Monday, July 02, 2007

Link roundup: holiday weekend edition

Time for another round of link vomiting, wherein I try to make sense of a big pile of stuff that I want to share with yinz. Here we goooooooooooooo...

Last time I left you with my new favorite blog, Passive Agressive Notes. Well they have a nice rundown of a household post-it war that escalates nicely.

Speaking of escalating nicely, you might get a kick out of this short take on invasive advertising, particularly the kind that's popping up all over video games.

Video games can make stuff funnier! You might have seen the clip of a breakdancer kicking a baby. Well, it's funnier when you add in sound effects from Street Fighter II. Is it wrong that I love watching children get injured? Is it even more wrong that I created a 'kidsgettinghurt' folder on my account, a decision that implies I intend to find more movies of injury to children?

Speaking of kids, if you think kids these days just don't play outside enough, you may be right, as that article highlights how the distance parents let their kids wander has shrunk from miles to backyards.

That's such a drastic loss that I almost wish there was an easy tool to make ridiculous unit conversions. Oh, wait, there is. It can tell you that I weigh roughly .15 whale testicles and I am .222 (repeating, of course) Oscar Mayer Weinermobiles tall.

Men have weiners, and any man in the audience can probably appreciate Big Daddy Drew's Father's Day plans. Yeah, this is late, but the cologne that smells like gunpowder kills me every time. Badass.

Speaking of badass, the new Die Hard movie is pretty good. But I don't think it'll be as good as Ben Stiller's classic parody of the franchise. Remember when he was funny? Before he did crappy cartoons?

Speaking of cartoons, go see Ratatouille now. I can't say enough nice things about it. I would rate it as just as good as Incredibles but not quite as good as Finding Nemo or Monsters, Inc., one of my favorite movies ever, as I've illustrated with this graph:


That looks harsh, until you realize it's out of scale compared to all other children's movies:


While I'm at it, Slate also had a nice slideshow about the excellence that is Brad Bird. It takes a special director to make soup preparation utterly thrilling -- by a rat, no less! If I had my way, Remy the Rat would take Mickey's place as the icon of Disney. Though I don't think that would work out. Walt Disney was a sexist asshole. But we already knew that. Remy the Rat is too nice to be such a dick.

Speaking of things that can carry disease, you all should also go see Sicko. It's easily Moore's best since Roger & Me and he blessedly stays the hell out of the way, letting other people who have been screwed by the insurance industry do the talking. It's brilliant, tragic, hilarious, and infuriating, and you can watch it (the whole thing!) for free (legally, even!) right here. So you have no excuse. Only people who hate Michael Moore on principle can hate this movie. While his proposed solution is far from perfect and doesn't hit on everything, goddamn is the movie powerful.

Speaking of powerful, if you're a GMail convert (If you aren't on Gmail and want an invite, leave a comment and I'll fix you up), you can consolidate all your disparate emails into Gmail (including having Gmail send outgoing replies "from" the address that received it) to have all your email in one place. This is especially handy if you have to use a bunch of different addresses and mail clients for pleasure, school, and work emails and want them all in one place. Saucy.

Speaking of saucy, I want an iPhone really bad... as soon as it holds as much music as full-size iPods and isn't on the tin-cans-and-string cellular network. Those commercials lie!, but I admit they make me chuckle (and the girls in those spots are pretty hawt ... man I'm pathetic).

Speaking of pathetic, have you ever stumbled on a car taking up more than their fair share of the parking lot? Well, Youparklikeanasshole is the most fun way to rat them out. It even has notices you can print out and leave on offending cars. Probably don't want to do it if the driver can see you. Caveat emptor.

Speaking of cars, this blog post runs down some incredible car commercials, including the infamous Honda "Cog" spot, the grocery parking lot defense, and this incredible Honda spot that I hadn't seen before.

Still on cars, Consumerist posted a very thorough essay that explains why gas is so expensive. Summary: it's not the gas station's fault; it's every other step in the process that is actively out to screw you. Maybe it's time to go back to walking or public transport.

Speaking of traveling, if you're heading home for the holiday, you might want to look into this tutorial and this one about how to get your parents' computer free of ad-, mal-, and spy-ware. If your parents are like mine, their compys will need it. Badly. Stop using Internet Explorer for heaven's sake!

If you must drive on your trip back home, you should fire up some Pearl Jam on the iPod and try to figure out the lyrics to "Yellow Ledbetter".

You should also pack some maps, and you can find a ton of insane ones on this blog. Be sure you have a lot of time to waste, since there's tons of cool stuff on there, including a clever visual of online communities and a very compelling reason to study the cartography of Hannover.

While we're talking about graphical abstractions and wastes of time, you can lose hours in the "Stick Figures in Peril" photostream. Lots of funny ones, although I have yet to see the infamous "Beware Flying Bats and Balls" sign that has a stick figure getting whacked with a baseball... but this one is close. (It might have been caused by Jedi Baseball.)

Speaking of safety, if you're listing something to sell on Craigslist and don't want to put your phone number on the greater Intertubes, use this service to create a free forwarding number to keep your real number private. I also found a nifty way to keep your laptop private with a relatively inconspicuous FedEx envelope.

While you're on Craigslist, if you need to airbrush your picture for your personal ad (and you have Photoshop, natch), this tutorial can show you how in a ridiculous amount of detail. This should also show you how to never trust any picture you find online ever. You might find yourself with someone like this toothless harpy and end up on FOX reality television programming.

Speaking of things the cat wouldn't drag in -- I know... I'm reaching -- well, I don't want to spoil it, so just watch the video. If you get anything from this post, make it this:

And while we're on the joys of youth, remember as a parting word of advice that if you must show a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner at a school function, the Supreme Court says you're better off with something like this.


jake said...

in regards to "Sicko"... as a current and future member of the health profession (pharmacy) i can assure you that Moore is indeed correct that the system has horrendous flaws. however, to think that socialized medicine is the answer would be an even greater error. all you need to do is work in a pharmacy for a day to figure it out - for example:

1) people driving brand new SUVs/luxury cars in our drive-thru who are on medicaid (unbelievably more common than you'd think)
2) people on medicaid getting 8 expensive prescriptions for a sore throat
3) people on medicaid picking up their Nicorette gum (yes, they can get prescriptions for it with all costs borne by us taxpaying folk) while chain-smoking in our drivethru

i mean, a 30 day supply of the medicine cocktail often given to AIDS patients costs $1400. boohoo if they're too poor to afford it, let them die and quit hampering social darwinism by eliminating the idiots who are too dumb to wear a condom. i'm aware that i've become almost painfully cynical, but 90% of the medicaid cases i see coming through our pharmacy are people who will never contribute in any single way to the improvement of humanity, so why not let them die and save some tax dollars?

socialized medicine is great if you enjoy 6 week waiting periods for a doctor visit, 5 hour waits at pharmacies, and 8 month waiting lists for routine surgeries. oh, not to mention the complete loss of incentive for talented and intelligent health professionals to stay in the country by subjecting them to a federal wage after hundreds of thousands of dollars of professional school debt.

sure i'm bitter, but if you think i'm unjustified, just hang around a busy pharmacy for a day

Bill said...

1) Another good example of Disney sexism is the feature they showed in the 60's when they opened the Pirates of the Carribean ride, it's in the special features of your Pirates 1 CD, and is fantastic.

2)1) Jake, I can think of a famous man who is right with you, he said, "... I can't afford to make idol people merry. I have been forced to support the establishments I mentioned through taxation, and God knows they cost more than they're worth. Those who are badly off must go there... [and] if they'd rather die they better do it and decrease the surplus population."

Of course, I think that's humbug.

(and I'm the corporate lawyer?)

- Bill

sincerely~sarah said...

I'm going to weigh in on the cartoons- I saw Ratatouille last night and loved it! By the by, let me commend you on your excellent taste in Pixar films. I've always liked Monsters Inc. better than Finding Nemo (though Finding Nemo is great) and usually everyone looks at me like I'm cross- eyed when I say that. Clearly however Monsters Inc. is superior to Finding Nemo :D

Not Only, But Also Lee said...

@Jake: Yes, socialized medicine has waits and an incomprehensible bureaucracy for health care... because that's absolutely unheard of in this country under the private system.

I'm partial to Canada and Britain's two-tier system: everyone has comprehensive health coverage from the government but if you want discretionary or cosmetic procedures you go to the private market and have to pay.

As for eliminating the incentive for doctors... ... where else you gonna go? Every other industrialized country has socialized medicine! If doctors want to practice free-market medicine in, I dunno, Burundi, I guess they'd be free to.

It's not like the government wouldn't pay well. They tend to have nice pensions which is more than private employers can say. :-P

And (this is my speculation) a switch to socialized medicine would absolutely require some kind of overhaul to the medical tort system, meaning you wouldn't theoretically have to spend god-knows-how-much on medical malpractice insurance anymore. Even more money in your pocket.

Imagine what the government could do with a change in priorities. Save a couple billion by making do with the advance fighter jets that we already own here; a couple ticks of income tax on the top 1% of the country there; a trillion bucks by not starting needless wars in the desert here... you get the idea.

It's really all about priorities: how many Americans have died from terrorism ever? 3,000 on 9-11... we'll add 4,000 as consequence for the current Iraq war... various other terrorist attacks probably add, i'll be generous and say 3000 over the course of the other 230 years of U.S. history. That's 10k. Ever. 18,000 Americans or so will die this year because they don't have access to health care. Where's the outrage?

Not Only, But Also Lee said...

@Bill: Oh snap that special feature on the Pirates 1 DVD was awesome. How had I not noticed that before?

And speaking of Scrooges, when do you start construction on your money bin, lawyer boy?

Not Only, But Also Lee said...

@Sarah: Most people hold wildly divergent and very strong opinions about their favorite Pixar movies, but I'll throw mine on the pile. Monsters, Inc. is by far my favorite. It's priceless for the insane chase scene through the Door Warehouse alone, an action sequence that Pixar has yet to top. But throw in the relationships between Mike and Sulley and Boo, the sheer level of imagination required to invent an entire world of monsters in everyone's closet, and the sly references to the entire history of monster movies... it's just incredible.

Finding Nemo came close, I thought. It reminds me of the second X-Men movie where it's a stunning collection of non-stop set pieces... Sharks in the minefield >> Angler fish in the Dark >> Jellyfish >> Turtles >> Seagulls... there are so many interesting characters and scenes. No small feat that they made fish appealing (a feat second only to Ratatouille making rats cute), and Ellen Degeneres' Dory is probably the best voice performance in a cartoon ever.

Next in a rough tie I put the Brad Bird ones (Incredibles and Ratatouille). Both are absolutely thrilling with delightfully scathing criticism of the homogenization of our modern cultures. I think the overall messages sometimes get a little mixed up in deference to a good plot, but on the other hand that could just be how life works, no?

After those two I'd put the 2 Toy Stories... the first was so groundbreaking and is a pretty excellent movie on its own, and the second more or less improves on it in every way. Both also set Pixar on the path of being excellent arbiters of unexpectedly awesome celebrity voice talent.

I haven't seen A Bugs Life, but Cars is a distant last for me. The solid laughs and the absolutely stunning animation gave it a lot to like. However, the reimagined "United States of Automobiles" thing seemed too forced, even if it did give some great sight gags like the Miata Japanese fan girls and the Hummer governor of California. The voice talent seemed a little off, too. I liked Paul Newman as the Hudson Hornet, but Owen Wilson seemed to be phoning it in. And all the others were almost painfully stereotypical (George Carlin as the stoned-out VW bus, Cheech as the low-rider, Larry the fucking Cable Guy...).

Mind you in the grand scheme of things it's still a B+. Go Pixar!