Monday, October 27, 2008

Well, That Didn't Take Long

Her name, we think, is Binky:

I say "we think", because when we got her at the Milwaukee Humane Society, they said her name was "Monty", but since rabbits tend to be difficult to sex when they're young, we suspect someone probably told her original owners she was male. So she needs a new name, and she's been shy about letting us know what it should be, but "Binky" seems to be the one that's sticking most.

She and Buster seemed to hit it off pretty well when we took him to the Humane Society to meet her, but there have been some altercations since we got her home. They're currently in separate (but adjacent) cages, and we're taking it slow with supervised play dates.

Oh, and this guy was there, too. His name is Babyface Joe, apparently:

Well, we had been watching Verminators, and it kept making me want another pet rat to keep in my computer room, so he can sit on my shoulder while I'm up here. Yeah, I'm a little strange.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Review

Across the Universe - Easily the best [fictional movie musical focused on other people performing Beatles' music] ever made. Of course, since the only other entry in that particular genre is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the bar is set kind of low. Across the Universe makes it over that bar merely by not being an atrocity against man and nature.

It's... not great. The part where an Uncle Sam recruiting poster sings "I Want You", followed by American troops carrying the Statue of Liberty through plastic Vietnam jungles singing "She's So Heavy"... yeah, that's taking the symbolism a bit too far. The scenes in the bowling alley, with shots pretty much cribbed directly from The Big Lebowski were bad enough, but then to later call back those scenes with ten Vietnamese women painted white, falling over... I had to pause the TiVo long enough to exclaim: "Did I really just watch a metaphorical representation of a Vietnam war atrocity as bowling?" Um, wow.

On the other hand, Eddie Izzard was predictably entertaining as Mr. Kite. The actor playing Jude was good, and performed his songs quite well. And I was glad to see they were able to fit Joe Cocker in.

But the story never really coheres. As a film, for the most part, it's basically just a strange hybrid of Moulin Rouge!, Hair, and, for some reason, Dreamgirls. With, yes, just a pinch of the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper. It's really obviously not a depiction of the real 1960s, but rather of some kind of mythic-'60s, where Jimi and Janis were in a band together until they were split up by an evil record producer, only to later get back together for a rooftop concert. Where Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters tripped on a bus to Timothy Leary's home. Where people got high by miming smoking a joint, and where the negative consequences of heavy drinking and drug use are only obliquely hinted at. Where all the young men were drafted, sent to Vietnam to witness horrors, and returned home broken. All of which may have been mythically true, but reality was never that simple.

Oh, and during all the Liverpool scenes, I kept wanting the extras to start singing "Every Sperm is Sacred".

As an aside: Why is it that no movie made since about 1980 seems to be able to get '60s hair right? I'm not even sure exactly what it is, but all of the hair in this film, from Evan Rachel Wood's long-straight-hippy-chick 'do, to her brother's "what is Kurt Cobain doing in 1972" look, is just somehow obviously modern. I don't even know exactly what it is they're doing wrong, but if you look at Woodstock, or other movies actually made at the time, it's just not right somehow.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Financial Reporters as Faith Healers

In Penn & Teller's book How To Play With Your Food, they have a great bit about "alternative (i.e., quack) medicine (homeopathy, acupuncture, etc.):
Every malady does one of three things if left untreated:

1. It gets better.
2. It stays the same.
3. It gets worse.

After trying any bogus treatment, one of three things will happen.

1. It'll get better.
2. It'll stay the same.
3. It'll get worse.

As long as you have a spiel for each of these three eventualities, you can be a healer that some people will believe in:

1. "See I told you."
2. "We arrested it."
3. "I guess we need more of it."

Because everyone wants hope and it's easy to explain any course an affliction may take, there are many many cures that people believe in.

The financial reporting around the recent $700 billion bailout reminds me of this. Back before the first vote, the stock market went up a bit, and reported that this was because of anticipation of a bailout being passed. Then the House rejected it, the stock market went down, and said it was because the bailout didn't pass. Then the market went back up again, so said it was because in anticipation of the Senate passing the bill. Then the Senate passed the bailout, and the stock market went back down, so said it was because of fears the bailout wouldn't pass the House again. Then the House passed the bailout, but the stock market still went down, so Friday and today says it went down despite the bailout.

No matter what the market does, they are apparently incapable of interpreting it in any way that fails to support Bailout = Good.

Over the next few weeks/months/years, I expect to see any/all of the following reported, depending on what the market actually does:

1. "See, the bailout worked!"
2. "See, the bailout stopped the market's downward plunge!"
3. "Alas, the bailout didn't go far enough."

And also:

Things I Learned From Watching Turistas

  • Having drugged eight people in order to kill them and harvest their organs, the best way to transport them to your "operating room" is to tie two of them up and carry them, but leave the other six alone to awaken on the beach, and blindly hope that they will then wander randomly into your lone accomplice in a village some miles away, who will trick them into following him to his "uncle's house" in the middle of the jungle.

  • When you are killing someone in order to harvest their organs, it is still necessary to swab down the surgical site with iodine beforehand, to prevent infection. Surgical mask and gloves, however, are optional.

  • Brazil's medical system, though short on transplantable organs, has access to the most powerful local anesthetic known to science, which allows a person to remain conscious, semi-lucid, yet in no apparent pain while their abdomen is opened up and their liver and kidneys removed.

  • Traveling from somewhere along the coast of Rio de Janeiro to a city with organ transplant facilities takes more than six hours by helicopter.

  • Tiny pockets of air trapped in underwater caves are perfectly breathable and have plenty of oxygen for up to five people at a time.