Jul 312008

So a triumvirate of ex-Googlers unleashed Cuil (pronounced “cool”; it’s Gaelic for knowledge) three days ago.  It’s a new search engine that claims to do a better job with content and relevance, and also claims the largest index out there.

Had a problem with Google searches lately?  Yeah, me either.  But Google is a scary-ass company.  Did you know they store and analyze your search results?  Found your house on Google Street View yet?   Did you know they want to do that for the entire world?  Did you know they want to index the entire world, period?  Is your PC microphone and/or camera on?  Are you sure?

You can review Google’s privacy policy here, which says, essentially, yeah, we collect a lot of stuff from you, and we won’t do anything creepy with it, but, uh, if we ever want to, we’ll be sure to ask you first.  You can review Cuil’s here, which is much friendlier.

I’m going to use Cuil exclusively for a while and see how it goes.  They don’t store anything personally identifiable.  They had some growing pains the first day, but they seem to be resolved.  Google does a great job with search, but they’ve reached a size and influence level that should generate some rebellion just on principle.  (And it’s not like you can go to Yahoo!; they’ll be Microsoft just any time now.)

 Posted by at 8:05 pm
Jul 302008

Somebody forwarded me some “vital” information today that described, in some detail, how Barack Obama snubbed U.S. troops in Afghanistan recently. (Here is the snopes.com debunking.)

Also, did you know that ABC News is deliberately suppressing coverage of our troops who support John McCain? Except they’re not. (Here is the snopes.com debunking.)

Folks, dig: there is plenty of ridiculous crap coming out of these yahoos’ mouths that is easily verifiable. Both of these guys are reliably comical. Please, let’s stick with stuff we know (I mean really know). Don’t send me some forwarded email just because it fits your notion of what sort of jackass one or the other of these guys is.

I’m not a recognized urban folklore expert, but I have been following the topic with some interest since 1995. Believe this: The more something romps all over your buttons—the larger the urge you have to send it to 500 of your closest friends—the more likely it is that you’re being had. If you’ve just got to send it right now, it’s probably horseshit. Please go to snopes.com and check it out before you click Send.

 Posted by at 11:16 pm
Jul 292008

I had my first real desire for an iPhone, or other portable Internet appliance, tonight.  This afternoon, the Monaco Pictures web site told me there was a 6:50 showing of WALL-E, and when we got there, there wasn’t.  That’s unimpressive, Monaco Pictures people.  The accuracy of show times on a cinema web site should reasonably approach 100%.

So is it on anywhere else?  I didn’t look before I left the house.  Who the hell makes a Plan B for a movie, fercryinoutloud?  Worse, I didn’t have my PDA with me, else I could have used one of the Bridge Street hotspots.  What to do?  I tried Melanie, she of the fastest fingers in four counties, first, but she wasn’t home.  Fortunately Charles came through, telling me that it was on at Hollywood 18 and that we had plenty of time to make it.  Thanks, man!

As for the movie, the boys liked it, which was really most of the point.  Lea hung “cute” on it, and enjoyed it.  Based on the buzz, I went in with high expectations, wondering if this would be the one to unseat The Incredibles as my favorite Pixar movie.  Instead, my assessment is that it’s easily the least impressive Pixar movie.

It’s got the signature touches—the inside jokes for the grown-ups (loved the 2001 and Blade Runner references) and the slapstick—but there’s less movie holding it all together than ever before.  It’s 45 minutes of plot asked to serve 97 minutes of run time.  Even keeping the extensive nonverbal setup on the front end (which I did enjoy), it really has no excuse to be any longer than an hour.

The politics are heavy-handed, and the depictions of humanity’s sins of consumption are so over the top that a lot of their potential impact disintegrates in a cloud of eye-rolling resentment.  I frequently enjoy the skillful weaving of message into a work that can also entertain superficially, but I’d like it to gently nudge me into the circle of thoughtful consideration.  WALL-E uses an electric cattle prod.

By the way, Disney/Pixar, what’s the merchandising story on this film?  Given its message, do you still plan to feed us as much plastic Chinese swag as we can stand?  Standard plastic box for the DVD release?  Just checking.

I’m disappointed.  I was hoping for something with typical Pixar dazzle that also worked as thoughtful science fiction.  I got flashes of each, but they’re hanging on a rickety scaffolding of a movie.  C-.

 Posted by at 11:34 pm
Jul 282008

Cajunvegan did this one. I liked it.

How many keys are on your keychain?

I don’t have one all-inclusive keychain. I keep my keys in several different locations. They are stored contextually, and it works well for me.

If you were given a canvas and watercolors, what would you paint?

The patchwork of my soul.

What do you regard as the most repulsive form of music?

I can find something to like about just about any music that is performed well. I wouldn’t go all the way to “repulsive” for anything, I don’t think.

Whose mind, besides your own, would you like to control?

No one’s. I’m still working on my own.

What is the most dangerous occupation?

Actuarily, shuttle astronaut is on up there.

What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed?


What do you consider the greatest threat to mankind?


If you could project yourself into the past, where would you go?

Do I get to do it over and over again, or just one time? If the former, I’d choose a week ago. If the latter, I’d go to opening night at the Globe Theatre in 1599.

What are you thankful you are not doing right now?


What is your favorite kind of candy?

Wild Cherry LifeSavers.

What is your favorite thing about the beach?

Sleeping within earshot of the surf.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

Everywhere, but I’d start with the women’s locker room. Sorry. (shrugs shoulders)

What is one object in your home that you are embarrassed to own?

Xanadu on DVD?

Fill in the blank; When I dance, I look like …

A goofy white guy.

Who is one person you wish you would have never met?

When I worked at Madison Books & Computers, I once talked to a customer who had the most unbelievably irritating nasally voice I have ever heard in my entire life. It was all I could do to keep from running away from him. I’d say that guy.

What is your favorite fruit?


What is your favorite kind of cookie?

Warm, soft chocolate chip.

If you were an evil dictator, where would you rule?

Butte, Montana.

What do you need to get right now at the drug store?

Nothing that I know of.

What song do you keep hearing over and over again?

I have whistled “Pennsylvania Polka” at least weekly ever since I saw Groundhog Day.

What was the happiest age of your life?

Every day is pretty damned good, so I’d say I haven’t been there yet.

What is your favorite piece of clothing that you own?

I don’t have favorite clothing.

What two words describe your lifestyle?

Happy, regimented.

Which ocean creature fascinates you most?


On a scale of 1-10, how religious are you?

In the usual sense of “religious”? Maybe a 2.

What historical figure would you most like to have a discussion with?

Thomas Jefferson.

What color looks best on you?

Royal blue.

What is your favorite thing about being sick?

The guiltless DVD-watching.

What’s new?

The week.

Why are you here right now?

Because I enjoyed these questions when I read them at lunch.

What commercial do you find most annoying?

I don’t see enough commercials to have a most annoying one.

What was your favorite meal growing up?

Probably spaghetti.

If you had to spend the rest of your life in one place, where would it be?

Definitely the South.

Fill in the blank: I am so much smarter than …

98.4% of the population.

What one person or thing reminds you of the 80s?

I’ve never left them.

What is college really good for?

Improving the quality of your life.

Where is the most beautiful place you have ever been?

I keep coming back to the look of the water 35 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.

What body part aches you the most right now?

Nothing’s hurting at the moment.

When is the angriest you have ever been?

I don’t know. I’m not generally a dweller.

What do you waste your time doing?

I’ve been playing Tetris again lately.

On a scale of 1-10; how much do you trust people?

Just people in general? 1.

If you were forced to choose your own death, how would you die?

I don’t care, as long as it’s after my children are self-sufficient.

On a scale of 1-10; how photogenic are you?


What aspect of your personality could use a little work?


What is your greatest addiction?

Wristwatches? Gadgets?

What issue are you sick of hearing about?

The price of oil.

If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be?

God of Thunder.

What language would you like to master?


What is your favorite dish at a Chinese restaurant?

Kung pao chicken.

Whom would you least likely expect a phone call from?

I don’t wish to say the name out loud, because I don’t wish the phone call.

What is the longest you have ever gone without a shower?

I don’t think any longer than two days.

What is the saddest movie you have ever seen?

Apocalypse Now.

What time do you usually fall asleep?

11 or thereabouts.

Where is the worst place to be stuck waiting?

Any government office.

What is the cutest animal on Earth?

Pretty tough to top a puppy.

Name one celebrity who has no right being a celebrity.

The way this question is worded, there is no correct answer. No “right” being a celebrity? That doesn’t make any sense. We choose them all.

What hobby have you always wanted to pick up?


 Posted by at 8:18 pm
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