Friday, January 30, 2009

Reepicheep Lives!

After the disappointing performance of Prince Caspian, Disney backed out of the Narnia movies leaving Walden without a distribution partner. Fox just picked it up, meaning that the Voyage of the Dawn Treader will still get made. This is a good thing as Dawn Treader is most people's favorite book. They're also going to be putting the movie in theaters around Christmas instead of during the summer movie season.

I actually liked the Prince Caspain film a fair bit. I like the book, but it a kind of a narrative muddle. A large part of it takes place in flashback and the Pevensie kids only appear at the end of Caspian's story to set things right. They tried to streamline this in the movie by starting the movie with Caspian's flight and then bringing the British kids into the story earlier. It sort of works. They still don't get Peter's character anywhere near right, but the other three kids are better. I really liked Edmund and the mice.

I think the next movie will be very interesting. They won't have to play with the story so much in order to create huge visuals, those are already in the book. We'll see how the work the book's episodic nature into the movie though.

Rin Tin Tin

You Are a German Shepherd Puppy
Intelligent, quick witted, and a bit aggressive.
You've got the jaw power to take a bite out of anyone you choose.

Amy came out as a chihuahua. Probably something to do with her always being cold.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Standing Atop the Entertainment Industry Yelling Stop

Big Hollywood has had two decent articles so far this month. One is a rather bitter screed from television's Dirk Benedict about how the new Battlestar Galactica sucks. And he's right, it does:
It matters not to Suits if it is Starbuck or Stardoe, if the Cylons are robots or lingerie models, if the show is full of optimism and morality or pessimism and amorality. What matters is that it is marketed well, so that all you people out there in TV land know that you must see this show. And after you see it, you are told that you should like it. That it is new and bold and sleek and sexy and best of all … it is Re-imagined!
The other is from comicbook writer Bill Willingham who points out that comicbooks, by surrendering their moral voice, have largely flushed themselves down the drain. He thinks that this period in comics history will be referred to as "The Age of Superhero Decadence" and from here on out he will decline to take part. Instead he will write stories with backbone.

Gun Show Control

Alphecca brought up a pro-show story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It points out that despite rhetoric indicting gun shows as a huge source of weapons for criminals, the statistics are quite different:
Federal data indicate otherwise. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, “Firearm Use by Offenders,” only about 1 percent of guns used in crimes come from gun shows...
It would be nice if Delaware's new governor would re-examine issues like the "gun show loophole" instead of just parroting lefty groupthink on the subject. If it doesn't make sense in a state like Virginia that actual has shows, it makes even less sense in Delaware where shows are practically nonexistent.

Evil Evil Subcontractors

Amy spent two hours yesterday yelling at a satellite TV installer over the phone. We decided to upgrade our regular HD service to HD DVR service. This is mostly because Amy will miss her favorite evening soap because of some classes shes going to be taking this spring. It's also because Chuck and Big Bang Theory are on at the same time.

The Borders Rewards program had a discount deal so Amy purchased the service through them for what still was a princely sum. Last night she had cause to call DirecTV to follow up on a service person's phone message. DirecTV had never heard of any planned change to our service. They also told her that the princely sum she had placed on her debit card was almost twice what she should have paid.

A brief investigation followed. Amy discovered that she had not been dealing with DirecTV at all. She had been dealing with DirectSatTV, one of their installation contractors based out of North Carolina. DirectSatTV appears to be run by the devil.

DirectSatTV padded our bill with installation fees and various other items that we should have gotten for free. When confronted with this they claimed ignorance and that they couldn't locate itemized billing records for the amount Amy had paid. They said we did pay too much and reduced the bill by about twenty bucks. Still not even close to what we should have paid. When an actual DirecTV rep was brought in on a conference call, the subcontractor's position became untenable. Sat TV caved only to uncave the instant that the DirecTV rep left. This sort of argument went back and forth for quite while with Amy getting bounced off of DirecTV reps and SatTV reps several times. The dispute was finally concluded by an agreement that got us the majority of our money back through refunds and credits to our future service bill.

The lesson? One, always know who you're talking with. DirecTV. DirectSatTV. Easy to make a mistake, especially when the subcontract is using the DirecTV logo all over their site. Two, never put this sort of thing on a debit card. By the time Amy realized something was up, the transaction had gone through. DirectSatTV already had our money and was going to hold on to it by hell and high water. If we had used a credit card, we could have called up our credit card company and disputed the charge. This would have made DirectSatTV far more pliable.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Celebrity Passings

So both Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan passed away this month. National Review did a brief piece on Montalban as he was a long time subscriber. McGoohan is best known as the king in Braveheart in the US, but his finest work is probably the 1960s British TV series The Prisoner which is currently being streamed from the AMC website.

If It's Not Scottish...

Tomorrow is Robbie Burns Day. It's a day to celebrate Scottish poetry and haggis and is often observed with kilted Burns Suppers. But it's going to be cold tomorrow so I think I'll stick with pants.

Via Slashfood.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Testing 2: JMB's Birthday

Lets see if this link comes through...

Tamara has posted a brief list of John Moses Browning's completed firearms designs in honor of his birthday.

UPDATE: Well I cleaned that up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fun with the Boys

Amy and I went to a DelOC gathering at the IHOP on 13 just outside the Newcastle County Airport. Evening is definitely the time to go there as the restaurant was essentially empty but for the gunnies. It was fun and I think Amy even enjoyed herself despite being the only girl.

Oh, and that bottomless plate of pancakes they sell was cooked up by the devil. Which is why I stayed home today with the mother of all tummy aches.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Empathy

I feel for all those folks freezing outside down in Washington. Not on purpose. It seems that the heat in my office building was left off over the weekend and the temperature at my desk is just over 50 degrees. Space heater don't fail me now!

Inauguration Day

The attendees seem to be full of hope and change. It seems the park service is planning for the attendees to be full of something else as well. Amy stumbled across a blog showing some of the preparations made on the National Mall:

7000 Portapots all in a row.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tax Code

Instapundit linked to this USNews report on the complexities of the tax code. A nice tidbit contained within is that 60% of filers use hired preparers and an additional 22% buy software. I'm one of the 60% and I think the article misses the point.

I'm a pretty normal Joe. I'm not self employed, I itemize because of the house and my charitable contributions, and I have some tax-deferred income for retirement and health care. I have never had trouble with the federal tax form. All my trouble is with the states. This is compounded by the fact that I live and work in two different states. Every year I have to file two interrelated state tax forms. After software failed me a couple years ago, I've used preparers ever since.

My taxes get done faster because total preparation time is reduced to about an hour and I avoid procrastination. They save me money by both finding additional deductions (or moving deductions around) and insulating me from any possible preparation errors. It worth my while both financially and psychologically.

But in the end reforming the US tax code won't fix any of this, because it isn't where the problem lies.

Google Comes Through... Sort Of

It appears that I can still post to Blogger by using Google Docs as my intermediary.  Unfortunately, as you can see, some of the formatting on my posts seems to be getting screwed up in the translation.  Still promising though.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Apolitical Scientists

Lets see if this post goes better than the last one...

From Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy
It's all well and good that Obama has opted to name several well-respected scientists to his administration (such as Chu at Energy and Lubchenko at NOAA, among others), but in placing Holdren at the top, in what is effectively a cabinet-level position, I think that the Obama Administration does not understand, or is not concerned about the, the problem of science politicization. However bad the Bush Administration was in this regard, I have no confidence that Holdren will help the Obama Administration any better...
Perhaps Obama understands it better than Volokh Conspiracy members. If you have politicians appointing scientists to key positions that control vast quantities of research dollars, you will politicize science. If you have scientists making policy and legislation recommendations that will have huge impacts on the US economy and US population, you will politicize science. Perhaps Obama realized that politicizing science is inevitable and it's far better to have someone who plays the game well.

Great Targets

I'm pretty sure Ommelanden doesn't allow human silhouette targets, but most of these aren't actually human anymore. The zombie target is very obviously teaching bad technique though, don't they know only head shots count with the walking dead?

Buy A Jake's Hamburger Today

From Jake's Hamburgers:
Jake’s Hamburgers in Delaware announced today that they will be holding a fundraising event on behalf of the family of Delaware City / Volunteer Hose (Middletown) Firefighter Michelle Smith.

The event will be held on Thursday, January 8, 2009 from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at all Jake’s Hamburger locations in Delaware.

Jake’s will donate 20% of all sales that day to the trust fund that has been established for the benefit of Michelle’s daughter, “The Emily A. Burge Trust Fund,” c/o the Delaware City Fire Company.

In addition, Firefighters will be on hand at each location throughout the day to accept donations on behalf of Michelle’s family.

Please join us in supporting this very worthy cause, and in honoring Michelle’s service to our community. For more information on this event, please contact Jeff Smith by email at
Michelle Smith died when she stopped to help an injured motorcyclist on Route 40 and was hit by another car. She was 30 and her daughter Emily is 12.

Via The Delaware Curmudgeon

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The People's Choice Awards

Amy is unfortunately an awards show junkie, so we're currently watching the People's Choice Awards on CBS. It's both annoying and depressing.

Annoying because they keep throwing word's like "the People's" in front of everything like it was a communist party meeting. I'm waiting for them to call for the Proletariat to rise up and overthrow the Bourgeoisie. Thankfully they're too busy being smug about the results of the presidential election.

Depressing because we already know who is going to win everything. It's simple, the winners are the ones who bothered to show up. Presenters for one thing are also nominees in the other categories. There are all of 20 famous people in the auditorium and everyone else is a seat filler.

Can we start calling it quits with these BS award shows already? How sad is it when you're being shown up by Nickelodeon's Kid Choice Awards?

Back to Email

Well joy, over the Christmas break one of the IT departments in my service chain has decided to start filtering our network access again. Posting will be sparse because of it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Stuff Blowing Up Good

I have no sympathy for Hamas. Before they took power, there were 15 mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza per month. Right now they're firing 300 per week into Israeli population centers. It isn't working. Meanwhile the Israelis are putting videos like this on YouTube:

You don't get massive secondary explosions like that from hitting apartment buildings full of grandmothers and their cats. You get that by hitting volatile chemicals and explosive materials. Somehow I doubt there are that many fertilizer plants, grain silos, and oil refineries in Gaza.