Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sups, X-Men, Bond movie footage finds way online

Over the course of the weekend, arguably my three most anticipated movies saw footage find its way online to various extents.

To start things off, Hugh Jackman appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Friday night, bringing along with him a short clip from the movie that confirmed something that had long been rumored to appear in the movie: Spoiler Alert Sentinels Spoiler Alert. How freaking cool is that? Here's hoping they do it well. Check out the clip here at YouTube or here for a better quality AVI. X-Men: The Last Stand is due out May 26th.

Secondly, an Australian Coca-Cola commercial featuring some short shots from the upcoming Superman Returns. There isn't much to see, as it is only about 9 seconds long, but what is there definitely looks cool. Its just a few shots of Superman flying around. Find the clip here in AVI format. Superman Returns is due out June 30th.

And finally, we have Bond. James freakin' Bond. It looks like the first trailer for Casino Royale (set to debut in the next few weeks along with The DaVinci Code) found its way onto French Television this weekend. The bad news is that it is dubbed in french, so unless you speak the language, you're going to have no idea what is being said. The good news is that it doesn't matter and that it looks positively amazing. This movie looks like it combines the best of From Russia with Love with the best of GoldenEye. This Daniel Craig guy is really starting to take on the part for me, no matter how blonde he is. Are you ready for this? I know I am (although I had my reseverations before). Find the clip here to download in WMV format. Casino Royale is due out in November.

I heart movies.

A note for the Megaupload site: Let the counter in the upper right count down to Zero, then X out the MegaLinks box to reveal the download link. Enjoy.

Guitar Dreams :: Free Guitar Lessons

Recently, I got my old Jackson electric guitar restrung. I figured I needed a hobby, and I had always loved playing guitar, so the stars aligned and here I find myself.

I had done fairly well teaching myself how to play when I was a teenager. However, I hit a ceiling that greatly frustrated me to the point where I gave up. Here, 6 years later I've turned to the world wide internet for assistance.

Enter Guitar Dreams. I stumbled across this website in my surfing one day, and I can't even being to say enough about it. There are very detailed lessons on scales, scale theory, picking methods, chord progressions, chord construction, tapping. And it is absolutely, entirely free.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Can peeing on your hands make them tough? By Dan Kois

This is actually old news, but it is so "WTF?" I had to post it.

Can peeing on your hands make them tough?
In a recent interview with ESPN's Gary Miller, Chicago Cubs outfielder Moises Alou revealed that during baseball season he urinates on his hands to toughen them up. Alou, one of the few major leaguers who doesn't wear gloves while batting, is backed up by Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who says, 'You don't want to shake my hand during spring training.' Even Cubs hurler Kerry Wood mentioned on a local radio show that he's tried the technique to remedy blisters on his pitching hand"

Incredible Jon Favreau to direct Iron Man!

Marvel Studios has hired Jon Favreau to develop and direct the big-screen adaptation of Iron Man and has attracted an impressive roster of writers to help bring some of its high-profile characters to the big screen.

Personally, I think this is pretty good news. I love Favreau. I have definitely enjoyed everything in which I've seen him. This is the rich guy who dated Monica on Friends and wanted to be Ultimate Fighting Champion. This is the guy who embodied Matthew Murdock's better half, Foggy Nelson, in one of the bright spots of 2003's Daredevil. He's also written and directed quite a few films, not the least of which was last year's Jumangi quasi-sequel, Zathura.

I think Favreau is talented enough to provide the character piece which Iron Man really needs to be. I've only been following Shell Head for about 2 years--so I really can't claim to be an expert--but based on what I know of the character, Tony Stark is one of the richest (quite literally actually) characters in the Marvel Universe. If done well, Iron Man could be a great new franchise for Marvel - no doubt what they are hoping for.

read more | digg story

Digital audio is awesome!

This was too funny not to post. Check out one of the earliest advertisements for the Compact Disc--we know them as CDs :-)

I believe the ad is from a 1983 Sears Catalog.

Report: English Language is Huge. A Milestone Hit

A massive language research database responsible for bringing words such as "podcast" and "celebutante" to the pages of the Oxford dictionaries has officially hit a total of one billion words, researchers said Wednesday

read more | digg story

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Weeeeeeee! Introducing the Nintendo Wii

Today is just another step in the strange world of Nintendo.

Nintendo's next-generation entry, code-named Revolution, now has a name: The Nintendo Wii. Straight from Nintendo's Wii website:

Introducing... Wii.
As in "we."
While the code-name Revolution expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer.
Wii will break down that wall that seperates videogame players from everybody else.
Wii will put people more in touch with their games... and each other. But you're probably asking: What does the name mean?

Wii sounds like "we," which emphasizes the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.

Wii has a distinctive "ii" spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people playing it. And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of videogames that sets it apart from the crowd.

So that's Wii. But now Nintendo needs you. Because it's really not about you or me. It's about Wii. And together, Wii will change everything.

I personally can't stand it. Right now. It may grow on me. May not. Either way, Wii is coming. Let the fun begin.

read more | digg story

Consumer Electronics Association Ad Campaign Slams RIAA

Click the image for the entire ad.

Hot on the heels of Congressional stupidity and Canadian Activism the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), an organization which is comprised of over 2000 companies within the U.S. consumer technology industry, has come out very firmly against the RIAA in a recent advertisement. Perhaps this is a response to the RIAA's Congress's newly proposed legislation.

I would conjecture that many people forget that consumers are not the only ones oppressed by the horrible technological policy of the Content Cartels. The companies that produce the devices we use to enjoy the content have to stand by and watch as their products become less and less useful, and more and more confined by superfluous and pointless laws.

And the conflict of interest here boggles the mind. Sony--one of the worst offenders of, well, everything--has 3 divisions here: Movies, Music and Electronics. So while the movie and music studios are out fighting for their "right" to kill fair use, the electronics division is protesting these practices. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that water cooler.

Good for you CEA. The more people we have standing up to these anti-Constitution, anti-Freedom, anti-Enjoyment bohemoths, the better.

[Via Boing Boing and EFF]

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Canada Does It Again

I would like to see something like this on a global scale. Obviously, Canada gets it.
Until now, a group of multinational record labels has done most of the talking about what Canadian artists need out of copyright. But let's be clear: major labels are looking out for their shareholders, not for Canadian artists. Recording industry lobbyists, despite claiming to represent artists, seldom speak for us. Legislative proposals, particularly those that would facilitate lawsuits against our fans or increase the labels’ control over the enjoyment of music, are made not in our names, but on behalf of the shareholders of the labels' foreign parent companies.

They go on to identify what is wrong with the world today:
We, as Canadian music creators, have identified three simple principles that should guide copyright reform and cultural policy: (1) Suing our fans is destructive and hypocritical, (2) Digital locks are risky and counterproductive, and (3) Cultural policy should support actual Canadian artists.

The wind-up. And here comes the pitch. HOME RUN!
Fans who share music are not thieves or pirates. Sharing music has been happening for decades. It is hypocritical for labels to sue fans for something that everyone in the music industry has done him or herself. New technologies may have changed the way that fans share music, but they have not changed the fact that sharing helps artists' careers.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Time to move to Canada, eh?

read more | digg story

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

8-Bit Gamer Test

I am 8-bit.
I got 16/16 on the 8-Bit Gamer test.
Take the test!

read more | digg story

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Church Sign Generator

No Comment. :-)

check it | digg story

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DMCA II: Copyright Law Gets Ridiculous

If I'm not mistakened, importing a CD into iTunes for use on an iPod will now be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In fact, merely having iTunes installed on your computer is a felony, as it an "anticircumvention tool."

Did I mention that the rest of the world is laughing at us?

Congress readies broad new digital copyright bill | CNET
"For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Now Congress is preparing to do precisely the opposite. A proposed copyright law seen by CNET would expand the DMCA's restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers."

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Coffee Cups Showing Up on NY Streets

This is definitely a different brew of marketing.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Verizon Enabling File Transfers on RAZRs

This is a monumental moment for all Verizon Wireless users. Verizon finally seems to be listening to its customers. For the longest time Verizon would disable all non-cellular methods for transferring images and music. That way you were forced to use Verizon’s network and end up paying for the transfers. Now it seems that Verizon is finally going back on that policy - at least on their flagship phone, the Motorola RAZR V3c.

If this lets me FINALLY upload my address book to my car, I will be one happy camper.

read more | digg story

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Dvorak Uncensored: Fixing California’s Problems

Dvorak Uncensored: Fixing California’s Problems

I can't claim to have any true knowledge of Californian cultures--having never been further west than Iowa--but this sounds very reasonable to me. I've always gathered that there are very, very distinct subcultures in California based upon my overly-obsessive interests in the Movie and Computer Industries. Dvorak's idea here seems very reasonable to me. I would even conjecture that Texas should similarly be divided. It is ridiculous that such large land masses ripe with such diversity are only represented by two Senators each.

This brings up another issue that has been bothering me of late: arbitrary borders. In the U.S., many of our state borders are based on geographical divisions (mountains, riviers, etc), but many others are completely arbitrary (see the "square states"). I know there is the historical, traditional, and even political arguments to keep them the same, but given that they were created centruries ago as the land was being discovered and completely new cultures and communities are springing up everywhere, perhaps its time for a re-bordering. In order for democracy to work the way the Founding Father's envisioned, shouldn't all communities get a voice?

This problem is also especially prevalent in Africa and the Middle East. Actually, I think it was the Daily Show that brought this issue to my attention because they were talking about the Iraqi Civi War. Iraq given its borders by some random country (England maybe?) years ago, with no regard for culture or anything. Lumping these people together is perhaps not the best idea and maybe Iraq needs to be more than one big country. Who knows - just an idea. Thoughts?

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

4 Guys From Viewpoint -- If WWII was an MMORPG

I absolutely had to post this. Here is one of my favorite clips. Check out the rest here.

*Roosevelt has left the game.*
Hitler[AoE]: wtf?
Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to join
*tru_m4n has joined the game.*
tru_m4n: hi all
T0J0: hey
Stalin: sup
Churchill: hi
tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his stuff!
tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz
tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets
T0J0: wtf is nukes?
T0J0: holy sh*tholysh*thoylshti!!!111
*T0J0 has been eliminated.*

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On Religion and Morality, a Follow-Up

After a lengthy and, unfortunately, incomplete conversation with my friend--lets call him Retrop--he made a strong case that perhaps the offensiveness and dramatic generalizations I made in my last post were obscuring my point. Sometimes I forget that you readers are not, in point of fact, in my head and, oftentimes, have to wade through a lot of B.S. to find out what I am trying to say.

Case in point.

Let me make some things clear so that, in the event that my inevitable and previous tangential ramblings obscure(d) what I say(said), some things will not be too tainted.

  1. I do not believe that religious people are inherently immoral. That is not what I am saying at all. I believe the best way to say what I was getting at is that religious people, when they are moral, are so in spite of religion altogether. I will better explain my rationale for this later.
  2. I do not believe that atheists are inherently moral; I was making the point that atheists, when performing a good deed, do so in the name of morality and morality only.
  3. By and large, Statistics is crap. Whoever it was that coined the phrase, "the numbers don't lie," was completely full of crap; Statistics is arguably the scientific study of making numbers say what you want them to say.
  4. I absolutely enjoy a marketplace of ideas. I search it out. I'd be lying if I said the intent behind my bold statement was not the resulting conversation I had with Retrop. To dissenters and agreers I say "bring it on." Why else would a life-long atheist attend a catholic institution for higher education? Nothing excites me more than someone telling me or trying to prove that I am wrong, except, maybe, actually being proved wrong. I believe the term Devil's Advocate applies to me nicely, but I do not particularly like the Christian connotation. I feel like I have done my job as a writer blogger and/or friend if I make you think.

Now that that is out of the way, let me deal with this issue of morality and its definition. defines morality as the following:

1. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
2. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality.
3. Virtuous conduct.
4. A rule or lesson in moral conduct.

So, in my humble opinion, morality is far more than this definition. (Especially #2 since it contains not one, but two statements that are paradoxial to me.) Aristotle even wrote an entire book attempting to fully define morality. I think, without getting into too much detail, the largest aspect of morality that this definition neglects is (what Aristotle referred to as) continence--the absolute desire to do what is right because it is right. Additionally, it is a resolution of both the heart and the mind, in that the correct course of action is first reasoned followed by the heart's desire to see it through.

This is why I say atheists are moral for morality sake. If they do not desire for good to be done, it will not be done; so logically following, any good done by an atheist is "moral" by the above definition as I see it.

Next on the Aristotelian heirarchy of morality to which I am referring (why reinvent the wheel?) is resistence--this is the level in which I believe religious people are by default. Those who are resistent still do good deeds, but not because they truly desire to see good done.

Take Christianity for an example (let's face it, statistically speaking it is far more likely than not that this is somewhere in your background).

Christians believe in Heaven and (some of them) Hell; some believe in a middle-ground suspended animation whatnot. They believe good deeds and following the Christian moral compass (God, The Bible) will get them into Heaven. They believe not doing so will get them into Hell (don't want to go there!), that other place, or simply deny them passage to the promise land.

This is a system of reward and punishment. By default, Christian's do good deeds such that they may see that reward or because they fear the punishment for not doing them. In either case, they do not desire to see good done so much as it is merely a good investment in their soul.

Granted--as I said before--Theists can and are moral beings much (most) of the time. But they are moral in spite of their religion. Christianity, for example again, implants some key moral foundations. The Ten Commandments are, for the most part, good ideas--some of them. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm down with stoning a man just because his hair is below his shoulders.

Theists who are moral have taken the teachings of their respective religion, their community, their surroundings, their experience in total, and internalized it in such a way that they desire to do good for good's sake.

I'm sure I have more to say on the subject, as I was on somewhat of a roll, but I fell off that roll, and now I'm going to relax. It is bound to come up again at some point. But for now, to dissenters and agreers I say: Bring it on.

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Religion: Blight upon humanity?

blight n. - Something that impairs growth, withers hopes and ambitions, or impedes progress and prosperity.

This is an interesting look at some recent census data.

The question is simple - to paraphrase Bertrand Russell, is religion the dragon that needs slaying in order to facilitate the societal progress that will benefit all of humanity?

My belief is that Atheists are the only, truly moral group on the planet. I know this is a bold statement - largely because it runs contrary to the views of pretty much every religious person on the planet.

Why do I think this?

Because Atheists only answer to themselves. Their morality is just that: their morality. It is not a code written down by some theological proxy hand-of-god.

Sure, you can argue that that is a bit scary, because Atheists are free from any kind of unselfimposed moral restriction. But if you look at this, you'll see that only 0.209% of US Prison Inmates are Atheists. This is less than the number of Scientology nuts, and 75% of those questioned identified themselves as either Protestant or Catholic! Apparently the lesser-known eleventh commandmant is "Thou must have a criminal record".

I think the national census data (I could be and probably am wrong) says that 10-20% of Americans consider themselves "Atheists" - so there is a strong dichotomy between 0.209% and 20%. Wikipedia probably knows for sure somewhere. In any case, 1% of American Atheists are in jail, so fuzzy logic would suggest that out of 100 Atheists that you meet, 1, ultimately, is a bad person.

Enough numbers.

To me, there is no one scarier than a Christian who says humanity needs God as a moral compass. Frankly, if you need to have a God tell you that it is immoral to rape and steal and murder, then please, please stay away from me, my (future) children and anyone else for whom I care.

Check out the editorial after jump. Its a tad wishy-washy in its (non)conclusions, but the points on correlation not being a synonym for causation are valid and I can't fight them. In either case, it is a good read.

[Update] This has turned out to be a might popular (by my standards). So in the event that you found your way here via the vast interweb, I wanted to point out that I did write a follow-up. Thanks.

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Mathematical Equation for A Perfect Ass

(S C) x (B F)/T = V is the formula that describes the 'ideal female ass' in shape, bounce, firmness and symmetry, according to psychology lecturer David Holmes of Manchester Metropolitan University in England

Now, you might be wondering, what do those variables represent. Fret not: there's more!

S is the overall shape or droopiness of the bottom, C represents how spherical the buttocks are, B measures muscular wobble or bounce, while F records the firmness. V is the hip to waist ratio, or symmetry of the bottom, and T measures the skin texture and presence of cellulite."

[Via Boing Boing]

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Birdie Jean Is Not My Lover

So this bird moonwalks. Moonwalks. It is funny. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hubble finds 10th planet slightly larger than Pluto

Anyone want to guess how many planets there are in our solar system? Who wants "more than 20"? Do I hear "more than 25"? Any takers?

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has resolved the "tenth planet," nicknamed "Xena," for the first time and has found that it is only just a little larger than Pluto.

All kidding aside, apparently there are a few more large bodies out there in what is known as the Kuiper Belt. Check them out below.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

On Global Warming, A Lack Thereof

Most people don't know this, and there are many out there that do know and want to hide it from you, but our lovely planet goes through temperature and climate cycles. Far be it from our most desecrationist leisures and whims, I am, for the most part, of the opinion that the Earth goes about its business while waving a very large, and green, middle finger.

If she decides to heat up, I believe much of the research (that we are not supposed to know about) shows that it does not have much to do with us at all.

Maybe she got a good look at Mars and thought he was cute.

Drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

And then here we have the kicker! My bold for emphasis:

The problem here is not that of climate change per se, but rather that of the sophisticated scientific brainwashing that has been inflicted on the public, bureaucrats and politicians alike. Governments generally choose not to receive policy advice on climate from independent scientists. Rather, they seek guidance from their own self-interested science bureaucracies and senior advisers, or from the IPCC itself. No matter how accurate it may be, cautious and politically non-correct science advice is not welcomed in Westminster, and nor is it widely reported

[UPDATE] I wanted to post a disclaimer. I drive a Prius. Thank you for stopping by.

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Praise Jesus! Check your underwear!

I had to post this. I would actually watch televanglists if it was this funny. I believe the choice quote, no doubt, is:

I smell heaven’s bakery cooking up something good for you, sister!”


[Via Dvorak Uncensored]

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Friday, April 07, 2006

New Version of Google Talk Released

See pictures in your Friends list and chat sessions. Pick a picture for yourself and customize where you see your friends' pictures. Now you can also change the appearance of your chat sessions.

read more | digg story

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Word of the Day 04-05-2006, A Clarification

The word of the day for yesterday, April 5th, 2006, was cum. For your reference, it is pronounced KUM (with an "oo" sound), and means "with." It is often popularly used in graduation honors, such as cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.

Also, it is Latin, slightly archaic, and has fallen out of every day use (I would say, being the language historian that I am).

Finally, get your mind out of the gutter.

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'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years

As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out.

I have always believed that one of the strongest arguments against Christianity was the thought that The Bible was edited by a commitee of oligarchical Roman aristocrats sometime around the 4th century. The idea that people were voting on what parts went in and what parts went in the trash just doesn't sound very divine to me.

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Cancer Vaccine Holding Up

WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- A vaccine protecting against two types of viruses that cause cervical cancer has demonstrated unusual staying power, new research shows.

In a follow-up study to a randomized clinical trial, researchers found antibody levels in the study subjects remained steadfast for up to four and a half years. Researchers say the results confirm the success and safety of the vaccine Cervarix, which is designed to guard against two cancer-causing human papillomaviruses, HPV 16 and 18.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tip: Website Coloring

So I found this link on digg. You put in a color and it provides 8 colors (color codes and all!) that harmonize well with the one you've given, resulting in a rather nice color pallete - something many websites today severely lack. Check 12 profiles on Myspace, and I gaurentee that at least 10 of them will make your eyes bleed.

read more | digg story