Tuesday, March 28, 2006

- Casper Weinberger and Lyn Nofziger died today. Lyn was 81, Casper was 88. Lyn Nofziger, as one of the Ronald Reagan's closest advisors, was a big reason for Reagan's rise to national prominence during the 1960s and 70s. Casper Weinberger was Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration. When I think of Casper Weinberger, I am reminded of a famous quote from the cartoonist Berke Breathed (whom I wrote about a few months ago on this website). Breathed wrote, "Ah Casper Weinberger...there's a man who knew the value of a billion."

Casper Weinberger is one of the many reasons why the carbon, nitrogen, potassium, iron and hydrogen which make up your body arent floating around in the upper atmosphere. You see, Casper had the big idea of dramatically increasing the cold-war arms race with the Soviets, thus forcing the Russians to ramp-up their own production of nuclear weapons. Not coincidentally, this ruined the Russian economy and ultimately destroyed Soviet communism. So, you can thank good ole' Cap for keeping you from getting vaporized during the 1980s. Thanks Cap! Here are articles about Casper Weinberger and Lyn Nofziger:

- Changes to the earth's surface normally take tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of years to happen, but on the east coast of Africa, geologists are watching a large chunk of the African continent split into two, at an accelerated rate. It will still take several millions years to see the final outcome, but for scientists, this type of geological upheaval happening so rapidly is a unique boon:

- The twenty greatest tools of all time, according to Forbes magazine, and one extra item that shouldnt have been omitted: duct tape!

- Since I know a good deal about computers, people often ask me, "Is it better to turn my computer off when I am not using it, or leave it on all the time?" Surprisingly, there is no easy answer to this question. Leaving your computer on obviously costs you more money (even if you leave it in power-saving mode) because the computer is constantly drawing electricity from your power outlet. Leaving it on also generates more wear and tear on the few moveable parts inside your machine, like your hard-drive and CPU fan, which both constantly spin even if you arent using your computer. On the other hand, turning off your computer isnt a great idea either. Every time you turn on your computer, you send a shock of electricity into every part of the computer that depends on electricity to function. The constant on/off status to any electrical device creates heat and friction, which will eventually cause a computer component to fail. Ever notice how light-bulbs usually fail when you turn them on? Same principle.

So, my answer to the question is this...when you go to bed at night, turn off your computer. If you plan on leaving your house for more than two hours, turn off your computer. If you dont plan on using your computer for several hours, turn it off. Here is an article which will give you further guidelines on when you should turn off your computer:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

- The Star Wars movies may have come to an end, but the Star Wars universe lives on in many forms, including video games, novels, comic-books, and in a few years, TV shows. In 2007, we will get a 3D animation Star Wars TV show based during the Clone Wars. In 2008, we will get a live-action Star Wars TV show set between episode 3 and episode 4 (also known as the jedi purge.)

I have some hopes for both of these shows (namely that George Lucas isnt writing or directing either of them), but I have serious issues with the live-action TV show. I think filming a TV show that takes place between episode 3 and episode 4 is a remarkably bad idea. The new live-action show will suffer from the same problem that episode 1 through 3 suffered from. We already know the outcome of any major plot-point included in the TV show, so there will be very little suspense. I suppose filming between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope will allow them to include a few cameo appearances, like Yoda, Boba Fett, Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid is considered a minor actor, I suspect he would gladly do the new TV show) and Darth Vader, but it just doesnt seem enough to me. I doubt they could get Ewan McGregor to make a cameo. He still considers himself a major celebrity, even though his star is clearly fading.

If the new TV show sticks to Star Wars canon, then the show must include very few, if any jedi, and those jedi must get bumped-off as the show progresses. Maybe this idea, above all others, is why I object to a Star Wars TV show set during the jedi purge. To me, Star Wars is just your typical sci-fi setting, no different than Star Trek, Aliens, etc..but when you add jedi into the mix, when you add the concept of the force into the Star Wars universe, then Star Wars gains a greater purpose. It becomes mystical, even spiritual in nature, and makes you reflect upon ideas and concepts greater than yourself. This is when Star Wars truly shines. A Star Wars TV show without jedi just isnt Star Wars to me. Would I still watch the show? Very likely, but I wouldnt get "into it" like I did the six Star Wars movies.

I think it would be far better, and more entertaining to base the new live-action TV show after Episode 6. In fact, I would place it exactly 25 years after episode 6 (1983 + 25 = 2008). Then you would have a whole new plot to follow, which creates the suspense that was sorely missing in episodes 1, 2 and 3. There are also plenty of characters who could perform walk-ons, and their appearance due to aging would be completely justified. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer, and Billy Dee Williams, just to name a few, would crawl on their hands and knees to George Lucas, begging him to allow them to appear in a new Star Wars TV show. I think many actors who have appeared in Star Wars have grown to resent being in it, since it usually over-shadows everything they do following it, but most actors would give their right arm to appear in another Star Wars project, due to the publicity it creates for them. Alas, they could never get Harrison Ford to make a cameo.
He despises Star Wars, and never appears in anything unless he is the biggest star in the show. Harrison Ford is an ego-maniac, and he has a mid-life crisis every five years.

Think of it...how much fun would it be to watch Mark Hamill train a new cadre of Jedi knights, only to have one of the new Jedi turn to the dark-side of the force, and take over the galaxy! Perhaps Luke faces off against this new Sith lord, gets his butt kicked, and one of Luke's apprentices saves the galaxy instead. I know it's horribly contrived, but that is exactly the kind of thing Star Wars fans are hoping to see in a new TV show.

Here is an interview with Steve Sansweet, one of the honchos at Lucasfilm, talking about the new TV shows. Oh sure, I just spoiled most of the interview, but I am including it anyhow, for those of you who need to read official word of the new shows:

- The ten greatest accidental discoveries:

- I use to watch the TV show Deadwood on HBO. I gave up on it half-way through it's second season. No show in the history of television uses more foul-language than Deadwood. Every character on the show is greedy, dirty, and violent. Even the main character, sheriff Seth Bullock, the only possible "good guy" on the show, cheats on his wife. Maybe I am too old-fashioned, but I can't watch a show unless I can relate to some of the characters.

Three interesting historical points about Deadwood:

1. Seth Bullock became a major player in American politics during the early stages of the 20th century. He became close friends with Teddy Roosevelt, and was appointed Secretary of the Interior, back when being Secretary of the Interior meant something.
2. Wyatt Earp traveled to Deadwood, and lived their for a short time. He and Seth Bullock, despite being on the same side of the law, became enemies. Bullock supposedly ran Wyatt out of Deadwood.
3. Mark Twain visited Deadwood in 1877.

Here is an article explaining the historically accurate and inaccurate details of the show. Make sure to also read page two of the website, as it might contain information even more interesting than the first page of the website:

- Ten obscure facts about Albert Einstein:

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

- Yesterday people in the Big Easy celebrated Fat Tuesday. I was happy to see revelers and drunkards once again meandering Bourbon street. A much lesser known, but equally important holiday always follows three days after Fat Tuesday...Skinny Friday. Created by the twice-martyred St. Swithins, the patron saint of putting all your eggs in one basket, Skinny Friday is mainly a holiday for poor college students who cannot afford a trip to New Orleans, and for people who work weekday hours but simply cannot spend the time necessary to visit New Orleans. On Skinny Friday, many years ago, St. Swithins led all swizel sticks off of all international flights. Truly a momentous day in human history, and one worthy of celebration.

Coincidentally, catholics do revere an actual person by the name of Saint Swithins. Here is a wikipedia article with information about the real Saint Swithins:

- For the past two years, I have used this website to make predictions about who will win the Oscars. My first year of predictions was uncannily accurate, but last year I made a fool of myself with bold, unreasoned predictions. Well, this year there will be no predictions. I am sick of Hollywood, and their twisted politics. I refuse to honor them with Academy award predictions. Four of the five movies up for best picture represent a vile, disturbing morality which I cannot accept. You want Oscar predictions? Read the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, or better yet, ask someone standing by your company's water-cooler. When Hollywood starts making movies the American people want to see, instead of movies Hollywood wants the American people to see, then I will return to making Oscar predictions. The following article, written by a columnist at the National Review, explains that not only are these movies leftist trash, but they are also down-right lousy movies:

- The average American lives to the age of 75 (when averaging the life-span for men and women. Women live slightly longer than men.) You will spend roughly 1/3 of that time sleeping. That means you will spend about 25 of your 75 years in an unconscious state. I have always found the concept of sleep to be inherently unfair. You only get so much time on this planet and spending 1/3 of it unconscious just doesnt sit well with me. I want that time back! Soon, if scientists have their way, I may get some of that time back. According to the following article, scientists are on the verge of creating drugs which would allow you to avoid sleep, and remain perfectly healthy. Imagine how much you could get done each day if you got those 8 hours back?

- How famous companies decided upon their company name:

- The top 500 busiest websites on the internet:

- Here is a comprehensive list of Republican celebrities. I can confirm some of these people as Republicans, but many I cannot. Perhaps a better way to describe this list is of celebrities who arent really liberals: