30 April 2005

I presume that some members of this blog community have considered/might consider working at lovely Los Alamos National Laboratories. As this New York Times article explains, all is not well at LANL. Pete Nanos, the director who infamously shut the entire lab down last year after some phantom disks went missing and some poor intern burned her eye with a laser, has been forced out by the collective voice of an army of bloggers (or so the story goes).

I might add at this point that I have yet to talk to a single person who approves of the job that Nanos is doing. Last year's shutdown was utterly demoralizing for everybody.

That said, I am very skeptical that one blog should be interpreted to represent the majority opinion at the lab. My experience with online message boards (Adams Schmooze and newspaper message boards, primarily) is that a small group of people with an axe to grind are the ones who comment over, and over, and over. The blog's creator says that he has had between 200 and 400 different contributors, but even that is less than 5% of the lab's 8000+ member workforce. A quick glance over the blog doesn't convince me that more than 10 people or so are making the vast majority of posts. Given the blog's apparent effectiveness in achieving Nanos's ouster, I wouldn't be shocked if such attack forums became more prevalent.
Should I be worried if, upon my third reading of The Prince, it's starting to make sense?

28 April 2005

I can't believe it. First they decipher the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and now they've rediscovered the ivory-billed woodpecker, to the joy of birdwatchers everywhere. You know what? It's a great year to be an old-school nerd.
Wow, looks like Katie Holmes is doing pretty well for herself.
Check out audiostiles.com. Fill out a questionnaire and mail them your iPod, and they'll set you up with the coolest guaranteed-hip playlist ever for your next party, workout, or corporate event...for a price, of course. A few of their off-the-shelf mixes include "Chillin' with the Ladies" (featuring songs by Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Dido etc.) and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" ("a hip soundtrack to compliment any dining experience, from causal to couture...Includes songs by Zero 7, Everything But The Girl, Bebel Gilberto etc.").

Plus, if you pay them extra, they'll come over and redo your bookshelves, too. (Just kidding. But hey, why not make it one-stop shopping?)

20 April 2005

Peter Sellers was once asked what he would do differently if he could live his life all over again. His response: "I would do everything exactly the same, except I wouldn't see The Magus." Well, if I could live my life all over again, I would do everything exactly the same, more or less, except I wouldn't stick around for the last half of Eros.

The first segment, The Hand, is worth seeing: it's classic Wong Kar-Wai, although very minor. (As an aside, I'm worried that Wong, my favorite living director, has become incapable of doing anything except beautiful, exquisite, and minor work. Which is ironic, because he's a much better craftsman today than he was when he made Chungking Express, a messy, minor film that I sometimes think is the best movie ever made.)

The second segment, by Steven Soderbergh, is significantly less interesting than a film would be of the same two actors (Robert Downey Jr. and Alan Arkin) having lunch.

The final segment, by Michelangelo Antonioni, is a cosmic embarrassment. It may be the shoddiest, most inexplicable piece of filmmaking I've ever seen--and remember, I liked Beyond the Sea.

17 April 2005

Holy shit. They've unlocked the Oxyrhynchus Papyri:
For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure--a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament....Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".
Wha--? A second Renaissance? Where am I? What am I doing at this hedge fund? They're rediscovering pieces of the Epigonoi of Sophocles? The Epigonoi? Half of my senior thesis was devoted to reconstructing an episode from the Epigonoi, and now they up and find it? Oh man. Oh fuck. I've wasted my life. Is it too late to apply to graduate school?

14 April 2005

By the way, it turns out that clicking on Ken Lay's Google link doesn't just cost Ken Lay; it may cost Google, too. Currently, Google, Yahoo, and other search engines are being sued over "click fraud," which takes place whenever someone clicks on an AdWords link "with no intention of doing business," e.g., solely for the purpose of driving up Ken Lay's advertising costs. In other words, whenever you click on that Google link with fraudulent intent, you're eroding Google's business model. Shame on you.

13 April 2005

Who doesn't hate Kenneth Lay? (Besides the current president, that is.) Mr. Lay, as this article explains, has taken to advertising through Google to spruce up his image. The catch? Every time someone clicks on his ad, Mr. Lay has to pay some money to Google. It's not difficult to figure out what happens next: people are clicking on his ad over and over to stick it to old Kenny boy.

I would never advocate misuse of Google ads, but if you're interested, just Google "Kenneth Lay" and click on the ad above the search results.

As an aside, isn't Lay's website awful? Where are the American flags? The pictures of Lay with needy children? The personal attacks on Lay's enemies?
Is it just me, or are the headlines on the main page of CNN.com often surprisingly shoddy? "Britney Spears Ends Pregnancy Speculation" strikes me as just about the worst possible headline for a "Britney is pregnant!" article. The most offensive example, however, is a headline from earlier this year: "Federal Judge Finds 2 Bodies in Her Home". You have to read down to the third paragraph before learning that the bodies were those of the judge's mother and husband.

To my mind, these headlines are second only to the famous headline that the New York Times used to trumpet the Gary Hart and Donna Rice scandal. Ready for it? It was "Hart and Paper in Dispute Over Article."

11 April 2005

Hey, can anyone recommend a good article on the adequacy (or lack thereof) of fiscal contraints as a substitute for proportionality review? Oh, never mind: here's one.

09 April 2005

I must be losing it. Yesterday, a new movie by my favorite living director opened here in New York, and not only was I not expecting it, I hadn't even heard of the movie. (I may have read something about it a while back, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near my radar. My only excuse is that the director in question only directs the first segment of a three-part anthology.) Anyway, this is the first time in years that I've been taken by surprise by something like this. It's a glimpse, I guess, of what it might be like to not be totally obsessive and crazy.
Just so I can't be accused of not telling people my plans, I am about 99% sure I'll be attending law school at UNM next year.
You know you're doing something right when you get this kind of media coverage. After the Governor vetoed a gambling bill that looked to outside observers as though it was a sweetheart deal for a racetrack owner with skeletons in his closet, one of the most liberal and soft-spoken state senators, Cisco McSorley, told a reporter: "The Governor is a man of integrity and balls." Um, ok.

08 April 2005

This article on the funeral of Pope John Paul II is a great example of why I love Wikipedia. It's a collaborative article authored by people who actually want to read what they've written themselves, and as a result, it skips the snooze-inducing prose of the New York Times in favor of a host of wonderful details:
Did the Cardinal Camerlengo tap the pope's head with a silver hammer? (No, but he used the hammer to destroy the pope's signet ring.)

Was the pope's body embalmed? (No. And they didn't remove his heart and send it to Poland, either.)

What's in the pope's casket? (A sealed eulogy, and three bags of gold, silver, and copper coins, one from each year of his reign—the only monetary compensation he ever received.)
Why isn't professional journalism as good as this?

03 April 2005

Tomorrow night when I get home I'll be checking not the final four score, but the result of the Twins-Mariners matchup...for baseball season has finally returned. At least one sportswriter picks the Twins to win the World Series. Will it happen? I remain the eternal pessimist. But I'll be watching the whole time.
Sin City is awe-inspiring and wonderful. It's oddly clinical and detached, too, so that we're looking at violent events rather than experiencing them directly. As a result, the emotional impact isn't quite what it could have been. Maybe I've just been spoiled by Kill Bill. There's a scene when Clive Owen and Rosario Dawson, two actors on my short list of the most beautiful people in the world, embrace passionately on a rooftop in a hail of machine-gun fire while Owen's voiceover deadpans: The Valkyrie at my side is laughing with the pure bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter. If this were a film by Quentin Tarantino, I might have been moved and exhilarated by that image to the point of applause. Instead, I was merely appreciative, and somewhat tickled, as I settled back in my seat to await the next punchy moment.

I'm sorry for the faint praise. This is the best, most unmissable movie I've seen in a long time. I'm just suffering from nymphoepithumia: I miss the Bride.

01 April 2005

I think Nat may be the only blog reader who will really appreciate this, but did you see that nba.com has one Paul Shirley (aka the 12th best player on the Suns) blogging for the past month. He's remarkably funny.