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Thursday, December 30, 2004
Comparing the effectiveness of the presidential campaigns

The Washington Post has a good article today comparing how the two campaigns spent there money and who got more bang for their buck.

In the most expensive presidential contest in the nation's history, John F. Kerry and his Democratic supporters nearly matched President Bush and the Republicans, who outspent them by just $60 million, $1.14 billion to $1.08 billion.

But despite their fundraising success, Democrats simply did not spend their money as effectively as Bush....

In a $2.2 billion election, two relatively small expenditures by Bush and his allies stand out for their impact: the $546,000 ad buy by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign's $3.25 million contract with the firm TargetPoint Consulting. The first portrayed Kerry in unrelentingly negative terms, permanently damaging him, while the second produced dramatic innovations in direct mail and voter technology, enabling Bush to identify and target potential voters with pinpoint precision.
A supposed strategic advantage for the Democrats -- massive support from well-endowed independent groups -- turned out to have an inherent flaw: The groups' legally required independence left them with a message out of harmony with the Kerry campaign.
Of all the money spent on television advertising for the Democratic nominee, Kerry's campaign controlled 62 percent, according to spending totals analyzed by The Washington Post. The rest was spent on ads whose content or placement could not be coordinated with the campaign. The Bush campaign controlled 83 percent of the money spent on its behalf, giving it far more control over when and how it advertised.
The 2002 elections, along with the Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial contests the following year, became testing grounds for the Republican effort to mobilize supporters. Designed to get base voters to the polls, it became known as the "72 Hour Project," whose cost Republican officials refused to disclose but is estimated by sources to have been in the $200 million range.
Dowd estimated that, in part through the work of TargetPoint and other research, the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to "quadruple the number" of Republican voters who could be targeted through direct mail, phone banks and knocking on doors.

Democrats had access to similar data files. But the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to make far better use of the data because they had the time and money to conduct repeated field tests in the 2002 and 2003 elections, to finance advanced research on meshing databases with polling information, and to clean up and revise databases that almost invariably contained errors and omissions.
An additional Republican television commercial that significantly affected the race, according to surveys, was a positive spot financed by a second GOP 527 group, Progress for America. It invested $17 million in "Ashley's Story," which featured Ashley Faulkner, 11, whose mother had been killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, describing her meeting with Bush.

Overall, Kerry, the DNC and the Democratic 527s spent $344 million on ads, while Bush and the GOP counterparts spent about $289 million, much of which was disbursed in the final three months. Arguably, Republicans got more bang for their bucks.

--Washington Post

There's plenty more interesting stuff in there.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:24 PM in Politics/Government

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Ken Jennings back

Jeopardy's announced a super tournament that will feature almost 150 5-time winners battling for the right to take on Ken Jennings in the finals.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:26 PM in TV

If you're looking to help the victims of the big earthquake/tsunami the Christian Science Monitor has a round-up of places where you can donate.

--Addendum-- (12/29/04 - 14:31)
Amazon has so far raised over $2.15 million in donations for disaster relief.

--Update-- (12/30/04 - 14:08)
Amazon's now raised more than $5.13 million.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:30 AM in Miscellaneous

Tuesday, December 28, 2004
So wrong it hurts

The Houston Chronicle/New York Times: Ohio is the Florida of 2004.

In what kind of whacked out, screwed up version of reality can Ohio be called the Florida of 2004 when Washington had the election it had?

Let's see.

In Ohio the President won by 118,000+ votes only to have that total lowered to 118,000+ votes by one recount.

In Washington the Governor's race initially has a margin of only a few hundred votes which, through numerous recountings, is eventually reversed to show the other candidate winning.

Tell me, which state do you think better fits the tagline "Florida of 2004"?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:08 PM in Ohio , Politics/Government
The Ohio recount is over...

... and *gasp* President Bush still won. Now he just won by 118,457 votes instead of 118,775. Boy, it's a good thing we spent more than a million dollars of taxpayer money to figure that out.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:54 PM in Ohio , Politics/Government
"Down with the French!"

As always, Jonah Goldberg is at his best when he's lambasting the French.

Yes, the French throne — not the Enlightenment philosophes — helped us out during the American Revolution, but that was a calculated attempt to give Britain a wedgie. Before that — during the French-Indian wars — and almost ever after the French have practiced a nasty realpolitik towards America and the world. The French supported the Confederacy in the Civil War and let's not count how many Frenchmen supported the Germans — and the Holocaust. Suffice it to say, the Hollywood version of French heroism leaves a lot to be desired. "Next to the weather," General Eisenhower lamented, "[the French] have caused me more trouble in this war than any single factor."

And let's also not gloss over the fact that more than a few French intellectuals have been known to look at dictators and mass-murderers the way Michael Jackson gazes at posters of Macaulay Culkin. Michel Foucault was like, "Oh my God, the Ayatollah is sooo cool."

--Goldberg File

Though I also like this unrelated demi-paragraph from last week.
This country had established state churches for generations after the First Amendment was ratified. So spare me the argument that its unconstitutional for the local rec center to sport a nativity scene out front and maybe a menorah in the window.

--Goldberg File

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:51 PM in Politics/Government

Monday, December 27, 2004
Reds sign Eric Milton

Who would have thought they'd be willing to put up the money for a 3 year, $25.5 million contract?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 5:43 PM in Baseball , Cincinnati
The military still supports the war
Despite a year of ferocious combat, mounting casualties and frequent deployments, support for the war in Iraq remains very high among the active-duty military, according to a Military Times Poll.

Sixty-three percent of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and 60% remain convinced it is a war worth fighting. Support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting.

But the men and women in uniform are under no illusions about how long they will be fighting in Iraq; nearly half say they expect to be there more than five years.

In addition, 87%% say they're satisfied with their jobs and, if given the choice today, only 25% say they'd leave the service.

Compared with last year, the percentages for support for the war and job satisfaction remain essentially unchanged. - Poll shows troops in support of war

Posted by Rob Bernard at 10:44 AM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Had some issues while trying to upgrade mt-blacklist and as a result mt-blacklist no longer works. Therefore I have disabled commenting for unregistered users. If you want to comment please sign up for a free Typekey account.

--Update 12/26 00:15--
mt-blacklist is working again so I've reenabled commenting.

--Update 12/26 00:22--
Heh, in the 7 minutes it's been up blacklist has blocked 11 spam attempts.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:02 PM in Miscellaneous
Merry Christmas!
CHARLIE BROWN: I guess I really don't know what Christmas is all about.


Isn't there anybody who knows what Christmas is all about?

LINUS: Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.


Lights please.


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:55 AM in Miscellaneous

Friday, December 24, 2004
Cincinnati 32, Marshall 14
They started out a little slow, there were some stupid mistakes early on, but once Gino started getting under center they really poured it on. It wasn't the greatest of seasons, but things are looking up as they move into the Big East next year.
Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:50 AM in Cincinnati

Thursday, December 23, 2004
Snowblogging 2

The snow switched to sleet late, keeping the height down but greatly increasing the weight. 13" total. This storm dropped more snow on the Dayton area than any other storm on record. A level 2 snow emergency here at home, and a level 3 where I was supposed to be working today kept me at home today.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 6:00 PM in Dayton

I'll call the snowfall so far at 10" and still coming down hard. Shoveled the drive at 5"-6" and it's back up to 5".

A day like this can really teach you a lot about your weather professionals. I've been very impressed by WXIX's Rich Apuzzo. He's been on top of this storm from day one, with the most accurate numbers. You have to respect a weatherman who has as much fun forcasting the weather as he does. This morning WDTN's Carl Nichols was still calling for 6"-10" total. (We had the 6" by 3PM.) WHIO's 11 o'clock news tonight was just an embarrassment; it was all scare stories about old people dying shoveling their driveways and how alcohol doesn't help the cold. WRGT and WKEF's newscasts are always an embarrassment.

It's really kind of sad that Dayton residents have to watch a Cincinnati station to get anything approaching a decent weather newscast.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:30 AM in Miscellaneous

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Done with my Christmas shopping. Still have what might euphamistically and very generously be called a massive amount of assembly to do, but the shopping's done. Bring on the 16" of snow!

Posted by Rob Bernard at 10:19 PM in Miscellaneous
Reds' dealings: Part 2

Boy, for the longest time there was nothing and then all of a sudden... WHOOSH! The Reds picked up Kent Mercker yesterday, agreed to a one-year contract with D'angelo Jimenez today, and also today signed free agent Joe Randa, formerly of the Royals, to play third. The addition of Randa means Kearns won't need to switch to third, once again leaving 4 outfielders to fill 3 slots.

And believe it or not, they actually seem to be adding payroll.

It would be awfully hard to argue that these moves haven't made the Reds a better team. The rotation should be better with Ortiz, the pen almost HAS to be better with Weber, Weathers and Mercker, we actually have an honest-to-God third baseman and they've stood pat at C, 1B, 2B and in the outfield.

The only real questions remaining would be:

1)Who wins out at short, Machado or Lopez?

2)Who fills out the rotation?


3) How does the outfield surplus work itself out?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 5:12 PM in Baseball , Cincinnati
New Potter book gets a July 16th release date
The sixth Harry Potter book will hit the shops on 16 July next year, it has been announced. ... Author JK Rowling revealed on Tuesday she had completed the novel after originally saying she would announce details on Christmas Day. ... In a statement, Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury in the UK and Barbara Marcus, president of Scholastic Children's Books in the US, said: "JK Rowling has written a brilliant story that will dazzle her fans in a marvellous book that takes the series to yet greater heights.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince delivers all the excitement and wonder of her bestselling Harry Potter novels."

The fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was published in June 2003.

The series has been a publishing phenomenon, with five million copies of the last book sold in the first 24 hours of publication.

Fans had to wait three years between publication of the fourth and fifth books.


I've heard it will be shorter than Order of the Phoenix, but I haven't actually seen any confirmation of that. (In theory coming in under 870 pages shouldn't be too hard.)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:45 PM in Miscellaneous
Seems like a neat idea
Beginning Jan. 2, consumers will be able to buy a 10-ounce container of Wolfgang Puck gourmet latte at the store and heat it just by pressing a button on the can.

No electricity. No batteries. No appliances.

"It will expand the way people drink coffee," says Puck, the celebrity chef.

How does the can do it? A single step mixes calcium oxide and water. It heats the coffee to 145 degrees in six minutes -- and stays hot for 30 minutes.
The self-heating coffee-in-a-can will retail for about $2.25 -- less than a Starbucks latte.

--Chicago Sun-Times (Hat tip Boortz)

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:19 PM in Technology/Internet

Monday, December 20, 2004
" They have met the enemy, but don't recognize that he is their imagination"

The Morning Journal on the interminable accusations of fraud here in Ohio:

They have met the enemy, but don't recognize that he is their imagination.

Our wish is that they'd take their voting conspiracy hallucinations underground. Abandon us, please, so we can get on with life.

Bush won. Kerry lost.

Lorain County recounted. Other counties recounted, and others are recounting, and nothing has changed.

Nothing changed, because nothing was wrong. (Except for those who now fear the recount itself is rigged. For them, please go to deepest mineshaft and await the impending end of democratic civilization as you fear it.)
Those, like Jesse Jackson and Rep. John "call in the FBI" Conyers (D-Michigan), who encourage unfounded conspiracy-itis for their own self-aggrandizement are contemptible. And those Democrats and demagogues who refuse to recognize reality, no matter how you count it, do America a disservice by wasting our tax money cutting away at the fabric of an election system that works fine.

--The Morning Journal

Posted by Rob Bernard at 6:51 PM in Ohio
Uparmored humvees

Powerline reports that the uproar over the lack of uparmored humvees may not be all it's made out to be, at least in regards to the unit that the soldier who asked the infamous question of Secretary Rumsfeld was in.

Of the 800+ vehicles in the 278 ACR, only 20 weren't "uparmored" and those 20 were scheduled to be upgraded (and were upgraded) within 24 hours of when the question was asked according to Major General Stephen Speakes.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:12 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Donald Rumsfeld's been taking quite a beating recently. I have to say, I wouldn't be at all opposed to his leaving. At this juncture though I don't think his departure is really politically feasible.

Now don't take this to be playing politics with defense. I don't mean that his departure would reflect badly on President Bush or help the Democrats or anything like that. I do though think that his leaving right now could affect the next SecDef's ability to do the job. The attacks are going to continue to escalate in Iraq and I think it's advisable for Rumsfeld to stay on until early next year so that we can at least get over that hump. Then I'd fully support dumping Rumsfeld and bringing in a new guy to manage the operations in post-election Iraq.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:03 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Sunday, December 19, 2004

It's awfully hard to find something decent on the radio at 6:30 on a Sunday. It's all public affairs and infomercials.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 6:48 AM in Miscellaneous

Saturday, December 18, 2004
Mmmmm.... that's good irony
The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders' commitment to privacy rights.

Some board members say the extensive data collection makes a mockery of the organization's frequent criticism of banks, corporations and government agencies for their practice of accumulating data on people for marketing and other purposes.

Daniel S. Lowman, vice president for analytical services at Grenzebach Glier & Associates, the data firm hired by the A.C.L.U., said the software the organization is using, Prospect Explorer, combs a broad range of publicly available data to compile a file with information like an individual's wealth, holdings in public corporations, other assets and philanthropic interests.

The issue has attracted the attention of the New York attorney general, who is looking into whether the group violated its promises to protect the privacy of its donors and members.

"It is part of the A.C.L.U.'s mandate, part of its mission, to protect consumer privacy," said Wendy Kaminer, a writer and A.C.L.U. board member. "It goes against A.C.L.U. values to engage in data-mining on people without informing them. It's not illegal, but it is a violation of our values. It is hypocrisy."

--The New York Times

Posted by Rob Bernard at 4:55 PM in Miscellaneous

Friday, December 17, 2004
King's Island beats Cedar Point
Ohio State-Michigan it's not. But the attendance rivalry between Ohio's two big amusement parks does carry bragging rights.

This year, they go to Paramount's Kings Island, near Cincinnati.

Kings Island broke its attendance record and replaced Cedar Point as the 15th busiest amuse ment park in North America, according to a Top 50 ranking compiled by Amusement Business.

Cedar Point fell to 17th.

Over the years, the two parks have shifted back and forth with the state's top attendance title.

"It's a very friendly rivalry," Cedar Point spokeswoman Janice Witherow said.

--The Plain Dealer

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:32 PM in Ohio
Environmentalists admit that Kyoto won't help global warming
After a relentless attack on the United States for opposing the Kyoto Protocol, environmental groups concede the international treaty will have no impact on what they believe to be impending catastrophic global warming.

Despite the fact that green groups at the U.N. climate summit in Buenos Aires called President George Bush "immoral" and "illegitimate" for not supporting the Kyoto Protocol, the groups themselves concede the Protocol will only have "symbolic" effect on climate because they believe it is too weak. Kyoto is an international treaty that seeks to limit greenhouse gases of the developed countries by 2012.

"I think that everybody agrees that Kyoto is really, really hopeless in terms of delivering what the planet needs," Peter Roderick of Friends of the Earth International told

"It's tiny, it's tiny, tiny, it's tiny," Roderick said. "It is woefully inadequate, woefully. We need huge cuts to protect the planet from climate change."


So tell me, if Kyoto will have only "symbolic" effects on global warming and would cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars why do they think we should be a part of it? I mean besides the fact that it will hurt our corporations and industries.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 9:51 AM in Politics/Government

Thursday, December 16, 2004
GPS system could be disabled in the event of a terrorist attack
President Bush has ordered plans for temporarily disabling the U.S. network of global positioning satellites during a national crisis to prevent terrorists from using the navigational technology, the White House said Wednesday.

Any shutdown of the network inside the United States would come under only the most remarkable circumstances, said a Bush administration official who spoke to a small group of reporters at the White House on condition of anonymity.
The president also instructed the Defense Department to develop plans to disable, in certain areas, an enemy's access to the U.S. navigational satellites and to similar systems operated by others. The European Union (news - web sites) is developing a $4.8 billion program, called Galileo.

The military increasingly uses GPS technology to move troops across large areas and direct bombs and missiles. Any government-ordered shutdown or jamming of the GPS satellites would be done in ways to limit disruptions to navigation and related systems outside the affected area, the White House said.

"This is not something you would do lightly," said James A. Lewis, director of technology policy for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's clearly a big deal. You have to give them credit for being so open about what they're going to do."

--Yahoo News

Nice to see that they're thinking ahead.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:35 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East
Reds dealings

Ramon Ortiz, David Weathers and Ben Weber in, Dustin Mosely out.

So far I'm fairly happy with what they've done. Both the rotation and bullpen should be stronger.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:23 AM in Baseball , Cincinnati

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
This is what you call a non-story

A man who was a student at Columbine High School when the shooting occurred died in Iraq Saturday.

It's sad that he died and all, but it should just barely be news in Littleton, CO, it certainly isn't big enough that it should be on the front page of CNN.

"Greg made us so proud, but he never wanted to be recognized for his actions," said the statement from his family. "Neither Columbine nor Iraq was to define him."

So what does the family do? They issue a statement to the press using Columbine and Iraq to define him. He never wanted to be defined that way and yet there he is on the front page of CNN only because he's a Columbine survivor that died in Iraq.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 4:11 PM in Movies
Who stole Christmas?
"This year, it is a 'Giving Tree,'" the guy at the local newsstand made his disgust clear. "For 2,000 years, it's a Christmas tree. Now all of a sudden, it's a 'Giving Tree.'"

This is the week of Hanukkah, and also of St. Nicholas Day, marking the beginning of the annual "reindeer tussles" all across America: hundreds and thousands of mayors and school officials try to figure out just how much Rudolph you need to add to the nativity scene to make it all constitutional.
Religious liberty is hard. It demands that we live side by side, amicably and with mutual respect, with citizens with whom we disagree about the biggest and most fundamental questions of life. Advocates of this new religion of "tolerance" wish instead to avoid the demands of religious liberty by airbrushing religious ideas out of the public square, or insisting that all religions are really the same (which is just another, bigger airbrush). Anyone who believes otherwise is "intolerant." Tolerance turns out to be just another hunting license for excluding and stigmatizing people with whom you disagree.
When did we begin to accept the idea that it's OK to be offended by other people's displays of religion? That people who are made uncomfortable by other people's religions have a right to have those religious ideas and symbols excluded from public celebrations? Who decided that in order to enjoy a communal celebration such as a Christmas parade, we first have to get Christmas out of it?

--Maggie Gallagher

I don't have a problem with "Happy Holidays" when it refers to the entire season and includes Hanukkah and all that. It's a season with several holidays, I don't have a problem including them all. I do have a problem when people simply use a word as a replacement or euphamism for "Christmas". A "Christmas Tree" is not a "Holiday Tree" or a "Giving Tree", that's just silliness and Political Correctness run amok.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:48 PM in Miscellaneous
Now this is interesting

Blockbuster is doing away with late fees starting January 1st. Instead customers will be given a 1 week grace period after the due date. At that point they will be sold the movie. They then have one month in which to bring back the movie and be credited the amount less a "restocking fee".

It's either genius or a horrible idea. I'd be interested to see what kind of price they charge for the "sold" items and how big the "restocking fee" will be. Will they be charging the full list price? (Meaning, will you get charged $25 for a movie you can get at any Best Buy for $15?) Either way I don't think this will be enough to get me away from Family Video where it costs just $2.50 for a rental.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:32 AM in Miscellaneous
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Actual accumulation of snow on the ground this morning and it's about time. It's been looking a lot like a gray, rainy day for a while now. A gray snowy day is a nice change of pace.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:22 AM in Miscellaneous

Monday, December 13, 2004
What the hell is AOL doing?

AOL owns Netscape. They finance Mozilla. The browser that comes with AOL is Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Now comes word that AOL is building a standalone browser which will be Internet Explorer with tabbed browsing.

Are we sure AOL isn't being run by a pack of monkeys?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:37 AM in Technology/Internet

Sunday, December 12, 2004
Students told to dump IE
A public university with an enrollment of over 80,000 put the kibosh this week on Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and urged its students to switch to alternative browsers such as Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, or Safari.

Penn State University on Wednesday issued an alert to students and staff recommending that they dump IE and use a different browser.

The university's Information Technology Services (ITS) gave the advice "because the threats are real and alternatives exist to mitigate Web browser vulnerabilities," ITS said in a statement. It cited the security problems in IE that have been the focus of both media reports and recommendations from such organizations as the US-CERT, the federally-funded computer response team housed at Carnegie Mellon University.

"The University computing community [should] use standards-based Web browsers other than Internet Explorer to help minimize exposure to attacks that occur through browser vulnerabilities," added ITS.

--Information Week (via Slashdot)


Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:23 AM in Technology/Internet

Saturday, December 11, 2004
Looks like Bernard Kerik won't be the 2nd Homeland Security Director
President Bush's pick to become homeland security secretary, former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, abruptly withdrew his nomination on Friday after he said he learned that the immigration status of a housekeeper and nanny he employed was in question.

Kerik's decision sent the White House scrambling for a new candidate to oversee the nation's sprawling Department of Homeland Security, charged with helping prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Bush's current homeland security adviser, Frances Townsend, is one possible candidate. Others include Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The surprise announcement came after news organizations raised questions about some of Kerik's business dealings, including his profitable membership on the board of Taser International, the stun-gun maker.


Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:32 AM in Politics/Government

Friday, December 10, 2004
Movie Review: Closer

Mike Nichols' Closer is a heartbreaking film. It's a film filled with people doing stupid, hurtful things, but that's ok. Like House of Sand and Fog (and unlike John Q) the stupid decisions are completely believable. When people do stupid, irrational things simply because the writer thinks the plot needs more conflict it doesn't work. In Closer this isn't the case. Being an outside observer you want to just grab the characters by their shoulders, shake them and tell them to wise up before they screw things up even worse but the characters are making their messed up decisions because they're messed up people. Natalie Portman's Alice wants Jude Law's Dan to let her love him, but at the same time she can't open herself up to him. Julia Roberts' Anna wouldn't know what to do if she were happy and so she ends up sabotaging her relationships, including with her husband, Clive Owen's Larry. Everybody is hurting everybody else, nobody really has a real right to get too upset about what is being done to them, they're giving as good as they get.

The movie was adapted by Patrick Marber from his own play, and you can really tell that it evolved from the stage. In the entire film I believe there are seven speaking roles, the four main characters plus a taxi driver, a customs officer and a receptionist. (And none of the latter 3 have more than 1 line of dialogue.)

All in all the movie just works.

3 1/2 out of 4 stars.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 8:25 PM in Movies

Seeing trailers and/or commercials for Flight of the Phoenix and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory got me thinking. So many movie remakes disappoint. (Please no comments on how Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a new adaptation of the book and not a remake.) Like cover songs, they rarely seem as good as the original.

I figure this is because only the good movies get remade. People just don't look at a crappy old movie and think "Hey, let's do that again." I think this instinct causes a lot of opportunities to be missed. We already have a good version of the good movies. Let's see if we can craft a good version of a crappy movie. I'd love to see a really good director try to rebuild on the foundation of Gigli and make a good movie. I think it could be achieved, it would be a total tear down, but I think it's doable. Now THAT would be an interesting remake.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:57 PM in Movies
Cincinnati 88 - Vanderbilt 72
Any game in which John Meeker plays is a good game.
Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:52 AM in Cincinnati

Thursday, December 9, 2004
An open letter to a deserter

From Citizen Smash.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:10 PM in War/Terrorism/Middle East

Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Oh sweet Jesus... what the hell are they thinking?

Welcome to "How to screw up a film adaptation 101". Please take your seats. Today we have some special guests, the makers of the Doom movie.

Screenwriter Dave Callahan claims "everyone was keen to keep the game's atmosphere", though there are some "minor" changes done to the film's concept: The monsters have nothing to do with hell, the plot is not taking place on Mars and "space marines" are not well "space marines" as their outfits are more like SWAT team members.

The story follows eight marines, teleported into a command centre of a secret base on a remote planet. There, they learn that something strange is happening and soon monsters start to appear. The monsters aren't from hell, but rather people mutated by some nasty super-virus although the monsters look very similar to those in the game.

One character is a technician called "Pinky" who has a cybernetic wheelchair thanks to a bad teleporting accident. Pinky later mutates into something remotely resembling a creature from Doom 3. Producers claim that the film will be more of a horror than an action shooter.

--Dark Horizons

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:43 PM in Movies
Doctors confirm Ukranian presidential candidate poisoned
MEDICAL experts have confirmed that Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s opposition leader, was poisoned in an attempt on his life during election campaigning, the doctor who supervised his treatment at an Austrian clinic said yesterday.

Doctors at Vienna’s exclusive Rudolfinerhaus clinic are within days of identifying the substance that left Mr Yushchenko’s face disfigured with cysts and lesions, Nikolai Korpan told The Times in a telephone interview.
“This is no longer a question for discussion,” Dr Korpan said. “We are now sure that we can confirm which substance caused this illness. He received this substance from other people who had a specific aim.”

Asked if the aim had been to kill him, Dr Korpan said: “Yes, of course.”

Proof that Mr Yushchenko was deliberately poisoned would be a devastating blow for his rival, the Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, as the two candidates prepare for a repeat of a presidential run-off on December 26.

--Times Online

He seems to be one tough cookie.
Mr Yushchenko fell ill on September 6 and was rushed to Rudolfinerhaus four days later with severe abdominal pain and lesions on his face and trunk. His liver, pancreas and intestines were swollen and his digestive tract covered in ulcers, but doctors could not explain the symptoms. Against their advice he went back on the campaign trail after a week, but returned to the clinic two weeks later with back pain.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:26 PM in Politics/Government
It's sad really

The Ohio House has a bill which will allow people to purchase Pro-Life specialty license plates. The plates would have the slogan "Choose Life" and cost $30 more than regular plates. (With $10 going towards administrative fees and $20 going to private, non-profits organizations that promote adoption.

This of course has NARAL and the ACLU up in arms.

"This is sending money into organizations that aren't talking to women about all their choices, that aren't prepared to answer medical questions about birth control and about pregnancy," said Kellie Copeland, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio...

--Dayton Daily News

Perhaps so, but that isn't the key issue here. The key is, the money being sent isn't Copeland's money. And it isn't the government's money. This isn't money given for other reasons being diverted. This isn't the government deciding to take tax money and give it to a cause some don't support. It's money being given specifically to go to organizations like that. If people want to do so they should have that opportunity.
Copeland said organizations that counsel women on a range of pregnancy options, including abortion, should not be denied funding, adding that groups such as Planned Parenthood do not qualify because they answer questions about abortion.

That's right. NARAL wants money from Pro-Life license plates to go towards funding abortion. ARE THEY INSANE?! If people wanted their money to go to abortion clinics they aren't going to buy these plates. You want a "Choose Death" license plate? Go for it. But to suggest that money raised from Pro-Life plates for the benefit of organizations that provide alternatives to abortion should go towards organizations that provide abortions... COME ON!!!
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said specialty plates with a political message are a violation of the First Amendment.

The ACLU actually thinks the First Amendment is meant to limit political speech. Want to say you like Lake Erie on your license plate? No problemo, that's just fine and dandy. No problems with the First Amendment there. Want to say something "political"? Whoa, whoa, WHOA!! You can't do that; the First Amendment apparently only outlaws political speech on license plates. I'm sorry, did Nicholas Cage pour some lemon juice on the Bill of Rights and discover it actually said "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech - unless that speech is political"?

The point of the entire bleeping Amendment was to protect the right of the citizens to express themselves, especially in regards to politics and the government. And now the ACLU has such a twisted view of the intent of the Founders that they actually think it's meant to limit the ability of people to speak politically.

It's sad... just... SAD.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:57 PM in Politics/Government
Some good news for DVD-philes

While it's still not even close to clear which next-gen DVD format will win out, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, Toshiba and Memory-Tech have developed a dual-layered disc that will be able to play in both HD-DVD players and current DVD players. That would mean that people with current DVD players wouldn't need to go out and buy a new Hi-Def DVD player to play the first wave of HD-DVDs. Instead of plunking down a couple hundred bucks just to play their first HD-DVD purchase they can just stick them in their current DVD players and hold off the HD-DVD player purchase until they have a decent-sized collection of HD-DVDs that would warrent the expenditure.

HD-DVD will have this to encourage early adoption, Blu-Ray will have the help of being used in the PS3. I suppose the question is... which is the better incentive?

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:36 PM in Technology/Internet

Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Windy day

Boy, it's just incredibly windy out there today. I halfway expect to see my car go fluttering by down the street. Heaven help the people with the inflatable Christmas decorations out, those are probably halfway to New Jersey by now.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:57 PM in Miscellaneous
It's official

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has certified President Bush's win here in Ohio. His final margin of victory is 118,775.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - This battleground state on Monday certified President Bush's 119,000-vote victory over John Kerry, even as the Kerry campaign and third-party candidates prepared to demand a statewide recount.

The president won Ohio with 2.86 million votes, or 51 percent, to Kerry's 2.74 million votes, or 49 percent.

The 118,775-vote lead was closer than the unofficial election night margin of 136,000, but not enough to trigger a mandatory recount. Absentee ballots and provisional votes counted after election night made most of the difference.

"This was an election where you have some glitches but none of these glitches were of a conspiratorial nature and none of them would overturn or change the election results," said Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who, as the state's chief election official, certified the results.

--Yahoo! News

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:16 AM in Ohio

Monday, December 6, 2004
Well that's one way for China to solve its population problem

Nine out of 10 Chinese calling into a suicide-prevention hotline in the capital Beijing are getting the busy tone, a newspaper said on Monday, adding that nationwide four people were killing themselves every minute.

So far, more than 110,000 people had dialed in to the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center hotline since it was set up in Beijing last year, the China Daily said.

It quoted an expert as saying poverty, unemployment, bereavement, breakdowns in relationships or legal and work-related problems were all causes.

But a lack of funds meant that not everyone who needed the hotline was getting through, said Michael Phillips, executive director of the suicide prevention center.

"Nine of every 10 persons only hear a busy tone," he told the newspaper

--Yahoo! News

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:09 PM in Miscellaneous
Fox to provide news for Clear Channel stations
Clear Channel Communications Inc., the nation's largest radio station operator, has picked Fox News Radio to be the primary source of national news for most of its news and talk stations, officials announced Monday.

The five-year agreement initially covers more than 100 radio stations.

Fox will provide a five-minute top-of-the-hour newscast, a nightly news broadcast, and around-the-clock dedicated national news coverage. In return, Fox News Radio will have access to news produced by San Antonio-based Clear Channel's news network.

--Yahoo! News

That sound you hear is tens of millions of Liberals wailing in anguish.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:04 PM in Media

Sunday, December 5, 2004
The Fog of War

Watched Errol Morris' The Fog of War yesterday. A very good documentary, it's a travesty that this and Fahrenheit 9/11 are even considered to be in the same genre.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:09 AM in Movies

Friday, December 3, 2004
Ohio legislature passes anti-spam bill
The worst violators could face a minimum of six months in jail as well as fines of $25,000 per violation, or $2 to $8 per violating e-mail. Their computer equipment could be confiscated, and Internet providers could sue for damages.

AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham called the Ohio bill "one of the strongest anti-spam measures in the country." Graham said the bill is aimed only at the worst offenders who use fraud, deception and evasion to get their messages in front of consumers.

"This is not meant to snag grandma sending her oatmeal cookie recipe," he said

If signed into law, it would outlaw Internet ads that are deceptive or misleading and ban people from setting up false accounts to send spam, the junk e-mail that clogs consumers' online mailboxes and taxes the resources of Internet service providers.

The measure would also allow the state attorney general to impose criminal and civil sanctions against spammers.

--Yahoo! News

It's not going to do a ton of good so long as it's so easy for the spammers to fake where the message is coming from, but it's a start at least.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 3:26 AM in Technology/Internet

Thursday, December 2, 2004
Looks like Bernard Kerik will be the 2nd head of the Homeland Security Department
President Bush has picked as his homeland security secretary former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who helped the city respond to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and later went to Iraq, Republican officials said on Thursday.

Two Republican officials said Bush had chosen Kerik to replace Tom Ridge as head of U.S. homeland security, and that an announcement could come as early as Friday as Bush continues a broad overhaul of his second-term Cabinet.

Kerik, 49, was at the side of then-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani during the crisis over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He was a principal member of the mayor's Cabinet overseeing the rescue, recovery and investigation of the World Trade Center attack.


Posted by Rob Bernard at 7:26 PM in Politics/Government
The counting's over

Ohio counties finished counting votes yesterday. The AP reports that 77% or 121,598 of Ohio's 156,977 provisional votes were validated, that's less than President Bush's November 2nd lead of 136,483 votes. The election will be certified on Monday.

Meanwhile Jesse Jackson continues to slide deeper and deeper into irrelevance.

155,000 ballots haven’t still been counted. There are many thousands not yet processed -- overcount and undercount. You have a case in Warren, Ohio where they declared a Homeland Security alert. I mean no building in Warren is over three stories high, yet they locked out the press and independent observers. Another case that I found to be astounding which I am sure Cliff can talk about, is a black woman, Ellen Connally ran for state Supreme Court judge. In Cuyahoga County, in Cleveland where she is best known, Kerry got 170,000 more votes. Elsewhere in the state, around Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Butler, Clermont, where she is least well-known, she got 190,000 more votes than Kerry. Now, that smells. We need a thorough investigation with forensic computer experts to see were there any tampering in those machines where there's no ability to do an audit trail. Then we need to consider the recount. We first need to have a count.

--Democracy Now

Yeah, nevermind the fact that the overcount and undercount WERE processed. They have to have been processed to know that there were 0 or 2 or more votes on them.

Nevermind that even when the press wasn't in on the count in Warren County that half the election board overseeing that count were Democrats.

Nevermind that 68 of Ohio's 88 counties used punchcard ballots and another 13 used optical scanner ballots which, the ballots being paper, can't be hacked.

Nevermind that no Ohio county used modern electronic voting machines.

Nevermind that the electronic voting machines that were used have means of checking their accuracy.

Nevermind that the only counties to use those older electronic voting machines were Auglaize, Franklin, Knox, Lake, Mahoning, Pickaway, and Ross, not the counties he thinks "smell".

Nevermind that Hamilton, Butler, and Warren Counties all used punchcard ballots.

Nevermind that no type of machine used in Ohio lacks an audit trail.

This is simply Jackson inventing outrage where there is no cause for it in an effort to once more stoke his ego in all its crapulent glory.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 2:56 PM in Politics/Government

Wednesday, December 1, 2004
I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

What they've done to the Everlasting Gobstopper is simply a travesty. They're a mere shell of what they once were.

On a related note:
I was amazed by last week's Mythbusters with the exploding, molten jawbreakers. It was just... kablammo! Molten sugar everywhere.

Note to self, don't microwave a jawbreaker.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 12:20 PM in Miscellaneous
You know you've had a half-way decent science/math education when... get today's Foxtrot.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 11:53 AM in Miscellaneous
Goodbye Ken Jennings

Jeopardy won't be the same without you.

Posted by Rob Bernard at 1:16 AM in TV


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