Tuesday, October 31, 2006

all things are not always are

As mentioned in Wired, the standard performance gauge of new electronic devices used to be whether or not it could run Doom. Maybe someday the test will be, can it beat a human in chess?

Whenever I feel like thinking too hard and confusing myself into stopping, I read about artificial intelligence and the research projects associated with it. As technology allows us to scale things down to a human level, the future is not in room-sized supercomputers that can crush master chess players with brute force. The scary A.I. of the future would do that in a $10 handheld device bought at Toys-R-Us.

A few years ago, the Alice Bot (a language-processing chatbot) won the Loebner Prize for demonstrating the most humanlike A.I. ability. I, Robot-style conspirators need not worry, though, as the mechanistic aspects were blown wide open when the bot was set up to chat with itself. The results are quite funny.

Item: Left Behind at the Fishbowl deserves a plug. It's a great cross-section of (generally incompetent) student activity.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Don't drive with Danielle

In the last two months, Danielle has bad luck driving and apparently has become good at getting tickets where warnings would more than suffice. Today she was ticketed for making an illegal left turn from Division onto Huron (admittedly a stupid intersection where the left turn lane appears out of nowhere). To make it worse, she had a cop in front of her and behind her at the intersection and tried to drive extremely safely. There were no cars in the left turn lane, there was nobody in danger at any point. The Man just had to reach his monthly ticket quota.

Her other ticket was for recklessly terrorizing downtown Kalamazoo at seven miles per hour over the speed limit.

The Departed

I saw The Departed last night, and, uh, wow. It's incredible.

Unlike Bryan, who thought there wasn't any character development, I'd actually call it one of the movie's (small!) flaws. The therapist character was weak and confusing and many of her scenes served very little benefit. It also didn't need a 40-minute expository sequence.

But I agree that it was basically a comedy, though a very twisted one. Several times I caught myself laughing when I should've been horrified.

I don't want to write more for risk of spoilers, so comments will be kept to stylistic descriptions: This was filmmaking at its absolute finest. It treated sound and silence as equals, understanding that each can be as impactful as the other. Even the classic rock soundtrack jumps in and out of diegetic control, especially as Scorsese changes his rhythm in the second half. The editing was precise and tactful, and subtle touches like the use of quick freeze-frames during the climactic shootout (c'mon, you knew there was one) were executed well. Two mutilated thumbs up. See this movie.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



Danielle and I carved pumpkins this weekend. I've always tried to take a Calvin & Hobbes snowman-style approach to mine. Or rather, a Jason (from FoxTrot) approach, since pumpkins were more his forte. Posted by Picasa


Even though I've been off the e-mail list for two months, and haven't been enrolled in classes for six months, haven't contributed more than one article in the last eight months, or been to a staff meeting in almost two years... I'm still getting my name printed as a member of the Every Three Weekly art staff.

It's not worth contacting them about. I fixed the glitch. The problem should work itself out eventually.

[no link available; though I'm up there, the website is painfully out of date.]

Monday, October 23, 2006


Weekend Updates:

-The Michigan Stadium renovation schematics are out. I love them, and I know more people who disliked the idea of expansion but came around once the design was revealed than vice versa. It's classy and classical, it matches the look and feel of other buildings around campus (even new ones), and it won't look dated in 20 years.

-I never posted about Penn State last week, so here's the bland compilation video. I tried to embed it but it's too wide and the page explodes.

-Weird Al is getting mainstream recognition, as his new album has cracked the top 10. The "White and Nerdy" video is hilarious, and he clearly hasn't lost his touch. I just discovered "All About the Pentiums" a few weeks ago. His approach seems to be like that of Bill Amend with Foxtrot -- who cares about the masses; cater to your nerdier fanbase and you will be just as successful and perhaps even more revered.

-The Michigan Daily launched their redesign today. The fonts are sharp, but used oddly and inconsistently. Generally it's just smaller and harder to read.

-An Angry Dude came in to work this morning upset that we've now given him the wrong book twice. This second time the title was in Arabic, when he wanted an English book about Greek history. The offending library that twice sent us the wrong book and paperwork? THE Ohio State University.

-Michigan is 8-0. Wow. I'm fully prepared for us to mail it in for three weeks and have everyone freaking out before the Biggest Game in the History of Ever @ OSU in less than a month. But as always, I'm putting my faith in the Ron English Revolution. Last year in the fourth quarter, our defense would've softly trotted out on the field before sitting back in a 2-deep zone and letting our opponents cruise to victory. This year, coming out of a timeout, the defense huddled on the field and just started swaying back and forth. I got goosebumps. That's the swagger we've been needing. Literally.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In Soviet Russia, music buys you!

This blog is now being imported into facebook notes. If I can't encourage people to read it, I can at least force them to by taking over their facebook news feeds. VICTORY!

I have listened to "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" by the Scissor Sisters 41 times since I got it two weeks ago. The legally ambiguous allofmp3.com provided it. I hope the dubious nature of that website is conclusively determined sometime soon, so I can either pour more money into it or evacuate the premisis before I'm prosecuted.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Nittany" means "can't beat Michigan"

Manningham is hurt. Penn State is out for revenge. They have the home crowd of 110,000 clad in white at a game that starts at 8pm in arguably one of the loudest stadiums in the country. The intangibles are overwhelmingly on their side.

Sure, I'm nervous, but I'm also excited as hell.

There's a scene in Apollo 13 where NASA director Chris Kraft talks to Gene Kranz right before the capsule is due for re-entry. If the heat shield was cracked, the CM would not survive the heat of re-entry. If it was intact and they survived until splashdown, the mission was salvaged as much as could be and the astounding success of Mission Control could be celebrated.

Chris Kraft: "This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced."
Gene Kranz: "With all due respect, sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour."

In 1997 we had two "backs against the wall" games -- down by two touchdowns in the second half vs. Iowa, and of course, going on the road at then-#1 Penn State. There's no way we were getting through this season without some kind of adversity. Let's hope this is it, and that the team has the character to overcome it.

Quoting Gene Kranz, again -- "We're sure as hell not going to lose one on my watch. Failure is not an option."

Monday, October 09, 2006


The jump to Blogger was further justified today as Picasa now has a "blogthis!" button to eliminate one more step between me and online photos.

Michigan dominated MSU this weekend for their fifth consecutive victory over the sParties. It was a beautiful weekend for football and I even ended up getting pretty sunburned. The Maize Out was outstanding once again, proving that I was right all along and blue shirts were the worst idea since Greedo shooting first.

MSU fans harbor an annoying inferiority complex with Michigan and they always jump at an opportunity to point out how they can learn/party/play sports/field a marching band just as good or better than Michigan's. Well, the band had a great chance to prove it on Saturday during pregame, when their two drum majors attempt backbends at the same time! Theoretically impressive! Except, doing it with the hat on is a cop-out and a handicap. So what does it mean when, during said easy, hatted backbend, you fall?

It means you lose. Sorry Sparty.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

puke beats ruxpin

Dear 5th year senior Drew Stanton,

How does it feel to beat Michigan?

Oh, right.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

it was the BLURST of times?

The football team living with a rattlesnake pees on a thoroughly twisted scooby snack.

The spam that comes through our e-mail system is far more entertaining than it should be. I'm oddly fascinated by the algorithms and techniques spammers use for dumping prose into spam to circumvent content filters. There was a brief stretch last month where we received snippets of short stories from the 1920s and 1930s, but today's paper wins it all. Game over. Stop sending spam now.

If a nonchalantly incinerated insurance agent plays pinochle with an often fat tornado, then a scythe inside a dolphin gets stinking drunk.

This can't be by chance, can it? Adverbs and adjectives all work properly. I see dependent clauses and independent clauses and colons and conjunctions. Can writing this technically correct be produced by a program and an electronic dictionary?

Most people believe that the stovepipe can be kind to a satellite, but they need to remember how secretly a bartender inside a ball bearing hesitates.

It's pure word salad madness, but there's no way a human can distribute the madness so evenly.

Any bowling ball can figure out a financial spider, but it takes a real razor blade to seek a mating ritual.

Finally, this patriotic maxim:

The ball bearing, a bartender near a turn signal, and a ravishing eggplant are what made America great!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Newt Gingrich on the Foley scandal:

Well, you could have second thoughts about it, but I think had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would also have been accused of gay bashing. I mean, the original notes had no sexual innuendo and the parents did not want any action taken.

The Republicans, who sought a Constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, were afraid to be seen as anti-gay, so they let a potential pederast continue to chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.

Obviously the Democrats are all over this like sharks to blood in the water, but the Republican damage control (dilute! or point back!) is getting ridiculous.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Au revoir, gopher

The greatest moment of Michigan's victory over Minnesota wasn't from Chad Henne's arm or Mike Hart's legs, but when the team crossed the field to reclaim the Little Brown Jug. Instead of hysterically sprinting over and dancing around, they walked slowly across the field, businesslike, arm in arm, in a steady pace led by Chad Henne. Of course when they reclaimed the Jug they broke out into celebration, but before that, it was measured and stern, intense and focused. Like it should've been. The mere fact that the trophy was on the Gopher sideline was offensive and embarrassing to those players. They didn't need to go crazy over finally winning it; they needed to carefully bring it back to where it belongs.

Garrett Wolfe, despite his totally ridiculous stats so far, is not going to win the Heisman. Sure he gained 353 yards this week... against MAC patsy Ball State. Fortunately, even nonpartial journalists in Seattle are seeing the light. This Seattle Times article is good for two reasons: it explains his inflated numbers against consistently mediocre teams, and it says he's not as good as Michigan running back Mike Hart. Nice to see a little transcontinental love for my favorite Michigan player (ever?). Let's hope Mr. Hart goes for 400 against Ball State next month.