28 June 2002

Great Barkley quote on the Clipper's selection of Maryland's Chris Wilcox despite their already having Elton Brand on their roster:

"They either took that pick for somebody else, or they're stupid."
--sir charles barkley
Here's a great thomas friedman article on Iran. (Weirdly enough i found this on fark, go figure...)
Worst of the Slate is wonderful:

"WOTS observation: Does nineteen year old women's tennis pro Daja Bedanova have the best Bond name in sports?"
We should all try out this new way of eating bananas.

26 June 2002

So I'm off to New York tomorrow. Until I get my internet situation straightened out, I probably won't be posting again for a while, so further discussion of Minority Report (which I saw for the third time today, thus maintaining my Tom Cruise streak) will have to be postponed.

God, I'm nervous about this whole thing. I need to find a job....
I agree that multiple Radiohead albums should have been way up there. I think the "Album" part of the radio station's description doesn't mean what we think it should mean. They try to play a greater variety of songs off of hit albums (i.e. not just the 2 hit singles), but they don't play songs off of albums that don't have hit singles. That said, I'm still not sure why Radiohead wasn't selected.

I saw MR again last night and I'm afraid to say that Agatha is wholly incapable of masterminding everything. Her "gift" is pretty imperfect -- I think she can only see a little bit in advance when it's not murder. That's why she doesn't warn John that PreCrime cops are coming to get him at his wife's place until they're already there. And the simplest explanation of her behavior at the hotel is that she thinks he's going to murder Leo Crow. I think it's more plausible that Burgess sets up the murder 36 hours in advance fully expecting John to get arrested by PreCrime and get safely put away. John went to Burgess right after the Ann Lively discovery in containment, and so I think Burgess developed the idea to kill John right after that meeting.

25 June 2002

Speaking of Radiohead and Tom Cruise movies, i've been reunited with my cd alarm clock, and after waking up to "a beautiful day" for several months i figured i needed a change (before that it was the beta band song off the Hi-Fi soundtrack) and so the last two days i tried "everything in its right place"... it has a surprisingly soothing opening few bars and is a pleasure to wake up to, although it does make me worry that something terrible will happen as a result of my listening to it...

Incidentally you guys are underestimating the power which Agatha has with her ability to see the future. She knows what the outcome of her telling him to "run" is, that is its not going to stop him. Keep in mind, she needs him to meet Leo Crow, BUT she also needs him to not immediately kill him. To do this she must tread the line between discorouging him too much and not enough. Since she can see the future she can more easily adjust her actions to mantaining this delicate balance. This is why she tells him to run, why she fosters his confidence in her, while also convincing him that the future can in fact be changed.

By the way, did you know that the guy who produced Radiohead's The Bends is Bessie's cousin?
For a radio station that bills itself as specializing in "Adult Album Rock," the complete absence of Radiohead is a bit surprising.
My local "Adult Album Rock" (???) radio station had a listener poll of the top 103 albums. I was surprised at the diversity, though there's definitely a modern slant to it, as witnessed by the absence of classic albums (Beatles, Pink Floyd) and the great showing by grunge bands and stuff that's come out in the last 10 years in general. I definitely don't know about Alanis being #2, but I can't argue with #1. The order of the U2 albums was odd (at least to me) -- #1 Joshua Tree, #11 War, #33 ATYCLB, #43 Achtung, #80-something Unforgettable Fire. Achtung deserved top 10, in my opinion -- it's a lot better than War, which only has a couple of really good songs.

(if you can't read the top 5 that's because they came out today. The website will be updated soon, I imagine.)
Noah -- that's a great explanation. I too like it more than my own. But: why does she tell Anderton to run when he's outside the hotel room? For her plan to work she has to get Anderton to realize that Burgess is out to get him (and thus has something to hide). She needs him to meet Leo Crow.

More Minority Report spoilers:

Hmmm, I rather like Noah's explanation. It would go a long way towards resolving another apparent implausibility in the plot: Why didn't Agatha's flashbacks to her mother's death reveal Burgess's face until the very end? Or why didn't she simply tell Anderton who the killer was? Because she didn't want to reveal the killer's identity until she was assured of enough witnesses to end Pre-Crime for good!

We should write Roger Ebert about this, seriously.

24 June 2002


so... I still think they should have ended it with the arrest. I think you still know that the system is wrong and can happily guess that something will happen to get rid of it...

I think you guys are missing the important key to alec's supposed plot hole, and i'm surprised Nat "kissinger was deep throat" Chakeres didn't come up with it himself... What happens at the end of the movie? What's the final result? The supposedly innocent "pre-cogs" are set free and left to live an idyllic government funded life in a beautiful cabin. So let me ask, who has something to gain from this whole series of events? Follow the money... I'm telling you its the precogs. Agatha set up the whole vision thing. She can see the future (they tell you at the beginning its just murders, but as the movie goes on you see that's a lie that's been propogated by the vast precog conspiracy). She knows that Burgess is trying to set up Anderton. She fakes the vision. Don't put it past her, she is "the leader" of the precogs... Follow the money, Agatha sets up the whole thing, and gets all the benefits...
From today's imdb.com: Portman's Lesbian Lust. "Sensual Star Wars babe Natalie Portman has feelings for other women. The stunning actress who plays Senator Amidala in Attack of the Clones annouced that, although she has never explored her lesbian fantasies, she would not rule it out. The sexy stunner, who once dated Moby, claimed that although her personality is more compatible with men she wouldn't want to close herself off to girl only action. She says, 'I've never dated a woman or anything like it. But I think it's much more the person that you fall in love with and why would you close yourself off to 50-percent of people?'"

I have no idea why this caught my eye.
Uhh, I think everyone who is active on the blog has seen the movie, so I'm just gonna give my thoughts on Alec's question (which had occured to me as well):

My little brother's explanation of this problem was that maybe Burgess developed concrete plans to lead Anderton to the hotel room. Had these plans been carried out, then Anderton would have killed the guy -- but it turns out that they are unneccessary because Anderton decides to go find the guy anyway (and Agatha sorta gives him directions to get there). Still seems kinda floppy, but that's the best we could think of. As for what those plans might be, maybe dropping Anderton some note saying "I have your son" and giving him the room number in the hotel would be sufficient.

I had a couple of other minor questions that might be answered if I saw it again, such as: why doesn't the eye surgeon do something horrible to him? How does his wife get his eye? I also agree that they could have been more subtle about the scene where his wife finds out -- I mean, she doesn't even need to find out right then, she can just be really suspicious and then go get Anderton.

As for Noah's question regarding the ending, at first I thought it could have ended either where he starts to arrest Crow or where he shoots him -- but if it had ended with him shooting him, we would have been really confused as to why he had been set up (since we would have known that he had been set up). If it had ended with the arrest, I think we would have been dissatisfied because precrime would have continued and we already know that there's something very wrong with it.

So here's my question. Scroll your mouse over to read:

The movie's plot hinges upon the fact that Lamar Burgess (Max Von Sydow), John Anderton's boss, frames Anderton by paying a criminal to pose as his son's kidnapper. My question is, after recruiting the guy and setting him up in that hotel room, how could Burgess be sure that Anderton would find him and kill him? Anderton is led to that hotel based solely upon the material from Agatha's psychic vision, and is given no other information about the case. Burgess seems to be making a pretty big assumption if he figures that simply hiring an impostor will affect the future enough to lead to a vision in one of the pre-cogs, in the absence of any other clues that might lead Anderton in the desired direction.

Anyway, that's my one objection. By the way, that "scroll over to read" thing is pretty cool, huh? Check out the source code to see how I did it.
Stephen Jay Gould must be rolling over in his grave: baseball historian claims that DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak was a fraud. File this along with South Korean World Cup conspiracy theories....
I saw the movie last night so I could join in these discussions...

23 June 2002

So I've seen Minority Report twice now (gotta keep my streak going...), and I've been thinking about Noah's question, as to whether it ends in the right place. I'll try to keep this discussion spoiler-free, but you've been warned!

On the one hand, I'm glad that the film moves beyond its first possible ending, if only because I wouldn't have missed that L.A. Confidential-type moment of recognition for the world. (You know the scene I'm talking about....) On the other hand, as a whole, I don't think the last twenty minutes really work: the resolution of the murder plot is ingenious, in its own way, but more appropriate to a routine thriller than the kind of movie Minority Report showed promise of becoming. (Think of the scene where Cruise's wife figures out what's going on: as the reviewer on Slate observes, that kind of slip-up would be more appropriate to an old episode of Murder She Wrote.) However, my opinion may change over time: I once felt the same way about the ending of L.A. Confidential, after all, and these days I find very little to argue with in that particular movie. And I can think of no higher praise than to say that Minority Report ranks with L.A. Confidential as one of the most technically accomplished studio films I've ever seen.

There are a bunch of small implausibilities in Minority Report's plot, of course, although the movie is so wonderfully polished and assembled that it seems almost unfair to quibble. There is, however, one major hole in the story that has been bothering me for a while and which, based on my second viewing, doesn't seem to have a solution. Since it involves giving the ending away, however, I think I'll hold off until I know we've all seen it, or until I can figure out a way of explaining the problem in a non-revealing fashion.

22 June 2002

And here's a result that not even Pre-Crime itself might have been able to predict: according to Box Office Guru, it looks as though Lilo and Stitch will just barely edge out Minority Report for the top slot on the box office this weekend, although both had strong debuts. I'm guessing this is the first time in about ten years that a Tom Cruise starring role has failed to land at the top of the charts. Looks like I'd better give Minority Report another boost. (Off to the theater again...)
Rats, i was about this [] close to posting something last night on Minority Report with essentially the same line "and i'd bet Alec'strend of seeing Tom Cruise films multiple times in the theater will continue."

I agree... Wonderful movie...

After we've all seen it, or in email, i have a topic for discussion... If you'd have ended it way earlier at that moment (i bet you know where i'm talking about), would it have been a better or worse movie? Not that the last 45 minutes were bad, or made it a bad movie, far from it, its a great movie. But, my question is simply better or worse? (Its really a moot point because it wouldn't have been a Spielberg movie, but its still an interesting question in the abstract.)
Just wanted to say that I just saw Minority Report, and it looks as though my habit of seeing Tom Cruise films multiple times in the theater (four times for Eyes Wide Shut, three for Magnolia and M:I-2, and four for Vanilla Sky) will, happily, continue: I thought it was good enough immediately after it was over, but it's the kind of film that grows and grows inside you after you see it, and right now it feels like the most satisfying movie I've seen since...well, since the year began, anyway. I have various observations and thoughts about some possible plot holes, but I think I'll wait on those until both of you have seen it. So see it!

21 June 2002

File this under "truth is stranger than fiction": The Christian Counter.

Yes it is exactly what it sounds like, a website counter program exclusively for christians, so that you don't have some heathen counting your webhits. The advertisements for AdamMeetEve.com are also pretty funny.
I think we should try our hands at this challenge on the Volokh Conspiracy: Find any quintuple or sextuple (or more) homophones (that is spelled differently, but pronounced identically). "To", "two", and "too" is an example of a triplet. For details see this posting.
Here's a great newspaper clipping from the Volokh Conspiracy.

Incidentally, cleanweb has no problem with sex-geek.com.
This is a few days old, but I found this Maureen O'Dowd column amusing: From 'Cats' to Cicero. It's about the President's commencement speech at Ohio State University, and the fact that his ideas (according to USA Freedom Corps director John Bridgeland) are derived from "Tocqueville, Adam Smith, 'the world's major religions,' Aristotle, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Pope John Paul II, Cicero, Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers Benjamin Rush, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington." Looks like I'm not the only one who has been working through his Great Books of the Western World set....
Well, according to the cleanweb.net FAQ, a site is blocked if it contains "pornography, depictions of sexual acts, violence, criminal acts, drug use, excretory acts, graphic medical images without medical context, discrimination, profanity, [or] adult humor." I'm guessing that iFeminists's Porn, Prostitution and Sexual Freedom directory probably links, at some point, to one or more of the above (at least by cleanweb's standards).

For example, there's sex-geek.com, which looks like a very interesting weblog written by a freelance writer and ex-prostitute. Wonder if cleanweb would approve of that?

20 June 2002

so being at home, not only do i have a modem slowww connection, i also get the internet through the fliter of cleanweb.net. This means no maxim's top 50 list. also, no fark, and no onion (oddly enough the britanny spears guide to semiconductor physics works fine). My most recent odd block finding is: ifeminists. If any of you could poke around their site and figure out why on earth its blocked.

Of course your library can no longer be forced to used this filtering system on us adults due to this decision and our good friend Ben Edelman.

Speaking of that decision and Ben, i found the following footnote (number 14 in the 3rd court's decision) quite amusing:

"Edelman is a Harvard University student and a systems administrator and multimedia specialist at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Despite Edelman's young age, he has been doing consulting work on Internet-related issues for nine years, since he was in junior high school. "

(To see how this filter works, go to control panel/internet options. go to the connections menu. click settings. now check the box marked "use proxy server". enter as the address "filter.cleanweb.net" and as the port "81". This will set you up to use their filter. If you also use their ISP like we do, then if you don't have this part set up then it will not work at all.)
Also, there's an article on Maxim about The 50 Worst Movies of All Time. As usual, some of my favorite movies made the cut, notably Dune at number 20 and The Thin Red Line at number 16. A number of striking omissions, too, although I have a hunch that the guys at Maxim are just the kind who would dig Fight Club, still my least favorite movie of all time....
I can't believe I forgot all about this wonderful site: The Britney Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics. I'm not sure why it amuses me so much, but it does. Thanks, Fark!

19 June 2002

Nat i think you'd appreciate some of these pranks...
So i haven't been posting much, because the really slow connection from home makes websurfing too annoying. But this article is just too good to be missed. If you recall this character named "Ahn" scored a golden goal for south korea, eliminating the favored italians. This Ahn it turns out plays for a team in italy... The owner of this team declared, "I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer" and promptly fired the guy. For more details check out this ESPN article.

16 June 2002

The Deep Throat debate rages on! An article in the Chicago Tribune (it requires registration to view the article so I haven't linked to it) reports that a journalism class at the University of Illinois has concluded that Deep Throat is none other than...Pat Buchanan?!

They apparently looked at a lot of FBI records and talked to members of the Nixon administration, and they also got an original manuscript of All the President's Men which may have held some clues -- specifically, one passage that was not in the printed edition "characterized Deep Throat as 'in a position to possibly understand the whole scheme and not be a potential conspirator.' [the] students interpreted that as meaning Deep Throat was a speechwriter or publicist rather than an official with a staff and policy-making responsibilities."

I think this could just have easily been interpreted as meaning Deep Throat wasn't actually in the White House, which points a finger towards the officials in the FBI who were implicated by James Mann in his article that sparked our interest in the subject in the first place.

According to the article, Buchanan's motive was that he was angry at Nixon for the China opening. This strikes me as the flimsiest motive I can think of, since Buchanan has a reputation for loyalty and, in my opinion, wouldn't have been so eager to work with the liberal Washington Post. It is also questionable, in my view, how much a speechwriter would really know about the whole scheme, since Nixon was so secretive.

I was, of course, elated to read that "there have been many guesses including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger." Apparently my theory is gaining ground.

But, the best news of all is that these students won't have to wait long to see if their theory is correct. Former White House counsel John Dean is set to unveil his theory on Deep Throat's identity tomorrow -- and since he was actually there, he might settle the question once and for all.
Boy oh boy, I love the local news. Who needs News of the Weird when you have stuff like this?

Man sues to remove names from ballot

"A Taos man has filed a lawsuit requetiong the Secretary of State's office remove all names from the November ballot. Daniel Pearlman, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in US District Court in Santa Fe, wants the state to issue a blank ballot so voters can make choices 'without the government telling them who to vote for.'

According to the lawsuit, the Secretary of State has a 'constitutional obligation to expunge all printed candidate names protecting the right of Pearlman, and The People, to freely write in the names of any person to serve in any public office in all future elections.'

...Pearlman has tried unsuccessfully to get on the ballot as a write-in candidate for governor and president in previous elections."

The New Mexican

12 June 2002

Where to begin? When I was in New York, I felt as though Harvard: The TV Series had come to an end, and I was currently starring in the spin-off, in which a bunch of wacky supporting characters from the original show are sent to some interesting new location. Usually, the producers settle for the oddball supporting cast because the stars don't want to come back. And we all know how long these spin-off series usually last!

That said, my new place in Queens is spacious and nice, as described. There's a park a few blocks away. Subway is close by, and it's only twenty minutes to Manhattan. Neighborhood is mostly Greek, as are the restaurants. At the moment, I'm back at home in California, where suddenly I'm dreaming every night about Harvard, after four years of dreaming about high school when I was in college. It's going to be a long, long life....
A little tidbit from my hometown paper, The Santa Fe New Mexican:

Web site of the week:

"Anxious to see which part of New Mexico is on fire this week? Visit www.nm.blm.gov/fire/fire.html for information on wildfires throughout New Mexico and Arizona. This site contains fire weather forecasts and Southwest-area news and is updated twice daily."

11 June 2002

Sorry about our not posting stuff for the past week. We were busy moving and graduating and paying library fines so that we could graduate and all. Al Franken spoke to us on class day, but Alec and I had to miss the speech. Noah, I don't know if you can call my state that backwards. Driving back to New Mexico, I found that the roads in Arkansas and Oklahoma to be infinitely worse. The entire Arkansas highway system is either undriveable or under construction, and Oklahoma isn't even making an effort to reconstruct its atrocious roads. Oklahoma is also the state where the bridge over the Arkansas River was knocked out, which meant I had to take a detour. At least I got home safely.

04 June 2002

Some states are moving forward, nat's state (New Mexico) is still rather backwards. See this article.
"I know it's a business, and I can't really get into the business side of this,'' Webber said. "But Mike knows how I feel. I've got some duct tape in the house. I'm going to tie him up, if that's what it's going to take.''
--Webber on resigning Bibby (from espn)

03 June 2002

I resent that comparison. Ari Fleischer's a Yankees fan!
this article makes me wonder what nat would be like as a press secretary...
Here's an interesting tidbit from the washington post.

The Des Moines Register last week carried what it called "your typical boy-meets-girl-and-boosts-her-bust story."

Seems that Bobbi Silvernail, the 28-year-old morning anchor on WHO-TV, had just married Ronald Bergman, a prominent 53-year-old plastic surgeon in town. They met, Bergman told the paper, when Silvernail came to him to have her breasts augmented.

"By marrying a plastic surgeon, I can stay 28 forever," Silvernail told the Register.

02 June 2002

Wait, so do we know how the ESP test works? I was only able to foil it once in about 20 tries, and that's pretty consistent with his supposed 98% success rate. And some of the user explanations aren't very misguided -- some of them seem like they genuinely randomized their selection and it was still accurate. If that is indeed the case, then there is only one conclusion: this dude has ESP.
As part of our wild senior festivities we watched Battlefield Earth last night. It's not as bad as everyone says -- it's worse. It's disturbingly bad. On the video's box there's a positive quote from Joblo's Movie Emporium, so I tracked down their review. It's quite amazing, and the reader reviews/responses are priceless.
Well, we've all been terribly busy with being seniors and doing crazy senior things and so the weblog has been neglected.

The new york times has a fascinating article on how they've butchered quotations from famous authors in the new york regents exams in english, so as to make sure not to offend anyone.