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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for February 2007

Field meets Arndt

You’d think the scribosphere would’ve found this already, but it seems to have flown under our radar.

Screenwriting-advice guru Syd Field is hosting a series of podcasts (oh, how I still detest that word) at a Web site called, appropriately enough, Screen Play with Syd Field.

The first podcast dates to December 18, so it’s hardly new, yet I first learned of the site today. The six podcasts posted so far have Field presenting Michael Arndt, all before Arndt’s Oscar win. I say “presenting” because Field allows Arndt to have his say and merely comments once in a while rather than actively interviewing his guest.

As you might hope from Field’s presence, Arndt holds forth on the hows of screenwriting. It’s an informative resource. Start with the first and use the drop-down menu under the yellow “WATCH MORE CLIPS” headline for the rest of the clips.

Try to ignore the tiny chairs – at times, Arndt looks like he’s in a kindergarten – and Field’s ’80s-style elbow-length jacket sleeves. It’s worth it.

The site kindly offers you a variety of syndication feeds.

Another story of body parts and functions

That was interesting: 11 people, two more people essentially in the home all the time, one bathroom, two varieties of gastrointestinal virus (one going up, the other going down).

The highlight of the weekend was one of those stories that will go down in family lore.

My art-loving brother Jeff was holding our new nephew Matthew during the naming portion of the bris ceremony, after the cutting. I was standing next to him. Jeff mumbled to me, “I think I feel faint.” I believed him, but I didn’t catch the urgency of his situation – he meant “I think I’m going to faint.”

He went pale. He went sweaty. He dropped to one knee. Most people thought he was being… – oh, ceremonious.

Jeff didn’t pass out. But we did take the kid from him and sat him down in a comfy chair. Ten minutes later, he was still sweating.

Over the course of the weekend, grandparents, cousins, and Children Two and Three all vomited. Everybody made it to the lone toilet or a bag except, the last time, in the car on the drive home from Toronto. I was not quick enough with the bag from front seat to middle, and Child Three spewed Child One and me with relatively inoffensive yet virus-laden ex-Nestea iced tea.

Has my immune system trained in the past to fight this virus? Has it wrestled a newcomer virus to the ground? Or will I succumb? Stay tuned….

Bonus thought:

Is it just because I’m getting old that I thought Helen Mirren was kinda hot at the Oscars?

Stress effort, not smarts

I’ll be away for a few days to watch my newest nephew get his tribal ticket punched, but let me leave you with a different tidbit to chew on until I return.

New York Magazine has an article by Po Bronson on recent research into intelligence and motivation in children.

It’s a fascinating article about fascinating conclusions. If you praise children for being smart, they try to continue looking smart and so avoid failure – and avoid challenges that require effort. If you praise children for working hard, they continue to work hard, take on challenges, and succeed more often than children who are told they are smart.

It explains a lot about my life.

Go read.

Web stuff

There’s a replacement out there for’s moribund blogroll service. It’s called blogLinx. The announcement is at the blogLinx blog.

Although I keep up with tech news, I’m not usually an early adopter. A quick glance to the right of this page will show you that I have this up and working.

It’s not quite as flexible as, but it works.

Let’s go through my grab bag of links and see what else is out there….

Ah. A recent article in the Times Online describes how film special effects have left the realm of the fantastic and entered the realm of the mundane. Either because she wasn’t asked to or because she couldn’t, Jennifer Connolly didn’t produce enough tears while filming “Blood Diamond”. It took a simple computer effect to add them in post.

The article brings us some debate over the technique. I tend to side with the technology over the argument that it creates an impure performance. It’s a Machiavellian perspective, but the final product in film is after all a collaboration.

Also in the entertainment field is this article in New Scientist:

Last week, a critic at the Gramophone magazine got surprise when he put a Hatto recording of Lizt’s 12 Transcendental Studies into his computer. The iTunes player identified the disc as being recorded by another pianist, Lászlo Simon. He dug out the Simon album and found it sounded exactly the same as the Hatto one.

Pristine Audio investigated and found other Joyce Hatto recordings matched other songs.

Hatto died last June, and her widower can’t explain the concordances.

Even more oddly, iTunes doesn’t seem capable of repeating this identification, yet experts agree with the conclusions. Is there a little Deep Keyboard feeding info to the press here?

Time to kvetch

My Dell power adapter has not yet arrived because Dell had none to ship out. The nice central Asian gent I spoke with three weeks ago did not know this, and that’s why he told me I’d get one within ten business days.

The nice southern American lady I just spoke with told me a shipment should arrive at Dell in a few days, so I need to wait a few weeks more. Craptastic.

I’d be more upset if I were more here. I went to bed with a mild headache and woke up at 1:30 with a migraine. I pummeled it with ibuprofen and Dilaudid, but it took three hours before I was numb enough to fall asleep. Now I’m still dizzy. And nauseated.

Bonus publicity for my baby brother:

Here’s a photo of my youngest brother Jeff on a recent visit to Amsterdam:

Did you know that the single most determinative factor of homosexuality is the number of older brothers a man has? Not that Jeff is gay, nor that there’s anything wrong with that.

History lesson

I’m writing my book, wondering when that replacement adapter for my laptop will arrive. This week would be convenient.

Back to the book…. Remember historical footnote from a year ago?

Alex Y. and I have the original photos for our book, and now I know why “some miscreant graphic artist marred the image in the book with a large yellow circle.” The photo (top left) is a composite. The original does not show two Dakotas. The yellow circle is in place to obfuscate the seam between the superimposed image and the background image.

Alon’s S-199 is in both photos, but is not in the same position. In each photo, he chases a lone Dakota (almost certainly the same one).

My cocktail napkin math still holds, however. Alon was danged close to the bombers. Good thing they had no tailgunners.

What the !*#^, NBC?

I’m glad we in Canada got to see “Studio 60” on Sunday because on Monday, NBC ran the punch line to its RealCare Baby doll (not to be confused with RealDoll) plot in a promo during “Heroes”, thus ruining the joke.

Way to go, NBC.

Of course, that could also be the last “Studio 60” we ever see….

Child Three wins #2

Child Three strapped on the pads today in another tournament. His team won 9-5, and he gave up those five goals on 16 shots. He made some great saves, and only one goal made me cringe. Kids, don’t swing your goalie sticks at incoming shots, because when you miss the puck, it goes in the net. Let the puck come to you, stop it, then sweep it aside.

Girls (and a boy) on film

The very first post on 101 was the news that Child Two got a job as an actor. Eventually, all three of my kids got roles in the production, and I had” target=”_blank”>issues
with the producers.

Well, looks like someone has gotten ahold of the miniseries on DVD and edited a highlight reel of my kids’ performances. They do well, although there are moments when Child One will look right into the camera. Oops.

Note that the role of older sister is played by a different girl in the later sequence (actually filmed first). Some scenes without the children have been cut. Unfortunately, there’s no English version available – the Chinese both dubbed and subtitled the drama.

You can see a larger copy of the video here.

News of interest

One of my pet beats as a bona fide Web journalist with an e-zine that shall rest in peace was following the trends and consequences of file-sharing. I continue to stay on top of that.

“The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis” is a new article in the Journal of Political Economy. I haven’t read it, but Ars Technica reports that this study concludes that illegal file-sharing cost the American music industry 6 million CD sales in a year it sold 803 million CDs – about 0.7% of the total market.

“Using detailed records of transfers of digital music files, we find that file sharing has had no statistically significant effect on purchases of the average album in our sample,” the study reports. “Even our most negative point estimate implies that a one-standard-deviation increase in file sharing reduces an album’s weekly sales by a mere 368 copies, an effect that is too small to be statistically distinguishable from zero.”

Other studies have shown that file-sharing actually increases sales.

In the meantime, the music labels thrash like dying behemoths and strike out willy-nilly at their customers. Vanity Fair has an article on the Pirate Bay, a torrent hub. Yeah, read that again. Vanity Fair has an article on torrents. This is the mainstream, and the industries have three years at most to evolve.

Elsewhere on the Web, Wikia has launched a new venture aimed at creating wiki e-zines, sort of. Wikia is the organization behind Wikipedia, and its “magazine rack” sites hope to host informative, interactive communities based on themes. It’s a good idea – in fact, it’s such a good idea that it’s been done many times over.

I’m no stranger to wikis. (Look here for my latest hobby.) To thrive, a wiki must fill a need. That was key to Wikipedia’s success – it is the largest encyclopedia in the world. It covers more than any competitor, and does it for free.

What can Wikia’s entertainment site, for example, offer that, Television Without Pity, or Perez Hilton don’t have already? I have my doubts that this venture will produce success on the same level as Wikipedia’s.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find torrents for last night’s “My Name Is Earl“, “Scrubs“, “The Office“, and “30 Rock“. (“Kenny vs. Spenny” was a repeat, so no need to look for that.)

Bonus document from ancient history:

Take a look at this, which I have decided to title “The Egyptian Gynecologist’s Guide to Holistic Medicine”.

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