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Jul. 23rd, 2012 @ 11:34 pm Dark Knight Rises review (crossposted)
New Batflick: meh.

The problem is that it just plain wasn’t any fun. There are some things I liked about it, but overall, the movie was trying so hard to be Important that it forgot to be entertaining. It was also too slow-going for me to maintain suspension of disbelief. I don’t mind bleakness in a movie if it isn’t heavy-handed, and I don’t mind impossible or unbelievable things if a film distracts me otherwise. The Dark Knight Rises, however, wallows in darkness for nearly three hours and then cheats with an unlikely happy ending.

Why so... oh, whatever.

SpoilersCollapse )
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Sep. 1st, 2011 @ 07:26 pm modest proposal
Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) made headlines the other day when, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, he said that FEMA budget shortfall could be made up only by slashing the money from something else. For the Republicans, every crisis is an opportunity to shrink the government further. Take, for example, the current economic woes our country faces: the Republican answer to widespread unemployment is to add to it by firing as many public employees as possible.

We can work with that.

Listen: operating Congress is expensive. Now, here in Rhode Island, we have a little over a million people and two Representatives. In Wyoming Montana, they have one representative for just under a million people. We Rhode Islanders can only admire that efficiency. If we made all of the House of Representatives run on the Montana model – one representative for every million people or so, rounding up or down to the nearest million (usually down; we're trying to save money here), we could cut, for example, three representatives from the Honorable Mr. Cantor's home state, seven from Texas, as many as sixteen from California, and so on, totaling a grand layoff of 120 members of Congress.

My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest this would save American taxpayers about $300 million a year in salaries, benefits, office costs, and staffer pay – and that's before other savings like lower electricity, the reduced need for security, and so on.

Now, $300 million isn't a lot compared to the size of the deficit, but it's a good round number for a lot of programs conservatives complain about, like the recently imperiled Economic Development Administration, which sends grants to economically devastated communities of the sort that, we are given to understand, Obama has been creating on a daily basis. It could instead cover, for example, the annual budget for anti-terror transit security, if that seemed important.

Would this be less democratic? Probably. Or would a reduced Congress be more efficient? Who knows? Doesn't matter. We're not talking about what's good for our country; we're just talking about slashing the budget. Let's not lose track of what's important here.
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Aug. 11th, 2011 @ 07:48 pm Facebook alert!
 The privacy alarms are sounding once again among Facebook users with the discovery late last week that material posted on the popular social networking site can be seen by other people – potentially by anyone on the entire planet, depending on the privacy settings a user has chosen.

Even restricting access to one's posts is no guarantee that no one can see it. "It's a terrible invasion of privacy!" agrees John Cranglehammer, who lives, according to his profile, at 1212 Main Street and whose last public status update says he is having a fursuit party tonight. "All of my friends-only posts are there in one place where people I sort of remember from high school can see them. If I added them, I mean. If Facebook doesn't shape up soon, I'm going to move to [new social networking site] Google Plus. Well, as soon as everyone else I know does."

Worse, Facebook users can post about other users without their permission. That's what bothers user Yolanda Snoodbeacon, who is apparently home alone for the weekend and looking forward to some no-pants time: "The other day, one of my friends tagged me in a post warning all of his past partners to get tested ASAP. How could Facebook let that happen? I haven't been so mortified since that one time when no one bothered to comment on that topless photo of myself I put on MySpace."

A Facebook spokesperson found hiding in this reporter's bedroom closet had no comment.
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Jul. 29th, 2011 @ 02:07 pm hostage crisis

Republican parent: I've decided that alimony is too high, so instead my associates and I are going to shoot little Timmy unless you give us at least two million dollars and a pony.

Democratic parent: Holy crap! Okay, look, Here's four million, but I can't do the pony thing. Please don't shoot Timmy; that would be awful.

Republican parent: The pony's a dealbreaker; we've all signed a pledge. Wait a minute, the other kidnappers are saying we also want to be able to kidnap Timmy again in a few months. Ball's in your court.

Democratic parent: There's no way I can accept that! Here's two million and a pony after all; don't hurt our kid.

Republican parent: No, it's a million now, and another crack at Timmy in six months for a few more million because we know you'll pay it, and -- wait. The other kidnappers also want us to have permanent custody. 

Democratic parent: Wait, seriously?

Republican parent:  Do you really want Timmy to get shot? Time for someone around here to be a responsible parent!  [Aside to onlookers] Don't worry; we think shooting Timmy would actually rebalance his humours.

Onlookers: What terrible parents they both are!

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Jul. 26th, 2011 @ 03:39 pm an open letter on the debt ceiling
Dear House Republicans,

You have shown me the way. As August approaches, I have firm deadlines to pay my bills. But since I'll have to borrow some money to pay them all, I have decided, following your example, not to allow myself to pay any of them unless I can cut my spending drastically. For example, food and medical care are luxuries I just can't afford anymore. Rent is also too high; I'm going to start paying less for it. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, and, as I plan to point out to my landlord when he complains that the check is lower than what we agreed on, we all have to make sacrifices in these tough times. I'll still keep cable TV, of course, because that money goes to a corporation.

I won't, however, get a job; it's clear that I have a spending problem, not an income problem. I don't want to enable further out-of-control expenditures by actually having any money. Also, charging someone for my labor will only raise operating costs for one of America's job creators, which is really unthinkable in the current economic environment.

If I can't come to an agreement with myself, I might have to default on my debts. A more serious disaster would be not taking this opportunity to get my spending under control. Furthermore, defaulting on my debts won't actually be bad; for example, not paying the student loan won't matter, because there shouldn't be a Department of Education anyway. Really, all this talk of default is just scare-mongering by those who pretend to offer me an ugly choice between defaulting and paying my bills. Finally, if I defaulted, it would be a grave disaster, and so don't worry: no one is talking about defaulting on my debts. But if it happens, it will be the fault of my creditors, who are pressing for business as usual. Well, those blank-check days are over.

Thank you for providing me with an example of fiscal responsibility.

Yours sincerely,
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Jul. 7th, 2011 @ 03:35 pm new blog
Occasional Latin-related blogging can now be found here.
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Mar. 27th, 2011 @ 11:52 pm Latin for Gamers
The old geocities "Latin for Gamers" site that I used to procrastinate away some grad school time now has its own domain name:

Check out the archaic html!
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Sep. 3rd, 2010 @ 01:27 pm syllabusesii
I'm just dusting this thing off to link to the best thing I've ever read on the 'syllabus' plural controversy.

Yes, that DOES mean I've read more than one thing about it.

Be sure to read part two.

Okay, now back to surfing the web for hot photos of dominatrices, or whatever.
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Jun. 9th, 2007 @ 09:40 pm the noble work
EDIT: Not true. I'm a gullible idiot.


From April 2006:

Richard Lafleur, the current writer of the popular Wheelock’s Latin, mentioned at a teaching conference last week that he was considering including a chapter in the next revision of his book that would focus solely on how to properly name a clan or guild in Warcraft or other popular online games.
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Feb. 12th, 2007 @ 05:59 pm Baby Got Back (again)
If you are one of the people still stumbling upon this old journal for the Latin translation of "Baby Got Back," enjoyed it, and have not seen this reinterpretation of the classic yet, you should go see it (video; as worksafe as the "Baby Got Back" lyrics are).

Thanks to rojagato and amberspyglass for the heads up.
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