Archive for December, 2003

In the course of my job I come across a huge number of companies, names and addresses, and sometimes I encounter one that makes my eyebrows rise.

Today it’s a road in Santa Fe Springs, California named “Freeway Drive”.

The street-naming committee must’ve been drawing a real blank that day.

One of my favorite corporate oddities of all time is the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP. They commonly abbreviate their company name to “MoFo”, and their corporate slogan is “The MoFo Difference”. The company’s homepage is located at www.mofo.com.

I swear I’m not making that up. Click on the company link above if you don’t believe me.

They appear to be aware of the joke, although the company itself and the abbreviation predate the slang term by quite a few years. But they aggressively market themselves toward clients in the high-tech industry, where that sort of humor is undoubtedly appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚

But I think the “Out Of Left Field” award for a company name has to go to a UK firm called Tadpole Cycle. I’ve never been entirely clear on what they make, although it has nothing to do with tadpoles.

This is my favorite quote on the whole affair, from the Washington Post:

“Why didn’t you fight?” one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: “Would you fight them?”

Indeed.

As just about everybody probably knows by now, Coalition forces in Iraq have captured Saddam Hussein. They literally pulled him out of a hole in the ground. Initial reactions are about what you’d expect: Iraqis joyful, anti-war types dejected. Two points to Joe Liberman for his initial reaction: “Praise the Lord.” I may not agree with him about very much, but unlike most of his rivals he seems to know which side of the war he’s on.

Others in the blogosphere are covering this about a hundred times better than I ever could, so I’ll let them go to it. Me, I’ve got some Christmas shopping to do. The Iraqis may have their gift, but I still need to buy one for my dad.

Today we’re going to discuss the concept of goals. There is an individual who has been spamming the comments on this blog, mostly with the apparent aim of insulting me personally. I have amused myself for a few days by mocking him, but I thought I might take the opportunity to make him an example.

For the reader’s edification, here is one of “Smart One’s” early comments, which I think does a good job of embodying the spirit of his remarks. This is exactly as he entered the comment. Clearly another poor soul with a broken keyboard:

“ANNE IS OBVIOUS YOUR STUPIDITY REACHES NO LIMIT. AFTER READING YOUR MONOTONOUS RACIALLY INSULTING ARTICLE(OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT) I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT DID NOT DO YOUR RESEARCH. I END MY COMMENT, BY SAYING AGAIN THE YOUR IDIOTIC STUPIDITY REACHES TO LIMIT. I RECOMMEND THAT TO SEARCH FOR IMMEADIATE PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP, BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY YOU MENTALLITY IS NO MENTALLITY, YOU IDIOTIC UNINTELLIGENT STUPID GIRL, I END THIS COMMENT BY THE SECOND TIME BY ENJOYING MYSELF BY SAYING THAT YOU ARE MENTALLY INCAPABLE. IF YOU WISH TO FURTHER DEBATE YOUR STUPIDITY POST A COMMENT(TRY TO MAKE IT NON-IDIOTIC PLEASE)AND I’LL ANSWER TO ALMOST TO HUMAN INTELLIGENCE COMMENT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. AND AGAIN(SINCE I KNOW MENTALLY RETARTED PEOPLE, LIKE YOU, HAVE SHORT TERM MEMORY) I MUST REMIND YOU OF YOUR IDIOTIC STUPIDITY.

P.S. I CHOSE NOT TO TALK ON THE ISSUE OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO GET IN TO THE ISSUE OF YOUR STUPIDITY AND IMMIGRATION, BUT ON A SATURDAY NIGHT I JUST MIGHT COMMENT ON IMMIGRATION, BY THE WAY I DO KNOW THAT YOU’RE UNINTELLIGENT OPINION IS INCORRECT. DON’T TRY TO E-MAIL ME, BECUASE, WHAT EVER STUPID COMMENT YOU MIGHT TRY TO SEND WON’T BE RECEIVED BY ME, OR ANY BODY ELSE. AGAIN I RECOMMEND YOU TO CONSIDER A PSYCHOLOGIST”

The potential for mockery of this is pretty huge, I admit. I often wonder if writing posts like this causes MS Word to have a meltdown. But after reading the ongoing spamming and IP switching (to avoid IP bans), I have to ask this question:

“What is his goal?”

If his goal is to change my mind, this is not the way to do it. I won’t be persuaded to alter my opinion based on this kind of discourse. If Smart One wishes to actually persuade me to his point of view, there are more constructive steps that can be taken, such as:

1. Pointing out specific statements I have made that he believes are false, and why.

2. Making specific points of his own that stand up to objective scrutiny.

3. Speaking in a calm, rational tone without resorting to personal insults, profanity, or tangential issues.

So far, Smart One has done none of these three things. Therefore persuasion is not a goal he can accomplish.

This leads to a second possible goal, which is to make me feel bad by insulting my intelligence, my self worth, my gender, and anything else that might be considered hurtful.

If this is Smart One’s goal, that too is not working, for the following reasons:

1. The fact that he can’t spell his insults correctly undermines the insult by making me laugh, which is presumably not the desired outcome.

2. Lack of creativity.

3. Perhaps the most important point, I only care about the judgement of people whose judgements I respect in turn. I do not respect Smart One or anything he has to say, therefore his words have no impact, and no effect on my self esteem, Q.E.D.

So is there a third goal? The only one I can think of it that he is trying to make himself feel better by heaping vituperation upon me. I don’t know if it works. Perhaps Smart One will enlighten us as to whether his happiness is increased as a result of the time he spends spamming my blog. If so, then of course we can get back to the mockery.

In any case, I would submit that this goal, even if accomplished, is not worth the effort because all it really is, is a band-aid over a more deeply rooted problem of low self-esteem, self-hatred, and a sense of failure. The sheer intensity of the contempt and hate that is evident in Smart One’s posts is really kind of sad, and he doesn’t seem to be a very happy person (although it might be taken as evidence that my opinions hit a nerve).

This is something that should be kept in mind at all times when engaged in a debate with another person. What is your goal? Consider whether your technique is advancing your goal or not, and adjust accordingly.

I have enabled HTML and URL links in the comments now. It was pissing me off that it wasn’t there. ๐Ÿ™‚

*sigh*

I’m sitting here looking at my Citibank MasterCard, which I have just cut up into little pieces after getting a phone call from Citibank.

At some point when I used my card (probably at a restaurant where the card was out of my sight briefly), someone swiped it through a reader that recorded the information on the magnetic stripe.

A counterfeit MasterCard was made with someone else’s name on it, and my account info encoded on the stripe. That card was used in the New York City area over the past three days to make more than $3,000 worth of fraudulent charges.

Citibank noticed this activity and notified me (they actually called me the same day it started but when I called them back the person I spoke to could not find any notations on my file about it).

I have to fill out an affidavit when I get my statement to refute the fraud charges, but under the law I’m only liable for a maximum of $50, and with Citibank I’m not liable for anything.

Still, I have to wait up to 7 days for another card. They offered to overnight it to me, which I would have to sign for, but I have another credit card I can use in the meanwhile.

Ironically, there’s very little I can do to prevent this kind of thing except to pay cash for things like restaurant bills. I had some identity fraud problems earlier in the year, and I have a Fraud Alert on all of my bank accounts. I do everything right according to the FTC guidelines for protecting myself, but there are still opportunities for problems.

*sigh*

So they’ve arrested some guy named David E. Maust for the murder of three teenagers in Indiana. What really struck me was this guy’s picture. Is it just me, or does he look like Keith Szarabajka? (I’d link to a picture except that I can’t find any on the web that I can directly link).

Brought to you by some dumbass in Connecticut.

A few notes for the nice individual with IP address 66.119.33.170:

1) Learn to spell.
2) Learn to use lower-case letters when appropriate.
3) Get a new IP address, ‘cuz you ain’t posting any more comments from the old one.

Disagreement is fine. Comment spamming is not.

That is all.

I was never a big fan of the original Battlestar Galactica tv show. I was just a little too young when it was originally aired, and trying to watch it as an adult is an exercise in serious pain due to the Evil 70’s Flashbacks. Still, I always felt like there was a good show lurking somewhere underneath trying to escape. So I was cautiously optimistic when I heard about the new remake/mini-series. Now I’ve had a chance to watch both parts, and to think about it for a bit. So, while the rest of the blogosphere is off talking about trivial minutae like massive anti-terror protests in Baghdad or the Supreme Court gutting the First Amendment, I’m going to write about something important: the latest remake of a bad 70’s tv show.

As I said above, I always thought there was a good dramatic idea lurking somewhere underneath the original tv show. The core of Battlestar Galactica is, IMHO, about the aftermath of a crushing, society-wide catastrophe. The worst thing imaginable has happened. Most of the people you know are dead. The handful of survivors are on the run, hunted by forces far more powerful who will exterminate them if possible. What kind of an impact does that have on a people? How do they go on? How do those who were originally tasked with protecting the society deal with their failure?

Although far from perfect, I thought the remake did a much better job of touching on these sorts of concerns. It felt much darker and more serious than the original. (The fact that they actually bothered to hire decent actors was a big help: the only member of the original cast who could act their way out of a wet paper bag was Lorne Greene.)

So without further ado, some of the things that stuck in my mind after watching the remake.

The Good:

  • The acting. Much better than the original.
  • The effects work. They managed to find yet another way to present space battles that looked good, but wasn’t obviously derivative of other major works in the genre.
  • The highly ambiguous rendering of Dr. Gaius Baltar. In the original series, Baltar was very archetypal, very two-dimensional. He was “The Traitor”. In the remake, Baltar’s role is much more subtle. He’s highly intelligent, very self-centered, but gullible and subject to manipulation. In many ways, he is the first victim of the Cylons, and he spends much of the show coming to terms with that fact and trying to make up for the damage he enabled the Cylons to inflict on his species. Yet he is also weak enough to want to conceal his responsibility for the destruction. I can see a lot of interesting ways his character could be developed, and I’d like to watch them.
  • The many quick nods to the original series buried for fans of the old show. Examples include: The use of the original opening theme music during the ceremonial Viper fly-by; the sketches of the original Cylon design in the papers of the Ambassador at the start of the show; the mimicry of some of the pulse-gun combat shots that were so egregiously overused in the original show; and the insertion of the line “By your command” at the very end. These sorts of touches indicate that the people doing the remake knew about and were fond of their original source material even as they adapted it for their own ends.
  • The tough choices. The show carried through and presented some of the wrenchingly painful decisions that have to be made in times of war, e.g. the occasional necessity of sacrificing some to save the lives of many more. And moreover the show tried to indicate the toll that making those decisions has on the people with the responsibility for making them.

The Bad:

  • Boxey. Any time I see a child in a science-fiction television show I cringe and lunge for the mute button. I’m one of the people who went to see TOY SOLDIERS just to watch Wil Wheaton’s character get killed by machine-gun fire. In this case the pain wasn’t too bad, mostly because the kid in question had almost no lines, but if the series continues I have difficulty thinking of anything they could do with this character that I wouldn’t consider Deep Hurting.
  • The music. The opening chords of Stu Phillips’ theme (which I always suspected he stole from John Williams’ wastebasket and then didn’t know how to develop, but I digress) were like the opening fanfare of STAR WARS. Both bits of music were instantly recognizable and strongly identified with their respective sources. The music in the new Galactica mini-series is, to put the point charitably, forgettable.
  • No synthetic robot voices. Even though they got the “By your command” line in, it just doesn’t sound right unless it’s ‘spoken’ by a cheezy voice synthesizer.
  • The editing. This thing was obviously edited down until it screamed for mercy, and then cut down some more. The Sci-Fi Channel ran it in two slightly oversized blocks (2 hours 9 minutes for part 1, and 2 hours 6 minutes for part 2) and it still had a number of places where things had obviously been left out. Boomer, in particular, had a tendency to mysteriously teleport from one place to another, e.g. from orbit to the surface of the planet, or from the planet to Colonial One. This gives the production a choppy feeling. And yet at the same time some scenes are done very slowly and sometimes seem to drag a bit. I really hope they release a Directors Cut on DVD that hasn’t been chopped down to meet the Procrustean limits of cable broadcasting. (The fact that my TiVo chose to spontaneously “edit out” a couple of critical scenes, such as the final one between Commander Adama and the President, didn’t help either.)

The Whatever:

  • Character changes. Some people apparently went ballistic because the Starbuck and Boomer characters were changed from male to female. I was more bemused by the conversion of Colonel Tigh into an elderly caucasian alcoholic, myself. But then again I was always more interested in the backstory of the show than in the character relationships, so the changes they made there didn’t bother me much at all.

Bottom line: I’m not sure this would work well as a television series, but if they want to make a follow-up mini-series I’ll definitely watch it. And if they make the extended DVD version I referred to above, I’ll probably buy it.