Monday, February 26, 2007
Also, there's this bit about Call of Duty: The Lawsuit. Very interesting.
And let's not skip over this awesome piece of news: Sony didn't just delay the European launch of the PS3 because of supply problems--the company has decided to give European gamers an updated version of the console that's different from what Japanese and North American consumers bought. How's it different?
The European version of the PS3 will apparently not feature the PS2's Emotion Engine chip and will rely mainly on software to emulate PS2 compatibility. The result is that backwards compatibility will be limited compared to the U.S. and Japanese models. Some analysts see this as a positive, though.
The positive comes from the long-term production cost savings:
initial analyst reaction to the move by SCEE has been positive. In a note from the folks at Datamonitor, analyst Alex Kwiatkowski said, "By utilizing the latest hardware Sony is able to rationalize the number of components required. This move is significant, as it will have a positive impact on the PS3's long-term cost profile. By launching the PS3 in Europe with the new chassis, Sony has at a stroke removed one of the barriers to future price reductions, and providing it can make enough units available, Datamonitor believes there will be sustained growth in PS3 ownership as new users seek to benefit from the PS3's enhanced features and functionality."
Of course, that assumes demand high enough to realize savings. The real question is: When will PS3 ads begin appearing in European Sunday circulars?
Thursday, February 22, 2007
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A fishing crew has caught a colossal squid that could weigh a half-ton and prove to be the biggest specimen ever landed, a fisheries official said Thursday.
If calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires, one expert said.
The squid, weighing an estimated 990 pounds and about 39 feet long, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said.
The fishermen were catching Patagonian toothfish, sold under the name Chilean sea bass, south of New Zealand "and the squid was eating a hooked toothfish when it was hauled from the deep," Anderton said. . . .
Colossal squid, known by the scientific name Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, are estimated to grow up to 46 feet long and have long been one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep ocean.
Sony's (SNE - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) PlayStation 3 game console may finally be ready to break out.
Retail giants such as Best Buy (BBY - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) and Target (TGT - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) are expected to feature the PS3 console in their weekly retailer advertisements starting this week in a move that could signal Sony has sorted out production problems with the next-generation device.
Sony had faced delays in the mass production of blue laser diodes, a component of its Blu-Ray hi-definition DVD player that is part of the PS3 console, which pushed the launch of the console in Europe to March 23.
The company launched the PS3 in North America on Nov. 17, but supply of the consoles has been tight.
Now PS3 supply levels are "stabilizing," says Dave Karraker, spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment America.
"We are seeing more units of PS3 in stores on a regular basis and not the extreme sellouts that were there soon after the console was introduced," says Karraker. "And with supply levels stabilizing, you can expect to see increased marketing for PS3."
Best Buy featured its first ad for the PS3 on Feb. 18, while Target is slated to put one out on Feb. 25.
On the matter of Sony's supply problem, that seems to have been solved since about the first week of January, which is when major retailers began reporting that they had PS3 units sitting on their shelves. As for the question of advertising circulars, the PS3 was being advertised in Best Buy and Circuit City circulars in my Sunday paper. I remember, because at the time I noted how silly these ads were since the supply of PS3s was so tight. (I believe--but can't be certain--that the PS3 appeared in at least the Best Buy circular during the Christmas season, as well, but my memory on that count may be faulty.) Perhaps Ganapati meant that this is the first ad Best Buy has featured for the PS3 in 2007?
There is a larger question about the strage angle of this story--namely why the piece is mostly positive even though Sony's raw sales data (which Ganapati mentions later in the piece) are so bad and the company is having a senior management shake-up in Europe just weeks before the launch of the PS3. But that's less important and is really a matter of perspective. Ganapati is certainly entitled to her analysis of the situation and she may be right that the PS3 is about to break out.
Let’s talk about this San Francisco Crab Festival on the 24th that I have volunteered myself for. I don’t know what all it entails. I hope it is not dealing with live crabs because I’m not too fond of getting pinched. I try to stay away from that. Maybe we can race crabs, I don’t know. I’m not sure what it’s about. If it’s just eating crabs, that’s good. I can do that. I’m a huge seafood guy.
I haven’t really gone anywhere since the season ended, and it seems like they are really trying to send me home. All I do is work out and run and watch film, and now I guess they are trying to send a strong hint that I need to go away, go on vacation or get away from football because they have taken my weight room away from me. I have been kicked to the curb.
They are calling it a “re-modeling” but they know that I don’t know of any gyms around here to go to, and I don’t have one in my little neighborhood. And I don’t understand this treatment. It’s not like I loiter or walk around the building aimlessly bothering everyone. I have my routine, come in and I leave. I don’t think they love me any more.
I guess it is good that they are renovating our weight room, changing it and making it more efficient to players’ needs, but what about mine?
But I figured something out. If they take everything out of the weight room, where are they going to put it? Well, I discovered that they just shifted it to our locker room, so I can just lift in there. There’s always a loophole so in a few hours, I’ll be back in here getting my swole on. I’m sure they are laughing and thinking, “Let’s see if Manny can find the bench press.” Well, I found it.
I haven’t cleared 200 in bowling yet. I got 192 bowling and I choked on the last frame. I still can not believe. All I needed was 8 pins out of 10! I had been hitting at least nine pins all day with my little curve ball, but on that last one I decided I’d try to roll it straight down the lane. It didn’t work. Instead it went straight into the gutter, so I’m still not a pro and I still don’t have my own ball or my own shoes.
Vickiel Vaughn has bowled on his own too, and he did the same thing, came close to 200 but choked on the last frame with a gutter ball.
My choke really hurt my feelings. I just sat there. They know me by name because I go there so much so they were checking on me in there to see how I was doing, and I was just so upset. I just sat and thought about it for a bit. It was tough to swallow.
Mainly though, I’ve watched a lot of movies. . . .
He goes on. He's awesome, with a capital Awesome.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
For example, imagine a body suit with sensors that can guide you through a golf swing like Tiger Woods'. Or a robo-birdwatcher that can tell you where to look for that rare ivory-billed woodpecker. Or an android gardener that can show you where to plant your seeds . . . As baby boomers become older, they'll still want to lead active lives--but they may well welcome a little robotic help to do it.
Sure. Tell that to Admiral ADAMA.
“My name is 6. Look over there at that rare ivory-billed woodpecker!!”
This isn't meant as a complaint, but perhaps Patterson would have been in a better position to comment on the UFC phenomenon had he watched more than what appears to have been a single clip-show from Spike. His ultimate conclusion might have been the same--and might well be right--but surely there are depths left unplummed here, like, for instance: Dana White's NASCAR-like control of the sport; the evolving standards of rounds, judges, and most important, weight classes; the financial success of the UFC enterprise; and the sports media's continuing insistence on ignoring UFC even while much smaller and more obscure sports (arena football, women's college volleyball, etc.) get column inches in sports sections and time on both ESPN and local news sportscasts.
Again, I'm not rendering a moral verdict here. The UFC might still be little more than cockfighting with homo sapiens. But the story seems more complicated and serious than Patterson has made it out to be. And it certainly deserves more a more serious attempt to grapple with it. So to speak.
Still, Slate should be encouraged, not chastised, for avoiding knee-jerk counterintuition. So good for them.
PS: Galley Sister MAL suggests that the "arm bomb" Patterson refers to was most likely an "arm bar."
Jon Polito — The Greasy Gunman
Good grief, Jon Polito has been in everything. From Silvio the landlord in the reverse-peephole episode of “Seinfeld,” to detectives on both “Homicide: Life on the Street” (with fellow listee Zeljko Ivanek) and “Crime Story” (with listee Michael Rooker), all the way through Flags of Our Fathers, with hundreds of film and TV stops in between, Polito has been everywhere. Everywhere. But it’s his roles in a series of Coen brothers films that have been some of his most memorable character creations. Polito often plays a slimy character with vague underworld overtones, as in the stellar Miller’s Crossing, where he plays Johnny Caspar and gives a wonderful little soliloquy about “character” and “ethics.” Polito was only 40 when he took on the role of Caspar, originally written as a man in his mid-50s, but his mix of anger and self-pity turned the character into something both charismatic and vaguely unsettling. He’s strong enough to yield the spotlight to the rest of the ensemble in whatever he does, and that only makes him more watchable.
Don't miss this great piece.
Bonus: Did you realize that Peter Stormare was Slippery Pete in the Seinfeld Frogger episode? I didn't.
But no matter the show's fall from grace, last night's episode (written by Rebecca Kirshner) featured one of the great phrases in recent television history: "Molotov Mocktails." Kuwaiti communist radicals the world over would surely rejoice.
The lovely and talented Miss Kirshner is, of course, a Buffy alumna. Whedon should send her flowers this morning.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
1. You guessed it. The friend who controls foreign cities by starving out the population and repopulating it with his own people is Jonathan V. Last. Let us not forget he once defended the destruction of the planet Alderaan.
2. Joseph Bottum's strategy of winning at Deity was much more complicated than I let on. There are many conditions involved, such as selecting a single continent, choosing an ancient civ. whose unique unit comes early, building roads in one direction, gambling you will hit pay dirt (meaning you connect with another civ.). You must also reduce all funding on science in order to build as many units as possible. Then you send them out and overwhelm. I think Bottum once won by the year 400 B.C. Also, his wife won't let him upgrade to Civ. IV until he finishes writing his book.
3. Sid Meier is a very funny guy. When he was explaining the importance of decisionmaking, he says it is all up to the player to decide "Do I go for a barracks or a marketplace?" I asked him which is it. He said, "Yes."
I am sure there is more but it all seems to blend in now. Unfortunately I can no longer use the piece as an excuse for playing the game. But wait til I tell my wife about the piece I am writing on Vivid Video.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Back to Africa: The Movie
Don't miss it.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
If you're not into the comedy world, you probably won't care, except for the fact that Joe Rogan makes for a kick-ass avenging angel. But the real, super-fantastic payoff is when Rogan has another comic--some tall, skinny, Jewish guy named Ari--come up onstage. Look closely. Ari's wearing a "Tap Out" shirt.
Godzilla is meant to be something like 100 m tall and between 20,000 and 60,000 tons in weight (his size fluctuates in the various films). Of course lots of people who like doing sums and talking about cubes and so on have used the mathematics of scaling to show why - duh - Godzilla couldn't really walk, stand, or even exist. Michael Dexter presents the argument here, and also brings in thoughts on blood pressure, circulation and physiology to show that a living Godzilla would variously fall to pieces, tear itself apart, have its organs turn to jelly, explode due to a build-up of internal heat... you get the picture.
I know of two palaeontologists who have made comments on various of Godzilla's physical properties. Jim Farlow, a palaeobiologist based at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and best known for his work on dinosaur trackways, speculated in 1998 on the foot size of TriStar's GINO. Jim noted that he'd 'probably have to log-transform the measurements to get [the data from the toes] onto the same graphs with my other data without scrunching the other points into an indecipherable blur near the origin'. He also noted that it might prove difficult to cast even a single Godzilla footprint given grant limitations and the cost of plaster of Paris, silicone or latex rubber. Sadly, Prof Farlow never published his thoughts on this subject and all we have is a message posted to the dinosaur mailing list (here).
Sauropod expert Mike P. Taylor did a bit of science on Godzilla (this time on the original, not on the TriStar creation), but has also - for shame - failed to publish his results. Interested in how much weight can be absorbed by the limb's cartilage pads, and in how big these pads needed to be in sauropods, Mike threw Godzilla into the data set to see what might happen. Godzilla's cartilage disks would not, it seems, hold up under his immense weight, and we can therefore conclude that a terrestrial biped of Godzilla's size and weight is impossible. Mike included this valuable and surprising [joke] data in his 2005 presentation 'Upper limits on the mass of land animals estimated through the articular area of limb-bone cartilage', and to his annoyance it was the one brief comment on Godzilla that earned a mention of this presentation in a write-up of the respective conference (Jones 2005). An abstract of Mike's presentation exists (Taylor 2005), though it doesn't mention Godzilla, and you can see the presentation for yourself on Mike's website.
Oh you bet there's more. Hop to it.
Monday, February 12, 2007
You can observe a lot of high achievers under pressure at a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Better yet, you can observe them under variable pressure: Things are a lot tenser when the score is 5-5 than when it's 0-0. Professor Daniele Paserman of Hebrew University made good use of this variability at the 2006 French Open, U.S. Open, and Wimbledon tournaments. First, he assigned an "importance" to each point in each match. He did this by assigning probabilities to every way the match might unfold, accounting for players' ratings, the surface they were playing on, and the identity of the server. That allowed him to say things like, "If Roger Federer wins this point, he has a 60 percent chance to win the match; if he loses the point, he has a 55 percent chance." The 5 percent difference measures the point's importance.
It turns out that by at least one measure—the number of unforced errors—men play equally well throughout the match. They make unforced errors on about 30 percent of the most important points, about 30 percent of the least important, and about 30 percent of all those in between. But women show a very different pattern: 34 percent unforced errors on the least important points, steadily rising to almost 40 percent on the most important. That's almost surely too big a difference to be mere coincidence.
What, besides choking, could explain those numbers? Maybe the closest games are usually played late in the match, when players are more fatigued; maybe more of those games involve weak players; maybe more of them occur at the French Open, where the court is harder to play. But professor Paserman tests all these theories, and none stands up to statistical analysis.
Another countertheory: Maybe women play more defensively when the score is tight. If both players just keep lobbing the ball back and forth, there can't be any forced errors, so all errors are recorded as unforced. In support of this theory, professor Paserman observes that women do play more defensively when the score is tight. (He measures defensive play by speed of serve, length of rallies, and so forth.) But, unfortunately for the countertheory, so do men. When the pressure's on, both men and women get more defensive (and by about the same amount)—but only women make more errors.
Get Larry Summers on line one!
Friday, February 09, 2007
Thomas Harris hates Hannibal Lector. No, I mean he fucking HATES Hannibal Lector. Hates the ever loving shit out of him. There’s no other explanation outside of mental illness. No, fuck you. It ain’t greed. Harris is a solid writer and Hannibal Lector books wouldn’t be a hard thing to write. He could write book after book after book of Hannibal eating his way across the world while a different cop narrowly misses catching him at the end of EVERY FUCKING BOOK and yet it would still be readable. It would have an audience. And an unending series of cinematic adaptations steadily declining in quality and budget. But this. There is no explanation for this. No explanation for the end of Hannibal. No explanation but that he has come to hate Hannibal Lector and keeps trying to write himself into a hole that no one will bother paying him to write himself out of.
Actually, the same thought occurred to me after reading Hannibal: Harris looked like he was trying to make Lecter so terrible that he'd never have to see his incarnation again.
Bonus: I'm not a big comments reader, but in the AICN comments section are two inspired bits. The first is simply, "Hannibal gotta eat." Nice to see the Rev. Al Sharpton getting some love. The second is,
Read between the lines in the author's end note in Hannibal. Harris hates the good doctor and doesn't want him living in his head. He couldn't get him to go away by giving him a 'happily ever after' with Starling, so now he's trying to pull a Terminator and kill him off as a child.
Harris's problem, however, is that he was on the leading edge--heck, he have even been the leading edge--of the torture-porn industry. And his efforts to wreck the franchise have only stoked demand.
We can all make our case for overlooked scenes, of course. I'd agree with S.B. and say that Aimee Mann's "One is the loneliest number" from the opening of Magnolia should make the list. You make think otherwise.
Last weekend, before Because I Said So, I saw the trailer for this summer’s Nancy Drew, and it’s just about as sad as you can imagine. The powers that be have taken a pretty decent teenage detective heroine and tweenified her, ditching the original premise in favor of a generic fish-out-of-water small-town girl moving-to-L.A. and dealing-with-fashion-faux-pas flick. The murder mystery seems secondary at best. It looks like a really pathetic version of Clueless for the Vacant-Stare Generation™, right down to another bad cover of “Kids in America.”
I mention this only as a segue to this tidbit: There is much unfounded speculation that Ben Stiller’s next project will be a buddy comedy with Tom Cruise, in which the two will update the freakin’ Hardy Boys with a film titled Hardy Men.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Japan is, of course, one of our staunchest allies. But talk about one of history's jokes. Goldfarb has the punchline at the end of this post.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
BREAKING NEWS: Senator Barack Obama has announced he is canceling his run for the White House after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton expelled him into the Phantom Zone (above). His attempts to break free with his hand proved futile. Before disappearing into deep space, Senator Obama was heard yelling, "You have been known to disagree with the Senate before. Yours could become an important voice in the new order, second only to my own! I offer you a chance for greatness, Hillary, take it! Join us!... You will bow down before me, Hillary. I swear it, no matter that it takes an eternity! You will bow down before me! Both you and then one day your heirs!"
Enterbrain's Hirokazu Hamamura has predicted a price cut forPlayStation 3 after new figures revealed that the console is being outsold by both Nintendo Wii and PS2 in Japan. According to Media Create, more than 80,000 Wii units were sold in the territory between January 22 and 28. During the same period Sony sold 21,000 PS2 consoles and 20,000 PS3s. Just 7000 Xbox 360 units were shifted as Microsoft continues
its struggle to secure a foothold in the Japanese market.
Wii sales for the entire month of January stood at 400,000 units, while 150,000 PlayStation 3 consoles were sold.
The PS3 launched in Japan on November 11, followed by the Wii on December 2. Since then Sony has sold 614,000 consoles while Wii sales have topped 1.4 million.
[Bill] Gates started off the Apple portion of his interview by touting security features in Vista. Providing a robust security foundation was even offered as a reason for having left out many of the features originally planned for Vista.Unless this is a double head-fake, where Gates really does want Romanian hackers to bust Vista wide open because Microsoft didn't have the time to do security testing themselves, this seems really, really stupid.
"We made it way harder for guys to do exploits," said Mr. Gates. "The number [of exploits] will be way less because we've done some dramatic things [to improve security] in the code base. Apple hasn't done any of those things."
In another portion of the interview, he added, "Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine."
Monday, February 05, 2007
There have been worse games, I suppose, but not many games where the collective talent on the field was so terrible. The Bears are on the list of worst teams to appear in a Super Bowl since '82. And name the Super Bowl champs who were worse than the Colt. Again, it's a short list.
That said, the Prince halftime show was the best I've ever seen. To relive the glory, it's in two parts on YouTube. Part 1 and Part 2.
Update: From Galley Brother B.J.:
This year’s Super Bowl taught me that I actually know nothing about football.
I’d have thought that in bad weather the Bears would want to pressure Manning, take away the short passes, and force him to beat them over the top. I’d never have thought of Lovie Smith’s ingenious strategy of playing every down like it's 3rd and 15, not pressuring Manning, and giving up a safe 8 to 10 yard pass on every play. (Did Smith think he had a huge lead and could trade yards for time. Or did he just not want to risk getting blown out and was playing to lose while keeping it close-ish?)
I had thought that loose balls were very important and that you want to see your players diving after the ball once it's fumbled, like Grossman did after his HB fumbled right in front of him. Rather than pulling a Manning and watching the ball hit the ground 5 yards away and then refuse to go near it because there are defensive players running towards it. (How is it that no one called Manning out on this last night?)
I’d say Manning’s performance was nothing even remotely special. He had one touchdown pass because the Bears decided not to cover Wayne and a bunch of yards and a high completion percentage because the Bears weren’t covering anything short. And he refused to risk contact by not going after a loose ball after his HB fumbled near the Bears' 35. I’m not saying I could have put up those numbers against that Bears defense, but I’m saying Bubby Brister could have.
Of course, most talking heads/experts will disagree with me.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Did Sheila E ever get 2 lead a glamorous life? Because I think she probably works at Boston Market these days.
Bonus: It's possible--just possible--that this item, an extended Troy McClure discourse on the history of Super Bowl halftime shows, is the funniest thing ever to run on Blog Crush II:
Hi, I'm Troy McClure! You may remember me from such Super Bowl Halftime Shows as "Down with People, Up with Fish!" and "There Are 100 Michael Jacksons!"
I'm here to talk with you today about the evolution of the Super Bowl Halftime Show and, in accordance with my plea bargain with Miami-Dade prosecutors and the Miami Seaquarium, provide you with my prediction for the game.
The first Super Bowl Halftime Show was held, surprisingly enough, in 1965, years before the first Super Bowl. Initially the term was used by authorities as a code for beating up Vietnam protestors.
Take that, Maynard G. Muskyvote!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Alex Tourk "confronted the mayor on the issue this afternoon, expressed his feeling about the situation in an honest and pointed way, and resigned," said one source close to Tourk and his wife.
Oh, to have heard that pointed expression of honest feelings.
PS: Just wondering--deep in the story, as all players are refusing to comment, there's this funny line: "A family friend who asked not to be identified said she would have no comment."
I don't know much about journalism or anything, but if a source isn't going to comment, they don't normally then get to request that they also remain nameless, do they? Isn't commenting the price of anonymity? And if you're going to let anonymous sources not comment, then why include it in the story?
The only explaination I can figure is that reporter included this just to get the pronoun "she" in, to point suggest that this anonymous no-commenter might be Newsom's ex-wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle. But that seems like a stretch . . .