31 December 2009
reenactment cycle will start anew. Then, in a couple of years, the Civil Wargasm. But, in the meantime, his Civil War magazine, to which you may wish to subscribe, a CD of Timothy Patrick Miller reading Ambrose Bierce's tales of the Civil War, and various books on aspects of the Civil War that you might like to purchase.
Posted by Rico at 23:40
memoir of his Pontine hemorrhage is finally available. In addition to telling you more than you ever wanted to know about a cavernous angioma and its effect on Rico, he will be tithing the Angioma Alliance from all sales. It's a good cause, they deserve everything they get, and it'll make you feel good, too.
(There may be some text changes, so if you want the latest and greatest, await confirmation of the final edition.)
(There may be some text changes, so if you want the latest and greatest, await confirmation of the final edition.)
Posted by Rico at 15:53
Turner Classic Movies, it's gotta be a classic, right? Well, it had all the right characteristics:
Suffice it to say that it was classically awful… Not even Bogie could save it. Altogether, a waste of several hours when Rico could have been sleeping.
You've been warned…
It was made in 1955, in black & whiteThe taglines on imdb.com made it sound like a hell of a movie:
It starred Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney, Agnes Moorehead, and E.G. Marshall
Bogart... in a new type of action role!But there were a few clues, even from the TCM introduction, that made Rico suspicious: Lee J. Cobb as Mieh Yang, the Chinese warlord? What, are they kidding? (Hey, it was 1955 and, stupidly, they couldn't use Keye Luke, okay, he's dead now, but alive and in his prime in 1955, or James Hong in the role; Chinese actors didn't get starring roles in those benighted days. They did have Philip Ahn and Kam Tong, but made them play bit parts.)
The strangest covenant between God and man ever made
One false step leads to bigger ones...
He profaned the cloth he wore!
She fought against a forbidden relationship!
The most challenging story of faith ever told on the screen!
Suffice it to say that it was classically awful… Not even Bogie could save it. Altogether, a waste of several hours when Rico could have been sleeping.
You've been warned…
Posted by Rico at 10:26
30 December 2009
Rico says no one ever looks good in their mugshots, and celebrities are no exception (but if you ever get arrested, comb your fucking hair before they take the picture):
Posted by Rico at 15:56
29 December 2009
Bad boy Charlie Sheen apparently has the tattoos to go with the role. The man who now stands accused of threatening his wife, Brooke Mueller, with a knife on Christmas Day boasts no fewer than ten tattoos, reports RadarOnline.com. The web site got the info from a report made out by the Pitkin County Sheriff's Department after Sheen's arrest. The report lists Sheen's tattoos on his arms, chest and ankles, including one that reads "Back in 15 Min." Another boasts a picture of Charlie Brown with "mom" in a word balloon, while others feature a burning Marlboro cigarette, a stingray, and a baseball.
The Sheriff's documents also show that Sheen is in the process of removing four additional pieces of body art, including an open zipper with an eyeball popping out, a Yankees tattoo, a Japanese samurai and angel wings. The actor used to have two other tats, but he had them removed some time back. One removal makes great sense: it bore the name of his ex-wife, Denise Richards.
Posted by Rico at 19:43
Rico says he's trying the Typekit font selector, to see how it works. If things go well, and some buy some of his books or subscribe to his Civil War magazine, he might actually be able to afford access to their whole list of fonts. Until then, just these two:
Posted by Rico at 15:46
Michael Cieply has an article in The New York Times about the delayed release of certain movies:
Go to a new movie in early 2010, and chances are good you’ll end up with an eyeful of 2008. And the star you see promoting that film may look a wee bit older than the one up there on the screen. Thanks to some deliberate scheduling bumps and the lingering effect of Hollywood’s long-passed writers’ strike, a surprising number of the new year’s first releases—from major studios like Paramount and Universal as well as from minimajors like Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company— were actually shot about two years ago.Green Zone, an Iraqi war drama from Universal Pictures and Working Title Films scheduled to be released on 12 March, was shot in early 2008. At the time, George W. Bush was president, the war was still on everyone’s mind, and the movie’s star, Matt Damon, was more than a year away from going to work on Invictus, which weeks ago leapfrogged over Green Zone into theaters.
Through the holidays, the market has been peppered with timelier movies. Those included It’s Complicated, a tale of middle-aged romance filmed earlier this year, and Up in the Air, which wrapped principal photography in the spring, and managed to capture the country’s dour mood with its recession-themed story line.
But the crop of movies for the first quarter of 2010 are not quite so new. Youth in Revolt, from the Weinstein Company and its Dimension Films division, got its green light in spring 2008, when its star, Michael Cera, was still a teenager, and not much older than his character, the lovesick Nick Twisp. But Mr. Cera will be just five months shy of his 22nd birthday when the movie is released on 8 January, and has appeared in four films since Youth in Revolt was shot.
Even older is Daybreakers, a futuristic vampire thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, set for release in early January. As the film was being shot in 2007, Heath Ledger was working on his Oscar-winning performance in The Dark Knight, and Michael Jackson was nearly two years away from announcing a comeback tour that would become the subject of a posthumous movie long since released by Sony Pictures.Rico says he won't see all these movies, but several of them for sure...
At least 16 of the 28 films set for release by Hollywood’s major studios and larger independent studios in the first quarter, according to a recent schedule from Exhibitor Relations, finished shooting in 2008 or earlier. About 70 percent of those companies’ releases in January and February date to 2008 or earlier.
Studio films typically hit the market about a year after principal photography begins, though elaborate productions like Fox’s Avatar, which began shooting in 2007, can require months of additional work on editing and special effects. But much of this 2010 crop is at least six months older than usual. By April that trend will fade, as companies begin releasing fresher fare, like Wall Street 2, set for release by Fox on 23 April, though Oliver Stone finished shooting it only last month.
The older movies bunched up partly because studios delayed releasing films that would have competed in a crowded Oscar season. They will instead try their luck in the midwinter months, which this year produced a surprising number of hits, including the modestly-budgeted thriller Taken and the comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
Angling for the winter audience, Paramount moved the wide release of Peter Jackson’s Lovely Bones to January from December, after a limited run to qualify for the 2009 Oscars, and bumped Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island to 19 February from a planned October date. In a recent interview, Brad Grey, Paramount’s chairman, said it was not easy telling Mr. Scorsese that his movie would sit on the shelf for a while. “I had to make a difficult judgment, and I did, and I explained that to Marty,” he said of the decision to let Shutter Island, shot in mid-2008, slide into 2010.
Despite a good year at the box office, the film economy remained weak because of falling DVD sales, and that, Mr. Grey said, made such decisions inevitable. In exchange for what he called the “privilege” of making distinguished films, “you have to deliver, and should deliver, for the shareholders”.
That slightly older films have clustered in the coming quarter also owes something to a frenzy of activity that preceded the three-month writers’ strike that began in late 2007. Studio executives stockpiled scripts, then quickly shot a spate of films that are still working their way through the system.
Green Zone was part of that surge, as were The Wolfman and Repo Men, a pair of 2008 movies set for release by Universal in the next few months.
Conventional wisdom says that films are damaged by delay, either because the audience begins to suspect trouble or simply because the culture at large moves on. The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Town & Country, two notorious flops, weren’t helped by long delays between principal photography and release dates. Yet a public outcry over a decision by Warner Brothers to hold Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for half a year did not keep it from taking in $302 million at the domestic box office when it was finally released last July.
David Permut, the producer of Youth in Revolt, said he was at ease with the decision to bump his movie from a planned release in October to January. “Think about not going up against that onslaught of Oscar movies,” Mr. Permut said. Besides, he added, delay is nothing new for Youth in Revolt, which is based on a series of books written by C. D. Payne and published in 1993. “It’s traveled a 17-year course to find its way to the screen,” he said. “A few extra months don’t mean much.”
Posted by Rico at 11:12
Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Apple iTablet time— oops, I mean iSlate time!
Over the last week, we’ve heard more rumors, some facts and a lot of excitement about the impending Apple tablet. Matt Buchanan of Gizmodo recently pulled together an Exhaustive Guide to Apple Tablet Rumors, leaving no slate unturned. In brief, Gizmodo believes the device is likely to be called the iSlate, will cost around $800, and will be announced in January, but won’t hit store shelves until March or possibly April.
Many predictions point to either a seven- or ten-inch display for the tablet. Seven inches would be a manageable size, almost like carrying a paperback book. But what about a ten-inch device? I rummaged under my desk and pulled out an old 2006 model of the Hewlett-Packard Compaq Tablet PC TC1100, pictured above, to try to understand what a ten-inch screen might feel like.
Although the HP device is twelve inches in size diagonally, the screen measures exactly 10.1 inches. If the final Apple tablet screen is in fact this size, it will need to be extremely thin and come very close to the edge of the device. The Apple version will also need to weigh a lot less than the HP tablet, which is a hefty 3.1 pounds. If you’re holding this device with one hand, it can become tiring very quickly.
Another interesting tidbit that helps back up the idea of a ten-inch screen comes from the Taiwanese publication Digitimes, which reported that Apple was trying to strengthen the glass of such a screen and was forced to delay the product’s introduction until the first quarter of next year. The report cited unnamed sources “from Apple’s component suppliers”.
Posted by Rico at 10:46
Rico says that Slate had an article by Farhad Manjoo (another great name) back in July about improvements in font handling by browsers:
For typography geeks, the Web is a depressingly drab place. Just look around the page you're reading now: There are only a couple of fonts, Arial and Verdana, used to display most of the text. That would be fine, except that they're the same two fonts you find everywhere else on the Web. Don't blame the design team at Slate for the shortfall; blame the people who build web browsers, the standards bodies for the Web, and the companies that sell fonts. The strange reality of the Web is that it's harder to display a novel font than it is to embed a video. In this realm, at least, print media are still way ahead. Flip open your favorite glossy magazine and behold the typographic bounty— the text sizes that range from the microscopic to the gargantuan, the huge variety of font weights and styles, and the thrillingly large universe of different typefaces. Compared with the typical issue of Cosmo, Slate (and every other online magazine) look like something out of the 1800s.Rico says he's signed up, and hopes to have his Rants in something snappy soon.
Typeface designers and font fanciers now have new reason for optimism. The past year has seen a surge of web-browser innovation. Now, most major browsers— including the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera— recognize a CSS rule known as @font-face. What that means, in brief, is that web developers can now easily embed downloadable fonts in their pages. If you didn't jump out of your chair and run around the block, you're probably not that into typography. But, trust me, that's revolutionary. While certain browsers allowed font embedding before, there's never been a standard implementation that worked across the entire Web. As a result, web designers have always been restricted to using the few fonts that they know were already installed on most people's computers. That's why most pages reach for Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Georgia, and Times New Roman, the fonts that ship with the Windows or Mac operating systems. With @font-face, we'll finally see custom fonts on the Web— fonts designed to convey a specific tone or emotion, to create distinctive publications or styles, just like in print. Joshua Darden, a type designer and professor at the Parsons School of Design, likens the change to the invention of color photography. The Web, he says, has long been stuck in black and white. "It's going to be a real jump forward to finally see real fonts online."
But there's a hitch with @font-face: Your browser has to download new fonts to your hard drive before it can display them. Companies that sell fonts— known as foundries— are understandably wary about that process; they worry that letting their typefaces out on the Web could Napster-ize their industry. So while it's now technically possible to display any font you like on your page, you could be in legal hot water if you actually do so.
Enter Typekit, a startup with designs on revolutionizing Web typography. In May, the company's founder, well-known web developer Jeffrey Veen, announced that he'd worked out a way to solve @font-face's legal pickle. Think of Typekit as the iTunes Store for fonts. If you're looking for a cool font to include on your site, you'd go to Typekit and browse through its menu— the company has already made deals with dozens of foundries and planned to have several more in place by the time it launched. Depending on the fonts you choose or the size of your Web site, you'd either get your fonts for free or pay a subscription fee for access. Typekit will give you a bit of code to add to your Web page; then, you'll be able to adorn your site with legal typefaces as easily as you can pictures, videos, and GIF animations of dancing cats. The fonts will work automatically in new browsers; you won't have to download a plug-in or do anything else to see them. If you have an old browser, or if you stop paying the fee, you'll see a default typeface.
How will Typekit block unlicensed font access? Veen says the company will use several Web-server obfuscation technologies to make sure that only those customers who've signed up for a font can use it. He's careful to note that this is not technically "digital rights management," and that some very determined crooks might be able to get around this security system. But Typekit's solution will eliminate "casual misuse," he says. The system will work much like YouTube— it will allow font companies to send their typefaces far and wide online but will still let them control their proliferation and keep detailed statistics on how their typefaces are getting used. John Allsopp, a web developer and blogger who has consulted with Typekit, says that we might see fonts go "viral" in the same way that pictures and videos fly about the Web now. When one MySpace user finds the best emo gore font, others will follow.
Typekit is not the only startup working to make fonts widely available online; two other firms, FontDeck and Kernest, have announced similar tools. Typekit, though, has attracted the most buzz among web designers, and it recently announced that it has raised cash from some of Silicon Valley's bright lights, including the founders of Twitter, Flickr, and Wordpress.
How will something like Typekit change the Web? For starters, pages will load faster, and they'll be much more accessible. If they want to use an exotic font, designers now must embed it in Flash or an image file. Slate's logo, for instance, is rendered in a custom font; in order to get it to display correctly in all browsers, our designers had to use something like Photoshop to render the text, then save it as an image file. Not only do these images take a lot of time to produce, they also use a lot of bandwidth coming down the pipe, and they can't be read by search engines or screen readers used by the blind. Using real fonts on the Web will eliminate these hassles.
Ultimately, technologies like Typekit offer designers a promise that the Web may one day replicate the astonishing graphical possibilities of paper. "It's kind of sad to contemplate the death of paper," says Joshua Darden. "Digital typography has quite a lot to live up to. And it needs to catch up as soon as possible."
Posted by Rico at 10:31
A woman carrying the Olympic torch was knocked down by a protester yesterday morning during the Olympic Torch Run in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. A crowd of demonstrators appeared and disrupted the relay at about 7:50 a.m., but the torch remained lit, police said. The torchbearer got up and continued the relay.
Cortney Hansen, 28, from Milton, Ontario, was treated for her injuries by torch run medical staff at the scene.
The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee said the disruption was an "isolated incident" and was responded to "rapidly and appropriately" by the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit and the RCMP. "It is unfortunate that this torchbearer's once-in-a-lifetime experience with the Olympic flame was disrupted in this manner," said torch relay director Jim Richards.
Brittney Simpson, 19, of Kitchener, Ontario, has been charged with assault, according to the Guelph Police Service. She is scheduled to appear in court in February.
The incident occurred in front of about 1,000 children and parents who attended the festivities, police said. Ms. Simpson is part of a group known as Kitchener-Waterloo Anti-Racism Action, which gathered to protest the flame passing over native land and continued poverty in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, according to protester Alex Hundert. Mr. Hundert said the protest was meant to be peaceful and was escalated by police. "The RCMP people kind of freaked out and caused the person with the torch to stutter-step and then trip," he said. "And then things got much worse, because as that person went down, they basically started what sounds like a minor attack on the protesters. Basically, the relay team caused a disaster and the police decided they needed to arrest somebody."
A local reporter said it appeared the woman fell after bumping into a police officer. "The 28-year-old Milton woman hit the ground hard, seemingly tripping over the leg of a police officer who was struggling with protesters trying to interrupt Ms. Hansen's Olympic moment in downtown Guelph," wrote Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury.
The torch otherwise remained on schedule yesterday; snowy conditions through central Ontario didn't slow Day 60 of the relay as it passed through Erin, Orangeville, Hanover, and Walkerton.
Later yesterday, on the Saugeen First Nation leg of the relay, there was no sign of protest. Community members gathered around a fire outside the Ojibwa reserve band office awaiting the flame. Nearly fifty Olympic supporters stood, some waving signs and carrying Canadian, Ontario, and aboriginal flags. Adam Kahgee, one of the flag bearers, said the community was supportive of the Olympic relay. He said he appreciated the relay's efforts to reach as many Canadians as possible, keeping with the "for-the-people attitude of the Olympics."
The torch's trek began on 30 October in Victoria. It will make an appearance in 1,000 communities before 12 February, when it reaches its final destination of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
Posted by Rico at 02:35
Rico says he may have sent off his last share to the ex-wife, but Apple's rise is still a good thing. Kelly Riddell and Nick Turner have a Business Week article on both the stock and the impending tablet:
Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone and the Macintosh computer, climbed to a record $211.61 on the Nasdaq yesterday, fueled by holiday sales estimates and speculation that the company will release a tablet device next year. Apple rose $2.57, or 1.2 percent, marking the sixth straight day of increases. The shares have more than doubled this year, compared with a 61 percent rise for the Standard & Poor’s Information Technology Index.
Software downloads for Apple’s devices grew 51 percent in December from the previous month, according to research firm Flurry Inc. That signals that sales of the iPhone and iPod Touch jumped during the holiday season. Analysts and investors expect Apple to add a tablet computer to its lineup next year, providing a fresh source of revenue.
“Apple remains the best technology company on the planet,” Brian Marshall, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech Inc. in San Francisco, said yesterday in a report. Marshall, who recommends buying Apple stock, expects the shares to reach $260 within the next year. “Its business model is becoming stronger over time.”
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, offers more than 100,000 applications on its iTunes online store, giving its phones and media players an edge over rivals. Google Inc., whose Android operating system runs phones made by Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp., has about 12,000 applications.
“Apple downloads continue to grow at staggering rates,” said Peter Farago, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Flurry. “IPod Touch devices must have flooded the market over Christmas.” The 51 percent increase in downloads compares with 22 percent for Android, Flurry said. Downloads for the iPod Touch, a device that offers many of the iPhone’s features without the telephone, soared more than 1,000 percent on Christmas Day, compared with previous Fridays in December.
The download volume for Apple is more than thirteen times larger than for Android, according to Flurry data. Android application downloads increased 93 percent on Christmas Day. Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose $4.39 to $622.87 on the Nasdaq yesterday. The shares have doubled in value this year.
The iPhone still has less than one percent of the total global market, giving it plenty of room to grow, Marshall said. “Despite the enormous success of the iPhone since inception in July of 2007, we strongly believe the device is still in its infancy,” he said in the report.
Apple could release an oversized iPod Touch as a tablet computer, according to Maynard Um, an analyst at UBS AG in New York. Or the tablet may take the form of a scaled-down notebook computer, he said.
The company trounced analysts’ estimates for profit and revenue last quarter. Fourth-quarter net income rose 47 percent to $1.67 billion, or $1.82 a share. Sales advanced 25 percent to $9.87 billion in the period, which ended Sept. 26. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted revenue of $9.22 billion and profit of $1.43 a share.
Marshall projects sales of $12.5 billion and earnings of $2.27 a share this quarter. That’s higher than the average estimates of $11.9 billion for revenue and $2.04 for profit.
Posted by Rico at 02:23
Rico says it's not polite to mock others' religious beliefs, but sometimes it's too hard to pass up... The New York Times has an article by Richard Oppel and Salman Masood about intra-Muslim violence in Pakistan:
The death toll from a suicide bomber’s attack on a Shiite religious procession in Karachi was reported to have risen to 40 on Tuesday, as the city reeled from rioting overnight amid fears that extremist groups already waging a multifront war against the government were now trying to foment sectarian violence against the country’s minority Shiite Muslims.
The GEO television network, citing hospital sources, said at least forty people had been killed and more than one hundred had been injured in the attack, which struck the procession as it made its way along Muhammad Ali Jinnah Road on Monday afternoon.
The attack, the third against Shi'ites in three days, appeared to deeply unsettle the Pakistani government, which ordered the director general of the Rangers, a paramilitary force under the control of the Interior Ministry, to take control of Karachi.
The interior minister, Rehman Malik, also asked Shi'ite clerics to postpone religious processions , especially in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, to avoid “providing soft targets to militants,” according to the state-run news agency. Government leaders urged people not to take the law into their own hands. Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, warned that “a deliberate attempt seems to be afoot by the extremists to turn the fight against militants into a sectarian clash and make the people fight against one another.”
Police officials said that Sunni extremists, possibly with links to the Taliban, had been behind the attack. Sunni extremists believe Shi'ites are apostates and have in the past attacked the group, which makes up twenty percent of Pakistan’s population. Two people were arrested in connection with the bombings, though no group claimed responsibility. The bombing defied Pakistani security, which had deployed more forces in anticipation of an attack against Shi'ites during their annual observance of Ashura, which commemorates the death of the revered Shi'ite martyr Imam Hussein.
Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub and main port of entry for goods shipped through the country to the United States military in Afghanistan, had largely been spared the violence that has swept the country since October, when Pakistani forces began an offensive against Taliban militants in the South Waziristan tribal area.
In retaliation for that offensive, Taliban commanders have overseen a wave of attacks against large and interior cities, including the northwestern frontier hub of Peshawar, the military garrison city of Rawalpindi, and the Punjabi heartland. Monday’s blast, which occurred just after 4 p.m., sent a huge plume of smoke over the Shi'ite procession as it wound down one of the main thoroughfares of the city. A security camera caught the explosion, which left people shrieking and running for cover. Dr. Sagheer Ahmed, the health minister of Sindh Province, where Karachi is located, said soon after the attack that 63 people had been wounded, some critically.
The crowd quickly turned its anger on nearby police officers, apparently blaming them for not doing enough to protect them. Dozens of shops and cars were set ablaze as evening descended. Riots also broke out in Hyderabad, the second-largest city in Sindh.
On Monday evening, the police released a picture of what they said they believed was the severed head of the bomber, who appeared to be in his late teens. But later on the authorities asked that the picture not be publicized, suggesting that they had doubts that the remains belonged to the bomber. But they did not retract their belief that the culprit was a suicide attacker, noting that a hidden bomb would have left a large crater.
Security analysts said the attack would appeal to a wide range of militants by further destabilizing Pakistan’s weak government. “The Taliban and the jihadi elements are very much opposed to Shi'ites, and this suits their double purpose of destabilizing the state while creating despondency amongst the people, and especially the Shi'ite,” said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general and military analyst. He said it was likely that a militant Sunni group with a history of sectarian attacks was behind the blast. Mr. Masood pointed to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant group with links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Monday’s blast came after two other attacks on Shiites over the weekend. On Saturday, a small hidden bomb wounded more than a dozen people in Karachi. On Sunday, a suicide bomber in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir in the north, killed at least ten people and wounded more than 80 during a Shiite procession. The bomber had tried to enter a prayer hall, but blew himself up when guards blocked him.
Posted by Rico at 01:49
When he leans over and looks at the clock, however, of course it is that time: 1.11
Might as well get up and do some work…
Posted by Rico at 01:32
28 December 2009
Courtesy of my friend Dave, perhaps the best political cartoon ever:
"I keep thinking we should include something in the Constitution in case the people elect a fucking moron."
Posted by Rico at 17:18