URLs du Jour

2006-07-18

  • Danny Westneat at the Seattle Times throws some well-deserved scorn and ridicule at the Department of Homeland Security:
    A federal inspector general has analyzed the nation's database of top terrorist targets. There are more than 77,000 of them — up from 160 a few years ago, before the entire exercise morphed into a congressional porkfest.
    Read the whole thing; you'll either get a laugh, or get seriously depressed. The report referred to is here (54-page PDF). It's a case study in how political pressures throw well-intentioned projects out of whack, wasting resources, and undoubtedly making us less safe.

    (Via Bruce Schneier.)

  • The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) serves the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudon Counties in Virginia; as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church. According to the Census Bureau, the median household incomes for these entities are (respectively, as of 2003): $43215, $76546, $53659, $66943, $82481, $89890, $59156, $67073, and $79232.

    All, save for DC itself, considerably higher than the US 2003 median household income of $43318. And yet, Your Congress yesterday voted to throw One Point Five Billion Dollars at WMATA. We're talking some serious reverse-Robin Hood action here. Background, from the Heritage Foundation's Ronald Utt, is here.

    (Mine own Congressman, Jeb Bradley, voted no on this, so good on him.)

  • The New York Times today revealed that it plans to shrink the width of its physical newspaper by 1.5 inches, close a New Jersey printing plant, and drop 250 jobs, all to save money. ("All the News that Fits" used to be an overused parody of the Times's motto, but now … it's funny, because it's true.)

    As a stunning vote of confidence in these drastic measures to improve the bottom line, the NYT's stock price closed at $22.67 from its $23.18 close yesterday, down 2.20% for the day. Good move, guys!

    (See the American Thinker for informed comment.)

  • On a lighter note, Blender magazine has composed a list of "The 25 Biggest Wusses … Ever!" The title turns out to be a little too inclusive; they only consider popular musicians from the last 40 years or so. But the descriptions are acidly funny and mostly on target. If you're like me, you'll go through the list both nodding in agreement and wincing about the wimps you once liked.

    Their number one pick, though, is … James Taylor! That's simply outrageous, and makes me want to throw my Birkenstocks through Blender's front window! James is no wimp, he kicked a heroin habit; that should give you a non-wuss pass for life.

    Which reminds me of one of my favorite sitcom incidents, from Ted Danson's Becker. Becker is yakking with his blind African-American friend, Jake. Becker happens to remark that he likes listening to James Taylor.

    Jake replies: "James Taylor … how white are you, anyway?"

    Yeah, I'm pretty white too.


Last Modified 2006-07-19 7:44 AM EST

Nine Lives

[Amazon Link] [2.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Every so often, I'll take a chance on an arty flick. A mistake in this case, but that's OK. The movie is a sequence of nine vignettes, each concentrating on a woman that's in the throes of some crisis. In a tricky move, each one is shot with a single camera with no cuts. There are some big names involved: Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Kathy Baker, Sissy Spacek, and the Princess Bride herself, Robin Wright Penn. Some characters from one episode show up, or are mentioned, in another. But mostly the overlap between the individual parts isn't too relevant (with a couple major exceptions). I may have missed some.

The problem (and I'm sure it's my problem) is that, in many cases, the characters aren't very interesting or sympathetic.

However, the last scene is particularly touching. So if you take the plunge, hang on until the end.


Last Modified 2012-10-23 2:33 PM EST