We watched Talladega Nights Sunday evening and were pleased, at least, that we chose to pay the reduced matinee price. Maybe I’ve outgrown the comedic pratfall and slapstick routines of Larry, Moe, and Curly, but I’d like to think that Talladega Nights just wasn’t that funny. My wife and I decided that it was probably hilariously funny to make and be a part of, but that personal comedy is lost a bit on the audience. What was funny about the movie was the audience response. Amy and I both felt that it was geared strongly towards a great eye-poke at Americans. I felt that the creators really got what they wanted from the response, and the joke is on the audience. The irony of the film is in the humor. It isn’t always delivered well and it’s not always apparently applicable to the movie, but when the audience laughs, they’re being laughed at. The Frenchman, Jean Girrard played by Sacha Baron Cohen, has an unconvincing accent and portrays one of America’s stereotypes of the French. Girrard is gay, French, a sophisticate, and impossible to understand. This all plays into a more sinister attitude towards the French by Americans. Talladega Nights also takes advantage of a theme that envisions adult-oriented lines given by children to be funny. The lines aren’t funny coming from real actors and fall flatly to my ears coming from children. I understand what they’re doing, but I just prefer that good comedy be left to real actors. There is certainly good comedy in the movie, but it could have been summarized in some Saturday Night Live skits and sufficed. I enjoy Will Ferrell’s humor, but I find that his comedy is more appropriate as a sideline or co-star role. His pieces in the Austin Powers movies still rings truly hilarious to me. I contrast this movie to the masterpieces (they were masterpieces, weren’t they?) The Naked Gun, Dragnet, and Police Academy of yesteryear. Not the brilliance of those classics. I was also reminded in a discussion with a co-worker that it was probably not the intention of the creators for this movie to be intellectually analyzed. Maybe so, but I truly believe that Talladega Nights was more than a silly comedy about Nascar and perhaps just someone’s personal joke on our state of being as Americans.
I was impressed to hear in a podcast (SETI) recently that a new hominid skeleton was found on an Indonesian island from 18,000 years ago. It’s another win for evolution as this new form is yet another intelligent hominid and just over 3 feet tall. By now, many skeletons have been found as well as the remains of mini elephants. The elephants are presumed to have swum from neighboring islands where this species is more common. The great question as to the wee size of the hominid is generally considered to be answered by a evolutional story on islands. Islands tend to bend natural selection a particular way, either because no predators exist, or because there is a limited and consistent supply of food. From what I understand from Darwin’s tales of the Galapagos, an evolutional process on an island chain occurs much faster than more diverse environments.
Article on the same: Nature.com
“Want incredible entertainment experiencecs…in your lap?” Well, yeah! Who doesn’t?!?
Spirituality and religion are distinctly separate tracts within mankind’s existence. Spirituality is what is. It is what you sense and what you feel. It’s also what you feel through others. Empathy, if you will. The acknowledgment of an infrastructure, to put it in technological terms, if we are the applications. What this infrastructure is actually made of is probably best described as faith. Everyone has it, whether it’s faith in nothing or faith in a supreme being. To be without spirituality is to be without faith. Flying solo in life, so to speak. Religion, on the other hand, is something the faithless can have. Man developed religion long ago to help explain spirituality. With a lack of scientific sophistication, religion also explained the world around us. When the spirit is explained, it can become a religion. Maybe I should say that when explained, it’s spiritual, but when taught, it’s religion. Fine lines, but I’m sure the intelligent reader can discern the difference.
Friday night, outside of Celestial Studios, I was approached by a man – Neil, I think – with a conversation starter. Not being naïve to this sort of thing, I had a good idea that the guy was selling something. As one would expect in this part of the country, what he was selling was religion. I don’t look particularly lost, so this guy (and his companion that never spoke) was just taking a chance on me. He explained this later in our conversation. The conversation starter was a card with an intelligence test on the front (i.e. trick question). I don’t like being confronted with trick questions because I know they’re designed to create failures. That’s a hit at anyone’s pride and I take little interest in trying to outsmart them. At any rate, the conversation moved smoothly into the realm of spirituality. He asked me questions that pinpointed me as a sinner – pinpointed everyone in existence as a sinner, himself included. At this point, we began to talk about morals and ethics. I believe it was also at this point that the conversation turned into something more challenging than Neil first intended. I chose to describe to him my philosophy on morals and ethics. That is, their being something developed by society. Morals are fickle, like man. Murder was a favorite for Neil, because it’s an easy extreme. I pointed out, however, that murder can be justified by a society, but not a victim. That is, everything living has a will to survive. Any attempt to challenge that will, whether in theory or action, can initiate a defensive response. Not a good moral to argue. Despite my best efforts, the conversation continued to circle back to murder. We also worked through the metaphors to Judgment Day and Christ’s history. What was interesting about Neil’s schtik was that he was only talking about spirituality, not religion. In fact, he acknowledged that religion is man-made and error-prone. He also explained that the importance to all of this was not in the specifics, but simply a trust and faith in Truth. These are all very good things that I stand behind today. I’m thinking to myself, “why are we having this conversation? We’re on the same side!” It’s at the end of the conversation that Neil tells me to assume for a moment that the Ten Commandments (the major topic of conversation throughout) are the rules and Judgment is based upon a black and white adherence to them. I abide and must generally remain silent for the finale. Because I’m making the assumption requested, any questions asked are designed to ensure my guilt. By the end of the conversation, it’s made clear that I’ll burn in everlasting Hell unless I can change my mind in matters of what is now religion. I was able to hang with him up until he transitioned from spirituality to religion. I lost the game at that point.
I must say, I really like Neil and the way in which he witnessed to me. Of all the people who have, his arguments were the best. Of course, in the end we were still talking about religion. I’m interested in religion, but more from an analytical approach. Kind of like the way we’ve all studied ancient Greek mythology. I’m not a religious person yet. Perhaps I will be one day, but it’s hard to find a group’s practice of spirituality to match my own. I imagine it’s the same story with many people – they just settle for a close match. That, or they simply adapt their spirituality to match the religion; not true spirituality. That reminds me, Neil said that if someone had to explain the Bible to you, you’re probably in a cult. That’s pretty extreme, but I can see the truth in it. I took that to mean that the explanation from another encompassed their perception, when it should be yours alone. It seems logical then that I can deduce if someone has to explain a spirituality (e.g. religion) to me, it’s also cult. Heavy-handed, but it’s no different an assumption than the crude, black and white judgment foretold by a religious zealot.
By the way, on the back of the card I received from Neil was a website: www.raycomfort.com. It’s an evangelism site. I haven’t read through it beyond the first page, but I see mention of avoiding false conversions; a “tragedy.” I like that message. That is a great tragedy in my mind as well, and it goes for any religion or spiritual belief. It’s like lifting weights. If you’re not really into it, why are you doing it? It’s not like you’re fooling anybody – you’re just cheating yourself. What are your convictions?
Fast Eddie points out the Runaway Bride’s story as broken by Katie Couric. I’m not sure if the interview was tonight or sometime later this week, but I probably won’t see it. I’m only interested in the story so that I can talk intelligently at the proverbial ‘water-cooler’ at work. I’m not usually up on the news, as I don’t take an interest in it. This story, however, is a little unusual in that this woman lived in Gainesville and even went to my high school. I never knew her personally, but my wife remembers her. Amy’s sister remembers her pretty well, and she doesn’t remember her eyes as being outside of their sockets. Times change a person, I suppose.
So it’s pretty funny that the MSNBC story refers to Gainesville as a ‘Mayberry.’ I’ve lived in one-horse towns, and this is not one. Gainesville is comparable to Gwinnett in many ways. We have a Starbucks – that counts for something, I think.
“Her story starts in Gainesville, Georgia, a town that could have doubled as the set for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, about an hour’s drive from Atlanta.”
Microsoft Research tells us about some intelligent software able to make decisions on availability versus message importance. The workforce potentially loses lots of productive time attending to unimportant emails. Worse still, unimportant messages can cut into personal time. This system is designed to do the human part of risk analysis in order to determine whether a message is important at that point in time. The concept is really cool, though it’ll suck when spammers figure out how to take advantage of it. I’m also unsure how
secretaries administrative assistants will like the idea of a piece of code replacing a big part of their jobs. Not that that’s all they do, but you get the point.
“The system knew what I was doing,” Horvitz said. “It knew that I was off with the kids having a good time, yet it did the cost-benefit analysis and it forwarded a single message to me.”
“‘The execution of today’s warrants disrupted an extensive peer-to-peer network suspected of enabling users to traffic illegally in music, films, software and published works,’ Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement. ‘The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing intellectual property laws, and we will pursue those who steal copyrighted materials even when they try to hide behind the false anonymity of peer-to-peer networks.'”
If the DoJ is attempting to further spurn the economy by scaring folks into legally attaining inessential goods, they might be surprised by the ultimate effect. On the other hand, perhaps they’re interested in updated budgets for detention institutions. By getting a lot of white collar cybercriminals queued into system, they can build newer, high-tech prisons. If they get all the P2P’ers locked up, maybe an interesting blog will show up from those on the inside.
I finished the class Microsoft presented on MSI 3.0. It’s interesting stuff, but if you’re used to such things as RPM, it’s just catching up. Microsoft does have a nice feature coming out that is targeted to assist the gaming community. This new feature allows the original MSI installer to apply a certificate to the MSI. Updates following the MSI (MSI or MSP) can have the certificate installed too. If this is the case, the OS can allow the update to take place regardless of the users security level. more…This is very convenient, though I believe that most gamers installing updates are probably admins anyway. This doesn’t, by the way, mean that the packages are encrypted by any means – that’s still in the works and due for Longhorn. Another thing with the patching; MSP’s can be applied all at once. When listing multiple MSP’s on the command-line, MSI 3.0 will automatically determine the order in which they should be installed. This action takes into account obsolescense and supercedence (where applicable). That is to say, if you applied a bunch of patches requiring service pack 1, then took out service pack 1, the patches would be defunct. MSI is intelligient enough to strip out the functionality of the patches, but keep them around until SP1 is reapplied. One other thing; Microsoft recommends applying MSP’s (patches) to the clients rather than using an administrative install location.
MSI 3.0 is apparently finished code, but won’t release until XP SP2 releases. If you’re on the beta, you’ve already got it! By the end of the year, Microsoft plans to have standardized on two different packaging solutions. One, for applications, will be based on MSI 3.0. The other, for operating systems, will be based on the update.exe seen in service packs. There will also be a consistent use of paramters to each of these.
All in all, Microsoft will be putting in some much needed innovation in to MSI 3.0. The really big stuff is supposed become reality for Longhorn – I guess we’ll ahve to wait a little longer (again).