Wednesday, June 15, 2005

This Day in History: The Magna Carta

As some of you may remember from your middle school world history lessons, the Magna Carta is always touted as a pretty big deal. Well, according to the History Channel website, King John sealed the deal on this date.

Interesting to note, however, that the actual execution of the document is not all it's cracked up to be:
The Magna Carta has been subject to a great deal of historical exaggeration; it did not establish Parliament, as some have claimed, nor more than vaguely allude to the liberal democratic ideals of later centuries. However, as a symbol of the sovereignty of the rule of law, it was of fundamental importance to the constitutional development of England.
Wonder how many other significant milestones we've learned by rote that aren't what we think they are?

The Declaration of Independence comes to mind... July 4th is great and all, but we still had to fight a big, bloody war after that.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Review: We the Media

Because I spend a lot of time monitoring blogs for my current assignment, I became aware of Dan Gillmor and his contributions to the online community. Based on what I had read by him and about him, I thought I would check out his book, We the Media, about the changing role of blogs and the potential they have to be the news delivery system.

An interesting premise, and he develops his case thoroughly using specific examples of where blogs have affected events and outcomes, as well as providing the background and definitions for those who might not be conversant in the exact terminology. One chapter I was glad to see was specifically related to RSS and its uses, which I have had some trouble explaining to my family members who are not involved in technology.

I was also surprised to find how big of a role the online community has played in certain events, as it continues to do with coverage of the Iraq war and the response to the Thai tsunami in late 2004. I wonder though if there will not be the inevitable backlash against online sources as their credibility and legitimacy are challenged both online and in the courts. Allegations even surfaced today that a prominent news organization had become so desperate for online traffic that they enlisted a shady organization to raise their page rank -- if they are also sucked down, what will be left?

Mostly what the book did for me is underscore the point that the journalism profession is reliant upon a stringent code of ethics that sometimes seems to be enforced on a strictly "honor policy" basis. It makes it difficult to know whom to trust, much less believe. I don't like being a cynic, but it's difficult to feel that all news reporting now is not just spin based on the political agenda of the transmitting organization. It makes a sad statement that the only "news" program that I watch is "The Daily Show". But at least I am also well-informed enough to know when they get something wrong.

Overall, I would recommend this book as reading for those who are just becoming familiar with the "blogosphere" and what it can do.

Episode III: Take Two

SigO and I went to see Episode III last week in digital. It was great
-- crystal clear, astounding visuals... and still clunky dialogue. But
we knew that.

I was still able to feel compassion for Anakin; be bewildered by his
sudden decision to bow to Sidious; and feel sorry for Hayden
Christensen for being saddled with the thankless task of delivering an
emotional performance for a director that wouldn't know one if it
walked up and bit him. Banter, he can do up to a point, as demonstrated by the interplay between Anakin and Obi-Wan in the first act. Sigh.

SigO has just completed his Phantom Edit and is already planning the
same for Clones and ROTS. I have many suggestions for him, but I'm
sure he's got them covered.

Note: adding links has started to bug me, so I'm posting this without
them for now.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Magic Number to Find Job?

Your Birthdate: April 8

Born on the 8th day of the month, you have a special gift for business, as you can conceive and plan on a grand scale.

You have good executive skills and you're a good judge of values.

You should try to own your own business, because you have such a strong desire to be in control.

You are generally reliable when it comes to handling money; you can be trusted in this regard.

Idealistic by nature, you are never too busy to spend some time on worthwhile causes, especially if managerial support are needed.

There is much potential for material success associated with this number.

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Too bad I can't use this as a reference for finding a full time job. Somehow it's difficult to get this across on a resume.

If I could throw this into the ring, I could then use my horoscope and my numerology profile to back it up.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

PXNA05 - Warfield

The Pixies
The Pixies,
originally uploaded by fannymcgee.

We had a great Memorial Day weekend, capped off by seeing the Pixies at the Warfield on Monday night. It was a bizarre set up where they played two shows in one night, the first starting at 7:00 and the second at 11:30. SigO was braver than I and stayed through both.

Here's the set list from the show I went to:
Show #1: Lady In The Radiator Song, Wave of Mutilation (UK surf), Where is My Mind, La La Love You, Here Comes Your Man, Nimrod's Son, Vamos, Mr. Grieves, Blown Away, Winterlong, Into the White, Bone Machine, Gigantic, Caribou, Monkey Gone to Heaven, The Sad Punk, Stormy Weather, Hey, Dead, Tame, River Euphrates, Ed is Dead, Alec Eiffel, Planet of Sound. Encore: Gouge Away, Debaser.
Courtesy of T. Malone, who was also there. We were standing on the floor right near the front, great view all around & rocked out as much as our old bones could stand. SigO finally got to see "River Euphrates" live, and I got to hear "Winterlong", which is one of my favorites to sing along to. We went to see them last year at the Greek Ampitheatre over in Berkeley and up at UC Davis, and they really have it all together now.

Unfortunately there was a guy on Monday behind us doing his best imitation of a smoke machine of the wacky kind so it was very pungent -- but easily ignored.

If you give a damn and you can get out to see 'em, I recommend it.

Episode III: Sigh.


I actually saw Episode III: ROTS the day after it came out, but I've been busy with other things. I think it did a good job overall because it made me really, really sad in spite of the fact that most of the dialogue was excruciating and some of the acting was terrible. I kinda knew what to expect in that regard because "I've got a bad feeling about this", while a Lucas catch phrase that I myself use fairly often, is not stellar writing.

I ended up seeing it with my family while in VA, and I told SigO later as we compared notes that I felt like LilBud in the second half of the movie saying "Noo." in the whiny little voice of a two-year-old being asked to do something they don't want to do. I knew how it was going to end, but I didn't want him to go out like that. It was not a satisfying turn to the dark side in my mind. Even though they were building to it effectively, in the end it was more of a squeak than even a whimper when Anakin succumbs to Sidious.

And then there was poor Natalie Portman. It makes me wonder how much better I would have felt about the part of Padme if I didn't know her as a great actress -- I felt like she was wasted here. More unknowns in other parts might have helped, too, to eliminate some of the feelings of stunt casting that have been haunting the prequels.

SigO says that it improves upon second viewing, but you know it's bad when my Dad, Mr. Blow-'em-up-flick-fan, thinks that the light saber battles are too long. But even given all of that, I know that we will have to get the DVD, and I can't wait to see the special features.

This is why George Lucas is worth approximately a gazillion dollars.