Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Health Care Reconciliation Bill Also Makes Government Primary Student Loan Lender

From the LA Times:

President Obama signed into law the last piece of his mammoth plan to overhaul healthcare Tuesday, and achieved another dramatic and far-reaching change with the very same pen stroke -- revamping the way most Americas help pay for a college education.

The bill shifts responsibility for making low-interest student loans to the government, ending the federal subsidies and guarantees now given to private banks that lend to students.

Overhauling the loan program, which fulfilled an Obama campaign promise, was a kind of stealth accomplishment for the president, coming as rider on the final piece of healthcare legislation.

Yet another government takeover of a private sector activity. Regardless of its merits, why exactly was this slipped into the health care reconciliation bill at the last minute? This is just another example of a devious and underhanded way of imposing more government upon the people.

I contend that if something is good enough to become a law, that it should be sent as its own bill and debated separately on its own merits, not hidden as a rider in another bill.

This is exactly what we on the anti-Obamacare side of the aisle were saying would happen with a bill that runs in excess of 2,000 pages. We've only just begun to find out all the absolute crap that's hidden in it.

Power Grab, Yet Again.

Every day it seems there's another story about another government agency power grab, and most of them are in sneaky, clandestine ways.

From AdAge:

The American Advertising Federation sent an e-mail today to its members warning them of impending legislation that it claims, if passed, could give the Federal Trade Commission "dramatically increased power," allowing it to easily enact industry-wide rules limiting advertising. Clark Rector, exec VP-government affairs at the AAF, said the legislation could be passed shortly after Congress gets back from its recess early next month.

Mr. Rector said the legislation is part of a financial-regulation reform bill, which has already passed the House, and that language "buried" in that bill would repeal the safeguards that have kept FTC rulemaking on advertising in check for over 30 years.

Under the current law, the FTC, before enacting industry-wide rules, is required to hold hearings on the proposed rules, prepare a statement of basis and purpose including the economic impact of a rule and identify an actual harm that a proposed rule is designed to address.

The new rulemaking procedures, according to the AAF's e-mail, would allow the FTC to issue rules "by simply publishing them in the Federal Register, wait 60 days for comments, and then issue a final rule." Mr. Rector said the most serious of the proposed changes issued by the commission would require a "court to determine that the FTC was arbitrary or capricious or abused its discretion before the court could overturn a rule, which is an almost impossible standard to meet if challenging a rule." Today the courts can send a rule back to the FTC if there is a lack of substantial evidence to uphold it.

Insects Wet and Wild

From the UK Mail:

Incredible and beautiful images of insects covered in water. I know he says these shots were taken close to his home in Poland, but word is that it was actually somewhere near Daytona on Spring Break.

See the whole set here.

Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time

From the NY Times:

The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

The proposal -- a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of
affected states and many environmental organizations -- would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the
East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.

Great, but "WTF," I though. Wasn't Sarah Palin derided in the last election for her chants of "drill, baby, drill?" But then I read this...

The proposal is intended to reduce dependence on oil imports, generate revenue from the sale of offshore leases and help win political support for comprehensive energy and climate legislation.

And there's the catch. In a bit of twisted logic that is going to cause some environmentalists to implode, Obama is willing to trade offshore drilling for support for Cap & Trade. Not a good bargain.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One of My iPad Arguments - The Biggest One - Bites the Dust

So it turns out that you WILL be able to load photos from your camera directly onto the iPad, after all, as showcased in this tutorial video. That was one of my biggest hangups about the iPad in this piece two months ago.

I foresee the iPad being the perfect tool to take on vacations or photo trips. Shoot all day, then download photos from the camera at the end of the day and preview them on the iPad to determine which to keep and which to trash. I don't think I would want to run Photoshop or a really hefty image editor on the iPad with its current specs, but for initial daily viewing, it should be great.

So I guess I'm saying that I'm in.

Now the dilemma: new tires for the front end of the truck or an iPad?

Update: I wonder if it will recognize RAW files?

Speak & Spell Emulator

I spent countless hours with both my Speak & Spell and Speak & Math when I was little. I ran across this today when trying to see if they still sold them for my kids...

A Speak & Spell Emulator!

You can either click on the keys on the screen or use your keyboard to interact. Awesome.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Most Non-Shocking Non-News, Ever

From Yahoo News:

After years of keeping quiet about his personal life, pop star Ricky Martin has announced that he is gay.

"I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man," Ricky said in a message posted on his offical Web site. "I am very blessed to be who I am."

Come on. We've all been saying this since 1999. ZZZZzzzZZzZzZzZzZzzzZzzzz......

Waking Sleeping Beauty

Looks amazing. Unfortunately, no Houston or Austin screenings, according to the official website.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


About ten years ago, I got to work for several days on a video shoot with Gene Cernan, the last man ever to walk on the moon. I still count it as one of the greatest experiences of my life.

This morning I got an e-mail from my cousin, who works in Bahrain in the hotel industry. He got to meet both Neil Armstrong (the first man to walk on the moon) AND Jim Lovell (of Apollo 13).

Flat. Out. Awesome.

Thanks to Bassem for sharing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Arizona to Pass Nation's Toughest Immigration Law

From ABC News:

A bill empowering police to arrest illegal immigrants and charge them with trespassing for simply being in the state of Arizona, is likely just weeks away from becoming the toughest law of its kind anywhere in the country.

Already passed by the state's Senate and currently being reconciled with a similar version in the House, the bill would essentially criminalize the presence of the 460,000 illegal immigrants living in the state.

The measure allows police to detain people on the suspicion that they are illegal immigrants, outlaws citizens from employing day laborers, and makes it illegal for anyone to transport an illegal immigrant, even a family member, anywhere in the state.

The bill's supporters say a local crackdown has become a necessity because the federal government has failed to adequately seal the borders or actively enforce its laws. They blame Arizona's spiraling crime and unemployment rates on its large population of illegal immigrants.

"When you come to America you must have a permission slip, period," said state Sen. Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who sponsored the bill. "You can't break into my country, just like you can't break into my house."

Damn right. Now bring the law to Texas.


This weekend Republican U.S. Senator John McCain will campaign in Arizona with his former vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin.

McCain is in the midst of one of the toughest primary campaigns of a lengthy career in politics.

McCain, who once back a bipartisan effort to grant illegal immigrants amnesty, has deflected questions about whether he supports the legislation.

"It's a state issue," McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told ABC News via e-mail.

Contender J.D. Hayworth, a former Republican congressman, however, has come out to actively support the bill and used McCain's ambiguity to attack him.

This is the exact reason McCain didn't get more Conservative support in the last presidential election. He's either on the wrong side or soft on all the wrong issues. It's time for McCain to go.

The Difference Between Nerd, Dork and Geek Explained

Thanks to Matt, my fellow geek.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Copy and Paste ... in Snow Leopard

One of the (only) things that for years I was truly envious of my Windows-using friends for having was the ability to copy a file in the windows explorer and then paste in a folder elsewhere. It just made sense when moving large numbers of files, duplicating files and for quickly throwing a file somewhere without having to open more than one window.

I don't recall it being touted when Snow Leopard came out last year, but Mac users now have the ability to copy and paste files and folders.

I've used this quite a bit lately when copying files to a duplicate location on either a flash drive or onto a server.

Thanks, Apple.

Obama, Reid an Pelosi Exempt Themselves and Staff from Health Care Bill

From the website of Congressman John Carter:

In what will likely be recorded as the greatest political hypocrisy in American history, President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have exempted the entire Administration along with House and Senate leadership and committee staff members from participation in their new federal healthcare gulags, while forcing rank-and-file House and Senate staff out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) and into the restricted federal health insurance pools, along with the rest of working Americans.

“This is such an incredible affront to every principle of equality in this country that it demands an immediate apology to the nation by the President,” says House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter. “That should be followed by a straight up-and-down vote in the House and Senate on a bill requiring every Member and staff in both Houses and the Administration be included in this new monstrosity, with no exceptions for leadership, committee staff, the President’s cabinet, or the President. If they think this crap is good enough for Joe the Plumber, then it should be good enough for Barack Obama, Rahm Emmanuel, and Tim Geithner.”

HR 3590, signed into law by President Obama earlier today, removes House and Senate Members and their official staff from FEHBP, forcing them and the rest of the country into the new federal exchanges. However, the bill was amended by Reid in the Senate to exclude all leadership and committee staff, who along with the President, Vice-President, Cabinet Members, thousands of Obama Administration staff, and an unknown number of Czars, would be allowed to remain in the superior FEHBP program.

Carter, himself a member of the House Republican leadership with staffers that would be included in the waiver, says the law should be applied equally to all, or none.

“Either every Member of Congress and the Administration and their staff at every level should move to the federal exchanges, or no American anywhere should be forced to do so. Senator Reid’s actions speak much louder than his words on what this bill was really about,” says Carter.

This is exactly why people are pissed at Congress. I somewhat disagree with the Congressman, though. If a law is good enough for everyone else in the country, it should be good enough for Congress as well, no exceptions. They should not be allowed to make themselves above the laws they subject us to.

Thanks to Russell for the heads up.

Administration Plans Program to Cut Mortgage Debt of Troubled Borrowers

From the NYTimes:

The Obama administration will announce a major new housing
initiative on Friday that will directly tackle the problem of
the millions of Americans who owe more on their houses than
they are worth. The government will buy loans from investors
at the current value of the house in an effort to stabilize
the market, people briefed on the plan said. The government
will also increase incentive payments to lenders that cut the
principal of borrowers in modification programs. And it will
require lenders to cut the monthly payments of unemployed
borrowers for a minimum of three months.

Oh, my God. When will the government stop spending money it doesn't have?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain

From Princeton University (via Daring Fireball):

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

Finally, scientific evidence to back up my hypothesis.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Forgot How Much I Love Foxtrot

Some Nuggets from Obamacare

From the AP:

When fully phased in, 94 percent of eligible non-elderly Americans will have coverage, compared with 83 percent now.

What? Not 100 percent like we were all led to believe?

$938 billion over 10 years for the coverage expansion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Does this sound to anyone else like seeing something for sale for $9.49? It's a pricing gimmick, made to make you think it's less expensive than it is. Most people won't round it up to the $1 trillion that it is or realize that the CBO is never, ever correct in their estimates. They always estimate way, way under what the actual cost of things end up being.

Almost everyone will be required to be insured or else pay a fine, which takes effect in 2014. There is an exemption for low-income people.

There always is, isn't there? I thought this whole thing was about them and those who couldn't afford health care. Why not offer a cheap government program just for these people and leave the rest of us alone to live our lives? Boom. One page health care bill. It's because this has never been about health care.

Starting this year, insurers will be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions, and from canceling policies because someone gets sick. Parents will be able to keep children on their coverage up to age 26. A new high-risk pool will offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into high gear. Major consumer safeguards will also take effect in 2014. Insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more. Insurers will not be able to charge women more.

So health insurance companies are now prohibited from dropping people who are a bad risk or are losing them money. They will be required to cover people who are bad risks and can't even charge more to people on whom they will be spending more money? The economic consequences of this are obvious - it's going to run private insurance companies out of business, forcing everyone eventually onto government-run health insurance (which doesn't have to make a profit).

If the Senate approves a package of changes this week, a special deal that would have given Nebraska 100 percent federal financing for newly eligible Medicaid recipients in perpetuity would be eliminated. A different, one-time deal negotiated by Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu for her state, Louisiana, worth as much as $300 million, would remain.


The bill applies an increased Medicare payroll tax to investment income and wages of individuals making more than $200,000 a year, or married couples above $250,000.

Wait. Hold on. That's a new tax. I invest, and I hope that my investment income goes up and up and up. I also hope someday to make more than $250,000. But the Washington Post assured me that nothing for me would change and that my taxes wouldn't be going up.

The tax on investment income would be 3.8 percent if the Senate acts on a package of changes this week — higher than originally proposed. If the Senate follows through, the legislation also would impose a 40 percent tax on high-cost insurance plans worth more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax would go into effect in 2018.

Emphasis mine. Three days after the thing was passed and they're already busting the numbers and breaking promises? Also, doesn't it seem odd that there's a tax in here that doesn't even go into effect for EIGHT YEARS!??! Why in the world would they do that? Could it be that they were trying to hide it? Eight years from now you'll be hit with a sucker-punch tax out of nowhere and the people who passed it will be long gone and completely unaccountable. Shameful and abusive.

Employers are hit with a fee if the government subsidizes their workers' coverage. Contingent on approval by the Senate this week, the $2,000-per-employee fee would be assessed on the company's entire work force, minus an allowance. Companies with 50 or fewer workers are exempt from the requirement.

Translation: the government is now requiring businesses to offer health insurance whether they can afford it or not. But if they can't afford it and have to have the government subsidize their employee's coverage that they're required by law to offer, then they will be penalized $2000 per person for every employee in the company. Is it just me, or is this kinda like a bank charging huge overdraft fees to a person who doesn't have enough money in their checking account to cover what they already owe, especially if the fees are as a result of the bank previously charging overdraft fees? If a company can't afford to offer health insurance before, how are they going to be able to afford mandated health coverage (even if partially subsidized) and $2000 per employee? This is going to run countless mom and pop businesses out of businesses.

Businesses with 25 or fewer employees that offer health coverage to their work force will get tax credits. The credits will start this year and rise in 2014 to a maximum of 50 percent of the cost of premiums offered by the smallest businesses, those with 10 or fewer workers.

Odd that this number is 25 and not 49. Why is there such a gap?

Small businesses, the self-employed and the uninsured could pick a plan offered through new state-based purchasing pools called exchanges, opening for business in 2014. The exchanges will offer the same kind of purchasing power that employees of big companies benefit from. People working for medium-to-large firms will not see major changes. But if they lose their jobs or strike out on their own, they may be eligible for subsidized coverage through the exchange, and insurers could not deny them coverage.

Buh-huh? There are already private co-ops like this. Why the need for the government to interfere? Oh, wait. It's all about control. And that last sentence - there's the government forcing insurance companies to take on bad risk again. Hmmm. This is sure starting to sound to health care like what the government did to the housing market when it required lenders to give low-interest loans to people who couldn't afford to pay for what they were getting. But that's okay- nothing bad happened with that, right?

The legislation cuts about $455 billion over 10 years from projected payment increases to hospitals, insurance companies and others under Medicare and other government health programs. Revenue increases over 10 years include: $210 billion from increasing the Medicare payroll tax; $107 billion from fees on insurance companies, drug makers and medical device manufacturers; $32 billion from the excise tax on high-value insurance plans; and $2.7 billion from a tax on indoor tanning services.

They're increasing demand for doctors' services and cutting funding for the services they are mandating. And would you look at all the new taxes they're imposing... Anyone who thinks that either companies who are being taxed in such a way won't pass the cost on to consumers or go out of business if they're not allowed to is stupid, or a Democrat... or both.

And I wonder why indoor tanning places are such a scourge on society tat they are not only specifically targeted but were made the first, immediate tax increase? What about ice cream shops, or convenience stores or fast food restaurants or ... oh, just wait. It's coming.

And why not a tax credit for people who belong to gyms? If you're going to punish unhealthy behavior, why not reward those who engage in activities that make them healthier? Because it's not about health care. It's about control.

No government-run insurance plan. People purchasing coverage through the new insurance exchanges will have the option of signing up for national plans overseen by the federal office that manages the health plans available to members of Congress. Those plans will be private, but one would have to be nonprofit.

Bullcrap. What part of any of this isn't being mandated and gerrymandered by the government? And what is Medicaid, if not a government-run health care plan? Exchange plans may, indeed, be private, but by being "overseen by the federal office that manages the health plans available to members of Congress," that pretty much makes them government-run, doesn't it?

The Taxes Begin Now.

Yesterday, I took a ridiculous survey on the Washington Post website. It asked four questions, then determined that nothing would change for me under Obamacare. It also assured me that my taxes wouldn't be going up. It determined that out of only four questions. From a 2,000+ page bill that no one even knows all the details to yet. My BS detector redlined at that.

Then this from Bloomberg:

Indoor tanning salons will charge customers a 10 percent tax beginning today in just one of the changes Americans will see as a result of the U.S. health-care overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Now, I don't tan. But isn't that a new tax? I don't recall the Washington Post website asking me if I tanned at an indoor tanning facility. Wait- let me check. Nope. Not there.

Get ready, folks. There's going to be a lot more bullcrap like this coming down the road as the government forces itself into our lives and tells us what we can and can't do in our private lives on a daily basis.

Thanks, Democrats.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two New Movies That Should Never Have Been Made

The Prince & Me: The Elephant Adventure

Nanny McFee and the Big Bang

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Sharp TV Commercial is Not Only Creepy, But it Also Might Disrupt the Space/time Continuum, Resulting in an Alternate 2010

It begs the question: how can you show a better TV experience on an old (albeit HD) television?

From AdAge:

The new commercial, featuring actor George Takei of "Star Trek" fame, not only makes little attempt to demonstrate the product difference, it comes within a whisker of self-consciously pointing up the absurdity of attempting to demonstrate the product difference.

After all, showing superior color on a TV commercial is a visual tautology; the picture quality is confined to the picture quality of the set being watched. This leaves it only for the ad to imply (i.e., fake) superiority by splashing all sorts of bright, vivid primary and secondary colors on the screen, as luminously as possible.

The net net of all this is that a pretty good idea -- seeing it to believe it -- is largely squandered by all the goofy misdirection. This would include the casting. Takei may or may not retain some futuristic Mr. Sulu resonance, but if so, it is not exploited here. He's just a strange guy with a deep voice, dyed hair and a vaguely creepy sense of humor.

Times must be tough for George Takei.

Bend Over, America

Health Care "reform" passed last night. I've got a lot to say about it, but I thought my Congressman, Michael McCaul, summed it up pretty well:

In a desperate effort to pass a sweeping government takeover of our health care system, Democrats passed H.R. 3950 late Sunday night. The Patient Protection and Health Care Affordability Act along with a package of desired "fixes", H.R. 4872, The Health
Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act.  In a purely partisan fashion, the Democrats have now passed the largest tax increase in history, a massive expansion of entitlements, and policies which will put the health care system at the whim of the Federal Government. 

One of the most distressing aspects of this legislation is the dishonesty which has been utilized for its passage.  While I am pleased that the Democrats forfeited the "Deem-and-Pass" ploy to hide a vote on the Senate health care bill, I am shocked that they support this 2,700 page monstrosity, complete with its slew of sweetheart deals.  It includes the "Cornhusker Kickback", the "Gator Aid", the "Louisiana Purchase", and many others.  Despite the backlash that rightfully followed
these deceitful kickbacks, the Democrats included even more million-dollar deals for specific members in the reconciliation package.  This tactic is an abuse of power, an abuse of taxpayer money, and abandons the integrity that the American public expects from their Congress. 

The numbers in this package are astounding.  The bill costs about $1.2 trillion over the next ten years, imposes almost $570 billion
in new taxes on the American public, and cuts the Medicare program by over $500 billion.  As our economy attempts to recover from the largest recession since the Great Depression, this bill’s laundry list of new taxes is deplorable:

- $32 billion in taxes on health care benefits
- $52 billion in taxes on employers,
- $17 billion in penalties on individuals,
- $210.2 billion in an unprecedented Medicare tax on wages, self-employment income, and certain investment income, and many more.

While these taxes will be in effect immediately, 98% of the bill’s provisions do not begin until 2014.  Therefore, Americans will be paying for health reform for four years before reforms kick in.  Unbelievably, the bill’s true ten-year cost when fully
implemented totals about $2.4 trillion.

What may be worse than the vast cost of this bill are the budgetary gimmicks used in its scoring. The authors use *ten years of revenue to pay for only six years of government spending*.  They also *double count savings from Medicare cuts* to simultaneously pay for Medicare entitlements and the bill’s new entitlements.  Furthermore, the bill does not include the “doc fix,” legislation that will likely be passed separately to ensure doctors do not incur a huge cut in reimbursementsand costs an additional $371 billion. 

These methods were used to dupe the American people, a smoke-and-mirrors strategy to uphold President Obama’s pledge that health care reform will “not add a dime to the deficit.”  Unfortunately, if one omits these budgetary tricks from the bill’s cost, it will actually increase the deficit by almost $600 billion in the first ten years.

The structure of this bill is a clear effort to give the government complete control over health careit takes choice and flexibility from American citizens while also making them pay more.  For example, the bill instructs the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to determine what constitutes a "minimum benefits package" for all Americans, and then reserves the right to fine the American people two percent of their income for not purchasing this insurance.  I believe that individuals can best determine for themselves how comprehensive their health care insurance should be, and that Americans have many different needs which cannot be defined by a one-size-fits-all package.  Unfortunately, H.R. 3590 sets the stage for mandated, standardized health care. 

My Republican colleagues and I proposed legislation that would address the core reforms of ensuring access to care regardless of means and
pre-existing conditions without needlessly punishing individuals, families and businesses, without killing jobs, and without driving an estimated one-third of doctors out of their profession, as is cited in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Instead, the Democrats opted to push through their partisan, social agenda against the will of a majority of the American people.

I expect unemployment to spike by about 219 jobs in November...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Canon faces shortage of 70-200mm f/2.8 lens

From Digital Photography Review:

Canon Japan has announced a shortage of its recently released EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II USM lens because of higher than expected demand. The company says it is attempting to boost supply to meet demand across all markets.

What is it with the Japanese not being able to met demand lately? Last month it was another worldwide Wii shortage, and now this. As long as they have them back in stock by the fall...

Rush to Be Inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

From the RushConnect Newsletter:

RUSH will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Sunday, March 28th, 2010 at the gala held at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

The 5 RUSH songs entering the Hall of Fame are Tom Sawyer, The Spirit of Radio, Limelight, Closer to the Heart and Subdivisions. Which means Rush and their songs are joining the likes of Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi”, Burton Cummings/Randy Bachman “American Woman”, Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah”.

Interesting that they chose only those 5 songs. "Subdivisions" but not "Working Man?" "Closer to the Heart" and not "Cygnus X-1", "2112" or "Freewill" - truly masterpieces all, not that their five choices aren't masterpieces. I would think, though, that in a songwriters hall of fame, some of Rush's more beautifully-written songs would be chosen instead, such as Madrigal, The Trees, Tai Shan or Cinderella Man.

So now, hopefully, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction next? I mean, if Run-D.M.C. can get in, surely Rush can't be far behind. Right?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Miller to Use Pre-Prohibition Recipe

From MSN:

Batch 19 is a new beer being test-marketed by MillerCoors, and it has an interesting gimmick: It's based on a recipe that dates back to before Prohibition.

Batch 19 is being marketed as a "true, authentic, original beer," and it has a great backstory: A master brewer at MillerCoors unearthed the recipe in Coors' archives, and discovered that it was used to make beers before 1919. Hence, the name Batch 19.

Sounds kinda cool, actually. But then there's this:

MillerCoors is trying all kinds of stunts to improve its sales, including using a new bottle with grooves inside the neck that supposedly make for a better aroma and flavor...

I wish they would quit with the crappy-tasting beers, soft drinks, foods, chips, candies and other things that are just gimmicks. Just make a good product and become a legend.

Bearkats Choke, Lose to Baylor 68-59

One of the best, hardest fought games I've ever seen. And things looked good for the Bearkats right up until about the three minute mark. Then they just visibly crumbled. It was remarkable because you could almost see the moment the players knew the game was over.

Bearkats Lead Baylor 31-30 at Halftime

Go Kats.

The Making of Fiesta Sammy

Ever wonder what goes into the making of a Sammy Bearkat illustration?



Well, I'll tell you anyway. Actually, I'll show you. Unlike the last time, I remembered to capture the whole process. Actually, what you don't see is the stuff that isn't done on the computer: the sketching, drawing and inking process. But this part is pretty interesting, too, I guess.

This is an illustration for the upcoming Bearkat Family Weekend 2010 with a "fiesta" theme. The client wanted a postcard look with a "fiesta Sammy" playing the guitar in a an "Old El Paso" kinda environment.

First, the finished product:

And now, the video, sped up 21x, showing how a Sammy illustration is taken from scanning from proof. I hope you enjoy. And please forgive the little popup at the beginning. YouTube thinks it's okay to put a tag on my video that I can't seem to find a way to remove. The video is also available in HD on YouTube.

Quote of the Day...

Jack White in an interview for Relevant Magazine:

“To be with my kids every morning is such a blessing. It makes you start life all over again. It’s the best type of fulfillment, to see God in their eyes every moment you spend with them. The way they look at life is so innocent.”

Health Bill Will Cut Deficit by $100 Billion Over 10 Years, House Majority Leader Says, Citing Report

From the NY Times:

The proposed final health care legislation would cut the federal deficit by more than $100 billion over the first 10 years, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said on Thursday, citing a finding by the Congressional Budget Office that is
expected to be released on Thursday. The office found that the overhaul would cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the subsequent decade, Mr. Hoyer said.

My BS detector is off the charts on this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apple to ban film-based screen protectors from company stores

From AppleInsider:

"Apple has said that it will remove both film-only solutions from its stores, as well as any case or other accessory that includes film protection as part of its package, such as cases that include film screen protectors," according to the report.

It adds that the ban -- which covers film protectors for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Mac -- will impact all forms of screen film, "including completely clear film, anti-glare film, and mirrored film, regardless of whether the purpose of the film is protective, decorative, or both."

Too bad. Such a protective film is the only thing holding one corner of my iPhone together.

Brands Quietly, Slowly Switching from High Fructose Corn Syrup

From AdAge:

Bowing to consumer demands, major brands are removing high-fructose corn syrup from some of their products in favor of sugar. Few, however, are shouting it from the rooftops as it would cast a shadow on those products that still contain HFCS.

Hunt's ketchup, Gatorade and Wheat Thins are all permanently ditching corn syrup for sugar. Heinz has created a sugar-sweetened version of its iconic ketchup, while Pepsi and Mtn Dew launched limited-time, sugar-sweetened versions of their colas. But with all of these reformulations, only Pepsi and Mtn Dew have made any noise to date.

Marketers and industry experts agree that the shift has been brought on primarily by consumers, who have begun to question the use of HFCS in food and beverage products, as they gravitate toward what they consider to be more natural products.

Most manufacturers switched to HFCS in the 1970s and 1980s, as corn subsidies made the sweetener extremely cheap. However, increased ethanol production in recent years has boosted the price of corn, and consequently corn sweeteners.

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I'm quite passionate about my soft drinks, and I've also come to think that HFCS is the devil. In fact, while I'm trying to limit my soft drink intake, I've gone almost exclusively to sugar-sweetened sodas when I do drink them (thanks to Kristi and the kids for bringing me a Mexican Coke today with lunch). And I'm still waiting for Pepsi to quit toying with us and just offer Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback as permanent products.

This is a start, at least.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Democracy Denied

Via Glenn Beck

The Reconciliation Health Care Bill

You've got nothing to do on spring break, right? Or Easter? Or into the summer?

Well good news! Here's the Reconciliation Health Care Bill for you to pick over, all 2,309 pages of it.

Betcha can't read it all before the Democrats pass it!

Monday, March 15, 2010

VMWare Fusion vs. Parrallels Desktop 5 Head-to-Head

I don't run Windows on my mac, but I know some of you do. Back in the day, I used to run Microsoft's Virtual PC software, but finally found away around it a couple of years ago and never looked back. I've never like the Boot Camp solution, where you actually have reboot your Mac into the Windows environment. What a hassle and a waste of time, right? Well, that's why there's Fusion and Parrallels. These software emulators run Windows apps right on your Mac. What's the difference, you ask? Well, just check out this video:

Amazing difference.

Thirty Years Ago...

Kristi and I were just telling Kayci over lunch today that when we were little that it was no big deal for us to go outside and play all day, down the street, or walk by ourselves to the pool. My, how times have changed. I wouldn't even let Kayci play on the hill behind our house by herself over the weekend.

Then I got back to work and opened the following e-mail:

If you are 30, or older, you might think this is hilarious!

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... Uphill... Barefoot...BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!

And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a freaking letter - with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it!

There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOD !!! Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what's the world coming to?!?!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!

And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside... you were doing chores!

And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shot gun" in the first place!

See! That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or any time before!

The Over 30 Crowd

Thanks to Denise S. for sending this.

Good Enough

Listen online here to "Good Enough," one of the new tracks from the forthcoming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album "Mojo."

It's got a real bluesy, old-school Heartbreakers sound. I like.

Is David Beckahm's Career Over?

From AP News:

David Beckham left his hotel on crutches and headed to the airport Monday morning to catch a flight to Finland for surgery on his torn left Achilles' tendon.

The former England captain was injured in the closing minutes of AC Milan's 1-0 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday.

With his hopes of becoming the first English player to appear in four World Cups shattered and his future in international soccer in doubt, Beckham was slated for surgery either later Monday or Tuesday morning with specialist surgeon Dr. Sakari Orava.

I'm not a soccer guy, but i hate to see a great player go out this way. Best of luck with his recovery. However, if his career is, in fact, over it will bring at least one good thing: maybe then he and his annoying skeletor wife will fade into the background and we won't have to put up with her anymore.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mojo Available for Pre-Order at Amazon

Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker's forthcoming album, Mojo, is available for pre-order
now at Amazon for $12.99 (regular price will be $18.98).

And happy birthday to me...


I'm not sure how I missed this until now, but this from

We are excited to announce that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will mount an extensive TOUR OF NORTH AMERICA this summer and also release their first studio album in eight years, Mojo, this spring.

The tour begins May 6 in Raleigh, NC and will take the band throughout the US and Canada all summer long. Special guests on the tour will include a mix of appearances by My Morning Jacket, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joe Cocker, ZZ Top, and Drive-By Truckers.

Mojo is Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ twelfth studio album and is the sound of a band making some of its most exhilarating music, over thirty years into their career.

Interesting that Joe Cocker, not ZZ Top, is playing the Houston show in May. But now at least I know what Im going to be listening to this spring (and if it's half as good as Mudcrutch, then much, much longer...).

Who wants to go to a concert in May?

Will Amazon Sell the iPad?

Here's a question I find strangely interesting... will Amazon sell the iPad? They sell iMacs and other Apple computers. They sell iPods and iPhones. They sell AppleTVs.

But they also sell Kindle, which is the iPad's primary competitor (at least Amazon sees it that way...).

This could get interesting.

iPad Pre-Orders Begin Today

By the time you read this, pre-orders for the iPad will have already begun. According to several news sources, pre-orders will begin at 7:30 am Destructoville time.

After Health Care: Illegal Immigration

From Breitbart:

Reform activists emerged from a meeting with US President Barack Obama Thursday convinced that he could enact sweeping immigration reform this year, despite a toxic political environment.

Obama campaigned on a promise to push a plan to offer legal status to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States following several failed attempts by his predecessor George W. Bush to enact reform.

But the volatile politics of a mid-term congressional election year and an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent have many observers doubting whether political momentum can be built on such an explosive issue.

Note to reform activists: if you think the opposition to the president's health care plan has been polarizing and shrill, just wait until you try to make all the illegals in this country citizens.

You ain't seen nothing yet.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Health Care Grab Bag

Well color me convinced, then.

Choose Freedom Over the Nanny State

Mattel to Introduce Line of Mad Men Dolls

From AdAge:

According to Stuart Elliott in The New York Times, Mattel will launch a line of "Mad Men" dolls that will include Don and Betty Draper, Roger Sterling and Joan Holloway.

"The dolls come with period accessories like hats, overcoats, pearls and padded undergarments, but no cigarettes, ashtrays, martini glasses or cocktail shakers."

I'd put these on my Christmas list, but at a reported $75 apiece, I'm going to have to pass. That's an awfully expensive toy to have around since my son is probably going to flush it down the toilet or throw away, anyway.

From One Milkaholic to Another: Cory Haim on Lindsay Lohan

From ABC News (in 2007):

"Yeah, I just feel bad for her. It is watching a person who is doing movies, singing, very talented, very pretty, doing what I did, and it is just, she doesn't realize that she's getting sick. She doesn't realize that she's sick. … For me, rock bottom was I couldn't even look in the mirror anymore," Haim said.

Speaking of Train Wrecks in Slow Motion...

From /Film:

Actor Corey Haim Dies at 38

KTLA and TMZ are reporting that actor Corey Haim has died at the age of 38 of an apparent accidental overdose. Haim was found unresponsive in an Oakwood apartment last night. According to TMZ, Haim had been in and out of rehab over a dozen times, but had recently cleaned up.

Apparently not.

I Stand Corrected. Now THIS is Egotism...

From the Wall Street Journal:
Actress Lindsay Lohan has sued an arm of E*Trade Financial Corp., the operator of a popular online brokerage, alleging the company misappropriated her name and personality in a recent television advertisement.

The suit, filed in state court in Mineola, N.Y., on Monday, seeks $100 million in damages and demands that the company stop airing the ad.

The commercial features a baby boy chatting online through a Web cam with a baby girl, but in the voices and vernacular of a flirtatious, much-older couple. After the boy explains why he failed to call the girl the night before, the girl asks the boy, accusingly: "And that milkaholic, Lindsay, wasn't over?" That prompts a second baby girl, presumably "Lindsay," to jump in the frame on the boy's side. "Milk-a-what?" she asks into the camera, her voice loud and shrill.

From AdAge:
Ms. Lohan's lawyer, Stephanie Ovadia, did not immediately return a request for comment, but alleges the spot is clearly a reference to her client. She told the New York Post: "Many celebrities are known by one name only, and E-Trade is using that knowledge to profit. ... They used the name Lindsay." She went on to say: "They're using her name as a parody of her life. Why didn't they use the name Susan? This is a subliminal message. Everybody's talking about it and saying it's Lindsay Lohan."

The spot was one of the Destructo Top Five® spots from the Super Bowl, and I still laugh every time I see it.

Message to Lindsay Lohan (you used-up no-talent has been): How you can stretch this to think that any use of the name "Lindsay" or "Lindsey" or "Linsey" or even "Linsy" on television is somehow a reference to you is beyond belief. It's egoism beyond compare. Everyone knows you're not a milkaholic. You're a drug-using, alcoholic train wreck happening in slow motion. And its sad that you have to resort to such foolishness in order to draw attention to yourself. If I were you, I'd save that money you're spending on this ill-fated lawsuit. You're going to need it later.

Quote of the Day...

"Okay, let me rephrase that. I cannot rationalize the cost to my wife. I can rationalize anything to myself."

- David Hobby, Strobist

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winner for Worst Title of a Movie, Ever....

"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"

That's the title of the film. Not simply "Precious," but "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

How egotistical of Sapphire, whoever the crap that is.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Known mainly for brazen comedy routines and roles in lowbrow films, Mo'Nique startled audiences with a dark turn as a reprehensible welfare mother in "Precious."

Asked backstage if things would change for her [after her Best Supporting Actress win], Mo'Nique declared, "I am a standup comedian who won an Oscar."

From Yahoo News.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Disney Releases the University of Oregon from Mascot Contract


In an amicable split, the folks at The Walt Disney Co. have agreed that the University of Oregon's feathered mascot, which appears at sporting events, is not Donald Duck and that the mascot is no longer subject to Disney's trademark.

For those unaware of the UO's singular relationship with Disney, a deal dating back to a handshake between Walt himself and then-athletic director Leo Harris allows the university to use certain images of Donald Duck. Up until this week, those images included the rotund fluffy UO mascot costume worn by anonymous students when they prance the sidelines at athletic events or pose with boosters at fundraisers and parties.

No more as far as the Duck mascot is concerned. The UO/Disney licensing agreement remains in effect for the printed logos on sweat shirts and the like. But the costumed Duck mascot now answers only to the university.

In an agreement finalized this week, Disney acknowledges that the current incarnation of a costumed character featured at the University of Oregon's athletic and promotional events (the Oregon Duck) is not substantially similar to Disney's Donald Duck character.

I've always wondered how UofO got away with the Duck mascot. Now I know...

Apple Removes Wi-Fi Scanner Apps from the App Store

From AppleInsider:

Apple this week continued its crackdown against what it feels are substandard applications in its App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, this time removing Wi-Fi scanners and software it said has "minimum user functionality."

According to the development studio Three Jacks Software, Apple removed its application, called "WiFi-Where," due to its alleged use of unpublished APIs within the iPhone OS software development kit. The developer noted that other applications, including WifiTrak, WiFiFoFum, yFy Network Finder, WiFi Get, eWifi, and WiFi Analyzer were also removed.

I use WifiTrack frequently when I'm out and about to quickly locate a wifi hotspot and the strongest signal. It's a much better way to search for a wifi signal than the cumbersome method of going to settings, clicking wifi and then waiting for the list to repopulate. And there's no indication in the settings network chooser of hidden networks whose ssid isn't published.

WTF, Apple?

This is How We Know We're Living in the End Times

From /Films:

"Tonight New Line Cinema and Warner Bros have announced that they will be returning to the Police Academy series."

The only way this is going to be any good is if Seth Rogen and Bill Hader are in it and basically play the exact same characters they played in Superbad.

God, help us all.

New Sony Gadgets Take Aim at Apple

From the Wall Street Journal:

Threatened by Apple Inc.'s growing stable of portable devices, Sony Corp. is developing a new lineup of handheld products, including a smart phone capable of downloading and playing videogames, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Japanese electronics giant also is developing a portable device that shares characteristics of netbooks, electronic-book readers and handheld-game machines. The device is designed to compete against multifunction products such as Apple's coming iPad tablet, these people said.

Both the new smart phone and the multifunction device are expected to work with Sony's new online media platform, due to launch later this month.

How the mighty have fallen. Remember not too long ago - okay maybe about 15 or 20 years ago - when Sony made the flat-out coolest stuff on Earth? Everybody wanted a Sony Discman or boombox or TV or game console or... anything. It's sad that they're relegated now to playing the "me too! me too!" game to Apple like so many other formerly powerhouse companies.

When are these companies going to learn that they can't copy their way into beating Apple? That's not entirely true, actually. They do have to copy what Apple did to get where it is today. They need to come up with great products again that people actually want to use. They need to innovate, not just come up with an also-ran product and slap their name on it. A Sony (or a Microsoft or a feel-free-to-insert-a-company-name-here) has to stand for something in people's minds.

And the last thing we need is another online media platform, especially from Sony. They would be wiser to adopt another platform and add their weight to it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Memoirs of a Scanner

A great short film shot entirely using stills from a scanner. Brilliant.

Thanks to Matt for sending it.

Balloonists Outraged Over 'Unrealistic' Portrayal of Balloon Travel

A number of active and veteran baloonists are protesting the Academy-Award "Best Picture" nominated, Up, saying the film is Hollywood hokum, portraying balloon vendors as renegades while failing to represent details about balloon travel accurately.

The criticism highlights the delicate relationship between "Up" and the Balloon Federation of Amedrica (BFA) . BFA President Don Edwards says the film is "authentic" and "very compelling" and has recommended it to his staff. But the federation says it pulled its "Up" production assistance at the last minute in 2007, saying that the film's makers were shooting scenes that weren't in the screenplay submitted to the BFA, including a sequence that the government believed portrayed balloonists unflatteringly. The film's producers dispute elements of the account.

People have been particularly polarized on the issue, objecting to comments by some that Up was gritty, realistic and the best balloon movie ever.

"I think that's disrespectful to the men and women who are in balloons RIGHT NOW. It was Dumb. Dumb!" commented one opinionated moviegoer.

Others were not as put off. "Frankly, I don't care if it's accurate or not. It's gritty, suspense-filled and has a captivating story. If some of the details aren't quite right or if some of the details - or characters - are exaggerated from how things are in real life, so be it. I didn't expect the film to be a documentary when I went to see it. What I went to see was a captivating story set in the sky.

And that's what I got," said Destructo, mayor-for-life of Destructoville.

Astronauts Outraged Over 'Unrealistic' Portrayal of Space Travel

A number of active astronauts and veteran astronauts are protesting last summer's blockbuster film, Star Trek, saying the film is Hollywood hokum, portraying space travelers as renegades while failing to represent details about space travel accurately.

The criticism highlights the delicate relationship between "Star Trek" and the nation's space program. NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden says the film is "authentic" and "very compelling" and has recommended it to his staff. But the government says it pulled its "Star Trek" production assistance at the last minute in 2007, saying that the film's makers were shooting scenes that weren't in the screenplay submitted to NASA, including a sequence that the government believed portrayed astronauts wearing red uniforms unflatteringly. The film's producers dispute elements of the account.

People have been particularly polarized on the issue, objecting to comments by some that Star Trek was gritty, realistic and the best space movie ever.

"I think that's disrespectful to the men and women who are in space RIGHT NOW. It was Dumb. Dumb!" commented one opinionated moviegoer.

Others were not as put off. "Frankly, I don't care if it's accurate or not. It's gritty, suspense-filled and has a captivating story. If some of the details aren't quite right or if some of the details - or characters - are exaggerated from how things are in real life, so be it. I didn't expect the film to be a documentary when I went to see it. What I went to see was a captivating story set in space.

And that's what I got," said Destructo, mayor-for-life of Destructoville.

Maybe It's Time For a Moratorium on People-in-Their-Underwear Ads

From AdAge:

After running back-to-back ads in the Super Bowl utilizing the same creative theme -- people walking about without any trousers -- CBS has agreed to give one of the marketers involved additional ad time to make up for the gaffe, according to a person familiar with the situation.

I noticed the similar ads when they ran during the Super Bowl and wondered if any make-goods would be offered. Interesting that CBS chose to offer them only to Dockers.

But the underlying issue is this: the creative just wasn't original, and it was juvenile. Sure, underwear is funny (using giant-sized underwear was one of my all-time favorite gags when I was mascotting), but when everybody starts dipping into the same joke well, it's time to move along or risk what Dockers is experiencing - no one will remember your message, especially if someone else has a better crafted message (even if they're not competitors or even in the same category, as is the case here.) And in this case, the CareerBuilder underwear spot wasn't even new. It was Dockers with the wholly unoriginal idea. CareerBuilder should be the one getting the make-good. Actually, the Super Bowl audience should be the one getting a make-good for having to put up with either spot.

And CBS should know better, too. They know exactly what order the spots will run in the Super Bowl and all the spots are screened ahead of time. You would think somebody would have clued in to the similarity of the spots. I guarantee that if there had been two lighting farts commercials back to back, there would have been hell to pay.

"That's DOCTOR Photographer to You..."

So I get up this morning and check my e-mail and find a message waiting with the subject line "Discover just how easy a Photography Degree can be!" I click on the e-mail, and am just about to mark it as spam, when I read "learn professional techniques!"

I chuckled.

First, what in the world would anyone want to get a degree in photography for? What is the point? I can never remember asking to see the credentials of any photographer I've ever worked with. As with most creative people, it doesn't really matter much where they went to school or what they have a degree in (if they even have one - one of the best photographers I've ever known has a high school diploma). No- when working with a good photographer or any artist, you want to see their portfolio. You want to see what they can do and what they have done. And most times, it's not their formal training that matters, anyway - it's their eye. It's their style. It's their perspective.

That's what makes an artist. Besides, if I wanted to learn professional techniques, all I have to do is read one of the thousands of professional photography blogs that are available free on the internet. And then just start shooting and practicing. That's the beauty of the internet, I think. You can take up a new hobby and learn as much as you want about it for free from the best in the business, if you want to. And you can get as good as you want. For free.

And don't even get me started on the old-school film camera they showed in the ad... Digital, baby!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Design of Apple

A great video showcasing some of Apple's most beautifully-designed products. Noticeably missing, however, are three things: the original iMac, the Titanium Powerbook and the G4 Cube. Each of these products was groundbreaking and elegantly designed.

What's amazing is that each of these images is a 3D render, not actual product shots. Beautifully done and amazing that a lot of the products are still cool-looking after ten or fifteen years.

Anatomy of Apple Design from Transparent House on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Damn, I'm Glad We Won the Cold War.

Otherwise, we'd be listening to this:

and totally jamming out to the funky beat of this:

Happy Birthday, and Thanks for Almost Getting Me Suspended, Dr. Seuss

Today, as pointed out by Kayci, is also Dr. Seuss's birthday. He was born this day in 1904.

Dr. Seuss has always been a favorite of mine, but one of his books is also involved in one of my favorite high school stories.

When I was in high school, I used to do the morning announcements with another fun, high-energy and slightly sarcastic guy named Kevin. Every day, we would try to put an entertaining spin on the daily announcements Saturday Night Live-style in the form of general silliness, mock commentary and skits. One day toward the end of our senior year, we decided to do our own mock announcement on a day when not much was going on and announced that there was a single work of literature that accurately summed up our high school career and would give guidance to the graduates of the future. And then we proceeded to read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss in its entirety.

We found it hilarious, but one teacher in particular, Mrs. Carpenter (an English teacher) didn't find the matter quite so funny. In fact, she went to the assistant principal and claimed that she actually found it offensive and demanded that we be suspended... three short weeks before the end of school.

So Kevin and I were called in and reprimanded for our "stunt" by the principal himself, Mr. Brautigam. Mr. Braugtigam was a nice guy and I had worked with him several times through the newspaper and cheerleading, so he went easy on me. He said that we were indeed being suspended for a week ... from the announcements, but that what stupid old Mrs. Carpenter was asking for was for us not to walk at graduation. Obviously, that was excessive, but had another guy been in charge - one who didn't have as good a sense of humor or the courage to take a step back and look at the situation for what it was - it might have happened.

So that's what Dr. Seuss's birthday immediately brings to mind - my first run-in (of many) with people who take themselves and life way too seriously and who can't take a joke. And that's also why Dr. Seuss also has a special place in my heart. He taught me something that was truly eye-opening:

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

March 2: A Big Day in Texas

Happy Texas Independence Day. Today, on this date in 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico.

Also today in 1793, Sam Houston was born.

Today ought to be a state holiday. It's a crime that it isn't.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Hurt Locker Comes Under Fire

From the LA Times:

... a number of active soldiers and veterans say the film is Hollywood hokum, portraying soldiers as renegades while failing to represent details about combat accurately.

The criticism, coming just before Oscar ballots are due Tuesday, highlights the delicate relationship between "The Hurt Locker" and the nation's armed forces. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says the film is "authentic" and "very compelling" and has recommended it to his staff. But the government says it pulled its "Hurt Locker" production assistance at the last minute in 2007, saying that the film's makers were shooting scenes that weren't in the screenplay submitted to the Defense Department, including a sequence that the government believed portrayed troops unflatteringly. The film's producers dispute elements of the account.

Frankly, I don't care if it's accurate or not. It's gritty, suspense-filled and has a captivating story. If some of the details aren't quite right or if some of the details - or characters - are exaggerated from how things are in real life, so be it. I didn't expect the film to be a documentary when I went to see it. What I went to see was a captivating story set in a war zone.

And that's what I got.

The Hurt Locker is certainly one of the best films I've ever seen, real or not, and I hope it does win Best Picture. After all, it got the Destructo Seal of Approval©.

Canada Wins Hockey Gold With 3-2 Sudden-Death Victory Over U.S.

Sorry, but it just feels wrong when Canada doesn't win a gold medal in hockey.

If they had medals for saying "aboot" and ending sentences in "ey?" or having really backward ideas, I'd expect them to win gold in that, too.

Congratulations, Canada.