May 17th, 2013
HEB Central Market: the place to go for all your Juggalo needs.
I have a three-year old nephew who loves his “trucks”. So whenever I’m at the HEB, I check the toy aisle and try to pick up a Hot Wheels car or something for him. I noticed this at the HEB yesterday:
I don’t know who the target audience for this is. Little kids shouldn’t be watching NCIS, and I doubt adults are big into toy cars. (Collectors are an exception, but is there really a big audience of NCIS collectors, as opposed to Star Trek or Star Wars ones?)
No, I didn’t buy it: the three-year-old is not a big NCIS fan, and it was $5. The Hot Wheels were 97 cents.
(To answer another question: this was the only NCIS branded car they had, though there were also some “Greenlight Hollywood” vehicles with branding tied to one of those auto auction shows on some cable channel. I don’t remember which one; sorry.)
May 17th, 2013
As Say Uncle once said, it is my damn blog and I can have more than one quote of the day if I want.
First, nobody ever governed themselves accordingly based on a threat from a hotmail account. Second, are you using some sort of comma-based operating system? Third, what the fuck are you talking about?
-Ken @ Popehat
If I ever take a class where I have write my own operating system, it will be comma-based and called “Ken”.
May 17th, 2013
Why do Android podcast clients suck?
I’ve written previously about my experience with the awful Pocket Casts application.
I dumped that and started using Google Listen. Google Listen frequently fails to completely download all of a podcast (so you end up with one in the queue that’s cut short, without any warning), frequently hangs up when trying to add a new podcast, and is no longer supported or maintained by Google. (Edited to add: Also, my phone frequently reboots while Google Listen is running, but I’m not sure if that is a Google Listen problem or a problem with some other application.)
I downloaded BeyondPod for my Kindle Fire. The free version (which I am using) has some limitations: you can’t set up automatic updates to your podcast feeds, nor can you download more than one podcast at a time. In order to activate those features, you have to pay $6.99 for an unlock code. Personally, I think that’s a bit steep for a podcast client, but if BeyondPod actually did what I wanted it to do, I’d pay that.
However, BeyondPod has a couple of what I consider to be crippling issues:
- I find the user interface to be completely counter-intuitive. For example, if I have a podcast on my playlist, playing, and I want to switch to the player controls (to rewind, pause, or fast forward) I can’t figure out how to do that. Sometimes BeyondPod will display player controls underneath the playlist, other times it doesn’t. Sometimes you can swipe up and see the controls for the specific podcast; sometimes you can’t. There seems to me to be no rhyme or reason to what controls BeyondPod displays when and where, and how to get from one set of controls to another.
- Then there’s my personal favorite BeyondPod “feature”. If you have a playlist, and you’re looking at the feeds for a podcast (say, you want to read the notes on a specific podcast), and you accidentally touch in the wrong place, BeyondPod starts playing the podcast you’re looking at. This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that BeyondPod also wipes out your existing playlist. Oh, you wanted to listen just to that podcast, or you missed the touch target and didn’t intend to play that podcast at all? Too bad, so sad, rebuild your playlist. That’s a deal breaker for me; no, I will not pay you $7 for a podcast client that erases my playlists.
All I want out of a podcast client is a few basic, simple things:
- Maintain a feed of the podcasts I want to listen to.
- Reliably download those podcasts. If a podcast fails to completely download, either warn me or retry until it does.
- Let me mark podcasts as listened or not listened.
- Let me fast forward/rewind within the currently playing podcast.
- Let me have a playlist of podcasts that I can easily rearrange.
That’s pretty much it. There are some other features that would be nice (ability to sync across multiple platforms, for example) but not essential to me. So why is this so hard?
Android fans constantly bash Apple and iTunes. Yes, iTunes has problems, most of which involve trying to put too many functions into one piece of software. But for all the problems iTunes has, it is at least capable of doing all of the things on my minimum list. I can’t say that for any Android client I’ve tried so far.
May 17th, 2013
When thrown into water, (dimethylcadmium) sinks to the bottom in large drops, which decompose in a series of sudden explosive jerks, with crackling sounds…
–Derek Lowe, “Things I Won’t Work With: Dimethylcadmium”
In other news, “A Series Of Sudden Explosive Jerks, With Crackling Sounds”, is the title of the next album from the Suicide Revolutionary Jazz Band.
May 17th, 2013
Actual headline on an AP story from the NYT:
Birth of Anteater Has Conn. Zoo Staff Puzzled
Well, you see, when a mommy anteater and a daddy anteater love each other very much….
Obit watch: NASCAR driver Dick Trickle. The NYT obit (by way of the AP) is just awful: here’s a better obit from the HouChron.
May 15th, 2013
As long as we’re talking about Lawrence’s review of General Idi Amin Dada, I have a question that’s bugging me, and I know I have some aviation buffs in my audience.
What are these planes? I apologize for the pictures: they are actually screen snapshots from the DVD, and I tried to get ones that showed the best possible angles. Click to embiggen.
Lawrence suggested they might be MiGs, and I know the Ugandan Air Force had MiG-15s and MiG-17s. But both the 15 and 17 have a really blunt open nose, while these planes have a more rounded one. I don’t think these are Fouga Magisters either, because they lack the V-tail. I believe these are some sort of two seat jet trainer, and they may be French. But I can’t tell, and it really bugs me that I can’t figure it out. Maybe if I’m lucky Tam will see this. For some reason, I’ve also got in my head that the good and great Brian Dunbar knows his planes. And, of course, there’s RoadRich…
Okay. I lied. One more “one more thing”, just because this amuses me, and I’m pretty sure it amused Lawrence as well.
(Okay, one last thing. It irritates the fire out of me that Apple disabled screen captures from DVD Player in the Grab utility. And they don’t just throw up a “You can’t do this” popup: Grab lets you do the capture, but the resulting file is just a checkerboard grey and white pattern. Fortunately, VLC will a) playback DVDs, and b) even has a built-in “Snapshot” menu option. Hurray open source.)
May 15th, 2013
Lawrence has put up a review of Barbet Schroeder’s classic documentary, General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait, which we watched at his house the other night.
Don’t have much to add to what he says, and I agree with him pretty much 100%, so I encourage you to wander over there and read his review.
Bacon numbers of note: Idi Amin – Bacon number of 3, if you include TV shows. Otherwise, the Oracle of Bacon says Amin can’t be linked to Bacon, which I find hard to swallow. (I checked using both “Idi Amin” and “Idi Amin Dada”.)
Fidel Castro, on the other hand, has a Bacon number of 2. Castro is linked to Bacon through Detective Munch and something called “Marilyn Monroe: Murder on Fifth Helena Drive” which is scheduled for release sometime in 2013.
May 15th, 2013
Obit watch: “flamboyant swindler” Billie Sol Estes. NYT.
Mr. Estes’s daughter Pamela Padget said that he died in his sleep and was found in his recliner.
The AP adds the telling detail that he died with chocolate chip cookie crumbs on his lips.
Billie Sol was a little before my time, much less the time of some of my younger readers, but the NYT gives a good one-paragraph summary:
Nonexistent fertilizer tanks. Faked mortgages. Bogus cotton-acreage allotments. Farmers in four states bamboozled. Strange “suicides,” including a bludgeoned investigator shot five times with a bolt-action rifle. Assassination plots. Jimmy Hoffa and Fidel Castro. Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald.
Paging Mayor Bloomberg! Mayor Bloomberg, white courtesy phone, please!
…the new expert committee, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there was no rationale for anyone to aim for sodium levels below 2,300 milligrams a day. The group examined new evidence that had emerged since the last such report was issued, in 2005.
I remember when the blood alcohol limit was 0.10%. I remember the arguments at the time for and against lowering the limit to 0.08%. The one question I had was: how many accidents were caused by drivers who were at 0.08% or above, but below 0.10%? I never got an answer to that question, and it didn’t matter anyway, since the government issued a decree:
Initially, Congress choose the carrot over the stick, creating a $500-million incentive fund to coax states into enacting the 0.08% standard. But after only a few states did, lawmakers voted in 2000 to require states to set a 0.08% blood-alcohol level or lose millions of dollars in federal highway funds. Currently, all states use the 0.08% standard to define drunk driving for non-commercial drivers ages 21 and older.
And now the government is talking about dropping it down to 0.05%. Again, I ask: how many accidents are caused by people at or above 0.05% but below 0.08%? There was a report on Reason‘s website (I can’t find it right now) that estimated “500-800″ lives saved per year by lowering the limit to 0.05%. But does this take into account the number of lives that might be lost by diverting police resources to pursue drivers at the 0.05% level, instead of pursuing other crimes?
…the board’s recommendation came on the 25th anniversary of the nation’s worst drunk-driving crash when an intoxicated driver, going the wrong way on Interstate 71 near Carrollton, Ky., killed 24 teenagers and three adults on a school bus and injured 34 others.
Larry Wayne Mahoney, the intoxicated driver, had a 0.24% BAC at the time of the crash, so he was already DWI even by 1988 standards, let alone the 2000 standard or the proposed 0.05% standard. Most of the serious DWI accidents I hear about involve people who are above – in many cases, way above – the 0.10% mark. Would we save more lives going after the highly intoxicated drunk; the guy who blows a 0.20% or the gal who blows a 0.25%?
May 14th, 2013
New posts over at the SDC site: a review of Pinthouse Pizza (updates to come) and a post about America’s favorite British chef and the latest episode of his TV show. (Can you say, “batshit crazy”, boys and girls?)
On a semi-unrelated note, I have an App.net account now. I will try to start sending out notifications of new and updated posts here and on the SDC site.
May 14th, 2013
Dr. Joyce Brothers. NYT. LAT. I think my older readers are aware of this bit of trivia, but I insert it here for the benefit of the younger set:
Milton Brothers’s residency paid $50 a month. Joyce Brothers, who had a steel-trap memory, decided to supplement their income by appearing on a quiz show. She settled on “The $64,000 Question,” produced in New York and broadcast on CBS. On the show, contestants answered a string of increasingly difficult questions in fields of their choosing.
Dr. Brothers quickly saw that the show prized incongruous matches of contestant and subject: the straight-backed Marine officer who was an expert on gastronomy; the cobbler who knew all about opera. What she decided, would be more improbable than a petite psychologist who was a pundit of pugilism?
She embarked on weeks of intensive study, a process little different, she later said, from preparing to write a doctoral dissertation. She made her first appearance on the show in late 1955, returning week after week until she had won the top prize, $64,000 — only the second person, and the first woman, to do so. She later won the same amount, also for boxing knowledge, on a spinoff show, “The $64,000 Challenge.”
I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to find the specific question Dr. Brothers answered for “The $64,000 Question”. The NYT has the answer, I think (the writing in that last paragraph is a bit fuzzy).
In other news, the HouChron reports that the Dallas Police Department is giving the “police commendation award” to retired detective Jim Leavelle. Why does this matter? Well, you probably know who Jim Leavelle is, but not by name:
That’s Leavelle in the hat handcuffed to Oswald.
May 13th, 2013
Yes, I finally went to see it. Yes, I even sprang for the 3-D version. I run a full service blog here.
tl,dr: Wait for it on cable.
- This is a highly personal reaction, influenced by a lot of things. In particular, I think I have a weakness for 1920′s era flapper outfits. But Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan are both just…wow. I don’t know how I can put it without lapsing into the vulgar. Perhaps I should just say I would be delighted to take either one (or both) of them out for a cheeseburger and the amusing house red. Indeed, one of the reasons I wanted to post this is so I could link to photos of both young ladies. Ms. Debicki:
and Ms. Mulligan:
- Tobey Maguire did not work for me as Nick Carraway. I felt that he exhibited a limited emotional range: either vaguely petulant or slightly baffled. When he did try to express happiness or friendship, he seemed stiff.
- Jay Z’s music was…well, let me be polite and say simply “not memorable”.
- The 3-D does not add much to the movie. There are a few neat tricks (the closing credits in particular are kind of trippy in a geometric sort of way), but I don’t believe you’ll miss anything if you stick with 2-D.
- There were more than a few CG shots in the movie that were so poorly done and so obviously CG that they took me out of the movie. Luckily, all I had to do was wait for Ms. Debicki or Ms. Mulligan to come back on screen…
- Other than the bad CG, though, there is a lot of lush and beautiful photography in the movie. It is pretty to look at…
- …but ultimately empty. I think the biggest failure of the movie isn’t in conveying Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy; that comes across just fine. The point that I think Baz Luhrmann missed (along with Craig Pearce, the other credited screenwriter) is that Daisy is an unworthy vessel for Gatsby’s affection. Tom and Daisy are empty, shallow, vain people. Gatsby’s death isn’t the tragedy; the true tragedy is that he brings about his own end through his pursuit of Daisy, and that Daisy isn’t worth it. Luhrmann fails to develop Daisy in such a way that we’re able to see this. Towards the end of the movie, Maguire in his voiceover quotes the classic line about Tom and Daisy being “careless people“, but reading the words isn’t the same as demonstrating this to us.
I’m glad I went: it was, after all, a nice afternoon out at a nice theater. But I can’t recommend purchasing a ticket until The Great Gatsby comes to cable or the discount theater nearest you.