Saturday, August 27, 2005

Yes, that is out of 100

And Yes, I list my occupation as "electrical engineer".

But I've thought about this for awhile, and decided I shouldn't be ashamed of this:

My computer geek score is greater than 23% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!


Tough quiz.

Plenty?

Fair warning, if you choose to click on this link:
  • The subject matter, while a true story, pertains to deviant sexual behaviour
  • Also gross
  • I have no idea what you find if you click on the hyperlinks within the post, but I suspect they won't work from a public library

The payoff if you DO click through, among other things, is that Treacher concludes with the funniest pun I've read in ages.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hello out there, we're on the air,

Some quick hockeyblogging:

- It looks like I'm surprisingly alone, among non-Senators fans anyway, in believing that Ottawa improved by getting Heatley for Hossa, regardless of cap considerations.

I gladly confess that I haven't watched a lot of non-Flames hockey in the past few years. However, watching Heatley in game action, I've had this rough thought a few times: "Geez, this guy could win a few Hart Trophies." As good as Hossa is with the puck, I've never had that same thought about him.

- Oilers fans are excited. They should be. But I'm telling you, Mike Peca is not a $4M player. I'm not even sure that he's a $2M player anymore. He's going to be the most ragged-on man in Edmonton by the end of January.

The Pronger pickup was great, although a 6-year contract is too long for anyone in a salary cap NHL, IMO. The Juicy/Conklin goaltending tandem should work out fine. I think C-Mac is a bit of a weak coach, but I expect the Oil to be pretty good this year. (Sidebar - check this fantastic quote from the EdSun's Robin Brownlee, aimed at Flames triumphalism (Þsacamano)):
Remember, fortunes can change in a hurry. Think of it this way - before the spring of 2004, most of the young ladies flashing their breasts on the Red Mile had none the last time the Flames made the playoffs.

- I'm a little surprised there hasn't been more (any?) restricted free agents signing with new teams. I expect this to change next offseason. Because there is less incentive to develop young players now (both the lower UFA age and the higher minimum salary), paying draft picks as compensation is much less unattractive than it used to be. As soon as more GMs get the hang of this new system, RFAs, especially those on teams with cap problems, will become mighty ripe targets.

- The Flames should be favoured to win the Western Conference. I hope they play up to expectations. They have who I consider to be the best player and the best coach in the league. They earned everything they won last year. They have players back from injury, and they signed Amonte, McCarty, and Hamrlik as free agents. And I don't see that any other team in the West has improved themselves to a degree where we ought to expect them to be better than Calgary.

- Leafs fans take heart: even if they're bad this year (which I doubt, but would give me a nice warm feeling inside), they're in great shape next offseason to pick up some serious talent. It's basically a winning organization, and that doesn't disappear in a puff of smoke.

Looking forward to the Flames-Senators Cup Final. Woo-hoooooo!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I will never have the balls to do this

The concluding sentence of The Ambler's revamped bio:
When not engaged in enraging the bien pensants of all parties, KMG enjoys gossip, reading, smoking, listening to music, watching sports and getting drunk.

It's probably good that he's comfortable describing himself as "un(der)employed", and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Not sure whether to laugh or cry

A choice quote via Kate from our Prime Minister, speaking in Regina:

"Let Alberta be a beacon for the best and brightest on the condition that the rest of Canada is as well".

On the condition that? I feel sick.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Certainly worth the [fornicating] wait!"

That's Matt Welch's 5-word movie review of "The 40 Year Old Virgin", which I had the pleasure of checking out Saturday night with Mrs. Aldini, my sister, and her boyfriend.

I stink at reviews, so I'll mainly say that I broadly agree with what Roger Ebert says:
Here's a movie that could have had the same title and been a crude sex comedy with contempt for its characters. Instead, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" is surprisingly insightful, as buddy comedies go, and it has a good heart and a lovable hero.

Absolutely. If I'd dispute anything in his review, it's his contention that "the best reason the movie works" is because of the chemistry between Steve Carell and Catherine Keener (his girlfriend who is confused why he doesn't harass her for sex, the true reason never crossing her mind).

They do have great chemistry, and the Keener scenes are great. But the best reason the movie works is because of the chemistry between Carell and his three male coworkers at the electronics store. The casting is awesome, the dialogue is hilarious, and despite the fact that their advice is occasionally horrendous, you never, ever doubt that all 3 of them genuinely like the Virgin and are trying to help.

When you leave a movie thinking that it looks like it would be fun to work in a Best Buy, you know they had you pretty good.

Recommendation: definitely.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Carnival of the Reason writers

Great stuff at Hit & Run this morning:

Michael Young, in a WSJ Op-Ed, has an original take on the Iraq war & the Middle East. It's tough to summarize (please RTWT), but he's basically saying that liberal-minded Arabs should be asserting their self-interest a lot more effectively than they are:
From the Arab side, encouragement of a democratic Iraq, and its fulfillment, would have proved the viability of an Arab democracy, denting Israel's presumption that it is the "only democracy in the Middle East." By becoming a dominant cornerstone of U.S. policy, Iraq would have relativized Israel's paramountcy; and a truly representative Iraq would have highlighted Israel's denial of Palestinian representativeness in the occupied territories. For all these reasons, American achievement in Iraq could have been looked on with greater self-interested approval and imagination by the Arab publics. It never was.

[...] By refusing to profit from the prospective democratic upheaval that Saddam's removal ushered in; by never looking beyond the American messenger in Iraq to the message itself; by lamenting external hegemony while doing nothing to render it pointless, Arabs merely affirmed their impotence. The self-pitying Arab reaction to the Iraq war showed the terrible sway of the status quo in the Middle East. An inability to marshal change for one's benefit is the stuff of captive minds.

Not exactly a feel-good story, but a fascinating perspective.

Still on Iraq, Nick Gillespie notes the stern words of Republican and unimpeachably right-wing Senator Chuck Hagel's ("we're not winning"), and has this to say:
Whatever else you can say about Iraq, this much seems inarguable: The Bush administration has failed to define the parameters of success there in any really convincing way. And whatever the successes of the occupation may be, they've done a piss-poor job of making clear a) what they are and b) precisely what level of American sacrifice is both required and acceptable.

Inarguable indeed - this failure can not be schlepped off on the ol' MSM.

And on a much, much lighter note, Julian Sanchez informs us that Hunter S. Thompson's ashes were shot off in fireworks on Saturday night. Click through for the funniest post header you'll read this week.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bwaaa-hahahahahaha

If we're going to use NASA engineers to prove "the existence of a generation which can communicate only in point form", then perhaps we can use this Chicago Tribune op-ed as evidence that we have a generation of doctors with no freaking sense whatsover:
As an internist caring for more and more morbidly obese people, I am so tired of reading about the feeble attempts of the government and the food industry to address the epidemic of obesity. The only effective way that we will attack this epidemic is for the surgeon general to mandate that, effective immediately, all portions of food served in restaurants and fast-food places be cut by one-half to two- thirds.

[...]

Cutting portions in fast-food places and restaurants is the only solution. I know it is a novel idea, but we have to do something radical soon to reverse this trend.
[Balko's emphasis]

I know the term gets tossed around pretty casually, but I really think this guy is, well, an idiot:
Meals in American restaurants and fast-food places are very inexpensive by international standards. The proprietors could continue to charge the same price for a smaller portion and I guarantee their sales would not decrease.

Sure, because no one eats out because they're pleased with what they're being served for the price they're paying, they eat out because it's become "the way of life". Also, any customers they lose because of the smaller portions will be balanced out by new customers, attracted by the... OK, maybe it doesn't make that much sense.

He also seems very confused about his role in his patients' lives, or at least is unwilling to communicate it to them:
Patients are often upset that I target their obesity as the cause of the problem. Overeating is "their right" and I, as their doctor, should fix the problem.

I don't know what they teach in medical school, but shouldn't he be telling these patients something like this: "Look fatty, if you want to solve most of your problems, stop eating so damn much. That is my considered medical opinion. I'm prescribing a treatment that will save you money, not cost you any. If you don't like it, keel over and die in 5 years. I'm not your mom, your wife, or your keeper - I'm a doctor."

But it appears he believes I'm missing the point:
Other patients are frustrated by their inability to lose weight and maintain the loss because they live in a virtual candy store. Everyday life in America is just too tempting to adhere to a diet for any length of time.

There's your problem with America, right there: "too tempting".

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"Nothwithstanding my real indifference.."

Best reaction I've read to the new GuvGen's 3-paragraph statement comes from Mapmaster:
I did note with interest Jean's appropriation of Paul Martin speech peccadilloes today in the National Post:

"Let me be clear: we have never belonged to a political party or the separatist movement."

the iteration of "let me be clear" in Canadian political idiom suggesting a proportionately inverse qualification of the amount of useful information to be conveyed in the subsequent disclaimer.

Indeed!

Slaves to PowerPoint?

Colby Cosh has been sifting through the debriefing from the space shuttle's Return To Flight, and highlights a serious problem (Cosh's emphasis):
...many of the engineering packages brought before formal control boards were documented only in PowerPoint presentations. In some instances, requirements are defined in presentations, approved with a cover letter, and never transferred to formal documentation. Similarly, in many instances when data was requested by the Task Group, a PowerPoint presentation would be delivered without supporting engineering documentation. It appears that many young engineers do not understand the need for, or know how to prepare, formal engineering documents such as reports, white papers, or analyses.

(Final Report of the Return to Flight Task Force, p.190 (.pdf))

I have no reason to disbelieve this, nor do I wish to defend the work of engineering schools. However, Cosh characterizes the problem incorrectly here:
...the minority report comes awfully close, in my eyes, to concluding that the problem is inherently incorrigible within the limits of professional training for American engineers.

It's certainly possible that in the nine years since I graduated, engineering schools have replaced the technical writing course with a PowerPoint course, although this is clearly not incorrigible, inherently or otherwise. Also, I'm only 32, but I and most of my peers graduated without using any Windows-based software at all, so most working engineers were never taught that PowerPoint was a critical, let alone exclusive, tool for technical communication.

More to the point, though, the excessive and inappropriate use of PowerPoint is an issue of NASA organizational behaviour, not of the training of engineers. To believe otherwise, you have to believe that NASA has somehow overhauled their previously rigorous internal technical controls to suit the reduced competency of their newly-graduated engineers.

Much more plausible, I think, is that PP presentations are what is demanded by NASA senior management, presumably to ease communications with their non-scientific (i.e. political) masters.

Engineers, and everyone else save for maybe doctors, graduate from school having accumulated certain knowledge and skills. They then get a job, and 80% of this knowledge and these skills are basically useless in perpetuity. Maybe 5% is immediately and directly applicable to their job description, and 15% forms a rudimentary base for further learning and skills refinement. To put it another way, new graduates starting their first job don't know anything, regardless of whether they were a great student, or well-taught, or whatever.

Perhaps, as Cosh suggests, there is simply not enough engineers with both strong technical chops and the ability to communicate it soundly on paper. If so, the only sane way to deal with this is to scrap the space program entirely: if you can't learn to be a competent aerospace engineer working for NASA, there is no school in the world that can help you.

"Won't someone PLEASE think of the children!"

I have to agree with Julian Sanchez here: I think I'd just about orgasm at the thrill of watching various healthists and Our Betters In Government try to address the importation of Kidsbeer from Japan. Indeed, this rhetoric sounds downright foreign:
Satoshi Tomoda, president of the beverage maker, said: "Children copy and mimic adults.

"If you get this drink ready on such occasions as events and celebrations attended by kids, it would make the occasions even more entertaining."

The Kidsbeer label captures a nostalgic mood as it was modeled after classic beer labels.

"Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink," reads the product's advertising slogan.

Wheeeeeee!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jan Harder: Hero

Via Bound By Gravity, I find this update on how the Mardi Gras promotion is going at Ottawa Renegades games, as reported by the in-famous Earl Mcrae:
It's on the cusp of all-out war: The City of Ottawa versus Cuddles Glieberman versus the City of Ottawa.

Back down, the city has told Cuddles.

No way, Cuddles has told the city.

Cuddles says the city has no right in the brassieres of the fans.

An enraged city councillor Jan Harder: "Lonie Glieberman's an arrogant little bitch. I'm not willing to tolerate it. If he won't end it, I will."

Cuddles, aka Lonie, is a boy by-the-way. I see Councillor Harder is using some obvious horseshit to bolster her point:
"I've had a number of complaints to my office from parents whose daughters have been harassed -- 'c'mon take it off, show us your boobs' -- and the girls don't know what they're talking about. He's a classless twit. If he thinks he's got a winning football team, then sell that."

Well, I guess zero and one both qualify as "a number", right? Seriously folks, read the article, just to visualize the multiple meetings most certainly already undertaken by City and Lansdowne Park officials ("Is this the kind of image we want to create for our community?", oh for F... ...).

I also liked this snippet:
"The perception of Mardi Gras -- New Orleans style -- is one where lewd behaviour and booze prevail. This is not a good mix in a sports environment, in our opinion." - Richard Hancock. Lansdowne Park manager

Two words: O-K-BUDDY! That must be why the NFL keeps the Super Bowl away from New Orleans at all costs, why there's never been a Final Four there, etc. etc...

Expoundment from the unworthy

Obviously, I'm having a little trouble getting going again here. I've read lots of good stuff over the past week, but it hasn't translated into prolific and clever web-logging.

There is something to be said for the power of momentum, though, so I think it's wise to just start.

I hope you all read Billy Beck, and I really don't care if the fascination is intellectual or morbid. Two recent posts are worth noting. One:
You know the old saw about "is the glass half-full or half-empty"? It kills me to watch people batting that thing around as if they hold some truth for the ages in their little front-porch rocking-chair philosophy. It never occurs to them to consider that it turns on the matter of whether one is pouring or drinking.

And two:
"I never liked any of you sonsofbitches, but I always wished I could have."

Monday, August 15, 2005

I'm back, at least physically...

The Aldini clan is back from a delightful trip to Vancouver Island, complete with westbound stops along the Trans-Canada, and eastbound stops along parts of the North Cascades Highway, Grand Coulee, and Spokane.

I may choose to bore you with more details (and photos!) another day. For now, I would like to thank a couple of fellow web-based commentators for a fun meet-up a couple of Fridays ago.

The family and I were laid over in Vancouver for a couple of nights until a Saturday afternoon ferry. (Sidebar: what a tremendous first impression of Vancouver for a first-time visitor (by car) to Vancouver like Mrs. Aldini. East Hastings Street ("it's dirty and sad, but not dangerous") is the route between the #1 WB and downtown. Charming.)

Anyway, it so happened the Calgary Stampeders were playing the B.C. Lions on the Friday night, so I met up for beers and football with the tremendously genial J. Jardine and the now-much-less-mysterious Mapmaster, and a good time was had by me.

We had good laffs at the B.C. Place crowd: in short, at least from our endzone perspective, it was the polar opposite of the stereotype of left-coast hippie stoners. Basically a lot of booze, hooting, skin, and skank. Absolutely awesome. You almost could have confused them for an enthusiatic American crowd-- except that the upper deck was closed off, and the PA announcer had to tell them when to cheer for the defense.

Refreshments before and after were at the Yaletown Brewing Co., where the beer was tasty, and our 4th chair was politely borrowed by future hall-of-fame That Guy this guy.

Far-from-intense discussions were had of current events and weblogging. Many of you other bloggers out there are the source of inspiration and bouts of critical thinking. Many more of you are laughed at mercilessly. :)

Thanks lads - I hope to do it again sometime.

Funny Because It Wasn't Me dept.

[...] So, what else could I do but steal my own car. I pop the trunk and am shocked that the alarm doesn't go off. Terrific! Maybe I'm mistaken and the alarm isn't really on. I throw in the suitcase, slam the trunk and walk around to the driver's door. Still no alarm.

But, as soon as I turn the key in the lock all hell breaks loose. The lights start flashing, the bells are ringing, the horn is honking - you name it, this alarm does it...except, apparently, prevent you from driving!

It gets better.