Thursday, April 29, 2010

That Wraps Up The Next Election Some More

As I said - freaking morons:

The Austin City Council will formally consider limiting travel to Arizona and terminating any business contracts currently in place with the state. A resolution will be introduced at a May 13 meeting, according to a statement issued today from Councilman Mike Martinez’s office.

Yeah - how dare they enforce the law!

Ordinarily, I would say I truly can't wait to vote against each and every one of these idiots in the next municipal election - except that (a) I know there won't be anyone better to vote for either, and (b) these idiots will all easily win re-election anyway.

Sigh. All I can hope is that the state government manages the regional economy well enough to overcome the local stupidity here in Bezerkely East.

Friday, April 23, 2010

That Wraps Up The Next Election

So, the City Council votes for a (sigh) "green" energy plan that will give us 35% of our energy from green sources in exchange for a minimum 20% increase in our energy rates.

Note: this is the estimate from Austin Energy, the ones trying to sell us on this. They're saying the rates will go up 20%. I'm treating this government estimate like I do most - as a steaming pile of crap. The actual raise will be much much higher.

And what's the benefit? "There's a goal to reduce our carbon footprint by 20% below the 2005 levels by the year 2020."

That's not a benefit, that's a goal. What the heck good does this do for me as an Austin Energy customer?

This is exactly why I never vote for incumbents for Austin City Council. Because they are all freaking morons. If they want to start burning bio-mass, I can think of seven lumps of bio-mass I'm willing to feed in first - Lee Leffingwell, Sheryl Cole, Randi Shade, Laura Morrison, Bill Spelman, Mike Martinez, and Chris Riley.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Doctor Was Almost In

Last weekend, BBC America had a marathon of Doctor Who episodes leading up the premiere of the new Eleventh Doctor. As I mentioned earlier, I'm pretty far behind in my viewing - not to mention my reviewing - and so I was hoping to DVR several episodes on my new UVerse setup (although, sadly, BBC America is not in HD).

However, when I sat down to watch my first episode, the sixty-minute special, "The Next Doctor", I found that I only had thirty minutes worth. Hmmm. Taking a look in my recordings list, I saw numerous other problems. The episode labelled "The Last Of The Time Lords" was actually part one of "The End Of Time". Another episode was only 15 minutes long - the minimum should have been an hour. And so on.

So I don't know who was responsible for messing up the programming schedule - it could have been AT&T, or Yahoo! (which runs the web app that can control the DVR), or Microsoft (which created the underlying software suite that runs the set-top box) or BBC America (which could have given the wrong schedule information to AT&T).

But regardless, my first major misstep from my new UVerse service. At least the actual first episode was recorded correctly, so while I'm not caught up, at least I'm not falling further behind.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Help! Help! He's Being Repressed!

Outrage at Apple yet again. Now that Mark Fiore has won a Pulitzer Prize (no doubt, for explaining how to talk "like a tea bagger"), a few have noticed that his iPhone App was rejected a few months back.

Now, Apple's rejection criteria has been, to say the least, fluid. However, Apple has started clearing the dross of the app store, rejecting apps that are just graphics collections (i.e. usually softcore porn). Their claim (and rightly so) is that those can be better viewed just as web applications by a browser.

However, a few folks have decided this is political censorship:

Are you to be the new Digital Taliban?

If you cannot understand the First Amendment, if you can’t understand it supercedes your narrow monetary interests, perhaps you might want to consider moving your Corporate headquarters to a place like Singapore or Malaysia, where you’d at least have the excuse of hiding behind their similarly-repressive governments.

Yes, clearly Apple - with board members like Al Freaking Gore - is a bastion of repressive, right-wing anger. Or maybe, they realize that releasing politically-polarizing material - on either side of the aisle - is a good way to lose customers. Oh, and comparisons of a corporation making a minor policy decision to a fundamentalist terrorist group like the Taliban are always nice - what's the matter? Afraid to go full Godwin here?

Since you suggested it, let's take a look at the First Amendment, shall we?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

"Congress shall make no law..." Now, the Amendment's reach has been extended to other governments besides just Congress. But it hasn't been extended to Apple Inc., and as far as I know, Apple cannot pass a law.

The First Amendment means that the state cannot prevent you from speaking your mind. Indeed, this guys publishes on NPR - the state is actively supporting his speech. The Amendment does not say you get to choose how your speech is distributed. If Apple doesn't want to distribute political speech, that is their right. Just as it is your right to complain, boycott Apple, whatever you want.

Because I hope you really don't want the government forcing corporations - any corporation, not just networks or newspapers - to support any type of speech that comes down the road. That truly is fascism, not just the pretend label that gets slapped on anything politically disagreeable these days.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Movie Review: Rumble In The Bronx

Well, this movie sure turned on the crazy at the end. The latest in my never-ending Jackie Chan Film Festival is the movie that finally got Jackie some positive exposure over here in the States, although it still be a few more years before he really hit it big with Rush Hour. This one starts out as more of an '80's style actioner - you know, where the street gangs all have neon dune buggies, ripped shirts and extraneous athletic gear? And there are automatic weapons shootouts in the middle of crowded streets (and no one gets hit)?

Jackie, newly arrived in America and helping to run a Chinese market, gets on the wrong side of said gang during a destructive street race, and so from there it looks like the plot will mostly be: gang beats up Jackie, Jackie fights back, gang trashes market, Jackie fights back, ... and so on until Jackie fights the big boss - the end. But instead, the script suddenly throws in a new plot line involving stolen diamonds and a larger (and better armed) crime syndicate - and now it's Jackie and the gang versus the syndicate. And here's where things go from standard action flick to full-on weird - people fed into woodchippers, a building torn down around Jackie (a bit taken from Thunderbolt, by the way), waterskiing without skis, and a street chase with a giant hovercraft!

Most of this is completely extraneous to the plot - Jackie's waterski adventure doesn't really lead anywhere, since the cops show up to continue the chase without his help, for example - but as a showcase for the insanity of Jackie and his stunt crew, it works out well. We'll continue to see this sort of stuff in future films (Mr. Nice Guy, in particular, will crib a lot of these action beats). The fight scenes take a bit of a back seat to the stunt work this time around, although once again, Jackie shows great imagination in the staging (the best sequence is set in a warehouse full of stolen merchandise, which Jackie takes full advantage of). And there was one moment involving a pipe wrench that was a laugh-out-loud moment for me.

This one is certainly enjoyable - it's not a standout in the overall Chan filmography, but it's a solid enough film and a template for much of the rest of his '90's work. Three stars. Up next: Jackie goes undercover in Jackie Chan's First Strike.