04.28.06

…weird title though.

Posted in Movies & TV at 9:37 am by Administrator

Gillian Anderson in Straightheads 

Gillian Anderson stars in the cheap British thriller Straightheads, which will apparently be released sometime in 2006.

“A dark twisted tale which rips two ordinary people from their comfort zone and propels them on a mission of revenge towards a shocking and controversial climax which guarantees Straightheads will be one of the most talked about movies of 2006.”

Somewhat optimistic, but it’s enough for me. This is the kind of movie that can actually be done well on a low budget. The odds are against that actually happening, but I’m keeping my hopes up.

UPDATE:

According to the director’s blog, the movie will be released in February 2007.

04.27.06

Bad Idea

Posted in Movies & TV, Philosophy at 8:44 pm by Administrator

I know this is on Drudge. I’m posting it anyway.

According to a Variety.com article, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been suggested for the lead role in the proposed Atlas Shrugged movie. I must admit, I’m sickened by the thought.

Don’t get me wrong, Pitt sort of looks like he could be John Galt. I’m less sure about Jolie as Dagney, but my main problem is that they both are way too recognizable as themselves. I also fear that with them on board, the focus of the production would be more on the stars than on the plot or characters. Remember Mr. and Mrs. Smith?

The article also mentioned the budget would be “north of 30 million.” Seriously, is it possible to make a good movie for under 50 million? How ’bout an epic collapse of civilization movie based on an 1100 page novel? A Sound of Thunder cost 80 million and it was laughable. I know that with exceptional writing and talented direction a cheap movie can be done well, but look what we have gotten recently.

Maybe this movie just isn’t meant to be made.

Thoughts? Casting suggestions anyone?

Restoring Modern “Art”

Posted in Art & Drama, Humor at 4:24 pm by Administrator

Restoring a Pollock

On RationalArtBlog, Sara wonders how the shoddy craftsmanship demonstrated in many “modern art” pieces will affect their long term monetary value. Expensive restoration may help but, with some pieces, it’s simply not an option. (The Pollock above showed signs of deterioration only ten years after it was completed. In terms of modern art, that’s longevity.)

Fortunately, there is a way to maintain the value of your investment. As a gesture of goodwill to my readers who like this stuff, I will share it. The solution is simple: Make another one! After all, it’s not like you’re copying the Mona Lisa. Just try it. With a little practice, you’ll be glueing dead birds and bubble gum wrappers to a canvas with the best of them. 

Even Pollock’s paintings can be easily reproduced. (I should know. My Pollock imitation was the best in the class.) Once cracks start to form on your 10 million dollar ”Number 2, 1949,” just whip out your paints and brushes (drippers?). In a few days you will have a new one and no one will know the difference (trust me, they won’t). If you’re lazy, just have your kids do the painting for you.

Don’t worry about trying to sell it. These people only buy art so they can act sophisticated at dinner parties. In fact, if you tell your buyer the piece isn’t original, he probably won’t care. It will only matter to him that everyone else think it is.

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

Some pieces will be more difficult to duplicate than others.

04.26.06

Sentinel dissapoints

Posted in Movies & TV at 12:44 pm by Administrator

Kiefer upside down 

Warning: Spoilers Follow.

I’ll admit, I had high expectations. This movie was marketed as 24 on the big screen. I was hoping for 24 with a dash of Absolute Power and Enemy of the State.

As it was, the most interesting part for me was the Da Vinci Code trailer beforehand (The real star of that movie is Tom Hanks’ hair).

Not feeling like writing a proper review, I’ll just list the reasons why I didn’t enjoy The Sentinel:

  • Two words: Eva Longoria  
  • Kiefer Sutherland acted less like Jack Bauer, and more like that grouchy marine he plays on A Few Good Men.
  • The plot was a poorly done rehash of In The Line of Fire and The Fugitive; but without any of the interesting characters or plot twists.
  • Michael Douglas’ character was just a sissy version of his Basic Instinct character. He couldn’t even beat a lie detector in this one.
  • The gunfights felt like Victorian era stage swordfights. By the way, Eva Longoria should take some lessons from Marcia Cross on how to hold a gun.
  • Most of the Secret Service agents were portrayed as inept morons. 
  • The only real tension in the movie revolves around Douglas being framed. Once he is exonerated, you don’t care whether the president gets whacked or not.
  • No torture.
  • No cool antagonist.
  • No noble sacrifice.
  • Sutherland utters nary a scream in the whole movie.
  • In other words: It was nothing like 24! Case closed.

04.24.06

Engineering the Improbable

Posted in Science & Engineering at 7:51 pm by Administrator

I recently Netflixed a copy of the Discovery Channel documentary Extreme Engineering: Transatlantic Tunnel. The basic idea of this show was an exploration of the feasibility of constructing a 3100 mile long tunnel between New York and Scotland as part of some grand “connect the world” plan.

The tunnel would float about 150 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. Sounds difficult you say, but wait! The best part is that the magnetically levitated train would travel at a speed of 5000 miles per hour! To achieve this sort of speed without burning up requires that a perfect vacuum be maintained in the tunnel and some sort of massive airlock system where the trains enter and exit.

To say that such a project would not be cheap would be a gross understatement. The total construction costs were estimated to run about 12 trillion dollars (that’s $12,000,000,000,000)!!! Even better, it would take over a century to be completed. I can assure you that, given those numbers, this project would NEVER pay for itself.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that this project is technically possible and, if adequately funded, could be carried to completion. My point is that actually attempting it would be absurd for so many different reasons:

  • Given the amount of infrastructure that would need to be maintained, subsurface transatlantic travel would never be financially competitive with the airlines - even without the subsidies.
  • The length of time for completion guarantees no investors would touch the project. It would have to be government funded.
  • Maintaining political support for a publicly funded project that doesn’t show any results for a century would be problematic.
  • Any sort of accident (or deliberate sabotage) would not only reduce the train and its passengers to sawdust; it would also destroy a good portion of the $12,000,000,000 tunnel.
  • Technological advances over the century-long construction time would probably render the project obsolete before it was even operational. For all we know, instantaneous teleportation could be possible a century from now. It is a foregone conclusion that by then we will have practical hypersonic jets and space planes able to reach ANY part of the world in 90 minutes.

The idea is completely impractical, but by biggest complaint about it is it’s lack of vision. A 12 trillion dollar budget and what did these guys come up with? A ******* tunnel!!! Talk about failure of imagination.

I think I’m going to come up with some better ideas for that money. I’ll write them up and publish them here occasionally. This should be fun…

 

04.21.06

Bryan Larsen and BB&T

Posted in Art & Drama, Money & Finance at 1:30 am by Administrator

Bryan Larsen painting for BB&T

Bryan Larsen, one of my favorite Romantic Realist artists, is aparently also admired by the folks at BB&T. Their 2005 Annual Review features his art including the painting above, which he did just for them.

BB&T, along with its objectivist CEO John A. Allison, gained attention earlier this year when they announced they “will not lend to commercial developers that build condominiums, shopping malls, and other private structures on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.” 

Clearly a company you can feel good about owning. I’ll have to buy a few shares…just to get their stockholder packets.

04.20.06

“God sent the IEDs”

Posted in Politics at 8:11 pm by Administrator

Protestors at a soldiers funeral

This phenomenon of protestors gathering at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq is somewhat interesting. They call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church and from what I gather, their logic goes something like this: The soldiers are fighting for America. America has lots of homosexuals. Therefore, the soldiers deserve to die and it is cause for celebration when they do.

I realize that in any large group there are going to be a few crazies, but these people make PETA activists seem sane. It’s amusing to note that this group has managed to align itself with the extreme left, the extreme right, and the muslim terrorists all at once. (I wonder which side is paying to fly them all over the country.)

Out of regard for the soldiers’ families, several legislators have drafted bills in an attempt to keep the protestors away from the funerals. If the legislature would like to do something about this, I propose a different solution: the reinstitution of Code duello

It would work something like this: At the next funeral when one of these misfits shouts an insult, the procession would halt while a family member of the deceased issues the shouter a formal challenge. The individual would then have the opportunity to accept the challenge or be forced to leave in shame. This type of person rarely has any individual courage (Why do you think they huddle in groups?), so this strategy would be effective at keeping most of them away.

In the unlikely event that the challenge is accepted, the duel would commence immediately. Paramedics would be summoned and the honor guards would retrieve a purposely kept set of antique dueling pistols from their car. The traditional procedure would be followed and shots would be exchanged. Once blood is drawn, the wound would be treated and the matter would be considered to have been resolved with honor.

The beauty of this system is that these people are unlikely by nature to be good shots. Being a good shot requires a certain mental discipline and coolness that “God sent the IEDs” types obviously lack.

dueling pistols

Just a suggestion.

04.19.06

Linda Mann

Posted in Art & Drama at 11:01 pm by Administrator

Vase and Stones by Linda Mann   

The first time I saw this painting (yes, it is a painting), I was dumbfounded. Obvious technical skill aside, it’s amazing how well a view of life can be conveyed through the depiction of a few objects on a table.  

“The theme of my still life paintings is that the world is real, orderly and fascinating and that man is capable of understanding and enjoying it. I express this theme by choosing beautiful objects to paint, by creating compositions that are purposeful and intriguing, by carefully rendering the objects and by capturing the subtle and exact quality of light.”

I’ve e-mailed Linda about purchasing a print of this painting but so far I have not received a reply.

You can view Linda Mann’s paintings on her site: http://www.lindamann.com/

Medical Science

Posted in Humor, Science & Engineering at 3:30 pm by Administrator

At about 11:30  last night, I got a headache. This was not an ordinary everyday headache mind you; but a truly head-splitting, feels like a brain tumor, dot-com investor headache.  I eventually cured this headache with my usual headache remedy (3 Tylenols, 3 Advils, 3 Aspirins). I couldn’t help observing, however, that had I gone to the best hospital in the country (Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins or something…NOT RCH), they probably would not have been able to tell me why I got a headache. In fact, they could not have determined with any kind of certainty whether or not my headache had been caused by:

  • the melatonin tablet I had taken so I would wake up early
  • the fact that, besides my usual coffee and Altoids regiment, I had eaten practically nothing that day but popcorn and leftover Easter candy
  • latent stress over the pile of homework I have due by the end of the semester
  • the five consecutive episodes of Desperate Housewives I had just watched on a 2.5 inch screen

Sure, they could have looked at the statistics stating that melatonin causes headaches in 10% of the population, stress causes headaches in 75% of the population, and Desperate Housewives causes headaches in 99% of the male population, but they would never have known for sure. They could only have made a somewhat educated guess.

If I had submitted to a series of expensive, invasive, degrading tests, they may have been able to rule out anything seriously wrong with me (such as Schwannomatosis, Neurofibromatosis, or being a sports fan); but they could never have determined, with absolute certainty, what had caused something as simple as a headache. In the end, I would probably have been told to go home and take an aspirin.

Contrast this with the typical experience with a car mechanic. You bring your car in, the mechanic plugs some neat little diagnostic tool into your engine, and in three minutes he tells you EXACTLY what the problem is, and how many thousand it will cost to fix. 

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with paying money to fix either my body or my car (or my car’s body), but I would prefer to pay for accurate diagnoses and fixes, not guesses based on my subjective description of the symptoms. Therefore, I submit that until medical treatment is as exact and precise as car repair, we should treat doctors less like gods, and more like unreliable body mechanics, useful mainly to fix clearly defined problems (like multiple stab wounds).

 

04.17.06

Hello world!

Posted in General at 1:41 pm by Administrator

…and so begins my first blog entry. I’m not quite sure what this blog will really be about so I’ll say it’s about whatever interests me (where have you heard that before?). It’ll probably have reviews of books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen, as well as commentary about whatever topic happens to interest me at the moment. There will probably be observations about daily life here at NIU and life in general (especially funny or ironic observations). Basicly, anything is fair game here(for me).