Monthly Archives: December 2007

Don’t let the door hit you

Goodbye, 2007. I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see you go.

I was prepared to like you, but almost at once you caused my mom a lot of trouble and discomfort and finally took her from me. Then you took my dog. Meanwhile you kept busy breaking my rib, crashing my car, infecting my lungs, and dismantling my democracy. For good measure you effected the departure of some of my favorite co-workers. It’s almost as if you had a personal vendetta against me.

Well as M told James Bond in Goldfinger, and as someone should have told you twelve months ago,

This isn’t a personal vendetta, [2]007. It’s an assignment like any other. And if you can’t treat it as such, coldly and objectively, [2]008 can replace you.

Of course it wasn’t all bad. You did manage to keep my wife and children safe and sound, and we did enjoy some modest prosperity. Still, I look forward to your replacement.

Just one look

[This post is participating in Joe’s Movie Corner’s Endings Blog-a-thon.]

I was going to write about the ending to The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, but Maul of America beat me to it.

So then I started thinking about other movies whose ending pays us off with a memorable, wordless facial expression like that one does (making this a sort of companion piece to my earlier post, “When words meet faces“). Warning: spoilers ahead.


The first movie like this that came to mind was Monsters, Inc. In that film, it is the job of monsters from the “monster world” to enter children’s bedrooms in the human world each night through magic doors and scare them into producing screams, which the monster world harvests for its energy. Secretly, monsters are terrified of children. One night, despite elaborate precautions, an adorable little toddler escapes into the monster world and is discovered by Sully, the champion scarer at Monsters, Inc. At first Sully is frightened of her but she soons endears herself to him. After a game of peek-a-boo, he decides to call her “Boo.” (Sully’s friend Mike is alarmed. “You’re not supposed to name it! Once you name it, you start getting attached to it!”) Amidst Boo’s pre-verbal babbling she calls him “Kitty.” He becomes protective of her and determines to return her to her bedroom, but machinations at Monsters, Inc. make this a challenge, and an adventure ensues. In the end, after helping to expose an evil plan, jail some criminals, and transform Monsters, Inc. from harvesting children’s screams to using their laughter, Sully finally bids Boo an emotional farewell and sends her back to her bedroom. Her door is put through a door-shredder.

Some time passes. Monsters, Inc. is doing better than ever now that it’s harvesting laughs instead of screams, but Sully misses Boo. One day, Sully’s friend Mike gives him a gift: Boo’s door, painstakingly reassembled from its shredded wooden fragments. Sully opens the door and tentatively peers through it. “Boo?” A more grown-up voice answers, “Kitty!” Sully’s face registers first surprise and then the most satisfying smile of delight ever animated.




While thinking about this post, my kids watched Spider-Man 2 on DVD and I was reminded of its ending, which is also a memorable, wordless facial expression.

Peter Parker has loved Mary Jane Watson all his life, but after the events of the first Spider-Man film he realized he must not place her in danger by letting anyone know he loves her; so he rejects her. In the next film, she reluctantly becomes engaged to another man. But the events of the film lead to her discovering Spider-Man’s true identity and the real reason for Peter’s rejection; he does in fact love her. She leaves her fiancé at the altar, runs to Peter’s side, and declares her love and her intention to face danger with him. “Isn’t it time someone saved your life?”

A moment later, they hear police sirens from the street below. MJ lets Peter go catch more bad guys. He leaps from his window as Spider-Man, exultantly swinging through the concrete canyons of Manhattan. He has reconciled his personal life with his responsibilities as a superhero, which has been the “through-line” of the film.

But interestingly, the movie doesn’t end there. It shifts into a more downbeat finale, cutting back to a rueful MJ as she stands in Peter’s window, watching him recede into the distance and fretting about the future.


A similar but much more classic “what have I gotten myself into” ending is in The Godfather. Michael Corleone has consolidated the power of the Corleone crime family, but his wife Kay has misgivings about the man he’s becoming. She confronts him in his office about his role in the disappearance of Carlo, his brother-in-law. “Don’t ask me about my business, Kay,” Michael warns, but Kay persists, angering him.

In the world of The Godfather, women don’t matter, except in how they can be used. So it takes no effort for Michael to pretend magnanimity and lie to his wife. “Alright. This one time. This one time I’ll let you ask about my affairs.” He gives a neat and tidy answer that sets her mind at ease. As she moves to the adjoining room to fix them both a drink, some of Michael’s lieutenants arrive in his office, one of them perfunctorily closing the door on Kay, whose face shows surprise and hurt. It’s man-talk and she can never be a part of it. And catching this glimpse of Michael about to do business, she wonders if she can believe what he just told her — or indeed anything at all.


But as classic as The Godfather is, the granddaddy of rueful ambivalence is the ending of The Graduate. Benjamin Braddock, having let grownups heave him from one situation to another his whole life, has finally seized control of things himself. Overcoming many obstacles he hurries to the chapel where Elaine Robinson is about to marry another man. “Elaine! Elaine!” he shouts to her through a glass wall.

After a melee he succeeds in extracting her from the ceremony, eluding an angry mob of family and wedding guests, and herding Elaine onto a city bus, where their initial excitement at being reunited and avoiding an unwanted marriage turns to disquiet: Elaine remembering what a cad she found Benjamin to be only a short time ago; Benjamin remembering that it was not his own idea to call on Elaine in the first place, but that of another grownup. Will he ever be his own man?


Home stretch

It’s just a few days until Iowa Democrats cast the first votes in the 2008 presidential primaries, so it’s time for a summary post not only about why it’s important to vote for John Edwards but also why it’s important not to vote for Obama or Hillary.

A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote my blog post about influencing the Federal Election Commission, I sent a version of it to a mailing list of old school classmates. Because my message advocated John Edwards for president, one classmate replied, “His policies sound good, but he is a phony.” Here’s what I wrote:

When I was in college, I had a few friends who were in CMU’s sizable drama program. I was never really comfortable around those folks, even though I was nominally pretty close to a couple of them. To me, the math nerd/scientist/software engineer with only rudimentary expertise in interpersonal relationships, the way they could (and often did) change personalities on a whim was disconcerting. The way they could project those personalities around a room, and sometimes seemingly right through me, was downright unnatural.

Presidential candidates are like this. They are necessarily playing a role. They are all phonies, though some are better actors than others. You can’t judge a candidate on his or her apparent personality. In the first place, it is guaranteed not to be their real personality. (Case in point: the voters who thought Bush was the one they’d prefer to have a beer with and who now suffer from a monster case of buyer’s remorse. Case in point: the wooden Al Gore of 2000, who disappeared without a trace as soon as the election was over.) And in the second place, the skills a politician uses to project an electable personality have little to do with the skills they must bring to bear as President. To judge those skills, good-sounding policies are a start. A paper trail of actual achievements aligned with the stated policies is even better, and Edwards has that too. The deal-clincher for me is his in-the-trenches experience battling monied interests on behalf of ordinary citizens — and winning.

Later in that thread I added:

However, there are still a couple of good reasons to vote for Edwards regardless of what you think of him or his specific policies. These reasons are kind of “meta” but I think they’re still valid:

  • He’s clearly positioned as the progressive/populist candidate. That alone can set the tone for the next administration and for coattail Congressional races if he should win. The nationwide narrative becomes, “Americans are fed up with coroporatist politics.”
  • The GOP has already attacked him a few times. Why would they? They haven’t gone after Obama or Clinton (yet) and their fundraising is in pretty poor shape; why not hold their fire until after the primaries? It’s pretty clear that the reason is the GOP wants to run against Obama or Clinton and thinks it has a chance against them, and fears Edwards. You may have seen the recent CNN poll that shows only Edwards beating all potential Republican presidential candidates, and by the widest margins. See “CNN poll: Edwards DESTROYS GOP candidates.”

To return to the idea that politicians are phonies, I coincidentally read a great quote yesterday at “Edwards HAS NO money problem!” that makes my point more concisely:

Does Edwards TRULY BELIEVE his semi-populist positions, or is he simply pandering? Who knows. But at least he is pandering TO ME, and not the lobbyists for banks, insurance companies, and defense contractors!

Click here to see my other blog posts about John Edwards.

Here’s another person’s eloquent endorsement of Edwards:

I didn’t start as a fan of John Edwards and at first dismissed him as just another light weight pretty boy politician trying to do his finest JFK impersonation and the media seemed to constantly project that image of him as well.

But as I watched the health care debate unfold and became aware of John Edwards, I could see he was driving the policy debate on the issue. Over time I watched him drive every issue of this campaign one after another.

I watched him not only make proposals but give detailed plans on how he intended to accomplish what he was proposing. I read all of the experts as they vetted his plans and crunched the numbers and watched his support grow among the professionals in all of the fields that he was making proposals in; on health care reform, economics and fair trade, tax reform to reward work, protecting labor’s right to organize unions, and ending the war in Iraq.

[…]

All the while John’s plans got more detailed and Hillary’s plans and Obama’s plans seemed to lag far behind and when they did talk details, what they were proposing seemed to be a version of what the Edwards plan was. I listened to the parsing and heard statements of commitment only to be followed by qualifiers like, “I didn’t mean coverage, I meant access.”

Then John Edwards issued his plans in writing and I realized just how really serious about everything he is.

Here’s why not to vote for Barack Obama:

Following close on the heels of Obama endorsements from the neoconservative Weekly Standard and the conservative Republican newspaper the Sioux City Journal, yet another conservative Republican newspaper the Dallas Morning News has now rushed to support Obama.

[…]

Why do these outlets and media who have fawned over Bush in the past like Obama so much?

Could it be because his positions on the crucial issues of health care and Social Security are closer to those of the Republican right wing than those of any other Democratic contender?

[…]

Or maybe it’s just that these Republicans just want the Democrats to nominate someone they know will be easy to best.

And here’s why not to vote for Hillary Clinton:

In seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton lays claim to two traits nearly every day: strength and experience. But as the junior senator from New York, she has few significant legislative accomplishments to her name. She has cast herself, instead, as a first lady like no other: a full partner to her husband in his administration, and, she says, all the stronger and more experienced for her “eight years with a front-row seat on history.”

But during those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Mrs. Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal sizzled.

When on Rome…

I was all prepared to be disinterested in the HBO series Rome, the first disc of which arrived last week from Netflix, but I had to give it a try because everyone who mattered said I did.

Of course the first episode was terrific and I was hooked, dammit. This brings to six the number of current or recent TV series that I must follow on DVD, the others being Prison Break, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Weeds, and the final season-and-a-half of The Sopranos, which I still haven’t seen (but have had spoiled). I also have yet to sample Dexter or Big Love, both of which sound like they also have the potential to hook me. Thank goodness I lost interest in Veronica Mars and Deadwood and never even liked Heroes.

Anyway, back to the first episode of Rome. As with many first-tier TV productions these days it had outstanding writing, performances, and production values, but when I think about the show, the one thing I keep coming back to is Polly Walker’s nipples.

In her introductory scene as Atia, scheming niece of Julius Caesar, she is astride her lover Timon, both of them oblivious to the slaves and attendants who surround them at a discreet distance as they hump their way to climax. Prominently on display in this scene are Atia’s (that is to say Polly Walker’s) erect and, I have to say, impressive nipples.

Now, I’ve been around a bit. I’ve seen my share of erect nipples, in person and in pictures. I’ve seen plenty of sex in film, both real and simulated. I would not have expected a detail like this could so captivate me this late in my sexual life.

Yet somehow I can’t escape the image. And I doubt I’m alone in this. My tastes are extremely conventional, after all; and as Howard Hughes says in The Aviator, “Who doesn’t like tits?”

That means there is a good chance that the success enjoyed to date by Rome, and by Polly Walker herself, may be attributable in large part to the shrewdly early viewer-hooking use of those tiny but strangely fascinating anatomical items.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that nipples have made a career…

Hell no

It occurs to me that the song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer does not chronicle Rudolph’s response to Santa’s request, “Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” It only says that after Santa asked that question, “all the reindeer loved him.”

Are we to presume, after the emotional scars Rudolph received at the hands of Santa’s favored reindeer, that he’d simply acquiesce in Santa’s hour of need? Do “all the reindeer” love him merely as an Uncle Tom? Or did he earn their respect by standing up to The Man and giving Santa the “Hell no!” he deserved?

There is scant evidence to indicate which answer he gave, but I for one know which one was more likely to make the other reindeer tell Rudolph, “You’ll go down in history!”

A darnedest conversation

While trying to get a reluctant Archer to go to sleep:

Archer: What if a boot came down a slide and kicked someone off?
Me: Then you’d have to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. Are you OK?”
Archer: Why?
Me: Well if you throw a boot down a slide and it hits someone, you have to apologize.
Archer: What if I didn’t throw the boot?
Me: Then no boot would go down the slide and hit someone.
Archer: What if it did?
Me: Well boots don’t go down slides by themselves!
Archer: Why?
Me: They’re inanimate. They don’t move unless someone makes them move.
Archer: What if it went down the slide by itself?
Me: That would be one amazing boot.
Archer: What if it kicked someone?
Me: Then that person would probably say, “Hey, who threw that boot?!”
Archer: But no one did.
Me: Right.

That satisfied him, and he rolled over and went to sleep.

What brings you here, 2007 edition

Here are some of the top queries from various search engines that resulted in hits on my blog during the past year or so, reproduced verbatim from my server logs. (Last year’s results are here.) Each related family of queries is listed with a main variant in bold and selected other variants, plus the percentage of query-hits represented by that family.

I was at first surprised to see that hits for “James Bond villains” outnumbers hits for “vampire lesbian girl scouts” (etc.) and “sex” (etc.) combined, but then realized: the percentages are a function both of the popularity of that search and of the ranking of my site in the search results. In other words, if you’re looking for anything about vampires or lesbians or sex I regret to say there are a lot of likelier websites for you to visit before mine.

James Bond villains; The Villains of bond; deformed bond villains; “james bond” +villains +clothes 10.2%
William H. Macy; william h macy photos; face de William H. Macy 5.0%
Vampire lesbian girl scouts; lesbian vampires; naked lesbians; lesbian girl scouts; naked girl scouts; kissing lesbian girls; zombie girl scouts; evil girlscouts; girl scout decorated cake 4.5%
Sex etc.; horsey style sex; lesbian masturbation; “sex positions illustrated”; vampire sex; lesbians having hot lesbian sex; lesbian sex soundeffect; “San Francisco Masturbate-a-thon”; squat girl masturbate -cock -man -boy -blow; dildo attached to wall; sex positions kitty style; attach dildo to floor; How to convince my lady staf for sex?; sex positions in alphanumeric; “park and ride” “sex positions illustrated” 3.2%
Jaws ride; Jaws ride construction; jaws hitchcock 3.1%
e to the i pi plus one; pi relation to e; mathematical constant e Euler comic; relating pi, e, 1 and 0; “amazing relationship” e pi 2.3%
Don Fanucci; vito corleone fanucci 2.3%
Honeybee/Bees in chimney; humming sound when close glass fireplace doors; honeybees in chimney; bees in fireplace; bees chimney flying down 2.2%
Star Wars; 5th august 1977; star wars remake; hoth rebel base; “your tauntaun will freeze”; exegesis “empire strikes back”; star wars ben kenobi ghost; was obi wan strong enough to defeat palpatine; In Episode 5 what is the insult of Leia to Han Solo which Chewie laughed that Han called him “fuzzball” ?; lego star wars millennium falcon; star wars cassette tape 1977; “bob glickstein” “star wars”; mark hamill car crash empire strikes back monster; han solo slices open tauntaun quote; HOW DID THE FREAKIN EMPIRE BEGIN?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!; August+5th+1977; star wars novelization 1977; What does yoda say when luke comments that he is not afraid; why didn’t Luke kill the Wampa; “asteroid field”+”star wars”; star wars allegories; star wars 1970 nerd; “time magazine” 1977 “star wars” 2.1%
Pirates of the Caribbean; pirate medallion; does elizabeth swann love jack sparrow; elizabeth swann’s red dress; jack sparrow character motivation 2.1%
Widescreen viewing area; “what size tv to buy”; “square inches” diagonal widescreen chart; determine tv width given diagonal; 42″ 16:9 square inches; 16:9 4:3 screen equivalence OR correspondance; DIAGONAL ASPECT RATIO FORMULA; pythagoras 16:9 screen size 32″ 1.8%
Godfather; Godfather part II poster; Godfather Part 4: Fredo’s Revenge 1.8%
Susan Oliver/Orion Slave Girl; vina star trek; star trek green orion slave; nude Orion slave girl; orion slave girls makeup; orion slave girls color correction 1.7%
Cathy Lee Crosby/Wonder Woman; cathy lee crosby wonderwoman film download; cathy+lee+crosby+as+wonder+woman; wonder woman drag; WONDERWOMAN TV MOVIE 1.7%
Rogaine; scalp conditions; itchy scalp; rogaine results; scalp exercise; rogaine effectiveness 1.7%
Ursula sex; ursula undress; ursula dildo; ursula sex disney 1.6%
Comcast; comcast removes channels; comcast turn off service; comcast losing west coast feeds; complaints over comcast hbo; disable speed reduction comcast cable; compression artifacts comcast; how do i delete channels i do not watch in comcast; comcast crappy broadcast; comcast reduction in service; do i get a rate reduction when comcast removes channels; I want both west coast and east coast feeds 1.6%
Bob Glickstein; gee bobg; “bob glickstein” +yoga; bob glickstein andrea; bob glickstein imdb; growing up Glickstein 1.4%
Trophy; ugly trophy; dna trophy; bezos trophy 1.3%
Dog; how to draw dogs; “remington dog park”; dog pee drives away evil spirits; veterinary dogs and chocolate 1.3%
Lulav; lulav and etrog; big picture of a lulav and etrog; lulav by its self; lulav etrog chabad; sukkot lulav without etrog 1.3%
Star Trek/Enterprise/Kirk/etc.; spock uhura; Uhura uniform; 60 star trek uniform; bonk bonk on the head star trek; Captain Kirk’s Insignia; enterprise blueprints; happy birthday star trek; Klingons-Star Trek; Atheist Star Trek; 1.2%
Amy Linker; what happened to amy linker; amy linker and tv land awards 1.1%
Jodie Foster; jodie foster bugsy malone; YOUNG JODIE FOSTER; +”give a little love and it all comes back to you” +foster 1.1%
Joseph Costanzo; joe costanzo restaurant; Joseph costanzo primadonna 1.1%
The end of Superman; superman reverse time; superman in the end; superman earth spinning; can superman go the speed of light; how many times can superman fly around earth in 1 second; +”it is forbidden for you to interfere in human history”; superman rewind time; how many times does superman fly around the earth in order to reverse its rotation 1.0%
Frank Pentangeli; frank pentangeli hit; roth corleone Frank Pentangeli assassination; frank pentangeli johnny ola 1.0%
Thai gem scam; thailand scam; majestic export jewelry thailand scam; gems profit thailand; thai sapphire scam; thailand conman; buying gemstones, thailand, blog; thai Export Center scam; selling thai gems; what to do if conned in thailand; david maurer thailand 1.0%
Evil cats 0.8%
Food photography; food stylist; food styling “pasta”; food stylists cereal; food stylist burger; tricks of a food stylist 0.8%
Each daughter has the same number…; In a certain family each daughter has the same number of brothers and sisters. Each son has twice as many sisters as brothers. How many sons and daughters are there in the family? Now there are two ways to do this obviously, you can do it the hard way or the easy way. 0.8%
Fizzies; what ever happened to fizzies drink tablets; how do fizzies work; fizzies that are new; Fizzie tablet sex aid; truckload of fizzies; FIZZIES FOUNTAIN 0.7%
James Bond; vintage james bond girls; james bond toys; the bond men; Live and Let Die Band James Bond 0.7%
Pez museum; pez incredibles violet; batman pez dispensers; pez guns; why didnt violet parr become a pez machine; headless PEZ dispensers 0.7%
Vincent Price; old photos of Vincent Price; Vincent Price gay; “the saint” vincent price; 0.5%
Candy; old time candy; “dylan’s candy bar”; Candy of yesteryear 0.5%
Entenmann’s; golden cake; entenmanns’ chocolate chip filled crumb cake recipe; entenmann fudge golden cake 0.5%
Adam Stoller; why i owe adam stoller an apology; fish adam stoller 0.5%
MoveOn; moveon.org bad; moveon.org founder; move away from moveon.org; moveon endorsements nov 2007 election 0.5%
Vertical speed indicator/Altimeter; static port; instrument dial Concorde speed; how does an altimeter work; pitot static instruments; ram air pressure pitot; how does the vsi work? flying 0.5%
Cigarettes/Camels/Still Life With Woodpecker; Joe Camel; tom robbins woodpecker; camel tom robbins 0.5%
Baron Munchausen; was baron munchausen an atheist 0.5%
Sharon Stone; sharon stone naked; sharon stone’ pictures, 1970; sharon stone en lingerie fine 0.5%
Computer; computers internet blog; “apple II home computer” 0.4%
xkcd; xkcd complex numbers; calculus xkcd; math xkcd 0.4%
Bob Falfa/Martin Stett; big bob falfa; purchase a bob falfa hat; falfa and milner 0.4%
Adrift/Open Water 2; “open water 2” true story tried everything; understand explain open water 2:adrift ending?; FORGOT TO LOWER LADDER ON YACHT 0.4%
Honda Fit; finding a honda fit; pre order “honda fit” bay area; vw rabbit or honda fit? 0.4%
Carl Sagan; “carl sagan” +billions; cosmos carl sagan vangelis heaven hell; “circumference of the earth” carl sagan; eratosthenes carl sagan; Carl Sagan and Star Trek 0.4%
Splashdown; splashdown lyrics meaning; i feel so elated would you please bring me joy lyrics; free splashdown downloads karma slave; lyrics so if your past approaches you pulled into a war you’ll lose; karma slave splashdown video; i feel so elated i do i do splashdown 0.4%
The Incredibles; Life Lessons The Incredibles; incredibles analogy of family togetherness 0.3%
Legobiggest lego city ever made; Cool lego creations; LEGO WORLD RECORD FOR MILLENIUM FALCON 0.3%
Birthday invitation; neverland invitation 0.3%
Mill Valley Pediatrics; what new rule causes pediatrician to close office; dr. Harris pediatrics mill valley 0.3%
BDSM; BDSM and rodent; hellium balloons bdsm; bdsm “trembling with fear”; professional bdsm pittsburgh; bdsm vanity plates 0.3%
Richard S. Castellano 0.3%
Bugsy Malone/Scott Baio; coca cola jingle+you give a little love and all comes back to you 0.3%
Games magazine/Calculatrivia marathon; ken jennings calculatrivia; “games magazine” contest t-shirt 0.3%
Penis; Jonah Falcon penis; christmas penis drawing; penis peeing pictures; penis doodles; “draw a penis” 0.3%
Drawing/scribbling/doodling; kids scribbles 0.3%
Raiders of the Lost Ark; indiana jones medallion + raiders of the lost ark; indiana jones finds millenium falcon; indiana jones harrison ford sean connery 0.3%
I know it was you Fredo.; Johnny Ola Fredo; HOW DOES MICHAEL KNOW ABOUT FREDO; +”why” +michael +kill +fredo 0.3%
Federation Trading Post 0.2%
Funny epitaph; headstone humor; headstone for mom 0.2%
Batman; shark repellent spray; batman and the shark; batman robin “more toyetic” 0.2%
Handshadow; Hand-Shadow play 0.2%
Peter and the Starcatchers 0.2%
Watch neighbor undress; neighbor undress photo 0.2%
Lemon Ice King of Corona; queens ices 0.2%
Weight; weight graph; college freshman weight graph; jewish weight loss 0.2%
Marty Goldstein/Black Book; ‘marty goldstein’ ‘creative black book’; i remember going to the black book office zanetti 0.2%
Kinds of meat; meatballs three kinds of meat 0.2%
Fligth to Mars 0.2%
Supertanker; how much does a supertanker cost?; how many barrels of oil does a supertanker carry; how much money does a supertanker captain make; running costs for a supertanker; becoming a supertanker captain; supertankers are curved 0.2%
Jewish; jew obnoxious; jewish products; mormon jew; mountain jew; val kilmer sephardic jewish 0.2%
Cartelligent; Leigh Taylor, Cartelligent; cartelligent price for honda fit 0.2%
Sweetener; hooray sweetener; cyclamates popularity sodas; Is Cyclamates good for you; sodium bicarbonate sweetener cancer 0.2%
Captain Morgan rum 0.2%
Gerald Zanetti 0.2%
Bush smile 0.2%
Salt Lake flats; nevada open salt lake 0.2%
Disney; disney+AND+fingerprint; disney park hopper fingerprint; thumper disney 0.2%
Koyaanisqatsi 0.2%
Katharine Hepburn 0.2%
Incremental backup; jungledisk incremental backups; s3 backup incremental mirror linux; simple linux incremental backups; infinite backup 0.2%
Rhymes with Bethany; bethany accident utah; something that rhymes with bethany; poem for bethany 0.1%
Sci-fi spaceships; cool Scifi Spaceships; most beautiful spaceships 0.1%
I Dream of Jeannie; healey irresistible to when i dream of jeannie episode; i dream of jeanie colorization 0.1%
Laundry; how to get quarters laundry; cold undissolved laundry soap; monopolize laundry machines; laundry pile 0.1%
Anakin/Padme; How much do Anakin’s talent, pride and ambitions affect his decisions to turn to ‘the dark side’? 0.1%
Making Mr. Right; malkovich “making mr right” 0.1%
Pop-culture grid; “the pop culture grid”+last concert you saw 0.1%
Adventurer’s Inn; toboggan adventurer’s inn 0.1%
Clemenza; young clemenza; who killed clemenza 0.1%
Glenne Headley 0.1%
1776/“Yours Yours Yours” 0.1%
Nature of reality; 10 dimensions of reality; how to understand ten dimensional reality; three-dimensional pants 0.1%
Dunk tank; “spring carnival” dunk 0.1%
Misconstruction 0.1%
Sarah Jessica Parker; sarah jessica parker in square pegs 0.1%
Mr. Arrigo; Robert arrigo teacher 0.1%
Eli Attie 0.1%
Hog-calling time in Nebraska; What tune is hog calling time in nebraska sung to?; ORIGINS OF HOG CALLING; hog calling songs 0.1%
Eulogy for a friend 0.1%
Indiana University; indiana university hofstadter 0.1%
Cynthia Nixon; Cynthia Nixon manhattan project 0.1%
Pine Knoll Bungalow Colony; bungalow colonies in monticello 0.1%
Prison Break; prisoner 94941; michael scofield myer briggs; “prisoner number” scofield 0.1%
Winnemucca, NV; Winnemucca weekly pet friendly motels; reasons to love Winnemucca, NV 0.1%
Steve Volan 0.1%
P.S. 196; all teachers from p.s.196 0.1%
Knish Nosh; knish nosh health department 0.1%
Mucoshave 0.1%
Laser/Theodore Maiman; 1966 national geographic “the laser’s bright magic”; what kind of food does theodore maiman likes; did theodore maiman get alot of money for making the laser 0.1%
Jeff Bezos; BEZOS THE GREATEST 0.1%
Universal Hall Pass 0.1%

Doubling jeopardy

I have temporarily removed the link that has been at the top of my sidebar for several months, allowing you to contribute to the John Edwards campaign via ActBlue, and for now I urge you to make your contributions directly through John Edwards’ website.

This comes on the heels of news that the Federal Election Commission may publish an opinion that would treat ActBlue like other political action committees and disqualify ActBlue contributions from eligibility for federal matching funds. As you may know, John Edwards, alone among the major presidential contenders, has opted for voluntary spending caps in order to qualify for public campaign financing funds. Small, private donations made directly to the campaign are matched by public funds, doubling their effectiveness. Until this news, ActBlue users believed the same was true of their donations; now this is in doubt.

ActBlue and other organizations like it are not political action committees in the conventional sense; they do not do their own fundraising. Instead they are conduits providing a convenient technical mechanism for individual contributions directly to the campaigns they support. There are just a few days in which to influence the FEC to choose this interpretation of the governing regulations.

I wrote to the Edwards campaign and asked their advice. Here was their response:

I would encourage you to make your remaining contributions directly through our website. As you can imagine we are deeply disappointed with the FEC’s potential decision as we view ACTBlue as a valuable resource.

So though I am a big believer in ActBlue I reluctantly urge you to avoid it for donations to the Edwards campaign, at least until this issue is settled. And regardless of how you feel about John Edwards, it’s a fact that public financing of political campaigns is the best chance we have of reducing corruption in politics, so please do as I have done and urge the FEC not to nip it in the bud with this anti-small-donor policy. Here’s the letter I just sent to Mary Dove, Secretary of the FEC:

To: Mary Dove <mdove@fec.gov>
Subject: ActBlue et al.

Dear Ms. Dove,

I am a private individual who occasionally donates small amounts of money to favored political candidates through ActBlue.com. I learned recently that your Draft Opinion 2007-31 would disqualify such contributions from eligibility for public matching funds (where such contributions would otherwise be eligible).

I made my donations in the full expectation that they would be treated exactly like small, private donations made directly to the candidates. I daresay that was the expectation of the overwhelming majority of ActBlue users.

I therefore urge you to support “Draft A” of Opinion 2007-27, which would affirm that expectation, and to reject Draft Opinion 2007-31.

Sincerely, [name and address]

If you write your own letter, keep it short, to the point, and polite, and include your name and address.

You can find out more about this issue at these links:

Update 14-Dec: The good guys lost.

The Jefnet

I learned of Jef Poskanzer when I became immersed in the then-small worlds of Usenet and free software in the late 1980’s. He was a Usenet celebrity and the author of the ubiquitous PBMPLUS package, among other things. PBMPLUS, and its successor NETPBM, were the standard for batch-mode image processing tools in the stone-knives-and-bearskins days of computer graphics.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I moved from Pittsburgh to California in 1992 that one of my new coworkers in the tiny e-mail startup I was joining would be none other than Jef Poskanzer! As it turned out, we overlapped at Z-Code only for a short time, but we kept in loose contact for a long time thereafter.

Fast forward to several months ago. One Sunday morning my wife woke up wanting to take the kids to see the sea life in tide pools at a local beach. She asked me to determine when low tide would be that day. I googled “bay area” and “tides” — and damn me if a site run by Jef didn’t appear at the top of the search results!

Now fast forward to yesterday. I followed a link from a recent blog post by SF Chronicle sex writer Violet Blue to a silly picture of herself on Flickr. And who should have added a Flickr “note” to the image but Jef Poskanzer!

In the 80’s, it took only a modest amount of such sprinkling of one’s name around the Internet to become well-known. Now it’s much less easy. In a twist on Norma Desmond, if you tell Jef, “You used to be big,” he might say, “I am big. It’s the Internet that got much, much, much bigger.”

Greatest hits: Peep! Peep!

[This post is participating in Only the Cinema’s Short Film Week blog-a-thon.]

My kids have outgrown it by now, but for a few years there our household was swimming in Thomas the Tank Engine videos and toys, and I could tell you the name, color, function, and personality of every engine on picturesque Sodor, and so could my wife and kids. I was amazed by that — and am now equally amazed at how quickly (and mercifully!) it has all faded from memory.

I wrote the following at the peak of our Thomasmania and dedicate it to all parents of Thomas-obsessed toddlers who think this phase will never end. It will.


It was a beautiful day on the island of Sodor. [Engine X] was very excited — today was the day of [an annual celebration or completion of a major construction milestone]. As [Engine X] chattered about it with the other engines in the shed, Sir Topham Hatt came to see him.

[Engine X],” he said, “today I have an important job for you. You must ferry the [children, celebrants, performers, or party goods] to the [celebration].”

“Oh my,” said [Engine Y] to [Engine X]. “That means you’ll have to [traverse a notoriously tricky section of track]. Be sure to [travel at an appropriate speed].”

“I’m sure I always do,” sniffed Gordon.

On his way to [yet another among tiny Sodor’s impossibly many stations], [Engine X] grew more and more excited and started to sing a happy song. “Oh, I’m going to pick up the [children, celebrants, performers, or party goods],” he sang as he chuffed along. He was having so much fun that he forgot all about [traveling at an appropriate speed]. Closer and closer loomed the [notoriously tricky section of track] until, all of a sudden–!

(Here [Engine X] makes an off-track excursion and causes property damage.)

Fortunately, no one was hurt. A short time later, Sir Topham Hatt arrived. He was very cross. “[Engine X], you were not paying attention. You have caused confusion and delay. I have asked [Engine Y] to take your place. You must go back to the shed for repairs.”

“I’m sorry,” said [Engine X]. He felt terrible. Not even jolly Harvey could cheer him up as he helped pull [Engine X] back onto the tracks. Now [Engine X] would not get to carry the [children, celebrants, performers, or party goods], and he wouldn’t even be able to attend the [celebration]!

On his way back to the shed, [Engine X] passed [Engine Y]. “Hi, [Engine X]!” called [Engine Y] cheerfully. “Hello,” replied [Engine X] glumly. As they passed, [Engine X] noticed [a condition with negative consequences for safety]. “I must alert [Engine Y, Sir Topham Hatt, or the switchman]!” thought [Engine X]. So he raced to [the celebration] and [averted a disaster].

Everyone cheered for [Engine X]! Sir Topham Hatt said, “You are a really useful engine.”

And he was.