Saturday, March 31, 2018

Top 5 - Christopher Walken Movies

Happy 75th birthday to Christopher Walken. My favorite Walken movies:

1. The Dead Zone
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Suicide Kings
4. Biloxi Blues
5. The Deer Hunter 

His role in the 2002 Man on Fire almost makes the list just for the fact that the last thing he says in the movie is "I have nothing else to say." He meant that he had no more lines in the script but the director left it in the final cut. 

As a bonus - here's Walken reading Where the Wild Things Are

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Importance of a Single Vote

On this date in 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for the price of $7 million which worked out to about $.02 per acre. This purchase was known at the time as Seward's Folly after Secretary of State William Seward who arranged the purchase. Seward was also in charge of trying to get the Senate to ratify the treaty authorizing the purchase. The treaty was ratified on April 9th but it passed by a single vote. 

Think of that. If one person changed their vote from yes to no - Alaska might not be part of the US today.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- On March 26th 73 years ago the US Marines secured the island of Iwo Jima. I still say that high school students should need to learn of the sacrifices of the Marines on Iwo Jima as a requirement for graduation.

- The Road Not Taken perhaps the most misread poem in history

- Or a cautionary tale of lazy cartoonists

- South Korea agrees to open auto market in exchange for exemption from steel tariffs.

- Heh heh

- US net petroleum imports fall below 18% for the first time in 50-years. It would be interesting to learn if oil from Canada or Mexico is also included in that number. Energy independence was once thought a "pipe" dream.

- New cancer vaccine ready for human trial. Faster please!

How to Prepare Chicken

A waiter asks a man, "May I take your order, sir?" 
"Yes," the man replies. "I'm just wondering, exactly how do you prepare your chickens?" 
"Nothing special, sir. We just tell them straight out that they're going to die."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Heh heh (am I a bad person in that I want to use this line in real life?)

- Elon Musk takes down Tesla and SpaceX Facebook pages.

- You do have to read this in Brent Musberger's voice (though I can live without the "you are looking live!" visual it generated)

- The kind of data Facebook mines from your profile (including your doctors). People finally taking privacy seriously may be one of the great unintended consequences of electing Trump President.

- Fantastic real story of the "double life of 'marvelous Chinese conjurer'"

- Very cool!

- This is why every morning the first thing you should do is thank God you live in the USA

Happy 3-28

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum last night became the ninth rookie in Celtics history to score 1,000 or more points.

He joins pretty illustrious company. The first five guys are Hall of Famers. Radja's careen was cut short by injury; Walker was a 3-time All-Star who scored over 15,000 points in his career and Ron Mercer had an 8-year NBA career. If Tatum just averages the careers of the 8 other guys on the list the chances are high that he too will be a Hall of Famer.

Nice pick by Danny Ainge.
2017-18 Jayson Tatum
1997-98 Ron Mercer
1996-97 Antoine Walker
1993-94 Dino Radja
1979-80 Larry Bird
1970-71 Dave Cowens
1962-63 John Havlicek
1956-57 Tommy Heinsohn
1950-51 Bob Cousy

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- The only thing keeping cable TV alive is expensive Internet packages

- Heh heh

- Terry Pratchett's Discworld finally being made into a TV series

- Funny because it's true!

- Stem cell treatment drastically reduces drinking in alcoholic rats. Mesenchymal stem cells seem to be the super answer to many human maladies (including potentially aging)

- These 12 questions deserve answers. But I'm not holding my breath.

- Heh heh

Monday, March 26, 2018

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The simple solution to the snowflakes at Holy Cross having an issue with the Crusader mascot is to hold an Internet poll for a replacement. They totally deserve Jesuit McJesuitface...  Heh heh... In the articles following the death of Stephen Hawking it was noted by many that in 1979 he was made the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge and that the post was once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Almost no one noted that post was also held by Paul Dirac, Nobel Prize winner, one of the founders of quantum mechanics and one of the most under-appreciated geniuses of the 20th century... Heh heh... Great advice: "Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution." - Albert Einstein... On social media, privacy is no longer a personal choice...Still can't believe Jeff Fisher hasn't gotten another NFL head coaching job yet...

From Giddy-up to Ho! and Other Phrases

Heard someone say, "Everything from giddy-up to ho!" the other day. It was my first time hearing that phrase. I like it! It means from beginning to end and everything in between. It's much better than, "From soup to nuts." People are much more likely to ride a horse at some point than have a six or seven course meal these days.

Granted I don't have the opportunity to use "from start to finish" much but from now on I'm going to try to employ "Everything from giddy-up to ho!". As far as I'm concerned "From soup to nuts" is right out.

Speaking of phrases that don't seem to get used much anymore. Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented sliced bread in 1927 (actually the process for automatically slicing bread). This gave rise to the phrase, "the best thing since sliced bread." You don't hear that one much anymore. I wonder if that's because of people being on low carb diets and bread (sliced or otherwise) now being looked at as something bad. Or maybe with all the new technology in the past two decades the idea of sliced bread just isn't that impressive.

Maybe if it was made with 3-D printing?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Facebook and Your Private Data

When the Obama campaign strip-mined Facebook it was OK. When Cambridge Analytica did it - it's a panic. There's a real double standard going on here and if you don't acknowledge that you really aren't being honest with yourself. It should also bother you that Silicon Valley is just making up rules about how to treat your private data as it goes along.

Remember, "if you're not paying for something, you're not the customer, you're the product being sold." Also remember that Mark Zuckerberg considers you "dumb f*cks" for trusting him with your data in the first place. And to be clear - I don't blame Zuckerberg. How did you think he became a billionaire? Offering services for free? Grow up and own that you are the product and that your data is the price you pay for Farmville (or whatever time wasters Facebooks offers since I'm not on Facebook I don't know).

Now ask yourself what real benefits you get from Facebook and are they worth the time-suck it takes away from your life then add in the loss of privacy. What more productive things could you be doing with all that time you waste on Facebook? What are the benefits you could gain from those activities?

Why are you still on Facebook?

I'm also seriously rethinking my feelings about what Julian Assange did.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stephen Hawking's Voice

"London is burning and I live by the river" - Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking had one of the most unique and recognizable voices in the world. The thing is - it wasn't really unique. It was computer synthesized and thus fairly easy to replicate.  Can you imagine the potential?

You could have Stephen Hawking's voice do cover songs. It wouldn't work for some songs like the Beatle's Helter Skelter or the Butthole Surfers' Pepper but how cool would it be to hear some Sinatra covers or the smooth baby-making songs of Teddy Pendergrass done by Stephen Hawking's voice.

You could also have Stephen Hawking's voice cover classic comedy bits. Like George Carlin's A Place for My Stuff. Admit it - you'd check that out just out of curiosity.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Niall Ferguson has an interesting point. The steel tariffs do make a lot of sense if they are part of an overall strategy to pressure China over North Korea.

- Still think John Skipper was forced out of ESPN because of corporate politics and direction more than because of cocaine use or potential extortion.

- If Stephen Hawking was just a famous genius guy in a wheelchair to you - this post let's you understand what Stephen Hawking was really famous for.

- Heh Heh (took me a minute)

- Cool science

- Holy Cross to dump knight mascot but keep Crusader name. The people running Holy Cross seem to be a bunch of spineless idiots.

- Who knew? The phrase "I'd drink her dirty bathwater" first originated with an Irish nun.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

My favorite thing about 16 seed UMBC's upset over number 1 seed Virginia is the fact that to most people Stringer Bell from The Wire is UMBC's most famous alumni... Heh heh... This is tangentially Irish but did you know the scientific term "quarks" (a type of subatomic particle) was taken from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake?... So beautiful (Keukenhof, Holland)... Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement from the NFL. He was one of the easiest people to root for in the past decade... Opening Day is fast approaching. We are that much closer to the dulcet tones of Carl Ripken Jr. calling baseball games... Was on a recent JetBlue flight where they had to shut down the entire plane prior to take-off to reboot the plane's computer system. Guy next to me commented "I guess CTRL ALT DEL didn't work"...

Top 5 - Saint Patrick's Day Irish Music

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Here are my Top 5 Songs for celebrating Saint Patrick's Day (because Oh Danny Boy is shite).

1. Rocky Road to Dublin

2. If I Should Fall From Grace with God - The Pogues

3. Four Green Fields - Makem & Clancy

4. The Foggy Dew - Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains

5. I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphy's

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Ides of March

Today is the Ides of March - famous because it is forever connected with the murder of Julius Caesar back in 44 BC. Less historically well known is the fact the Caesar was only murdered because Lucius Vorenus wasn't there to protect him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking has passed away. Despite the many physical issues he faced he never lost his sense of humor. That may be one of the most remarkable things about this remarkable man.

Albert Einstein

Today is Albert Einstein's birthday. Just a reminder that even though E=MC2 is perhaps the most famous scientific equation in history - Einstein never received the Nobel Prize for coming up with it. The reasons for this slight were mostly because Einstein was Jewish. The committee eventually gave Einstein the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his 1905 explanation of the photoelectric effect but that was really too little too late.

As smart as Einstein was it makes me chuckle to remember that when Einstein graduated from our equivalent of high school - he finished second in his class. The name of the person who was valedictorian is lost to history but I couldn't help but think of someone back then saying something like, "Yeah Einstein was pretty smart in high school but you should have seen this other guy!"

Also when Albert Einstein first visited the US in 1921 - the US Senate saw fit to debate the validity of the Theory of Relativity - seriously. The Theory of Relativity just turned 101 years old. In this video uber biographer Walter Isaacson explains the Theory of Relativity in under 3 minutes.

Random Albert Einstein trivia; when Einstein lived in Princeton he had a small 17-foot sailboat he named Tinef which is Yiddish for "piece of junk". I find that endearing.

Finally - 10 Myths about Albert Einstein debunked

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fake News and the Internet

"In America, the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience." Oscar Wilde 1887
Interesting look at how "fake news" gets spread on Twitter - an analysis of 4.5 million Tweets shows that falsehoods are 70 percent more likely to be shared. The really interesting part for me was "when bot traffic was added back into the mix, the researchers found that these computer programs spread false and true news about equally." So it's not the bots - it's the people.

To me there's a simple explanation why fake news gets spread more than real news. If something is real then a person is more likely to read it because the topic is of interest to that person and maybe, just maybe share it if the person thinks his social group would also find the subject interesting. Fake news, o the other hand, probably gets spread more because of the "can you believe this?" or the "hey guess - CNN or The Onion?" aspect. Those Tweets count too. 

I like to think that this process is helping the younger generations to have their BS detectors honed at a younger age. Just after learning not to fall for the "I got your nose" gag kids will be learning to take any news story with a grain of salt. Hopefully it will make it much harder for the media or political parties to fool or mislead these generations than it was for older generations.

And hopefully those who learn to discern the truth for themselves will be the managers and leaders of the future. While those you never learn that "I got your nose" is a gag will learn to say "Do you want fries with that?"

Friday, March 09, 2018

In Hell I'll Be in Good Company - The Dead South

Heard this song for the first time last night. I like it!

(With over 48 million views of the video - I guess I'm a little late to the game. But better late than never!)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Disney / ESPN Streaming Service

Disney plans to launch a streaming service to compete with Netflix sometime in 2019. Not much is known about what Disney plans to do.

Here's what I predict or suggest what Disney should offer.

First it will be a combined linear (live channel) and on-demand offering. This leverages Disney's existing portfolio of products. This means ESPN will have to play a large role. Second it will be kid and family friendly which means no content higher than PG-13. It is this second point that helps explain some of the recent changes at ESPN (but I'll get to that later).

The first part of the package would be the following 10 channels offered for just under $10 per month:

ABC Family
ABC News Now
Disney Channel
Disney Jr.
Disney XD
ESPN Classic

That should be appealing to many families and at about $1 per channel it fits most budgets especially for families who have cut the cord. And more importantly it helps stem the revenue bleeding from families cutting the cord which has been a major factor in why ESPN has been a recent drag on Disney stock.

But first ESPN has to be made "non-offensive" to middle America. "Mommy you voted for Donald Trump - does that mean you and daddy are racists?" "Daddy can you help me write a paper on my hero Colin Kaepernick?" Any non-on-the-field content that may embarrass parents or cause blood pressure to rise has to be eliminated or avoided. The first step was to get rid of John Skipper who resigned December 18, 2017 supposedly because he has a "substance addiction".

What if that "substance" addiction wasn't drugs or alcohol but instead "substantial" topics and people who hold "substantial" opinions? People like Jemele Hill or Keith Olbermann. I mean most friends and colleagues were shocked at the idea Skipper had a substance addiction in the common understanding of the term. But I bet most would agree that Skipper's loyalty to the "talent" was a habit he'd find hard to break.

Author James Miller seems to agree with this idea. Miller wrote that Disney CEO Bob Iger offered to have Jimmy Pitaro come over to "help" Skipper but was declined on the grounds that Skipper "thought the move would disrupt ESPN culture." Maybe that was the whole point? Now Jimmy Pitaro has been named President of ESPN and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. The pieces just fall into place.

The second part of the package would be the on-demand content of which Disney has a library that's hard to beat. You'd of course have all the classic Disney movies and TV content for the kids. Then you'd have all the Star Wars properties and Marvel superhero movies (except Deadpool because of the R-rating - let HBO or Netflix pay for the rights to those movies). On top of that you'd have the ESPN Classic library of documentaries and classic games plus all the recent and expanding 30 for 30 documentaries.

You could market the on-demand package separately for $5 per month or you could get the linear  channels and the on-demand for $12 per month. That's an attractive package. It not only competes against Netflix but in many cases complements Netflix. Most people who cut the cord have multiple video offering. It's not an either or situation

If you keep cable then you are already paying Disney top dollar. If you cut the  cord and you either have a family or like sports the $12 per month is not much to spend especially if you've just dropped a $120 cable package.

Anyway - this is one man's read of the situation.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Founder of Tower Records dies at age 92 while drinking whiskey and watching the Oscars

- Nor'easter uncovers skeleton of sunken Revolutionary War-era ship on Maine beach

- Wreck of the USS Lexington located in the Coral Sea by expedition led by Paul Allen. Nice work sir!

- Navalism - Quotes & Perceptions by Naval Ravikant. This is something I will try to revisit periodically because there is a lot of wisdom captured here.

- This kind of is the essence of Hollywood and the Oscars

- Kevin Love opens up about mental health. Good for Kevin Love!

- Posted without comment. (To myself "If you create a system that can be gamed - people will game it." Glad I kept that to myself)

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

As a Boston fan I'm getting restless. It has been months since our last championship... Funny because it's true... Just a reminder - we know exactly who President Obama picked each year in his NCAA March Madness pools but we still don't know where he was the night our Embassy in Benghazi was attacked... Very cool... Georgetown's colors of blue and gray were chosen back in 1876 to support "unity between the Northern and Southern boys of the college"... Marcus Smart Ninja. How many middle age white guys will throw out their backs today trying to pull off this move?... If the day after Christmas can be known as Boxing Day why can't the day after St. Patrick's Day be known as Hangover Day?...

The Periodic Table

Today marks the 149th "birthday" of Dmitri Mendeleev's periodic table. I would put this "discovery" on par with Newton's "discovery" of gravity or Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Drug wars are good and easy to win... South Korea has a robot crab called the "crabster" that can be used to explore the ocean floor... Am I the only one suffering serious football withdrawal right now?... Along with being a pretty unique person Shaq is a pretty astute businessman... Not sure what bothered me more as a kid - learning there's no Easter Bunny or learning Erik Estrada's first name is actually Henry... Can you imagine how awful it would to be for a girl or guy in college or high school with a nickname like "the crabster"?... Pretty strong words from Alan Dershowitz about the hard left and tenured university professors...

Friday, March 02, 2018

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Sir Bors

In Arthurian Legend Sir Bors (aka Bohort), Sir Galahad, and Percival go on to achieve the Holy Grail and accompany it to a mystical island in the Middle East called Sarras. Both Galahad and Percival die on the island while Bors is the only one to return. Thus Sir Bors is the lone survivor of the Grail Quest.

In the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Sir Bors is played by Terry Gilliam and is the first knight to fall victim to the killer rabbit.