July 2007 Archives

Alvin and the Chimpunks Trailer

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Behold. Poop-eating. Right there in the first trailer.

Also, Jason Lee's "ALLLLVIIIIINNNN!" is about as terrible as Nicole Kidman's nose twitch in the Bewitched remake (for which I only saw the trailer).

DO NOT CLICK ON THIS LINK UNLESS YOU WANT TO SEE HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS SPOILERS. The image on the other side of the link is an original work by me, inspired by this (which contains spoilers about the Sorcerer's Stone, but I think the Statute of Limitations has run on those). I'm not sure where the latter originated, but I found it on the Internet.

This counts as a comic strip, by the way. I'm back in business, baby!

I got a big giggle out of this story, mainly because I picture the heroic fifth-year as Sean.



Here's a video of Ruby, performing a trick that I'm teaching her. We're still working out the kinks.

Unmitigated Jerkery

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It was bad enough when they made donut ice cream on The Apprentice, and I knew I couldn't have any because it was made on the fly by a bunch of game show contestants to win a particular competition. But when a major ice cream manufacturer decides to make an ice cream consisting of "a combination of chocolate and cream stout with chunks of glazed chocolate donuts" -- that's right, beer and donut ice cream -- but then decides to make it available for one day only in one town only, no amount of targeted italicizing can express my rage. Story here.

I hate The Simpsons Movie and now I hate Ben & Jerry's.

Hat tip: JMV

The Quantum Mechanical Vice President

It's like I always say, American politics need(s) more physics.

Another Optical Illusion


I've heard from quite a few people that Twirl Girl has created significant physical and mental discomfort. But just in case you've finally mastered that particular mindbanger, here's another:

If you can't figure out what's going on, check the file name.

EDIT: Lest I incur the wrath of math geeks, I retract my hint. It's not a fractal.

Hooray for the English

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Looks like English courts are finally starting to get rid of those ridiculous wigs that judges and barristers wear, at least in family and civil cases. In criminal cases, where apparently a certain degree of right-proper silliness is still desirable, the wigs will stay on. I wonder if the Order of the Coif will change its name to the Order of the Regular Human Hair.

I'd have less of a problem with judicial wigs if judges and lawyers had a little more leeway with the wigs they could wear. It would be fun to change it up from day to day. You know, a pageboy wig one day followed by a big Dolly Parton number the next day. None of this eighteenth century Dangerous Liaisons crap for Lord Matt, no sir.

Hat tip: Concurring Opinions, where Nate Oman provides an opinion on the subject with which I could not possibly disagree more.

Her Bivore


Last night, before catching the latest Harry Potter movie, Dr. M and I had dinner at Herbivore, a vegan restaurant that recently opened in Berkeley. I've eaten there twice now and Dr. M has eaten there three times. She likes it more than I do, though my reduced enthusiasm has less to do with the quality of the food (which is actually quite tasty despite the lack of animal suffering) than with the fact that a substantial percentage of the menu is off limits to those of us whose immune systems interpret peanut proteins as toxins.

The service has been fabulous both times I've gone, both efficient and friendly. Both servers I've encountered also did all they could to determine whether my preferred entree involved peanuts. Last night, our server was an attractive, tattooed, riot grrl type who was probably more than a few years younger than I am. When she brought the check back for my signature we had the following conversation (Dr. M was in the restroom during all this):

Her: Can I see your ID, s-[unintelligible]? [Note: My credit card has "See ID" written on the signature block.]
Me: [Taking out ID.] Did you just call me "sir," or "sweetheart"?
Her: Sweetheart.
Me: Good.

Something tells me that if I had called her "sweetheart" the encounter wouldn't have gone as well. But I might try that the next time we go, especially if the server is a dude.

By the way, here's my one-line review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

Emma Watson can't fucking act.

Twirl Girl


This is really cool. Stare at it for a while and you should be able figure out why (no, it's not because her nipples are inexplicably fully rendered).

Explanation and a neat trick after the jump.

Two Big Fancy Economists, one from Stanford and the other from Princeton, have made the following groundbreaking discovery about alumni giving: Some alumni give to their schools in the hope of raising the chance of admission for their children!!!

In other news, donuts taste good, a not-insubstantial number of heterosexual men like breasts, and the moon revolves around the Earth.

I'm in the wrong business.

All Star FanFest Photo Blogging

Dr. M and I just got back from the All Star FanFest over at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It was pretty fun, and there were things there that could be enjoyed without waiting in line for over an hour (unlike the Giants FanFest we went to a few months ago).

One thing we did stand in line for was the San Francisco Chronicle photo booth. We saw lots of little children entertainingly try to hold up the bat while having their picture taken before posing for our own shot. The system was set up so that everyone got the same headline ("Jason Turbow named All-Star MVP"), which I thought was lame, and therefore altered slightly.

That thing I mentioned yesterday about this being an apartment full of nerds? Exhibit B, fellas.

(Also, we don't own those jerseys -- they were provided by the SF Chronicle folks. Dr. M is wearing a Giants visor, which does belong to her, and I'm wearing a winery/golf course hat after declining to put on one of the hats they had available, hoping to avoid the risk of lice.)



It's been a while since I've cluttered up this here blog with pictures of my cats, so here we go.

Just remember, when you're out working during the week, this is what they do every day.

Pepe is an extremely cowardly cat in almost every way. He's scared of anything that's comparable in size to him or larger and moves. And yet every now and then he taunts death by balancing precariously on the tiny posts sticking out of the balcony. Stupid cat.

Pepe likes to hang out in the linen closet, particularly on the shelf where we keep the placemats. We don't like it when he does this, because we don't like having cat hair on our placemats, but, well, he's just so darn cute. This has created a bizarre inside joke between Dr. M and myself. When one of us notices that Pepe is doing this, we say "Pepe is being a policeman," because I once saw him doing that and said "Pepe is being a placemat," and Dr. M thought I said "policeman" and was confused.

We're a house full of nerds, and that's okay.


All right, look, it's Godzilla, all right? It's just a goddamn giant monster destroying New York City. It doesn't become cooler because it's on a hand-held camera, or because it doesn't have an official title, or because Paramount is trying to keep the trailer off the Internet. JJ Abrams is just having teaser/hype withdrawals during the enormous Lost hiatus and he's trying to get his fix. Don't encourage him.

JJ Abrams. All stick and no carrot.

Following a game of Taboo in which the clue "Megadeth's Blank of Destruction" proved unsuccessful at eliciting the word "symphony" from my teammates, I asked around a bit and found that no one seems to know about this song but me. This is upsetting. Dave Mustane is one of heavy metal's great (perhaps only) redheads, and that he and his work should be so resoundingly forgotten is discouraging. Also, maybe Megadeth wasn't the best metal band of the 80s, but at least they had the dignity to fade away before they got all old and crappy like Metallica.

In any case, educate yourself:

No Good Can Come of This

Alvin and the Chipmunks Movie

In a case I really wish I could work on, a judge in Southern California has refused to issue a preliminary injunction barring Jack in the Box from running ads implying that its competitors' "Angus Burgers" are actually "Anus Burgers." The story is here. The above quote is an actual statement by one of the plaintiffs' attorneys during the preliminary injunction hearing, as reproduced in a print article that doesn't seem to have an online version. Needless to say, I would suffer no discomfort whatsoever in using the term "anus" repeatedly in open court. My only difficulty would be in suppressing the inevitable giggles.

Here are the ads in question:



The anus joke is much more blatant in the "Chuckles" spot, though the connotation is also loud and clear in the "Diagram" spot (right down to the guy drawing a little circle in the air when he says "angus"). I wonder if the folks behind the "Chuckles" ad contemplated a shot where the tip of Jack's hat obscures the "G" in "ANGUS." It seems like that would have been easy to do but may have oversold the joke or run afoul of the censors. Still, they're pretty good ads. And as a general matter I think it's great that anus jokes are making their way into fast food advertising.

Apparently it's preventing monkey idiots from obtaining law licenses. Yes, a Massachusetts would-be lawyer is suing the Board of Bar Examiners -- to the tune of just under ten million dollars -- for trying to force him to accept gay marriage.

Here's the money shot:

Dunne claims his score of 268.866 on the November 2006 bar exam just missed the passing score of 270 points because he didn't follow the proscribed format for an unlawful question about gay marriage. Dunne said the question required applicants to "affirmatively accept, support and promote homosexual marriage and homosexual parenting." Dunne claims the defendants violated his First Amendment right to exercise his religion and violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. He also claims their actions impose illegal state regulations on interstate commerce.

Actuially, there's clearly a but-for causation problem with this guy's complaint. Something tells me he didn't do too well on the Con Law questions, either.

The Nintendo Generation


I've been meaning to blog about this topic for some time, and this Slate article has finally inspired me to put fingers to keys on the subject. The article deals with the ascendancy of educational video games, and makes the point that such games are boring, with the boringness undermining their educational value.

I haven't been able to play video games since the gaming industry added a third dimension to the on-screen action and tripled the number of buttons on the controllers, so I'm not a credible authority on whether a given game is boring or not. I do know, however, that there are certain things that should not be made into video games. Among these are global warming, congressional redistricting, and Nacho Cheesier(TM) tortilla chips. And as such, I'm tired of hearing "What will they think of next?" stories on NPR about the latest horrendously boring video game designed to make the global commodities market fun for the gaming public and teach them something along the way.

I suppose that now that the generation of children whose lives were dominated by video games growing up are out doing important things in the world, the impulse to add gaming to non-gaming-related things is understandable. It's an embodiment of the "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" phenomenon. If you want to take something boring and make it fun, how can you go wrong with video games? An additional factor is the increasing prestige of game designing as a career -- more and more institions of higher learning are now offering courses, even degree programs, in game design. And if you can get an master's degree in video games from USC, why not use your education to end world hunger one pixel at a time?

Video games have certainly come a long way in the past several decades. From a legal standpoint (my particular hammer), for example, courts have recently acknowledged that video games are expressive, and subject to certain First Amendment protections. As the Slate article points out, video games are apparently starting to surpass movies in terms of revenue and popularity. This would have been hard to imagine back in the Atari 2600 days. It's understandable, then, to imagine that this evolving artform could be useful as an educational tool. And it certainly can. But a problem arises when people assume that shoehorning something into the video game format is sufficient, in and of itself, to edutain the target audience, without pausing to consider whether the subject matter is appropriate for video games or whether the particular game is engaging enough to be useful. Hopefully this is one area of the gaming world where the evolution is still underway.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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