31 May 2008

Awesome Video Saturday XXXXV

Japanese Commercials are awesome.

Here's Ah-nuld for Cup O' Noodles:

This one is vintage, brought to you by Maxell and WHAM!

Just two guys having fun, right?

30 May 2008

The Role of Business

I've written about government and the oil companies at In Rare Form.

28 May 2008

Awesome Video Saturday XXXXIV (On Wednesday)

I just saw this video over on Eric Snider's website. It is from Weezer, and it is a kind of salute to YouTube all-stars. You can follow this link it you want to follow all the various YouTubery contained in the video.


27 May 2008

Good News

Manuel Marulanda, the longtime leader of the FARC, died in March according to several reports. I'd like to see a body, but as that may never happen let me just say that he was a bad man who deserved to die.

Good riddance.

24 May 2008

Awesome Video Saturday XXXXIII

This is a fantastic spoof of The Office from last week's Saturday Night Live.

Saru mo ki kara ochiru.

Also from SNL, this funny bit by Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain.

23 May 2008


Bjorn Lomborg is known for his work focusing on ROI (return on investment) for efforts to combat the world's problems. He wrote an op-ed that appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. It is a must read. An excerpt:

Research for the Copenhagen Consensus, in which Nobel laureate economists analyze new research about the costs and benefits of different solutions to world problems, shows that just $60 million spent on providing Vitamin A capsules and therapeutic Zinc supplements for under-2-year-olds would reach 80% of the infants in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with annual economic benefits (from lower mortality and improved health) of more than $1 billion. That means doing $17 worth of good for each dollar spent. Spending $1 billion on tuberculosis would avert an astonishing one million deaths, with annual benefits adding up to $30 billion. This gives $30 back on the dollar.

Lomborg has always been skeptical about the amount of money being poured into combating climate change. Current efforts often cannot be justified based on the return"

Acknowledging that some investments shouldn't be our top priority isn't the same as saying that the challenges don't exist. It simply means working out how to do the most good with our limited resources. It will send a signal, too, to research communities about areas that need more study.

Indeed. By the way, here is further evidence that Global Warming, whatever its cause, duration, or serverity, is not responsible for a higher number of hurricanes. In fact:

warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.

Very interesting.

22 May 2008

Da Da Da Daa! Da Da Daa!

So a movie that I've been expecting for 18 years finally arrives, and I feel like it was worth the wait. There are a few ways to judge the film:

1. What if there had never been any previous Indiana Jones films. Would this be an enjoyable movie?

Yes. Definitely. Not a perfect movie, but I laughed out loud, clapped with joy/astonishment/horror. As a film experience it was a really good one.

2. How does this movie fit in with the rest of the series?

Very well. It does homage and adds to the legacy. It takes a few minutes to feel "in the swing" but after that it feels like an Indy movie.

I'm not a film critic, but I think I have a pretty good sense for what makes a good film. This is a crowd-pleaser, prompted the right amount of nostalgia, and brought fire back to one of my all-time favorite actors.
If you never liked Indiana Jones, or found a movie like National Treasure unenjoyable, you should probably skip it. If you have a soul, you'll probably like it. Pretty straightforward that way.

21 May 2008

Protection for the Protectors?

Michael Yon posted an interesting and disappointing notice on his blog. It is from the Dept of Transportation Federal Transit Administration:

Here are a few friendly reminders of personal protective measures that can help you to stay safe:
-If possible, do not commute in uniform (military members) -Do not display DoD building passes, "hot cards", or personal identification in open view outside of the workplace -Do not discuss specifics about your occupation to outside solicitors
-Always try to remain in well lit, well populated train cars if traveling via metro -Be vigilant at all times!

Where do you think this advice applies? Washington D.C.! It seems absurd, but military personnel have been the subjects of harassment while on the Metro. Not cool.

19 May 2008

Fiscal Irresponsibility

One of our biggest domestic threats comes from looming entitlement obligations. Follow the link for more.


18 May 2008

Counting Down

We're just a few days from the premiere of Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Much of the buzz has been positive. Tuesday I will finish my Indiana Jones Film Festival with The Last Crusade.

From the perspective of a dispassionate film critic the movie may not be perfect. I won't be looking at it that way. Spielberg and Lucas have given me back part of my childhood. That makes it worth the $9 and 2 hours of my day.

15 May 2008

Si Camina Como Pata

As I read this article I realized that I have never expressed the full depth of my contempt for Hugo Chavez.

He is an enemy of democracy. He is a socialist. He is a friend to Fidel and Ahmedinejad. Like all dictators he has based his rule on cronyism and the weakening of opposing forces and institutions.

Now it appears that there is evidence linking him directly to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). FARC is a terrorist organization. They kidnap, extort, and murder for gain. Computers seized from a FARC camp were examined by Interpol and found the following:

Venezuelan officials set up contacts with Australian arms dealers and arranged for missile training in the Middle East, according to the documents, which were on computer hard drives seized by Colombia.
Venezuela's ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, came under further scrutiny Thursday when Interpol said it had concluded that the Colombian government hadn't tampered with the seized computers.
Interpol's report bolsters Colombia's claims that the computers contain evidence of meddling by Venezuela in its neighbor's war with FARC. Venezuela has asserted the files on the computer are bogus, and on Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced the Interpol report as "ridiculous."

Read the article for more. I'm disgusted.

Peak Oil

Ever heard of "Peak Oil?" What does it mean? This guy has some answers.

14 May 2008

Uribe v. Pelosi

I'm pulling for Uribe. Here's more on how Colombia continues to act in good faith, despite the disrespect paid to it by the Democratic leadership.

12 May 2008

The Beast Gets His Bite Back

I was at my Rotary Club meeting last week and our speaker was Dr. Don Goodman, the director of Gainesville's Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Several years ago he lost his right arm to MoJo, a massive American alligator that made its home there. As is the practice when an alligator attacks a human, MoJo was killed, not only as a protective measure but also to see if Dr. Goodman's arm was salvageable. Unfortunately it was not.

Now that several years have passed Dr. Goodman has come to the conclusion that MoJo's behavior is part of a trend that began when animals like the alligator fell under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Alligators had learned to fear humans because an encounter with a human meant a very real chance of death. After years of protection, alligators don't really have to fear humans for their survival. They know most of us are unarmed and more aggressive behavior seems one likely by-product of that, even as endangered status no longer applies.

A few days later I saw this post at Instapundit. Glen Reynolds highlighted some cases of coyotes acting more aggressive in L.A. suburbs and elsewhere. This seems to be supportive anecdotal evidence of what I learned last week.

Just something interesting to think about.

10 May 2008

Awesome Video Saturday XXXXII

I don't usually watch late-night television, but a blog posted these videos from the White House Correspondents dinner. Craig Ferguson was the featured entertainment and I think he was pretty funny. You can't go wrong with a Scot. The video is in three parts.

09 May 2008

Thankful for Freedom

This is an astounding account of what life can be like in a place that has none of the protections and freedoms that we take for granted everyday.

Here's what it can be like to be a journalist in a place like Zimbabwe.

08 May 2008

Go Joe!

There are a lot of cool pictures of characters from the upcoming GI Joe film. Dennis Quaid is playing General Hawk:

06 May 2008

Not Changing a Bit

The Economist has a brief piece about Raúl Castro's Cuba. Raúl claims to want to move beyond Cuba's original communist leaders, but appears to be using them even more than his brother. There have been some changes, but nothing of real import:

Since becoming president, Raúl has taken cautious steps to allow more private farming and eased a few petty restrictions that burden Cubans' everyday life. These have included lifting the bans on ownership of some consumer purchases, such as mobile-phone connections.
There has been no relaxation of political control. The message from the party would seem to be that there is not likely to be any—at least before the congress. Raúl has avoided building up a younger leadership. Yet oddly, by freezing the gerontocracy in place, he has made his new regime look impermanent.

No new tricks from these old dogs.

March of the Penguins?

You can't deny that there have been, are, and will exist fluctuations in climate. This young British woman wanted to see the impact of climate change on the North Pole. She intends to make a documentary of it, as the youngest woman to reach the Pole on skis.

I don't post this because I dispute what she observed. I post it because the MSNBC video includes penguins, who definitely do not live at the North Pole.

05 May 2008

Also May 22

I've already got my tickets for the 7:15 show:

I'll be there July 18

01 May 2008

SPOTD #139

This is a long edition. I had some time to do some music reviews and other things that I wanted to share. As always I encourage you to visit the blog. I've been focusing on Latin American issues to a greater degree, which has been relatively easy considering the amount of attention being given to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

I also posted a video from the set of Twilight, a movie that I know some of you are eagerly aniticipating.

Today's phrase:
From Plato:

La música es para el alma lo que es la gimnasia para el cuerpo.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Lah moo-see-kah ess pah-rah ell ahl-mah low kay ess lah heem-nah-syah pah-rah ell cware-poe.

Music is for the soul what gymnastics is for the body.

I've purchased some new music lately that I wanted to share. Some of these were actually bought several months ago, so I'm playing catch-up.
-Wyclef Jean's new CD has some good numbers. Nothing will compare to The Carnival for me. That was one of my most frequently listened-to CD's during my freshman year in college, as the guys who knew me then can attest. To some extent, I think the inclusion of guest performers on almost every song has actually weakened the quality of the music, which I thought was best served by Wyclef's own abilities. Then again, I'm not a millionaire singer/songwriter/producer. I can't vouch for the disc as family-friendly, as I haven't listened to the whole thing. One nice track to download would be Any Other Day with Norah Jones.
-Gnarls Barkley released a new CD, and with little fanfare considering the success of their first album. The new one is also pretty great. Cee-lo has such a distinctive voice.
-Paolo Nutini showed up as a recommendation on iTunes. I downloaded one of his songs, New Shoes, and really liked it so I decided to buy the rest. New Shoes is the peppiest song on the album, but I like the whole thing. It's a good set to have on in the background and just listen to while you're hanging out, driving, whatever.
-Bossa N Roses is one of the best finds I've made lately. It is a cover album consisting of electro-bossa nova versions of Guns N Roses' most well-known songs. My favorite is definitely Patience, but Sweet Child of Mine is pretty good as well. It helps you appreciate the excellent melodies of GNR's songs, and is another album that can be in the background without overpowering your ears or freaking out the kids. Can't necessarily say the same of the originals. I'm not saying these are better, but they're enjoyable like the Easy All Stars.
-Radiohead released their latest, In Rainbows, quite a while ago. I was late to the show on this one, which is silly because I've enjoyed everything that they've done, even if it took a little work to "get." I think it's a strong effort, a nice mix of electronic and more traditional instruments.

Travel Notes
-I ate at a restaurant that I'd never tried before, J Alexander. I met my friend, the recently engaged Lisa Chau, and her fiance. The portions are enormous and quite good. Even better than that, J Alexander surprised me in another impressive way. I have long felt that the best restaurants are those that have the Sports section affixed to bulletin boards over the urinals. You guys will understand. J Alexander has small LCD televisions over each station! Fantastic!
-Atlanta Hartsfield International airport has never been a favorite of mine. 90% of the flights that I have taken since moving to Gainesville in 1989 have gone through Atlanta. I had one of the longest nights of my life there in 2001, spending 8 hours in a plane that never left the ground due to bad weather. Well, this last trip that I took was the first where Atlanta was actually my final destination. Knowing Atlanta's reputation as one of the busiest airports in the U.S. I was prepared for the worst. I was wrong. Painless bag retrieval. Painless transport from the airport. Painless check in and very fast security lines.

Nostalgia Corner
-I saw a huge Indiana Jones poster at the Atlanta airport. Less than one month. This movie will be outstanding, I can feel it. When is the last time that Spielberg made a "fun" movie? The last one I can think of is probably The Lost World, although that film was not his best effort. Harrison Ford has always been a favorite actor of mine, so I'll be there opening night, the 7:15 showing.
-Transformers was one of the most enjoyable movies of last summer for me. It wasn't the best movie, not by a longshot, but I enjoyed every moment. This trip I borrowed my brother's DVD to watch it again. The film's flaws became more apparent, but I enjoyed it just as much.
-GI Joe is currently in production. This WAS my favorite cartoon as a child, with Transformers being second and He-Man third. I'm sure I'll post more info in the future.

David Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes. Have you ever seen some of the stuff this guy can do? I think he has a deal with the devil.

Link of the Day
I admire elite-level athletes, but this story is one of the special ones.