Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Essential Travel Information

How to say "My Hovercraft is full of eels" in quite a few languages. Because you just never know.

- Link via Supergee

From the Honorable Trent Franks

As described in my earlier post To the Honorable Trent Franks, it took four and a half months for a timely form e-mail from my Congressman in which he proudly describes how he took my concerns to heart - by ignoring them.

I posted a reply to his reply in which I expressed further concerns.

Well, they're getting more efficient over there. In only three days, I had a reply from the Congressman's office: the exact same form letter.

Warning

The results are in for the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton contest. You have been warned.

If you're not sure why I phrased that in the form of a warning, here's the description and rules of this most venerable competition.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hello! Let's talk.

In Paris, 81 year-old Miss Lilly St-Nachie sits in the park with her sign: "Hello! Let's talk". It brings people together. People see the sign and they talk to Miss Lilly, and each other. What do they talk about? "No politics and no religion", says Miss Lilly, "because there come the wars from... and I assure you, if you avoid these two subjects, then we understand each other."

Listen to this NPR story. (audio)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Shiny! Sounds cool!

Ninjam sounds like some serious cool. I'll need to try it out. What it says it is, is a tool wherein you jam online with other musicians without need ing an expensive dedicated ISDN line between studios.

I haven't time to try it just now, or even put it over in the links section (adding a link over there actually takes a bit longer than just posting something) but it sounds like a spiffy neat idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

And as long as I'm being political...

I'd make a lousy President. I might possibly not pass the security screening, for one thing.

This does not stop me from having a Presidential thought from time to time. When I'm near a keyboard, I'll post these ideas here. Permission granted in advance to quote with attribution. Like I could stop anybody. Here's one:

If I were President, I'd immediately rejoin the Kyoto treaty. I would use the power of the Executive to move the Government to be leaders in environmental responsibility. I would re-submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Accompanying it would be this thought:

It is an insult to American ingenuity to state that complying with Kyoto would cause irreparable harm to our economy. An insult. Is this not the America that went to the moon in less than a decade? Is this not the America that once led the world in environmental awareness? Are we not the home of MIT and Caltech and Carnegie-Mellon and a thousand other great colleges? Did we not invent the transistor, the integrated circuit, the iPod? Have we forgotten that to grow is to embrace change?

Just sayin'.

Next time, I'll take on overpopulation.

To the Honorable Trent Franks

Trent Franks is, alas, my Congressman. He's a conservative Republican. I'm a fiscal-conservative Democrat. Socially quite liberal. My views should come as a surprise to nobody. Look at the Bush calendar.

Back in February, I used Mr Franks' very own internet form to write a polite letter opposing REAL ID. He voted for it anyway. I have since lost the letter in a change of computers.

Today, 21 July, I received a reply. This based on a letter sent via a form that says:
I appreciate you taking the time to write me about your concerns. When you write, please be issue specific, so that I can efficiently respond to you in a most timely manner. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I look forward to reading your message.
Anyway, here is the Congressman's reply. I have removed my home address. A trained professional can look me up in about five minutes. I just don't need any more junk mail.
From: PUBLIC_FOLDER_PUBLIC_EMAILADDRESS_HERE@REPLACE.COM
Subject: Response From Congressman Trent Franks
Date: July 21, 2005 1:43:26 PM MST
To: my email obscured - don't need any more spam, either

July 21, 2005

Patrick Connors
Glendale, Arizona

Dear Patrick:

Thank you for contacting me regarding our nation's immigration policy. I sincerely appreciate the benefit of your views.

America was founded, shaped, and built by immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity. Since 1820, sixty-six million immigrants have entered the United States by legal means. By enriching our culture, adding to our productive capacity and enhancing our influence in the world, immigrants have greatly contributed to the development of our nation.

While legal immigrants have contributed greatly to this country, America is facing an illegal immigration problem that is spinning out of control. As Ronald Reagan said, "A nation that cannot control its border is no longer a nation at all." Arizonans understand this better than most, because we, along with residents of California, New Mexico, and Texas, are paying a disproportionate share of the cost burden associated with illegal immigration.

Understanding these problems, I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 3137, the CLEAR Act, which would provide for enhanced Federal, State, and local enforcement of the immigration laws of the United States. Essentially, this legislation would give local and state law enforcement agencies the authority to detain criminal and illegal aliens within the course of their regular duties. The CLEAR Act also calls for civil penalties for illegal entry and reimbursement to local law enforcement agencies for their involvement.

Moreover, I was a co-sponsor of, and voted for H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act of 2005, which passed the House of Representatives on February 10, 2005. This important legislation would set minimum standards to help prevent counterfeiting of state driver's licenses. It will also prevent citizens of other countries from abusing our asylum laws, and ensure the expeditious completion of barriers and roads at the U.S. border.

I am gravely concerned about the presence of illegal aliens in the United States, who are putting our nation's security at risk. In a post 9/11 world, terrorists are looking for our weakest link as an entry point and will exploit such weaknesses at any cost. We must protect our borders and enforce our legal immigration laws to the fullest extent of their authority.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I hope you will continue to inform me of the issues that concern you. In the meantime, please feel free to visit my website at http://www.house.gov/franks.

Most Sincerely,

Trent Franks
Member of Congress
That's completely inadequate, and I have used his own web form to call bullshit on him. I hope I'm being polite enough:
To the Honorable Trent Franks: [1]

Back in February, I wrote you in opposition of REAL ID, which you supported. It is now July 21, and I am only now receiving a form letter from you. This is not my idea of an efficient response in a timely manner, as your web page seems to promise.

I am equally opposed to the CLEAR Act, since I regard it as just one more step down the road towards the United States becoming a police state.

Security is part of what I do for a living. The one thing that has been done to prevent another 9/11 attack in this country is strengthening of on-aircraft security, including training changes and stronger aircraft cockpit doors.

Causing me to nearly miss a plane the last time I flew because of an honest mistake did nothing for airline security.

If you want to stop illegal immigration, defend the borders. Period. Seal the desert between San Diego and Brownsville.

Please do not forget that the Saudi nationals who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks all entered the country legally. Also do not forget that the London subway bombers were all British subjects.

Your response to my concerns demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the voters. I shall keep this in mind in the coming electoral cycle.

- Patrick Connors
Footnote 1: I had no choice in that wording; it's hardcoded into the form.

Footnote 2: I was highly tempted to footnote the Congressman's letter, but why bother? It's nearly self-parodying.

I continue to wonder how tight the market might be for Oracle database programmers in Vancouver or Victoria. Just saying.

A brief technical note

To the copycat thugs in London today:

I neither know nor care what message you were trying to send. If any.

I am very happy that your mothers never gave you a decent Lego set while you were young children. And I am very happy that you never studied physics or chemistry. (This all shows in your complete lack of bomb-building skills). 'Cause if you had, you might possibly have hurt someone.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Voldemort Still Evil

Read Harry Potter over the weekend. Voldemort still evil. Harry, Ron and Hermione are definitely sixteen. Stuff happens. Must say no more lest I be turned into a newt.

Monday, July 11, 2005

There must be 50 60 73 101 Ways...

Just a little something to read in line at the bookstore Friday night:
101 Ways to Annoy, Harass, Confuse or Generally Scare Lord Voldemort

Poor Four

How the hell can a competently-acted comic-book movie with great effects be so damn boring?

I refer to Fantastic Four.

Okay. The high points: Michael Chiklis' portrayal of Ben (the Thing) Grimm is right on the money. Likewise, Chris Evans was having fun as Johnny Storm. Whatever building lobby the Baxter Building was based on is an architectural gem. Very nice. One of the more expensive fight scenes had its amusing aspects. And the form-fitting superhero uniforms had some good-looking bodies to fill them.

Those are the good things I can say. I suppose I could add that it's shot on a decent grade of color film and provided paid employment to a number of artists and technicians, but that's about it. It's a "see-once" and don't pay full price.

Yes, we see the Four get their powers, and yes, there's some Marvel comics angst and no, the characters don't all get along. Of course Dr. Doom is in the movie, but there was little sense of menace. At the climactic battle I was wondering why they were bothering to fight that spoiled brat. Had I been watching this movie on DVD instead of on the big screen, I would have drifted away and got a snack or something.

And yet this is really, truly, the best Fantastic Four movie ever made. Sigh.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bombs Under London

Based on what I'm reading, the London bombing seem to have been nothing more than a waste of perfectly good explosives.

I don't mean to minimize the loss and suffering of the victims, but the attitude I'm hearing from London the day after the bombings is this:

We will not be terrorized by you murderous thugs.
We will honor our dead and then life will go on.
We are civilized.
We could use more of that attitude here in the States.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Infernokrusher of the Worlds

First, the background:

Go read this. And this. And all of the comments of both. I shall wait.

Then I shall point out the following re: War of the Worlds:
  • Spielberg knows Infernokrusher.

  • Tom Cruise is still a complete asshat, and is thus perfect for his role in the first part of this movie.

  • I still have an unrequited crush (non-Inferno) on Miranda Otto, who is too good for Tom Cruise.

  • Dakota Fanning can scream!!!

  • From the trailers:
    • King Kong ought to rock.

    • It's about damn time Orlando Bloom gets the lead in a romantic comedy. Elizabethtown is on my will-see list.

That is all.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Bewitched! - the review

Nora Ephron is a goddess.

Anybody else in Hollywood, given the assignment to make '60s sitcom "Bewitched!" into a movie would have made the same dumb mistake that I would have: they would have made a movie about Samantha and Darrin; perhaps pulled it into present-day and added a subplot about modern Wicca.

Instead, Smantha and Darrin are the sub-plot.

Nicole Kidman has a great time playing Isabel Bigelow, a young witch who moves to Los Angeles because she wants to be a normal person. Michael Caine plays her father Nigel, who thinks she's crazy. Will Ferrell plays a Will Ferrell character: in this case, Jack Wyatt, descending film star, who's been cast as Darrin in a remake of the sitcom. Realizing Darrin is the ultimate second banana, he works to take over the show. He discovers Isabel, who very quickly catches on to his plot to take over the show. Then her little nose starts a-wiggling and the real fun begins.

A nice afternoon at the movies that doesn't try to be more than it is. Fans of the original "Bewiched" will also enjoy the movie.

I have to bail now, so you'll be spared my rant on the excesses of Will Ferrell.