just procrastinating

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wow, it looks like the Vatican may have found a miracle that they can attribute to Pope John Paul. If that's true he's a shoo-in for sainthood. And if it's really, really true then I better stop making fun of this whole process. But here's a great quote here from Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution that sums up my feelings on this charade:
I would be more impressed, however, if the cure rate of those who prayed to John Paul exceed that of those who prayed to Elvis. Will the Vatican be performing a t-test? I suspect not.

Monday, January 30, 2006

My knee has been bugging me for about 3 or 4 months now and it's been getting worse, so I figured I'd go get it checked out. I went to this sports Doctor and ran on the treadmill for awhile, had some X-Rays taken and it turns out I have Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. That's a long name for what I think can better be described as "Suck it up, crybaby". According to this article, the injury is common among girls aged 10 - 20 years, so it's nothing I can brag about around the gym. So I get to go to physical therapy and wear one of those straps around my knee. But at least I'll get out of work when I go to physical therapy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My wife and I were just talking about how the smallest size at Starbucks is called "tall" and appears to be an english word, which is then followed by "grande" which might be Spanish or Italian, and then the hideous "venti" which may not be a word at all. (Actually I just looked it up and it's Italian for twenty. Oh, OK) But why call your smallest size "tall"? Answer: Because it is not the smallest size! From Slate:
Here's a little secret that Starbucks doesn't want you to know: They will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is to work out why.

The drink in question is the elusive "short cappuccino"—at 8 ounces, a third smaller than the smallest size on the official menu, the "tall," and dwarfed by what Starbucks calls the "customer-preferred" size, the "Venti," which weighs in at 20 ounces and more than 200 calories before you add the sugar.

This secret cappuccino is cheaper, too—at my local Starbucks, $2.35 instead of $2.65. But why does this cheaper, better drink—along with its sisters, the short latte and the short coffee—languish unadvertised? The official line from Starbucks is that there is no room on the menu board, although this doesn't explain why the short cappuccino is also unmentioned on the comprehensive Starbucks Web site, nor why the baristas will serve you in a whisper rather than the usual practice of singing your order to the heavens.

Sounds like a profit scheme.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover
I picked up Confessions of an Economic Hit Man at Barnes and Noble last week. Just looking at the cover, it seemed like my kind of book; a man in a suit with a briefcase in some 3rd world country. Could this be James Bond with an MBA? I'm in!

Bad decision. My first mistake was not reading a few pages before I bought it. I would have immediately realized that my impression from the cover was way off. The second mistake was misunderstaning what the woman at the checkout meant when she said, "This book is infuriating." I thought at the time that if she (former hippy-type) said that, then it was exactly what I wanted. Well about 3 pages in, the book started on it's anti-globilization kick and never stopped.

The author, John Perkins, worked as a consultant for Chas T. Main back in the 1970s or as what he referred to as an "Economic Hit Man". The crime that he claims to committ? Chas. T. Main develops electric utilities across the globe and as Chief Economist Perkins inflated the forecasts for electric demand to help third world countries secure loans to pay for the growing electric plant. The demand never met his forecasts so countries were forced to default on their loans, therby becoming a pawn of the American "Empire" or "corporatocray" and forced to do our bidding.

If you buy into that then I suppose you'll like this book and be infuriated like the hippy clerk at Barnes and Noble. I personally think that theory is patronizing and empirically baseless, but I was willing to go along with him for the rest of the book to see if he could convice me. But he couldn't because he didn't even try. His audience, the hate-America-first liberals, takes it as an article of faith that everything we do is wrong and everyone else gets it but us.

And John Perkins is the worst kind of hate-America-first liberal because he actually felt he was doing something wrong, but kept doing it for the money.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Jack Abramoff
I've felt kind of bad for this Jack Abramoff character ever since he's been in the news. I actually heard the story 4 years ago because a friend of mine knows this guy who was one of Abramoff's partners and he told me about how rich they got from lobbying for these Indian groups to keep exclusive rights to their casinos. It sounded pretty legit at the time; it was a win-win for everyone involved. Anyway, I guess he did some other bad stuff, so I'm sure he's getting what he deserves.

So that being said, I missed the George Clooney's stupid remarks at the Golden Globes, where he said, "Who would name their kid Jack with the last words ‘off’ at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up". Well, turns out the person who did the naming has a thing or two to say to Mr. Clooney and he makes Clooney look like a complete jerkoff. This takedown of George Clooney by Jack Abramoff's Dad is perfect.

My son was named after my beloved departed father. His name, too, was Jack Abramoff. And, were he alive today, would be standing firmly behind his namesake, as his entire family and many more true friends than you will ever know.

Not that it matters to you, I am sure, but the worst part of your tirade is that it played out in front of many young people, including my sweet 12-year-old granddaughter, one of Jack’s five children. Jack did not waste his time watching the garbage spewing from your mouth, but his daughter did. You drove her to a fit of tears. Are you proud of that?

The rest of the letter it is pretty good and it really makes Clooney look like a heel.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Do you really need to keep your anti-virus software up to date? I tested that theory for the past year and it looks like the answer is yes. Yes, you really should. My home laptop stopped working over the weekend and I had to take it in to some pros (geeks) since Windows wouldn't even start in safe mode. They found 21 viruses infecting it and had to do a completely new Windows re-install and recover what they could from my hard drive. Oh well, live and learn. On the upside, after the $161 repair and new windows install, the thing runs like a completely new machine.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Oh, well I guess a repeat 20 years later just wasn't meant to be. Rex Grossman had a bad first half. You know, something bugs me about that guy. He always seems to have a stupid grin on his face, like he is just happy to be out there on the field, win or lose. I can't say I blame him for that; I'd look exactly the same way for a couple of games at least, but this guy has been in the league for a few years.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Drakkar Noir
I just walked by one of my younger colleagues and got blasted back to my Freshman year in college. He must have a hot date tonight because it smells like he bathed in Drakkar Noir. What is about about scents that they can transport you through time for an instant?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Office Etiquette
How late it is acceptable to bring in unloved Halloween candy? Someone here is testing the boundaries of etiquette. Normally, I would say it's never too late, but since I'm trying to lose a couple of Christmas pounds, it's hard to do that when you are eating stale Tootsie Rolls and Nerds all day. Although I imagine that Nerds have a shelf life that extends into the next millenium.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm kind of bored by the Alito coverage and I haven't really been following it, but that doesn't mean I don't have an opinion. I think this Radley Balko piece kind of sums up my thoughts on him. Here is the bottom line:
The real ideological split these days is between judges who are skeptical of government power, and justices who embrace it. In that vein, Scalia and Ginsberg, et al. are one and the same. Brown, Thomas, Rehnquist, and O'Connor (to a lesser extent) are the good guys.

By all indications, Alito is in the former group. Which is why I think libertarians -- and principled conservatives, come to think of it -- ought to oppose his nomination.

I'm sure he is a fine judge, but I can just tell by watching him that he's not my kind of guy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tim Noah doesn't understand why coaches should get respect:
There is surely no American archetype more preposterously overpraised at this cultural moment than the Coach. He has become a vessel of redemption, a wise old pappy who could tell us a thing or two about this thing we call life if only we'd bother to listen.

Fair enough, but read on and you'll see why:
My own chief memory of high-school coaches (in my case, they were all physical-education teachers, since I was never on a team) is that they enjoyed being mean to the fat kids. That kept skinny-but-uncoordinated kids like me out of the line of fire.

A few months ago Tim Noah wrote this immature take down of Jack Abramoff, who was classmate of Tim Noah, and reading it you can understand exactly why Noah doesn't like coaches or popular kids: Tim Noah still has a chip on his shoulder from his days as a high school nerd.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Battlestar Galactica
I've been reading good things about that new Battlestar Galactica series.

Wait a minute. When a 36-old man takes the time out of his day to write about Battlestar Galactica in his blog, that person might be struggling with content issues, or something worse. It's bad enough to admit publicly that Star Wars and Indiana Jones are your favorite movies, but when some you start hoping that some sorry excuse for Star Wars over 25 years ago is being remade and worth watching, well, you're just pushing it I think.

That being said, I was watching the previews and it looks pretty cool: The fighters are an updated take on the ones from the original series, which I watched all the time. Remember that Starbuck and Apollo from the original? Those guys were awesome. The Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) was a good looking guy and ended up being Face on The A-Team (which also rocked in it's day, BTW).

OK, but the point of this was that whenever I hear the words "Battlestar Galactica" and I'm hearing them more and more this year, I think: Battlestar Galactica...Space Glow...Putty. Can anyone remember this? They actually sold Battlestar Galactica branded silly putty-type product that glowed in the dark, and there was a really dumb commercial with an god-awful song that went along with it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Are You An Assassin?
I don't know if I mentioned this at some point before, but the company I work for is being bought out by a large cable company that rhymes with the word "bombast". In fact if you swapped out all of the "b's" in "bombast" for the next letter in the alphabet you'd have it. Well today we met the folks who will be our new corporate overlords...and our eventual assassins. It's unlikely that will keep an office here since they have facilities nearby in Richmond and DC. But who knows? I'm not worried yet, since this deal will still take some time (6 months maybe), but I guess it's time to polish off the old resume.

But anyway, this scene from Apocalypse Now was running through my head today:
Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command?
Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.
Kurtz: It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?
Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.
Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?
Willard: I don't see any method at all, sir.
Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?
Willard:I'm a soldier.
Kurtz: You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Interesting article here about the benefits of napping. Here was something interesting that I’d noticed but couldn’t figure out. Usually when I nap, I wake up pretty refreshed if it is just a 20 minute one, but sometimes I get real lethargic and am stuck like that for awhile. Well here's why:
There is, however, a pitfall in all this sleeping around. You have to carefully time the duration of your nap in order to avoid waking in slow-wave sleep. This can produce what's known as sleep inertia. That's when the limbs feel like concrete, the eyes can't focus, the speech is slurred, the mind is sluggish. Sleep inertia can ruin your day. You must keep the nap to 20 minutes or slightly less, and if you need the extra sleep, wait until the 50-minute mark. This will safely keep you on the power side of your nap.

OK, I'll nap longer then. Via Newmark's Door.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Chuck, Chocolate
Sat through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on PPV last night. Johnny Depp wasn't quite as creepy as the reviews seemed to indicate, but I'll take Gene Wilder over him any day. This new version really didn't step up to the plate and deliver anything interesting.

Given the technology today, Tim Burton could have done a heck of a lot more with the edible candyland garden in the early scene of the movie, and it wasn't really any better than the 1971 version. The Oompa Loompa numbers were more lavish, but it was hard to hear the lyrics (these kids today with that music...I tell ya).

Gene Wilder rocks in the original, so it's hard for Johnny Depp to compete on that level. I still find myself humming that little tune from the original: "There is no life I know, that compares with pure imagination..." Anyway, not a bad take on a classic, but not something that I'd watch more than once.

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