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Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
2:37 am - Amazing Musical Jumping Video

Bobby Van in Small Town Girl (1953) does a musical number where he jumps energetically and non-stop for over 3 minutes. I originally saw this clip in the movie That's Entertainment II (1976) in the theater when I was 8 years old (Yes I'm that old).

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Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
8:00 am - Ancient Roman Coins as gifts

I bought this item for a friend's son who has had some trouble recently.

The nice thing about Ancient Roman Coins is that they're items that sounds like they should be expensive, but they often aren't. The reason is that there were no banks in Ancient Rome. So a Roman soldier before he went into battle in a foreign land, would bury his money and retrieve it later. Often the soldier wouldn't retrieve it because he forgot, was ordered away from the area, or died in battle. Since the Roman empire lasted many centuries, there are lots of Ancient Roman Coins available just by digging them up.

The ones that are just lumps of metal with no detail at all cost about $2 each. I got this one which has a tiny bit of detail on it, so it cost a bit more.

The nice thing about such coins is that they appear valuable and are a piece of history. So even though I don't lie to the receiver of such gifts, they have the feel of something priceless. It is a pretty cheap gift, that gives people the impression you spent a lot and went to a lot of trouble getting it. The receiver thinks it's valuable, even though I admit it's not. It's win-win.

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2:24 am - Thank God Paris Hilton is back in the news
Paris Hilton rumored to be dating George Clooney

You might think I've lost my mind with a title like that for my blog. Why should anyone care?

I actually find news about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears and others like them to be inspiring. There has been so much bad news lately that there has been little room for junk news like this. When we have the luxury of focusing on mindless unimportant drivel, it means that things can't be that bad.

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Monday, January 5th, 2009
6:05 am - Really!!
A 9 month old video I found, but it's still funny.

If you have trouble loading the embedded video, click here

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Monday, December 29th, 2008
12:47 am - Quote of the day
Be Careful What you Wish For

“We hope to do to this industry what Wal-Mart did to theirs, Starbucks did to theirs, Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. And I think if we’ve done our job, five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.”

— Kerry K. Killinger, chief executive of Washington Mutual, 2003

Click here for the article

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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
4:35 am - Your Irrelevancy - A look at the US Vice-Presidency as it should be
Must Bush and his cronies must face a reckoning?

The biggest problem is that Bush and his team improperly increased executive power and it was never seriously challenged. We're already seeing the effect of this, because it's already been announced that Joe Biden will have a major role in Obama's administration. Obama and future presidents can use the George W. Bush example to claim Bush's unconstitutional executive powers because it was never challenged.

John Adams (The 1st US Vice-President) said to his wife "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." He joked that he should be addressed "Your Irrelevancy".

The Vice-President only has 2 official powers. He is the president of the Senate and he can take the place of the president if the president is incapacitated or dead. His Senate powers only give him the right to vote if there is a tie in the Senate. He can also preside over Senate hearings, but usually he is ignored unless he can cast a deciding vote. The deciding vote power rarely gets executed because tie votes in the Senate are rare. He wields no executive power officially and traditionally doesn't even attend presidential cabinet meetings.

Otherwise, the Vice-President only has as much power as the president decides to give him. In my lifetime: Hubert Humprey, Spiro Agnew, Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, George H. W. Bush, and Dan Quayle had almost no power while Vice-President.

This trend changed with Al Gore who was once the most powerful Vice-President in my lifetime (before Dick Cheney). Bill Clinton saw a capable man who wanted to work for his salary and it made sense to use his talents. The Clinton presidency was seen as Clinton being the coach and Al Gore being the quarterback. There was never any doubts that Bill Clinton was in charge.

When Dick Cheney became Vice-President, his boss gave him so much power that he was almost a co-president. Cheney was even considered the unofficial president of foreign affairs. George W. Bush gave little to no oversight over his vice-president.

Now Vice-Presidents are no longer seen as someone to fill in for the president if he can't make a social visit. It's unofficially a powerful post. This is good if the power isn't abused and the VP is clearly subordinate to the president. The problem is if a person wields unofficial undefined power answerable to no one, then it's close to impossible to challenge him. Even arguing about it is difficult because the power is undefined.

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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
7:46 am - Silly thought of the day

People said Hillary Clinton was unbelievably understanding of her husband Bill when he went through various sex scandals.

Now it's Bill's turn to reciprocate.
Hillary Clinton Writes Off $13.2 Million Loan to Campaign

If most husbands had a wife who went on a mad spending spree across the entire country, blew $13.2 million, and had nothing to show for it, they'd divorce her fast ;).

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1:00 am - Finally W creates jobs
Click here to find out how

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12:56 am - When you know your twitter addiction is bad
If you're in a plane crash and your first instinct is to twitter about it rather than survival.

Click here for article

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Saturday, December 20th, 2008
6:16 am - Charting the psychology of evil, decades after 'shock' experiment
Click here for the article

Basically it indicates that there is no evil gene. Anyone can be evil or a hero if given the right circumstances. It shows how a bad power structure can make people act evil. Hopefully there exists the possibility of a good power structure which encourages people to be good too.

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Friday, December 19th, 2008
12:37 am - Barbie- Good or Evil?
Dumb blonde - or diehard feminist?
Click here for the article

Are you for or against Barbie?


It's interesting that both the pro and con sides of the article list beating up Barbie dolls to make their points.

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Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
4:04 am - The latest from the "What were they thinking?" files
Burger King Launches a Perfume
Click here for the article

The company describes Flame as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat".

The marketing website for this product is firemeetsdesire.com

It's a really disturbing website. There's a scene involving the Burger King with his clothes off (naughty bits covered thankfully), wearing a medallion with a come hither stare on a bear skin rug in from of a fireplace. (shudder)

I keep thinking this must be a joke, but it seems to be real.

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Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
2:12 am - Caroline Kennedy wants to replace Hillary Clinton in the US Senate.

Click here for the news article

Does anyone else get the feeling she woke up one day recently and said "Gee it might be fun to be a Senator." ? Her experience doesn't translate well to the US senate.

The Arnold Schwartzenegger example probably applies here. He had no experience governing. He was just smart, motivated, famous, and popular. It took him two years to figure out how to do the job before he got good at it.

If Caroline does become a Senator, it'll take her time to learn the job before she has a chance to get good. Probably at least 2 years, in which time she'll have to run in a special election to keep her seat. Even Arnold had 3 years to learn his job.

All the news speculation is almost pointless, since it's completely up to NY Governor David Patterson to pick Hillary's replacement. He can do whatever he wants. While we can try to influence him, his is the only opinion that truly counts in this pick.

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12:42 am - When you hit bottom, sometimes we discover a whole new bottom
The Bernard Madoff $50 Billion Ponzi Scheme has been exposed.
Click Here for the news article

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC's website now consists of a 2 paragraph home page and a pdf of the receivership order by a Federal District Court Judge (The highest level US federal court short of the US Supreme Court)

For those of you who don't know:
A Ponzi scheme pretends to be an investment. The money investors make actually comes from new investors and not from actual investments. The scheme can only last as long as new money is invested in it to pay off existing investors. Since there is only a finite amount of investment dollars in the world, the scheme has to fail eventually. The founder can only win by fleeing with a bunch of money before that happens. When the scheme fails, all the investors get little to nothing of their money back. It's blatantly illegal. Usually the schemer gets caught and all his victims never see most or any of the money they invested in it again.

The estimated $50 Billion invested is now estimated to be worth less than $300 million. The $300 million figure is probably overinflated. So even with federal bailout help, investors will probably see less than a penny for every dollar they invested.

This is the largest known Ponzi scheme ever. Bernard Madoff was smart and sophisticated enough to know he couldn't keep the scam going forever. Evidently this scheme went on for decades, so it had to include legitimate investing used as a cover for what was really going on. Perhaps it started because Madroff's investment philosophy was a failure and this was the only way he could think of to cover his losses. Like a bad gambler, he might have thought of using this scheme to cover losses until he could get legitimate investments make up for all his failures. Perhaps he hoped to be dead by the time it was all uncovered (He is 70 years old now and this line of work does not help longevity).

Regardless of the reason, it's clear Bernard Madoff was only thinking of himself. He wasn't even thinking of his employees and his family (many of whom worked for him and would have inherited the mess). He did give out huge bonuses to employees before everything crumbled, but that's like trying to put out a forest fire by pissing on it.

This scheme would have kept going possibly for years more, but the current financial crisis made people take out more money than anticipated and sooner. So this is an example of how one shaky house of cards collapsed another sooner than expected.

The question to worry about is, how many more schemes are out there waiting to collapse soon because they're being weakened by the current finanical crisis.

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Monday, December 15th, 2008
4:03 pm - Silly thought of the day
If the world is going to hell, why don't I ever get a handbasket for the trip? I think
that would cheer me up.

This might explain it. The devil is making deductions and keeping them too. That's not
just having your cake and eating it too. That's eating your cake and still having it.

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Saturday, December 13th, 2008
12:52 pm - Van Johnson Dead at 92

Click here for the news story

Many of you don't really know who this is. He's even before my time, but I have seen him in movies rerun on TV.

Here are some juicy tidbits you may find hard to impossible to find on the internet.

He was best friends with Keenan Wynn.

Keenan Wynn wasn't the leading man type, but he's been in one episode of almost any old TV series you can think of as well as plenty of movies. You might remember him in Dr. Strangelove and he starred in an old Twilight Zone episode called A World of his Own where he was a writer who could create real people and things if he could describe them well enough.

Keenan Wynn divorced his wife Evie and Van Johnson married her the very next day. It was a bit scandalous. I don't know if Van Johnson and Keenan Wynn were able to stay friends after that.

Eve (Evie) Lynn Abbott with Van Johnson and Humphrey Bogart

Keenan Wynn's father is Ed Wynn, a famous actor in his own right. He starred in two old Twilight Zone episodes, One for the Angels and Ninety Years Without Slumbering. He had his own show on TV, The Ed Wynn Show back in 1950 and turned down the role to play The Wizard in The Wizard of Oz (1939) because he thought the roll was too small at the time.

Van Johnson was the original pick to play Elliot Ness in The Untouchables (1959). He wanted the role, but his wife Evie (the girl he took from his best friend), convinced him he could get more money since they were just one week away from production and the producers (Desi Arnaz and Lucielle Ball) couldn't possibly find anyone to replace him on such short notice. However Desi and Lucy found Robert Stack at the last minute, who wasn't that well known but he was very agreeable and easy to work with and trusted Desi and Lucy to treat him right without negotiation. The Untouchables went on to be a big success that lasted 4 seasons and made Robert Stack very famous and successful.

Van Johnson got his fame during WWII because he couldn't be drafted and Hollywood had few good actors that could star in films during the war. He was in a car wreck that left him with a metal plate in his head and kept him out of the military. Many fans didn't give him the respect he deserved because they felt he was only famous because all the good actors were being drafted or in danger of being drafted.

But when you compare him to such stars as Ben Affleck, Paul Walker and Keanu Reeves, he looks really good. If this was the worst leading man in Hollywood, then we certainly lowered the bar considerably since then.

He never won an award, but he seemed always pleasant and did his job well.

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Thursday, November 20th, 2008
7:08 am - What to do about the US auto industry?
We can't have the US auto industry fail because it would mean a ripple effect that could cost the US over a million jobs here.

We can't just throw money at them either because we tried that earlier in the year. They just burned through the money we gave them and are now asking for more. Giving them money would mean we're delaying the inevitable.

The problem is that the management of the big US automakers claim to have made no mistakes. They blame the economy for their woes. They will continue to pursue failed policies as if they worked.

The US automakers have the attitude that whatever they build, the US consumer will have to buy, regardless if it is what the consumer wants. "What is good for GM is good for the country" is the well known quote that dominates their philosophy. The problem for automakers is that now car buyers can buy cars from elsewhere that will give them what they want. The car industry can no longer afford to ignore the wants and needs of the consumer to the degree that they have.

The solution is to impose strict government oversight to ensure consumers get what they want. We can give them money on the condition that they build cars that address consumer wants.

Of course that will probably never happen and if it did it wouldn't work. The reason is that people have to be picked to decide what consumers want and wants are very subjective. The people that will be picked will either be of the auto industry or people heavily influenced by them because of money and their auto experience. And those people won't change things enough to solve the problem. There will also be bogus claims that to enforce government control stinks of communism.

So the automakers will probably get their money. They will probably burn through it again and then ask for more. This will keep happening until the companies collapse or auto maker management caters to consumer demand.

current mood: pessimistic

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
9:55 am - Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock
I'm a big fan of the TV series The Big Bang Theory. It's about 4 uber-nerds and their normal pretty blonde waitress friend. It's a simple concept, but the comedy writing is first-rate and its extremely geeky.

They had make a choice and instead of playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to choose, they choose with a variant of the game I never heard of before. It's called Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

This game was invented because it seems like when you know someone well enough, 75-80% of any Rock-Paper-Scissors games you play with that person end up in a tie. Well, here is a slight variation that reduces that probability. (Note that for those of you who like to swing your fist back and forth and say, "Rock, Paper, Scissors, GO!", might want to continue to do that, replacing "Rock" with "One," "Paper" with "Two," and "Scissors" with "Three.") This version is also nice because it satisfies the Law of Fives.

Of course forming a Spock hand sign right after forming a fist and shaking it while yelling "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" is extremely hard. Many people can't form the Vulcan salute under normal conditions. Still its a wonderfully geeky game.

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Friday, November 14th, 2008
6:43 am
I'm watching Pushing Daisies-Season 1 DVD set.

For those of you who know nothing about it, here's a quick summary:
It's about a piemaker named Ned with a special talent. He can bring back to life anything dead by touching it. If he touches it again, it becomes dead forever and beyond his power to reanimate. If he brings something back from the dead for more than 1 minute, something else nearby has to die to compensate.

He uses his gift to freshen rotten fruit in his pies. He also makes extra money reanimating the dead to solve their murders with the help of a private investigator.

He uses his gift to bring back to life his murdered childhood sweetheart who he hasn't seen in almost 20 years. He delayed too long to touch her again, and someone else died accidentally. They fall in love again, but they can never touch each other or she would be dead forever. So they have to find ways to express their feelings without touching.

I found the series very sweet and quirky. It is sad Ned can never touch his girlfriend and is so cautious to touch anyone because of his gift. He revived his dead dog also, so he can never pet him.
The entire series is laid out somewhat like a child's story book. The colors used in scenery and clothing are bright and almost comic-book-like. Even though death is a major theme, it's seen as merely an obstacle.

Of course the gift Ned has can't be fully explored in a TV series. Would anything made of wood become alive again if he touched it? You never see the issue of him touching leather or cotton. Eating meat could be problematic. If they addressed these issues and a reanimation was seen, then the effect would probably get redundant. He did mention he touched a bearskin rug once with disturbing consequences.

While Ned's girlfriend doesn't dress indecently, she has too much skin exposed around him sometimes. You'd think she was tempting fate because it would be too easy for him to accidentally bump into her. Somehow he also managed not to even accidently touch his dog in almost 20 years. Of course if he touched his girlfriend they'd instantly lose a major character, so you know it can almost surely never happen.

So if you can take your vicarious gratification in the delayed variety, then you should enjoy this show.

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Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
2:46 am - A very Pessimistic View that just happens to be Reality
Gentle reader, please don't read this blog if you're depressed about the economy. I will tell you a few disturbing facts. Some you may know already and some you may have thought you knew. You might prefer a nice story with puppy dogs or cute kitties or fuzzy bunnies. You might prefer the possibly wiser course of stopping here. There is no shame in that.

However if you are prepared and are ready to have reality bitch-slap you, then read on.Collapse )

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