, violence, and scimitar wit involved throughout the tale, which basically is a chronicling of Joshua's (Jesus Christ) life in that missing section in the Bible where his formative years of life are glossed over. Biff (named for the sound of a hand smacking one upside the head) is Josh's best friend, and they travel throughout the Biblical land searching for the spark of man, so Josh can become the Messiah. Don't let all the bible stuff salt you.

Mary of Magdalene is a hottie, with whom Biff is smitten.
The roots of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas, and the "true" origin of the Shroud of Turin are revealed.
You meet the 3 wise men in greater detail. One of them has 8 concubines, and keeps a demon locked in a room within his fortress.
You learn why, under certain circumstances, Jews can eat bacon.
Jesus farted.
Judo was invented for Jesus.

If you're easily ruffled, then this book is for you. You can take it to your hate groups and hate on it. If you like to laugh at yourself and others in a constructive and creative way, then it's also for you.

Prez Dick Cheney...Dick Boom?

Quite possible the most disturbing fact of Dubya's recent surgery was the fact that during the time of his medically-induced unconsciousness where doctors removed polyps from his colon (they were really lumps of Playdoh he ate, thinking they were dumplings) Cheney assumed the role of President of 'Merka.

I totally neglected to note this, but Mark Morford from did not. Oh man is his piece good.

While most Americans were completely unaware that the temporary transfer had taken place, the response from the collective body was nevertheless nearly instantaneous, as millions across the nation reported feeling some sort of unnerving wave of dread, something dark and ominous and stifling, like a collective shudder, a giant musty pillow jammed over the mouth of life itself, a great, low moan of deep, chthonic pain.

The stories were as shocking as they were, you know, titillating. "We were totally having wicked sex in the tailgate of my Subie," said Brandon "Bran Flakes" Zander, 22, a surfer from Redondo Beach, sitting next to his "smokin' hot" girlfriend, Amber, 19. "When all of a sudden, right in the middle of the good s--, boom, everything sorta went limp, you know? Like some dude yanked the plug from the love toaster, right? We just sorta look at each other like, WTF? We decided to fire up a spliff and wait it out."

"Two little words," said Dr. Alan Lenner of the Phenomenology Research Institute in Bethesda, MD, glancing around nervously as if his next utterance would cause lightning to strike him dead. 'President Cheney,'" he whispered. At that exact moment, a woman's terrible scream could be heard in the distance, a pack of wolves howled, and once again that long, low moan reverberated throughout the land. No, seriously, it totally did.
I don't want to spoil it for you. Check out the whole thing. It's brilliantly sculpted, and makes you feel better about living in a country where civil liberty and political integrity have been sacrificed on the altar of totalitarianist-driven profit. We've got a considerable bunker of evil hawks nesting in D.C., and we'll need to clean up their guano come election time.

I don't so much care if the new resident of the White House is DEM or GOP, just that he or she doesn't waste time on saving face for the previous occupant, doesn't point fingers (we all know where they're going to be pointed at), and just starts rebuilding this country's political, moral capital. We've got a new century to explore, and some serious housekeeping to do before we get down to business.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What does it take to make a good video game?

Slate has a slideshow illustrating 10 video game clichés. Check out the show's intro here.

From exploding barrels to cut-scenes and in-game "warping", it's a sweet summation of successful elements of games that have persisted since Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

Make yourself more smarter

So there's been lots of talking of phishing lately.

Do you know what it means, and why it's bad? Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, but there's a safe way to see what's real and what's phishy.

McAfee created a 10 question safety assessment test, in which 8 pairs of pictures of real and phished sites are presented. There is one t/f and one multiple choice.

I rated Safety Guru...I missed one...DAMMIT!!! I'll give you a hint...look at the pages carefully, and read the content.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lindsey needs her cookies deleted

Lindsey Lohan. She's like that favorite drink you like to imbibe when you go out, but you know you have to watch it when you drink it, because it totally rips your sanity and reason away. Tossed. Out the door. You've hit rock bottom, and start high-fiving everyone when they don't want to be high-fived, and you keep telling the same joke over and over the same person.

So, being the party elixir that she is, and just after leaving rehab, she tears off and starts high-fiving everyone by drunk-driving with a gram or two of blow in her pocket, engages in a vehicular chase with a relative of a former employee, and gets busted by the po-leece.

I'm going to make a guess that her booze bracelet was singing Inna Godda Da Vita during the whole chase.

But the good news is...and this affects anyone who uses the internets...Google, Ask, Yahoo, and Microsoft are all implementing stronger privacy methods to anonymize your search records on their systems. Here are the essentials:

Google: Modifying web search cookies so they expire in 2 years, assuming the visitor doesn't return to the site, otherwise the cookies push the expiration date out each day. In my opinion, this is somewhat meaningless...who are the users who access Google once in a 2 year period? 5 Eskimos and a monk in the Himalayas? Search records will become somewhat anonymized after 18 months (the last eight bits of your IP address will be made opaque). This means that your IP would be identifiable in a pool of 256 others.

Yahoo: They will anonymize data about searches and searchers within 13 months after each search is performed.

Microsoft: Users will be able to choose whether they want to receive ads tailored to their Web surfing habits. The company will also sever the links between information about a computer and the Web searches carried out from that machine after 18 months.

Ask: They're implementing AskEraser, which is a preference tool that allows you to not have Ask store your search information. They'll keep search records intact for 18 months, after which they'll disassociate the search history from the IP address or cookie information.

Now if only scienticians could figure out a way to mask Lindsey's drunkenness and public outcry for a hearty slap in the face and a hug to follow...but then, what else would we focus on: the worst U.S. President in history tethering our blood and money to the petroleum industry while simultaneously face-stabbing the global perception of America whose wounds and scars won't heal for decades to come? Nah...that's too much of a downer and I have to think about stuff that's not fun to think about.

Was Paris chasing Lindsey? That would be so cool if those two tramps got in a drunken, hair-pulling, fight and then Fall Out Boy stopped by to play a few songs as, like, y'know...a soundtrack? That would be sweet. I would totally put those pics on my MySpace page.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Why does Tom Cruise have to ruin every film?

Seriously one film in the past 7 years starring Tom Cruise that you liked.

OK, "The Last Samurai" was good, but that's only because it starred Ken Watanabe...and Cruise didn't even commit hari-kari with his war buddy at the end? He was supposed to be the LAST samurai. White Tiger...pphhhht.

"War of the Worlds" you ask? I wouldn't waste a blank DVD burning that one...if I were so inclined to participate in that legally fuzzy area of "archival".

OK..."Collateral" was pretty good because he didn't do his typical character: cocky ill-founded upstart has life-changing moment and redeems himself and saves at least up to 1/2 the population of the world...or at least the Church of Scientology.

I think the last decent film he made in which he wasn't a total tool was "Jerry Maguire". You know the film in which his supporting actor, Cuba Gooding, Jr. won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, then spent the next 10 years doing Eddie Murphy Daddy Daycare rip offs? Where's the cosmic harmony in that? Cuba has the kwan, Tom...not you.

So when I heard that Bryan Singer and Award-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (the two worked on the amazing "The Usual Suspects") were doing another film, Valkyrie, together I was fired up. Stoked. Juiced. 'Nads pumped. I was excited. Then I heard Tom Cruise was going to play the protagonist in the film, which (in a nutshell) is about Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer within Hitler's circle, and who led an attempt to bring down the Nazi regime from within and end the war by planting a bomb in Hitler's bunker.
Sounds pretty good, eh? Well not when 'ol Xenu poster-boy is playing Stauffenberg! I swear he's doing this just so he can get in with the Germans, because they sooo detest his "religion". Why does he have to take a role that would be better left to anyone with real screen chops? Jake Gyllenhaal? Christian Bale? Shit, even Kiefer Sutherland makes more sense.

Anyway, I will probably see it because of the director and screenwriter, and because of the other cast members, and I actually feel ok about seeing Tom Cruise in it because I know his character dies. Don't get me wrong...I hate Nazis as much as the next sane person. They're the best enemy to have in a shooter game outside of hellish mutants, andI love taking them out with close-range headshots, and I wish that Stauffenberg succeeded. I just like it when Tom Cruise's characters die in the end. Call me petty, but I'm not the one who has to brainwash women to become his podling bride.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chicktionary saves the day

Microsoft recently saw a bump in their searches (which is a measure used to define a share of the entire Search industry), but the way in which the increase was achieved seems...wait for it...fowl:
Another Internet metrics company, Compete, said the share of MSN and Windows Live searches jumped from 8.4% in May to 13.2% in June, an increase of 67%. While Nielsen/NetRatings will surely offer a third set of numbers, the trend is clear: Microsoft is finally seeing a change of fortune in the search industry.

Or is it? According to both comScore and Compete, Microsoft's turnaround is not due to improved quality or customer satisfaction with the service, but rather an online game called "Chicktionary." [HAHAHAHAHAHA!!] The chicken-themed game lets users re-arrange letters into words, and then launches a Web search for the word. A player may indirectly run dozens of searches in a single game.

Chicktionary is available on Microsoft's Live Search Club Web site, which offers other games such as a crossword puzzle called Flexicon, which also requires searches to be made for each word. Prizes are what's apparently attracting users to the site. For each game they play, visitors earn points that can be redeemed for software like Windows Vista and Zoo Tycoon 2, as well as shirts, song downloads, headphones and more.
I'm going to go with this prediction: this type of activity isn't sustainable, and next week, people will find something other to do during their lunch break or during lecture.

Yahoo-Microsoft and Google cookies with 2 year old milk

The San Jose Mercury News c/o Bloomberg News reports that Yahoo! is poised to be purchased per industry analysts...
The chance Yahoo will put itself up for sale has increased after the most-visited U.S. Web site lowered its revenue forecast, according to Stanford Group. Microsoft is a candidate to buy the company, analyst Clayton Moran said, reviving previous speculation.

Does that mean that all the ATT-Yahoo! email domains change to Hotmail after the merger? Gosh darn golly that would suck.

Google is also changing its cookie retention policy. Cookies are little bits of information stored on your computer when you visit a website. They allow sites to customize content for a user, help shopping cart technology remember your order, keep track of various credentials by uniquely identifying the user's point of contact, and other covert things that lull you into a dreamy complacent state of perception.

There have been some concerns surrounding privacy since the inception of cookies, but with the meteoric rise of the Googleplex PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER folks have been clamoring that the search/ad giant stop becoming big brother. I don't think they really set out to be big's just that everything they offer and provide is web based, and customization at this point relies on retaining information about the using cookies.
Under the new policy, the cookies would expire automatically after two years, instead of in 2038 as is currently the case. However, the two-year period could get automatically extended when users revisit Google's search engine, so one might have to avoid Google for a full two years to see the cookie automatically expire.
This really doesn't address much in my opinion, because what about all those petabytes of server log data the Google farm stores? The best way to defeat cookies is to remove them from your machine. This process takes about 30 seconds to 3 mins in my humble estimation, depending on how active an internet user you are.

Running Microsoft? Here are the steps to delete cookies.
Mozilla Firefox? Bing!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

JT Sighting in Tahoe

One of my sources reported a sighting of Justin Timberlake at family wedding held recently in the Tahoe vicinity.

Mohawk 10 year old dancing partner...check
Stylish moves...check
Flavor that puts Kool-Aid to shame...check
Bringing sexy back...that's a big 10-4
Handsome niños running locked like only a Reaper drone can

Monday, July 16, 2007

Martin Prince status: Achieved

Dr. Pryor: Here's your scientifically selected career.
Janey: Architect.
Kid: Insurance salesman,
Ralph: Salmon gutter?
Milhouse: Military strongman.
Martin (fingers crossed, speaking in mantra style): Systems analyst. Systems analyst.
Dr. Pryor: Systems analyst.
Martin: All right!
Lisa: Homemaker?
Dr. Pryor: Mm-hm. It's like a mommy.
Bart: Police officer? Well, I'll be jiggered.
At long last my goal of becoming Martin Prince of the Simpsons has been realized. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I have finally reached my goal of becoming a self-actualized systems analyst.

I started a job at in such a capacity. Before you start saying 'all search engines are the same', let me assure you they are not. All search algorithms are not the same, neither is the manner in which the system returns with matches to your queries. Ask uses ExpertRank, while Google employs PageRank. Needles to say, each engine is different, and I'll leave it to you to explore the difference. Ask also uses a different style of returning answers to your questions.

Check out Ask3D, and why it's different. Here's a nice little summary.

Switching jobs and attending my sister's wedding will make a person focus on things other than researching Search industry tidbits and bitmaps of Martin. Perhaps this will excuse my lack of posts. I think of you every day. You tell me who says otherwise, and I'll cut their heart out with a spoon (thank you Alan Rickman).

While the perversion of American justice and the mockery of checks and balances goes unheeded in this great nation, at least I'm in a place that will help people find information on how we as Americans and global citizens can take our grassroot steps in making the world a better place...Libby sentence commuting and abuse of "executive powers" notwithstanding.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

To the dictator go the spoils...

I'm going out on a limb here, but I see some strange similarities between the Bush administration and an evil dictatorship...or at least the now defunct Soviet Union.

I keep thinking of the Mikhail Baryshnikov/Gregory Hines (RIP) vehicle, "White Nights", for some reason...did you ever see that one? It's a classic. Male dancers, one American (an expatriate living in the C.C.C.P.) and a Russian (looking to flee Communist rule) who get tangled in a web of U.S vs. U.S.S.R. intrigue: all of this set upon Phil Collins and Lionel Richie theme songs. The movie basically depicted how the Cold War impacted these two people, with a common passion, but with divergent political views. The movie illustrated how wonderful the U.S. was, and how evil and oppressive the Soviet Union was. You felt good at the end when one of the dancers, who was held captive by the Soviets after the other successfully escaped, was eventually traded back to the U.S. in exchange for some KGB-type. You felt good about it: the U.S. seemed like a moral, thoughtful, courageous, and responsible nation.

Fast forward to the the 21st century and smell the stink rising from the swamp in D.C. The Rove-Cheney Death Star duo out undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame because her husband, a U.S. Ambassador, makes critical [and valid] remarks of the Bush administration, and eventually the heat falls on Scooter Libby, who takes the fall, who gets sentenced, then gets his sentenced commuted by Dubya because he feels that the punishment was excessive...

(note that during this process Dubya is a complete tofu-brained, spineless puppet with two pairs of hands up his ass moving his mouth and helping sound out those big two-syllable words)

Excessive? Didn't anyone see "Mission Impossible" with my most favorite actor Tom Cruise, whom I totally heart in all his Scientologist goodness? Remember the severity of having the potential sale of a list of all undercover agents fall to the highest bidder? Wasn't that threatening to think that all these faceless people doing black-ops, off-the-books, counter-intel, mole-type activities on the behalf of the United States government were about to have their covert and given names made available to folks like Al-Queda? Hyperbole aside, well...there's really not much to hyperbolize when you see this administration's track record. Didn't Bush once pride himself in being a believer in rough justice? I guess it only counts if you're poor or otherwise marginalized.

Apparently if you're part of the internal U.S. power structure, you're exempt from such phony-baloney nonsense, and can out a CIA operative who's married to someone who says something portraying the government in a less than popular light and who's invested more in this country's security than some spoiled, brainless, tool. Honestly, I could care less about Libby...I'd like to see Turd-Blossom, ol' no-soul Cheney, and tool shed extraordinaire Dubya: the Unholy Trinity: see some justice for this act.

I'm rendered utterly flabbergasted and discombobulated. The sheer hypocrisy and evil empire undertones permeate every statement I could contemplate. Is this "justice" or "just us": meaning, if you're not of the inner circle, then you're common cannon fodder?

I'm astounded when I think of the energy and time it will take us as a nation to mend the wounds this single administration has inflicted upon the world, and as an American, upon my country. They're making the American soldier and civilian look like a bunch of worthless blood-soaked tools eternally stained with their lies and insanity.

If you're a devout conservative and could give a isht about my "liberal" ramblings, just think about how many taxpayers dollars went into the toilet so that this scapegoat could be exonerated, when the real evil-doers go free. For all we know, maybe the cost of this nonsense could've translated into a few thousand more Kevlar vests or adequate armor, or ammunition, or food and medical supplies...but I guess it's more important to have lying, killing, and general evil dictatorship-type behavior cemented into the American fabric because it's this administration's final legacy laid upon the altar of time. Amen.

And none of the irony of this farce falling so close to our Independence Day is lost on me. Not even Roland Emmerich could make this administration look good. I'd be completely happy with Bill Pullman for President, though.