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Archive for November 2006

What was real in “Borat”

Salon has the info you’re looking for, oh, ye users of Google who find themselves here.

Salon’s article looks at the sequences in the “Borat” movie and gives you the skinny.

Briefly: the only folks who knew what was going on were Pam Anderson and the hooker, who was played by an actress.

Feel like crap

I have some sort of virus. I’m achy and tired with an occasional headache. It’s probably just a cold, but I’m more tired than usual.

Maybe I’m tired because I had to get up extra early yesterday to go to a father-daughter breakfast at Child One’s school. The school served bagels and lox and Andy Nulman as guest speaker. Good stuff, all.

I met with Robert the director after the breakfast. Also good stuff. A producer has asked him for a synopsis of a fairly popular British novel with the idea of hiring him to write a draft. He can’t do that alone – he has a sense of story, but he has trouble writing. In terms of the actual banging on the keyboard, he may be dyslexic. In terms of what he tries to bang at, he has a tendency to write to what he has in his head without putting that down in words. It makes his work difficult to understand to others. He needs an editor – me.

He’s brought me on board as a partner, and I’ll get to work on his version of the synopsis today. Shifting into a Bridget Jonesy mode now….

Bonus entertaining visitor log entry:

At 9:44 p.m. Eastern Time last night, somebody in Toronto found 101 with a Google search for “in kenny v.s spenny did kennys mom die”. That was 14 minutes into last night’s episode of “Kenny vs. Spenny”. Looks like Spenny isn’t the only schlemiel in that city.

Digging through my archives

One of the nice consequences of the Great Cleaning of 2006 here at the Webs household is that we get to open and rummage through boxes that have been packed since our last move or two.

I found copies of “the Web”, a glossy British magazine from IDG which offered me a column on media in 1996. Upon rereading my work, I didn’t find it as crappy as I thought it might have been.

Beside my desk, a foot-and-a-half pile of old file folders waits for me to dissect it. I flipped through it. One of the items is my first ever script, a spec of “Northern Exposure” that back in the early 1990s got a few reads by agents. I still have an electronic copy of that, so the find wasn’t as impressive as the blue binder with the label “The Battle of Kadesh: 1299 BCE/Egyptian vs. Hittite/Raamses II vs. Mursil II” on it.

In the fall of 1985, I took Hist 363 with John Guilmartin (then at Rice University). For the class, I designed a wargame instead of writing a common final paper. I’ve kept the maps and unit counters close, but these blue-bound rules got lost in the shuffles – until now. What makes this so great a find is that my digital copies of the rules have become corrupted and cannot be rescued. A bit of scanning and a bit of OCR and I’ll get them back.

What I tried to do with the wargame was establish tactical and strategic phases of maneuver. Each general controlled divisions on a large-scale map. When contact is made, the battle transfers to a map of higher resolution.

I’ve played the game once, with Guilmartin. It went well, although we decided that we’d need to create some sort of rule to reduce the flexibility of the archers in selecting targets. They could act far too much like modern artillery, firing east, then wheeling and sending a volley north, for example. Each archer may have had that ability, but the group would not have the communication to launch sequential attacks in multiple directions with cohesiveness. (Note to self: maybe step their attack value after changing facing.)

Computers would lessen the complexity of the move from a strategic game to a tactical game, and I’ve often wondered if I could find programmers to get a computer version of the game out. Now that I have the rules again, I wonder if it’s worth the effort.

Bonus archival history:

It’s no surprise to me that “Borat” is raking in the cash. Opinions of the film spread by word of mouth should be highly positive, if my observations of the preview audience I was part of mean anything.

For those of you who missed that post of a few months ago and who are too lazy to click the link, here’s the key passage: “You’d think Borat wouldn’t be for everyone, but the older couple on my left laughed as hard as I or Simon on my right did. I offer my fullest admiration to co-star Ken Davitian for his bravery during the hotel fight and subsequent chase scene. That takes balls.”

Balls. Hehehe.

The Intardweb takes notice of Child One

The photo of Child One’s pumpkin has begun to spread across the Intardweb like… – well, like a pumpkin vine.

A blog called Written Wyrdd – A Speculative Fiction Zone has reposted the photo and linked here.

Written Wyrdd is trying to write a novel. I’ll be sure to post the text here if and when he gets published.

I kid, sort of.

What I should have mentioned previously is that not only did Child One design her pumpkin, she carved it herself as well.


Japanese fishermen have captured a dolphin with a pair of hind flippers.

I love stuff like this. Some cetaceans (whales and dolphins) have vestigial hip bones and some occasionally have malformed protuberances where the hind limbs once were, but this example has a full-blown case.

The flippers are about the size of a man’s palm.

I hesitate to link to the Associated Press story (here at Fox News) because the reporting is so bad from a biological standpoint, but it’s what I can find online.

What’s wonderful about this find is not that these hind flippers show up right where hind limbs might have been predicted to reappear – and, I assume, contain the proper homologous bones. No, the wonder here is the theory of the hopeful monster. For those too lazy to click this link to Wikipedia, I’ll explain briefly.

Hopeful monsters are the engine of macroevolution. Mutations create instances of gross morphological change in organisms. Because these organisms are radically different than the normal form, they are monsters. The “hopeful” applies to the possibility that these gross changes will prove a benefit.

While most modern evolutionary theory remains based in the standard theory of very small mutations that accumulate over time, the appearance of these flippers seems to show that hopeful monsters exist.

Almost certainly, a four-flippered dolphin would be less equipped than a two-flippered dolphin. The flippers are not used for propulsion, so an extra set would lead to drag without much benefit. Still, consider this a stepping stone for an interesting thought experiment. What if a dolphin with four flippers learned to be a shallow-water ambush predator? Four flippers might provide a more stable base on which to rest and leap from the seabed. If so, the presence of hind flippers would make the animal better equipped, and its similarly equipped offspring would outcompete its two-flippered conspecifics.

Given enough time, these creatures might evolve into an animal that could forage on land for short trips. Mutations that strengthen the four flippers and make them sturdier might stick if that proved an efficient strategy. Before you know it, we might have land-dolphins terrorizing the small fauna.

What’s that? Something like this happened already?

Oh, I guess that renders my thought experiment moot. Or not.

“How Not to Make Movies”

How Not to Make Movies” is a fun satire of student short films, made as a student short film in Turkey.

I learned of filmmaker Nemo Ramjet (great name for a superhero, eh?) through Darren Naish’s blog. Nemo is an illustrator primarily, and he enjoys drawing the results of hypothetical evolution. Some of his work reminds me of “Alien Planet“, which aired on the Discovery Channel last May.

Enjoy the short.

Halloween chez Webs

First, Child Three:

By coincidence, he looks a lot like this fellow:

Geek test: what is that a picture of, and where can you find it?

Child Three’s pumpkin design:

Child Two:

And her pumpkin(s):

I love the face on the victim.

Lastly, Child One:

And her little masterpiece:

Bonus recipe:

What do you do with leftover bacon when you have no tomatoes? You make a BAM. That’s bacon, Granny Smith apple (thinly sliced), and mayo. I put this together the other day, and it’s delicious. Just make sure you have good bread. The quality of a sandwich relies on the bread. I used Portuguese rolls – well, the plugs of bread that were left over from turning the bulk of the roll into a breadbowl for soup. Yummy!

Laptop resuscitated!

With the help of the AGW hive-mind, I diagnosed the problem with my laptop. The battery was dead.

Wall juice comes into the laptop through the cord and is routed through the battery if it’s installed. A dead battery dams those electrons and not enough get through to power the screen or wireless card.

When I removed the battery, the wall juice followed a different path, and the laptop powered up normally.

Now all I’ve got to do is buy a replacement battery. That’ll run me $70 or so on eBay.

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