Saturday, February 24, 2007

In the wiki wiki wiki wiki wiki room

Wikipedia, the popular online Internet web-based encyclopedia digital net database http, has many , many different, troubling, problematic issues involved with the site. As has been brought to my attention by various blog posts, apparently there is a new(?) wiki out there trying to make up where Wikipedia fails. Meet (if you haven't already) Conservapedia:
Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian "C.E." instead of "A.D.", which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance.
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You will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise answers free of "political correctness".

My favorite Example of Wikipedia Bias is about math: "Wikipedia has many entries on mathematical concepts, but lacks any entry on the basic concept of an elementary proof."

So...put it in? Oh, wait, someone already did.

Here's a snippet on Ronald Reagan:
Considered by many to be the greatest American President, Ronald Reagan's greatest accomplishments include leading America peacefully through the Cold War, lowering taxes, promoting a free economy, and staunchly opposing socialism and communism, and ending the Cold War in victory for the United States.

Then there's this:
* February 2
o Did you know that faith is a uniquely Christian concept? Add to the explanation of what it means, and how it does not exist on other religions.

So I guess if you want a wiki with most, if not all, of the problems of Wikipedia, but with the added advantage of being overly nonsensical, then Conservapedia is for you!

Friday, February 23, 2007

I wonder how many nerds accidentally joined the Marines?

Posting is going to be light heading into March. Apologies for the four or so people who currently read this.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Separating the art from the politics

It should come as no surprise that many radical Conservatives are crazy, and this crazy is a lens that filters everything they experience, but it seems Liberals are also guilty of this.

It is pretty well established that many Conservatives view art not as entertainment, but as a vehicle for politics. Take, for example, Stanley Kurtz talking about the release of The DaVinci Code last year:
This movie is a salutary kick in the teeth for conservatives. There’s no gainsaying the fact that the Narnia movie was a big deal. Having conceded that, the fact remains that when it comes to exercising influence on the fundamental levers of American culture, conservatives remain in a pathetically weakened position.
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So I feel in a particularly strong position to reveal the entirely unsecret conspiracy against patriotism, tradition, and religion hiding in plain sight on our movie and television screens, in our universities, and on the pages of the mainstream press.
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The battle is radicalizing. Big Love and The Da Vinci Code are far more direct and brazen attacks on tradition than we might have anticipated just a few years ago. Conservatives are the targets, and Hollywood is aiming and shooting repeatedly. Give credit to Tom Hanks, by the way. As producer of Big Love and star of The Da Vinci Code, he is clearly one of the captains of the not-so-secret conspiracy.

It's paranoid and delusional, as we expect from them. While Conservatives may be yearning for prolefeed from the Ficdep of the Minitru, there are Liberals who politicize art as well, even beyond the "Disney doesn't provide positive role models for girls." Take Annette John-Hall:
What happened to Murphy? That's a question for the ages. When he first emerged on Saturday Night Live in the early '80s, as an irreverent storyteller with a natural talent for mimicry, I thought he had the potential to become a great social satirist, as did Dave Chappelle and Aaron McGruder. Murphy graduated to film, but instead of using his unquestioned talent to tell truthful stories of black life, he has pandered to his audience, offering up stereotypes of his own people to the highest bidder.

John-Hall has a little less digging to do than Kurtz, as the right-wing could find offensive material in ink blots and tea leaves, but the fact remains that entertainment is made and should be viewed primarily as a vehicle for enjoyment. Eddie Murphy's new film "Norbit" should be criticized because it is more than likely terrible, with worthless humor and a moronic plot. If that is indeed the case, then any ethnic or cultural stereotypes should have as little value as the film itself. Who cares if it's racist if the movie sucks?

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand evaluating political and social content of entertainment. Songs, movies, etc., effect us on many levels. For example, in "The Sarah Silverman Show," I like that the two homosexual characters are not stereotypically gay in any way, shape or form. The only difference between them and other slobs is the fact that they're gay. As someone that is tired of the constant stereotypes of homosexuals on television, I am appreciative of their portrayal. However, if I was critiquing the show, that wouldn't be my first point of analysis, nor would it even be second or third. It would probably be a part of the discussion, but not a main part of it. It's not the focus of the show, but even if it was, the show will rise or fall on the quality of the comedy and storytelling, not the type of homosexuals in the episodes.

John-Hall claims Eddie Murphy's decline is due to his failure to be a social commentator. I disagree. His decline is due to his decreasing ability to make good films or be entertaining, with, apparently, "Dreamgirls" being the exception.

Martin Lawrence's new film, "Wild Hogs," looks like it is going away from stereotypical black comedy. You know what's noteworthy about it, though? It might actually be funny. When it comes to comedy, that's the only benchmark that must be met.

Florida might be the worst state in the union

From CNET News:
On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified "sexual behavior." The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.
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In other words, under Florida law, Amber and Jeremy would be legally permitted to engage in carnal relations, but they're criminals if they document it.

Amber's attorney claimed that the right to privacy protected by the Florida Constitution shielded the teen from prosecution, an argument that a trial judge rejected. Amber pleaded no contest to the charges and was placed on probation, though she reserved her right to appeal her constitutional claim.

By a 2-1 vote, the appeals court didn't buy it.

General legal theory in the United States, and this supposedly includes Florida, is that if a statute is intended to protect a class of people (say, minor children), and someone in that class of people is found engaging in an activity covered under said statute, that person cannot be convicted under the statute.

Laws against child pornography, either owning, making, or distributing it, are designed to protect the exploitation of children. Prosecuting the children in the child pornography makes no sense. Unless, of course, you are in Florida.
Judge Philip Padovano dissented. He wrote that the law "was designed to protect children from abuse by others, but it was used in this case to punish a child for her own mistake. In my view, the application of this criminal statute to the conduct at issue violates the child's right to privacy under Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution."

Yes, thank you, that's what I was trying to say!

What's not as annoying but still irritating is "Amber's" attorney arguing a privacy issue. That may not have been the only argument, and it probably wasn't, but privacy arguments almost never work outside of issues involving the marital bedroom, and there's no way it would work when involving minors and pornography. I certainly hope that wasn't the meat of their defense. I hope the lawyer didn't consider that the thrust of the issue. It would be bad if they considered that the big sloppy vagina of the matter.

Monday, February 19, 2007

AotM: Jan '07 - JURASSIC PARK!!!

A film's score is one of the most important parts of the movie, because it helps set tone, atmosphere, and pacing. It drops hints, it explains motivations, it compliments emotions. When Spielberg was helming yet another of his epic movies, he called on his friend and longtime collaborator John Williams, who delivered a monumental soundtrack, something as large and rich as the dinosaur world depicted in the film.

Not only is Jurassic Park one of the finest scores in all of cinema, but it can stand alone as a pure piece of classical music. The music is lush, with great depth and skill in every facet. Like seeing Dr. Ellie Sattler (actress Laura Dern) sticking her hand in a gigantic glob of triceratops poop, it's something you won't forget.

John Williams' scores are very diverse when compared to each other, but each one is distinctively his. Like Danny Elfman or Ennio Morricone, it is obvious when hearing it just where it came from. Like the great Bernard Herrmann, he is one of the most important and memorable men of Hollywood, even if we never see his face on screen.

Here's a scene from the movie, showcasing some of Williams' great work, as well as explaining how you can make your own dinosaurs:

Just add water.

Finally, please remember that Alan Silvestri composed the Back to the Future score, not John Williams.

Ice Hockey!

The NHL on NBC has once again given me the opportunity to watch a Rangers game, as New York hosted the Chicago Blackhawks. After losing the day before to the Philadelphia "Flowers" (as either Dave Strader, Brian Hayward, or Joe Micheletti accidentally referred to them as), the worst team in the league, the Rangers came out and played a great game against a slightly less crappy team (if they were in the Eastern Conference, they would be in second to last place). A 2-1 win, with Shanahan out due to head trauma and Lundqvist playing in his 100th straight game, is a good victory. Combine that with the fact the Rangers are still three points away from the 8th seed, it was so good it melted in the mouth, not in the hand.

And since I brushed the topic of NHL announcers, if you live in North Carolina, Hurricanes announcer John Forslund wants to have dinner with you (opening bid: $50). I bet he'd feel really bad if no one wanted to spend $50 to have lunch with him, although on the other hand, he can join the club. At least thousands of people don't hear my voice three to four times a week! Loser!

I'm sorry Hurricanes announcer John Forslund, I take back what I said. Let us be friends.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

AotM: December '06

Yes, I'm very much behind on my Albums of the Month, and December didn't really have one anyway. I was buying putting together a compilation of German metal, so I didn't really listen to one album all that much. However, if I had to pick, it would be Metallica's Ride the Lightning, which is a bit surprising considering how much I dislike the band. As a young man in the mid-to-late 90s, being a metalhead was difficult, in that the access to and availability of the music was very limited, especially compared to today, when it is enjoying a bit of a commercial renaissance. With the genre being called "dead" by record executives and rock critics, it was important to not only find new bands bringing the sound, but older bands keeping the faith. There are groups like Overkill who never compromised, and then on the other end there are bands like Metallica, who completely disrespected the genre and their fans in nearly every way a band could do. Most of their fans are forgiving, but that's probably because Metallica fans are stupid dumb moronheads that sniff their own poop.

Before people were derisively calling them "Alternica," and before that poppy display on their self-titled (black) album, Metallica played what I like lite thrash. Lite Metal was a term used in the 80s to describe bands like Poison and Ratt - metallish, hard rock with a metal edge, etc. So when I said Lite Thrash, I mean accessible thrash, fast riffs with an emphasis on melody. So although I gave the group the cold shoulder, so to speak, the constant radio play and general catchiness of some of their tunes slowly warmed themselves to me. I gave Ride the Lightning a full spin just last year, and it was really very good. Not a perfect thrash metal album, but highly enjoyable, and yet one more reason why 1984 might be the definitive year for the genre.

Fight Fire With Fire, For Whom the Bell Tolls and the title track are all fantastic numbers, and a good introduction to anyone looking to explore or get into thrash metal. Escape is a great song, but it's actual more of a pure classic metal sound than anything else. The other four tracks are serviceable, but nothing that really amazed me like the previous four I mentioned. Overall, a good record, and a solid testament to what the band once was.

Here's a live performance of For Whom the Bell Tolls from 1985, with the late Cliff Burton on bass (who, along with fellow deceased musicians Randy Rhoads on guitar, John Bonham on drums and Carl Albert on vocals would make a pretty interesting metal band):

And here's a parody of Metallica:

"Beer good! Fire bad!"

Baseball is in the air has 2007 baseball previews up, but like any other preview, don't put too much weight into them. For example, the Yankees report:
Expect the Yankees to prevail again and take their chances with an aging rotation in October.

Chien-Ming Wang - 27
Mike Mussina - 39
Andy Pettite - 35
Kei Igawa - 28
Carl Pavano - 31

Average age: 32

I guess you could call that aging, in that humans age every day. It's not nearly as old as the rotation the Yankees had a couple of years ago in 2005, which included Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson, both over 40 at the time (and, coincidentally, still over 40).

Other than that, I wonder if all the praise for Cashman is going to turn sour. I like what he's done so far, and I understand the reasons for declining to offer Bernie Williams a guaranteed contract and declining to offer Mariano Rivera an extension, but what if Cashman starts turning away other fan favorites? Jorge Posada's contract is up at the end of the year, but he's a catcher that will 36 years old by the time the offseason rolls around. Will we be saying goodbye to him? Perhaps, perhaps not. Cashman did bring back Mike Mussina, despite the Yankees trend towards youth. Of course, Moose had a pretty good season last year, and pitchers are like candy, you can't stuff enough into your mouth. Or whatever.