URLs du Jour

2009-02-23

  • I suppose it was only a matter of time, but congressional Republicans, tired of Democrats having a monopoly on stupid proposals so far this year, decided to come up with one of their own:
    Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.
    At the Technology Liberation Front, Adam Thierer has a link-filled article demonstrating why such proposals are invasive, abusive, and ineffective in fighting the ostensible target, child pornographers.

  • Cracked has a funny take on 5 Ways People Are Trying to Save the World (That Don't Work). My only regret is they stopped at five. The language is soft-R. I laughed at this one, which is part of their look at antibacterial soap:
    Nature is a funny thing. Not "knock-knock joke" funny, but "horrifying death preceded by agonizing suffering" funny. The thing about biology is that while it is really easy to kill a lot of something, it's a lot harder to kill all of something. And the survivors tend to be a lot tougher and pissed off.
    Cracked also liveblogged the Oscars:
    They had Daniel Craig presenting with Sarah Jessica Parker? That's a little bit of a lopsided duo. You have James Bond up there looking like he's made out of tuxedos and tans, and then there's Parker who looks like somebody microwaved Barbara Streisand.
    The power went out at Pun Salad Manor somewhere between Best Director and Best Actress. Nature is a funny thing.

Killing Floor

[Amazon Link]

Starting off reading a new series: the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. This one came out in 1997; number 13 is due out in April. So it's a franchise.

Jack is an ex-military policeman, tired of bouncing around the world from one army base to the next. So he's drifting aimlessly through America, taking in the sights he's heard about throughout his life. One day he winds up in sleepy Margrave, Georgia, a town notable for its impeccably-maintained parks, homes, and businesses; he's heard a rumor that an old blues singer, "Blind Blake" had roots there. But Jack's only there briefly before he gets arrested for a shocking, brutal homicide. The rest of the book concerns his efforts to clear his name and bring the real killers to justice.

It's kind of a contradiction: a page turner with a lot of pages: more than 400 in the edition I read, medium-size type, and narrow margins. It's first-person narration, and Reacher keeps up a running inner monologue that makes Travis McGee, the original one-man bull session, look like Calvin Coolidge. (Sometimes repetitive. On page 381, Reacher observes, "Shotguns and children don't mix." A decent bit of tough-guy observation. He thinks it's swell enough so that, nine pages later, he trots it out again: "Children and shotguns don't mix." We got it the first time, Jack.)

Reacher is schooled in the lethal arts, wise to the ways of bad guys, and is not reluctant to blow them away unmercifully. As he unravels the mystery behind the killing, there's lots and lots of imaginative mayhem committed by both good guys and bad. The body count is high, and property damage is immense.

The plot also hinges on a massive unexplained coincidence, which I won't spoil, but I couldn't swallow.


Last Modified 2012-10-08 7:56 PM EDT

Babylon A. D.

[Amazon Link]

[2.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Well, I have a good excuse: it had Michelle Yeoh in it. She's awesome.

Vin Diesel plays Toorop; as the movie opens, he's barely surviving in a bleakly anarchic future Kazakhstan. But he's a man with a past, and one of his old employers (Gérard Depardieu, unrecognizable) is some sort of Kazakh gangster/warloard. Toorop is coerced into escorting a mysterious teenage girl and her nun handler (that's Ms. Yeoh) from a "Noelite" monastery through Siberia, across the Bering Strait, through North America, and into New York. There's a lot of shooting, kicking, explosions, and the like on the way.

I found myself liking the very beginning of this movie, as the grime and grittiness of the Kazakh dystopia was deftly pictured, and Vin Diesel was his usual hard-boiled self. But somewhere during the first hour, I think the filmmakers ran out of money, and the script kind of ran out of sense. So things got stupider, more pretentious, and much less interesting. So, fail.

Charlotte Rampling makes a late appearance as high priestess of the Noelite sect. I'm old enough to remember when Charlotte Rampling's looks were striking enough to be considered sexy. Now she's just really, really, scary looking.


Last Modified 2012-10-08 7:56 PM EDT