Monthly Archives: January 2004

LiveJournal no longer live, move to Movable Type?

The following will be of little interest to most of you: I am considering switching the site’s software from LiveJournal to Movable Type (during my copious free time, of course). Effects of this change:

  • Site look and feel would be consistent over all pages (comments, etc.). This is doable but annoying under LJ at the moment.
  • I get the Trackback feature, which means that when I link to other Trackback-capable blogs in a post they automatically link back to me. This potentially expands my readership, though I can’t imagine why anyone who doesn’t know me personally would want to read any of this.
  • LJ has a number of features (friends lists, etc.) designed for a large community of journalers, which simply aren’t used here. These would vanish.
  • Similarly, user accounts as we know them would cease to exist. MT’s user accounts aren’t used for commenting, so they won’t be necessary for most of you. If you would like to maintain (or continue to maintain) a journal on inverse, I could give you a new account for this purpose.
  • Past entries are probably importable into MT. This is something I need to look into in more detail. If not, I will probably add an archive section to the site to keep them around.

I’m not completely sure I’m going to do this, since it’s a non-trivial amount of work. I am strongly leaning toward making the change, though. Your thoughts are welcome!

As an example of a site using most of the Movable Type features, check out the excellent Pandagon.

It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get him (reelected)

Back in October I speculated that Antonin Scalia’s recusal from the Pledge of Allegiance case was a calculated ploy to provide George W. Bush with (further) advantage in the 2004 election.

The obvious argument against this relies on Occam’s Razor: a simpler explanation is that Scalia felt Newdow’s request for his recusal was valid. The plausibility of this explanation depends on whether we think Scalia is the sort of person to recuse himself when a legitimate conflict exists. With that in mind, I’ll be watching what he does in this case, in which the defendant is his longtime friend and recent hunting companion Dick Cheney.

Thoughts on the Prime Primary, Primarily

The New Hampshire results are not so surprising, although I expected about four or five of Kerry’s percentage points to belong to Dean. It’s obviously good news for Kerry, but I wouldn’t say his nomination is inevitable yet. As Eric Alterman points out, the New Hampshire primary has not been particularly well predictive of the nominee in recent years.

The most important question for me (and many other Democrats) is which candidate is most likely to beat Bush. I think most of the “unelectable” attributes of Dean also apply to Kerry: northeastern, rich, liberal, etc. Kerry does have his war record, but it’s not clear to me how much this really matters. Bush’s history of not showing up for his National Guard duties didn’t seem to hurt him much in 2000, after all. My sense is that electability comes down to style rather than substance, which keeps leading me to the conclusion that Edwards is the guy. (This is not an official endorsement.)

Anyway, the primaries should continue to be interesting at least through next week; I believe Edwards is favored in South Carolina, and Missouri is up for grabs. Wouldn’t it be nice if the primaries were still interesting five weeks from now, when California’s rolls around…

Improbable Cause

The promised weekend media roundup:

  • Startide Rising by David Brin

    Finished it Friday night. First of all, it is an improvement over Sundiver in every dimension. The writing doesn’t have the technical feel that its predecessor did, and the plot flows much more smoothly.

    While Sundiver was basically a detective story, Startide Rising is an adventure somewhat in the vein of a good Star Trek movie: the story concerns the crew of a starship, a large and interesting cast, which despite a disabled ship and hostile aliens on all sides still manages to conduct scientific research, and the science is just as interesting as everything else. The setting itself is very intriguing in its own right, and Startide is just one episode in what is potentially a much larger story. I’ve already started the third installment, The Uplift War, but after that I should probably make a dent in the other authors on my list.

    One semi-complaint I have is that Brin offers no visual description of aliens, at all, except when it’s absolutely necessary to convey some action. This is only a “semi-complaint” because I can see the argument for letting my brain fill in the details. All I know about the Tandu, for example, is that they have six legs and hang out in webs, but I’ve developed a pretty good picture of what they look like based on this. He seems to be more descriptive in The Uplift War so far, so I should be able to figure out which style I prefer.

  • Gazebo Classic Movie: The Guns of Navarone

    Now I know what Samuel L. Jackson meant in Pulp Fiction when he said “I’m the guns of the Navarone.” The climactic scene reminded me of that great line from The Editing Room’s terrific abridged Armageddon script, “If it could be imagined that it might explode as a result of this nuclear weapon, it EXPLODES.” (Replace “nuclear weapon” with “plastic explosive” for this film, obviously. I thought about doing an abridged script style review of this film, but decided I have other things to do with my evening.)

    Anyway, we watched this at Curtis’ on Saturday. Despite the excessive explosions and a couple other easily mockable scenes, it was a decent movie. The highlight was definitely Gregory Peck’s performance which, unlike the special effects, is still powerful.

    Anyone else think Anthony Quinn looks like Saddam Hussein on the movie poster?

  • The Cooler

    Another film in which the male lead’s performance is the high point. In this case it’s William H. Macy as a guy with luck so bad that a Vegas casino hires him to cool off its patrons’ winning streaks, hence “the cooler”. Macy is just as good as you’ve heard, and Alec Baldwin was also very good (by being very evil) in the role of Macy’s boss. Also, Maria Bello was very attractive talented.

    In some ways the plot as implemented was less interesting than the premise; maybe I’m just more attuned to the laws of probability than the average person, but Macy’s luck was obviously supernaturally bad, and yet this fact did not attract much interest from anyone in the movie. You’d think with this kind of mutant power he could join the X-Men, or work for the government, perhaps betting on hostile regimes to stay in power and thereby causing them to collapse. But maybe I’m thinking about it too much.

    Some reviews I saw complained about the ending. (I’m going to try to keep this spoiler-free…) I didn’t have any such complaints; it seems to me that the ending was highly contingent on the particular mechanics of Macy’s bad luck, and given what could be inferred about said mechanics the ending was the correct one – it was internally self-consistent, if you will. The ending the complaining reviewers had in mind would only have been possible with major changes to events in the middle of the movie, and I’m not sure the main themes would have survived. So I think the ending was done more or less correctly.

Anyway, that was my weekend. Maybe next weekend I’ll review Super Bowl commercials. (Probably not live, though it’s tempting.)

The Diet Coke of evil: just one calorie, not evil enough.

via Norbizness, a few words from John Ashcroft:

Weapons of mass destruction including evil chemistry and evil biology are all matters of great concern, not only to the United States but also to the world community.

What, no evil physics? I can’t believe my field has fallen so far behind in the high-profile category of mad scientists bent on destroying the earth. We’re even having our March Meeting in French Canada – you’d think that’d be diabolical enough to get a mention from Mr. Ashcroft, but nooooo

On the other hand, maybe this is what he has in mind when he talks about evil science.

They can bill me!

The quote that now appears at the top of the page is not meant to be an official motto; in theory, I will change the quote from time-to-time.

You may claim a bonus geek culture point for identifying it; you could of course just Google it, but that would be wrong.

Later today, (if time permits), I’ll post a weekend media roundup featuring Startide Rising, The Guns of Navarone, and The Cooler.