URLs du Jour


  • While saner people were watching a rerun of The New Adventures of Old Christine, the Democrats were "debating", by which I mean: answering questions from everyday people submitted via YouTube. Jered Townsend of Clio, Michigan asked the candidates' positions on gun control, because he "really want to know if our babies are safe." He proceded to display his "baby", a tricked-out Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, guaranteed to make any respectable Democrat soil his or her underwear.

    Michelle Malkin trashes the response. Bill Richardson babbled a bit about the need for "instant background checks". Then Joe Biden took over: "I don't know that [Townsend] is mentally qualified to own that gun." Malkin characterizes Biden's response as full of "snark and sparm."

    But if you want a picture of how the Other Side Thinks: Steve Terrell of the New Mexican claims Biden "hit it out of the ballpark" and was disappointed in Richardson for not calling Townsend a "kook".

    David Weigel at Reason posted the video of the question and answer. But he also did some research:

    Who is Jered Townsend? He's a guy from Michigan who voted for the state's affirmative action rollback and slammed cops for busting the wife of Chrysler's CEO on the grounds of "encouraging underage drinking." In other words, he's a libertarian-leaning voter who wants the government off his back. And Biden trashed him. If you're wondering why the gun owners in tank tops are marching for Ron Paul, here's why.

    And then going above and beyond the call of duty, Weigel wangled a brief interview with Townsend. Check it out; if it's going to be Standard Operating Procedure for Democrats to write guys like Townsend off as "kooks", then that's probably the best news for the GOP I've heard lately. (Townsend, by the way, says that his "odds of supporting Joe Biden have expired and disappeared completely.")

  • Ars summarizes a fun study where Indiana U. students were sent "check this out" phishing mail. Some students were sent mail purportedly from friends (whose names and addresses were deduced by a spider crawling over social networking sites); the control group got mail from a fictitious individual.

    The results: it was "shockingly easy" to fool college students like this; the researchers got 70% of their victims to type their actual usernames and passwords into a an unfamiliar .com site. As the Ars writer puts it:

    The results were striking: apparently, if the friends of a typical college student are jumping off a cliff, the student would too.

    Wow. (Via the Technology Liberation Front.)

  • Speaking of scams, here's one I hadn't seen, from today's spam folder:


    I found a picture of someone that looks exactly like you! What is weird is that they are on the FBI most wanted list (of traffic offenders, no need to get too worried :P).

    See for yourself... [URL to .com file deleted]

    Let me know what you think... :X


    I guess if you're dumb enough to think the FBI keeps a most-wanted list of traffic offenders, there's a chance you're also dumb enough to download and run a program from an unknown site.

  • For relief, you may want to check out Lore Sjöberg's account of his trip to "a place as fascinating as it is air-conditioned, the Smithsonian National Air and Space and Dehydrated Ice Cream Museum." He makes a profound point about "awe fatigue":

    My reaction to the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft that held John Glenn as he orbited the Earth: "My God, to enter the vastness of space in this tiny craft, this bead of metal, alone as any human can be. To gain a unique perspective on the world at the risk of death in the fatal grip of nothingness. What a beautiful, terrifying achievement." Later, my reaction to the Spirit of Saint Louis: "Man, that's a lot of time to spend in a plane, especially over water." Still later, my reaction to the Wright Flyer: "I wonder what kind of wood that is?" (It is spruce.)

    I say "profound," because the same thing happens to me in museums. You too?

Last Modified 2012-10-19 5:38 AM EDT

Music and Lyrics

[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

This is a by-the-numbers romantic comedy, which means you almost certainly already know the broad structure of the plot: meet cute, relationship building, shattering crisis, tidy resolution. No surprising deviations here.

Fortunately the male half of the romance is Hugh Grant, who can make himself likeable and witty. (Drew Barrymore is the female, and she's been better elsewhere.) The situation has Hugh playing the less-successful half of a broken-up 80's pop duo, and that allows the movie to take some pretty funny pokes at musical culture past and present. ("Anybody see 'Battle of the 80's Has-Beens' last night? That Debbie Gibson can take a punch.")

One problem is that Hugh and Drew are supposed to instantly click as a powerhouse songwriting duo, like a reincarnation of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. But you really have to suspend disbelief that the song they're writing, and we're listening to, is anything other than dreck. Nobody's gonna confuse it with "Up on the Roof." And that makes the "artistic differences" crisis over the song later in the movie really tough to buy: who could possibly care?

So, overall: not great, not bad.

Last Modified 2012-10-19 5:37 AM EDT

Shameless Personal Plug

A brief note of fatherly pride. Pun Daughter currently appears on UNH's front web page, advertising the UNH in Italy program, which she attended last year.

[Pun Daughter in Italy]

She's the one on the left.

(If you go to the UNH page: it rotates among several different "top stories" at random; just keep hitting refresh. Stories expire after awhile.)

Last Modified 2012-10-19 5:54 AM EDT