Monday, October 22, 2007

Movie Review -- Gone Baby Gone

"Gone Baby Gone" is the news story that makes you ask, "Why do I watch the news?" It's the 60 Minutes feature on sex tourism. It's the home invasion on a sunny, weekday afternoon. It's the store owner who kills two intruders after enduring 20 robberies in the previous 6 months. "Gone Baby Gone" shows you the things you didn't want to see, asks you the questions you didn't want to be asked, and forces you to reconsider your basic understanding of right and wrong.

What can you say about the cast and crew for this film? In my opinion, this movie should capture Best Director, Best Lead Actor, and Best Supporting Actor (Ed Harris) without blinking. Whether or not the winds in Hollywood will blow that way, who knows. Regardless, if you see this movie, you'll see a promising new director, an up and coming actor at the top of his game, and a seasoned veteran delivering another stunning performance.

Directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother Casey Affleck, "Gone Baby Gone" is the story of the kidnapping of a 4 year old girl, her family, the police, and the private investigators hired to find her. Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie, a PI with connections in the neighborhood where the abduction took place. He and his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan) are hired by the kidnapped girl's Aunt to help in the investigation. From there, the movie takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride following the search for the little girl.

With enough f-words to make Ozzy blush, it was hard not to count each expletive in expectation of the movie setting a new record. Whether I adjusted to the pace or it slowed down, I don't know, but I became so engrossed in the movie and its characters that I soon forgot about the cursing altogether. Had I left like the man in front of me, I would have missed out on an interesting experience.

Interesting experience...that's about the best way I can sum up "Gone Baby Gone". During the movie, I felt uncomfortable, angry, sad, disgusted, and confused. I can only think of one movie I've seen that had a similar impact, "Million Dollar Baby". Though unrelated in terms of plot, both movies leave you wishing a moral compass was more than just a clever literary device.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Gold Standard

Ron Paul's campaign put out a blog post today where they mentioned an interview with Alan Greenspan on Fox Business where he was asked about the role of the Federal Reserve and Gold-backed currency. I just so happen to have tracked down that interview:

Everywhere I look, I see people calling Paul a loon or worse for advocating a commodity-backed currency and the elimination of the Federal Reserve. I would imagine a lot of those same people hold Alan Greenspan in high regard. Listen to his answers in this video. I think you'll be surprised.

Update: The embedded video doesn't seem to work for me. Here's a link if you need it.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Researching the Obvious

Spray cleaning products and Asthma don't mix...go figure.

Forbe's Article


England's National Health Service Proving Republicans Right?

This article from Yahoo News details problems in England's National Health Service in delivering dental care. Some of the interesting numbers from the article include:

  • 45% of dentists surveyed no longer accept NHS patients.

  • 6% of citizens surveyed have practiced self care (pulling their own teeth, attaching caps with superglue, etc.).

  • 20% skipped dental work due to cost.

The most telling quote of the article:

"It appears many are being forced to go private because they don't want to lose their current trusted and respected dentist or because they just can't find a local NHS dentist."

Does this mean Republicans are right about socialized medicine, and if so, what do we do with families like mine who are uninsurable in the private market?


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Senator Clinton's Health Care Plan

As I'm sure anyone following the candidates knows, Senator Clinton recently released her full-blown health care proposal. In this case, I'm not going to go through the package point by point, but I do want to focus on what seems to be a basic premise...competition.

Senator Clinton has proposed 3 types of coverage:

  1. Private / Group Policies as we have now.

  2. Government Insurance as Congress has now.

  3. Medicare-style Insurance similar to what the elderly or impoverished have now.

In brief, she is saying if we like our existing coverage, keep it. If we don't like our coverage or don't have coverage, use a government variant. I don't really know how I feel about her specific prescription for competition, but I do think the basic idea is an interesting one.

What would happen if we put private, group, and government health insurance all into the market to compete with each other? Let's then adjust the tax code to keep those in the private and group pools from paying for anything in the government pool. Which plan wins? Wouldn't that be the ultimate test of a free market in health care, government competing on a level playing field with private industry?

As to Senator Clinton's specific plan, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Many of the provisions are very good for my family, but I don't know that they're good for the nation as a whole. My real concern with her plan honestly has nothing to do with the plan itself. It's her recent comments about $5,000 trust per child born in America or $1,000 per person for a 401k plan. These are the kinds of proposals that just confound me when it comes to Democrats. Why collect taxes from citizens, reduce the money by bureaucracy, and then turn around and give that money back in whatever way politicians see fit? Isn't this a role that personal responsibility and charity can play in a free market? Those of us who can, save. Those who can't, we try to help.

Every time she speaks, I feel like Senator Clinton is plotting some new way to confiscate and redistribute my income or savings. So, my real problem with her health care policy is her attitude toward taxing and spending, not the policy itself. I guess in that way my attitude toward her is much like my attitude toward Romney and Giuliani on other issues...I just don't trust her.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Monster Cable vs. Pear Anjou

This Slashdot post talks about a challenge over quality by Monster Cable against some obnoxiously expensive cables by Pear Anjou. The hilarious thing about this is that audiophiles have been saying the same thing about Monster Cables for years while deceitful salesmen happily tell hapless customers that they have to buy Monster Cable. What comes around goes around, eh Monster?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

iPhone Thoughts

Well, I finally broke down and bought an iPhone. In extreme frustration over a system failure while I was out running work errands a couple weeks ago, I headed straight for the AT&T Wireless store. Of course, I had a couple of false starts because I tried the nearby AT&T stores only to find out that only "corporate" stores carry the iPhone? Huh? Why do you have the stupid AT&T banners hanging over the signs then? Anyway, the purchase was mind-numbingly simple as was the activation process on my Mac.

With all of the posts I've read, there's been little other than glowing praise of the uber-device du jour. And you know what, they're right on most counts. All in all, this is a great little computer. Nevertheless, here's some of what I haven't heard elsewhere:

  • The mail program forces you to delete messages one at a time. There's no "delete all" mechanism which is important given how I want to use the phone.

  • The keyboard is a pain in the ass. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't. Aside from hitting the wrong key frequently because my fingers are too big, I'm also constantly jumping back to symbols/numbers to type periods when I'm doing system administration. Why can't we have a choice of which keyboard to use? I'd always pick the URL version of the keyboard for normal work. I type ".com" often enough to need it.

  • Dialing without looking at the phone is impossible, but you already knew that.

  • The display or cpu seems to get behind when you're scrolling Safari, and I haven't found a way to jump to the top or bottom of a page without scrolling.

  • When I just want to see information on a missed or recent call, I often end up dialing the number.

  • The speakers used for speaker-phone, iPod playback, and ring-tones are pathetic. If you have much background noise at all, you won't hear them.

  • Wifi reception is spotty, at best, even though the transparency of the Wifi support is beautifully done.

After my purchase, I decided not to install a terminal and SSH client on my iPhone. My original intent was to have a device with an SSH shell, but I've had devices like the Zaurus where 3rd party code had caused me nothing but headaches. Instead, I turned to WebShell and Webmin to help me with my system administration tasks. Don't get me wrong, WebShell is slow and aggravating, but it works in a pinch. I've had better luck with setting up custom commands on Webmin to do some of my normal administration duties. Eventually, I hope to have Nagios running and doing some of the recovery work automatically, but that's for another day.

It turns out not installing 3rd party apps was a good decision as it seems Apple decided to declare war on the 3rd party app installers and SIM unlockers. Bricking phones because someone wants to do system administration? Not my idea of a consumer-oriented company, but then again, I've never been a true Apple fanboy. The only reason I'm on Mac is because it gives me a half-way decent, stable Unix. The only reason I have an iPhone is it gives me a small, mobile computer from which I can do system administration in an emergency. While I love their attention to detail on their hardware, I've always been leery of their attitude toward consumers and developers.

Anyone who thinks an Apple monopoly would be better than a Microsoft monopoly must have checked their critical thinking skills at the door. Let's hope they don't bankrupt themselves learning how to behave as a responsible corporate citizen.

$#!$# Comedy Central

In an old post, I used Comedy Central's own system to embed a Daily Show clip on the site. Free advertising, right? Well, as you can see, they've pulled the clip and replaced it with "Video no longer available, but I heard your mother is." Nice. I don't run a clean, puritanical blog or anything, but it still pisses me off that I found that on my blog today. I'm trying to resist the four-letter word impulse and stick to Looney Tunes, but it's tough. Maybe next time I'll just use a Youtube clip and spare them the free marketing, however small it might be. Guess I'll hit "Publish" and move on to something else.