Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Italian Trash.

Pictures of trash kindly provided by "Juliet Whiskey."

Disclaimer: I do not hate the Italian people. I love Italian food. And everything on this blog is only semi-serious. In addition, I live in Pittsburgh, so in some ways - I'm living in trashy Italy. So if you take offense - I issue my regret in advance and ask you to "Simmer Down."

Italy is home to approximately 60 million people. Italy is a very photogenic country, with what appears to be very warm and passionate people, serving probably amongst the best food in Europe.

So you may be wondering - why is he starting a post about Italy by calling it trash?

Exhibit #1 - I did not stage this photo.
Even if I wanted to I couldn't have selected a more powerful juxtaposition of images. We see a woman - pushing what I presume to be her baby in a carriage. Passing by what appears to be... unsorted trash. If you look closely, you can see bottles, cans, and other recyclables thrown together with what appears to be vegetable waste and other organic trash.

Not Cool.

Exhibit #2 - Italian trash removal service? The model of efficiency. Bag waste. Load waste onto small barge. All done in a neat and seemingly orderly manner.

I've always been puzzled at the Italian paradox. It is arguably a first-world country. It is in Western Europe, was an early member of the European Union, and is frequented by tourists from all over the world.

But at the same time - it is a dump [click to see Neapolitan trash]. It has been labeled the "Sick man of Europe."

According to the CIA's World Fact Book, Italy's average GDP per capita is approximately $31,000. When I first saw this statistic - I was like... really? That low?

For comparison? Slovenia, which only gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, has an GDP per capita of around $30,800. Even my humble (not really a state) place of origin has an GDP per capita of $33,000.

I thought I might have been unfair. So I worked real hard (for blogging standards anyway) to find redeeming industries and products from Italy.

Here is a list:

1. Mozzarella. Unfortunately there has been several significant instances of dixoin making its way into buffalo milk used in the production of mozzarella. The situation was bad enough that the European Commission got involved. Fail.

2. Cars. How can the nation that brings you the Zonda also bring you anything from Alfa Romero? Have you heard of Fiat? Apparently they make great Pandas. But a car company desperate enough for a partnership with Chrysler? Fail.

Alfa Romeo? Interesting cars if you can actually get one to work, but good luck - they're even less reliable than the worst Detroit made cars during the WORST years during the US auto industry. Epic Fail.

Lamborghini didn't actually build cars that worked with any frequency until Audi-VW-Porsche took it over. Not Italian enough.

Pagani? Engine supplied by Mercedes-Benz. Not Italian enough.

Ferrari? Well... I guess they're Italian, but its famous horse emblem is actually borrowed from Stuttgart in Southern Germany. So there may be some borrowed engineering heritage. Undecided.

3. Political leaders?

The country that gave the world Il Duce Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi.

Mussolini had ridiculous thoughts of grandeur about recreating the Roman Empire, and lent his face to silly advertising like the picture to the right. Mussolini invaded Greece - then got beaten back to the Balkans by the Greeks, prompting Mussolini to beg Hitler to provide Germanic support (I guess we should thank Mussolini for leeching German resources). Fail.


OK - it is a fake. But it illustrates a point. Really... there is so much negative things to say about this guy I think it is more instructive to just read his Wiki page.

In conclusion - the Italy we see on beautiful calenders and travel shows is slowly disappearing. I say visit Italy soon and visit it often - because in fifty years it'll be about as pleasant as the Philippines (which I will cover in the future).

EDIT - An Editorial Board member has reminded me of gelato. Indeed, it is indeed a redeeming product from Italy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The White House has a Blog?!?!

So I was surfing the White House website, and lookie here - there is an official White House "blog." I got all psyched (not really) - but I clicked thinking it was going to be some sort of personal journal by the press secretary's underling's peon's bondsman. It turned out to be essentially a reverse-chronologically ordered listing of press releases.

Puzzled but curious at what exactly is a blog, I went to the trustworthy Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

According to Merriam-Webster.
        Main Entry:
                \ˈblȯg, ˈbläg\
                short for Weblog
                : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer ; also : the contents of such a site.

I don't get how "The Blog" as it is called is really a blog. But in any case, I want that job. It appears to entail only rewriting the White House Press Releases and vaguely summarizing some of the President's functions on any particular day and writing two or three posts a day. What a lame blog. I have awesome recipes, silly random musings, really really bad film reviews and outrageous automotive commentary.

Give me some access to the White House and I will blog about how the President likes his tea, how many paces is it from the Oval Office to the Blue Room, and any other random things and otherwise inconsequential trivia that will make the youth vote feel "connected" to the President of the United States.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Learning the Profession through the Tube.

According to a study conducted by physicians at a hospital in Alberta, residents and medical students indicated that they had learned how to wrongly intubate a patient by watching medical dramas like ER. Click to read the story.

Imagine if all professions did this.

1. How to be a lawyer.

2. How to be a spy.

3. How to drive very fast in a circle.

4. How to practice for dodge ball.

5. How to be a male fashion model.

Those residents and medical students must be total idiots - maybe I should move to Canada and start a medical malpractice business.

Buy Insurance.

The Dutch sure know how to make commercials.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The "science" behind The Day After Tomorrow.

When I was writing about The Day After Tomorrow, I was reminded of something that always bugged me. The freezing of the flying RAF helicopters' fuel lines.

Something that always troubled me was that fuel lines are flowing and pressurized. Fuel tanks are also insulated. How could they freeze? The Day After Tomorrow simply demanded too much from me - I could not sufficiently suspend my disbelief to enjoy the film.

I shall seek to answer this question. Whether it is possible to freeze a flying helicopter's fuel system?

The current standardized NATO kerosene-based aviation fuel, the JP-8, has a freezing point of -47°C (-52.6°F).

I have a limited and rudimentary understanding of physics. So be gentle if there are glaring errors in my methods. Now, we know hat cooling is the transfer of thermal energy. I've never taken college physics, but my father once taught me the three methods of thermal energy transfer - convection, radiation, and conduction.

Because the fuel tank inside the helicopter and insulated from convention (it is internal) and radiation (rubber encased in aluminum), I will assume that conduction is primarily the method of which mother nature managed to freeze the JP-8 in the helicopter.

Due to my limited mathematical skills and the unavailability of schematics for the SH-3 Sea King helicopter, I will assume that the fuel tank is sphere, was not fixed internally, but was rather exposed to the outside world.

Applying Fourier's Law...

k = material's conductivity
A = surface area
Δt = time
ΔQ = quantity of heat
ΔT = change in temperature
x = thickness of conducting surface separating temperature gradient

We want to find out the ΔQ (quantity of heat).
Since the helicopters froze instantly, I will say ΔT will be 1 seconds.


I will further assume that the JP-8 fuel was previously stored in an underground tank. The contents of the tank, being buried under ground, will reflect ambient temperature, which is typically at 10°C (50°F). Since the film claims the pocket of cold air was at -101.1°C (-150°F), we have a change in temperature (ΔT) of 111.1 Kelvins.

The tank, being made out of rubber compounds, should have a thermal conductivity similar to rubber (k = 0.16 W/(m·K)). I also found that the aviation industry thickness for a self-sealing fuel bladder is approximately 0.00216 meters.

Assuming that the tank was round, we can calculate the radius of the sphere, which will allow us to calculate the surface area of the sphere. The UK variant of the SH-3 Sea King holds 3700 liters or 3.7m^3 of fuel.

Now we just have to plug in the numbers!

ΔQ = 95,299.11 Joules.

So we now know that in the cinematic world of The Day After Tomorrow + my crude assumptions, around 95,299 Joules of heat could be transferred from the fuel tank to the cold air in one second!

If someone can instruct me on how to calculate the thermal mass of 3700 liters of JP-8 fuel at 10°C (50°F), we would be able to determine whether or not it was indeed possible to freeze the helicopter's fuel. But in the mean time, this will have to do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Worst 5 films I've been unfortunate enough to see - Part 5.

1. The Day After Tomorrow [2004].

It took me a longtime to decide whether this film was worse than Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was really bad, and while I thought The Day After Tomorrow had better dialogue and acting... there were just so many things wrong with this film. The science is so wrong it trivializes the political views the film allegedly sought to promote.

The film begins with Dennis Quaid in Antarctica drilling ice core samples. The ice suddenly begins to crack and he nearly falls to an icy cold death. This was a horrible introduction for this climatologist/geologist - who apparently was completely unaware that the ice below him was unstable. Lame.

He then travels to this meeting and seeks to present his views on the longterm effects of global warming, but the diplomats at the UN scoff at his theories, and he goes home dejected. Maybe the politicians heard about his Antarctica misadventure.

The weather is highly personified in this film. It is evil. First it decides to destroy Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Then the weather decides it wanted to flash freeze a bunch of flying Royal Air Force helicopters. The helicopters apparently flew into a pocket of air at -150°F (-101.1°C), froze in midair and crashed. The crew members are instantly turned into icicles.

How is this possible? I do not know.

So basically Dennis Quaid's son is stuck in Manhattan in the cold. Dennis Quaid walks in the snow and makes his way from Washington, D.C. to New York City (in the process watching a friend fall through a glass ceiling in a snow-covered building).

The son, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, starts burning books in the New York Public Library. He and his friends fight off wolves (that somehow survived despite the massive temperature change), find antibiotics, and live off nachos and candy from vending machines.

Eventually Dennis Quaid arrives in New York, checks out the Statute of Liberty (frozen in sea ice), and they all get airlifted out of this frozen hell by helicopters.

This film was atrocious. Instead of awakening people to the potential dangers of global warming, this film probably did more to discredit the possibility that global warming may lead to massive and deadly environmental change. The crazy effects personified the weather as this cool calculating freezing murderous machine.

It also failed as a scare film because it personifies the weather as this rapidly changing, human chasing, freezing monster, that kills everyone in its way. Unlike Friday the 13th movies (which discourages teenage sex by killing off fornicating teenagers), The Day After Tomorrow seems to say... you're screwed no matter what you do! You're all screwed because politicians didn't listen to celebrity climatologists! Wa ha ha ha ha!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Engels leren?

I wonder if all commercials from the Netherlands are this creative.

Warning: Very funny and may induce LOL.

Black Man Toothpaste.

黑人牙膏 literally means "Black Man Toothpaste."

I love this toothpaste, and always request for the green tea flavored variety. Every time I go back to Taiwan, I make a mental note of bringing some back. If there is someone from Taiwan visiting (and they're nice enough to ask me if I need anything), I make a request for this toothpaste.

But I can't help but laugh dryly at the lack of uh... cultural sensitivity.

So basically the pitch for the toothpaste was look at how white the black guy's teeth is - use our toothpaste. Keep in mind, we never had institutionalized slavery in Taiwan, and the racism that exists there is generally due to a lack of exposure to the diversity and ignorance instead of malice or scapegoating.

But yah... this is the Taiwanese version of Uncle Ben or Aunt Jemima.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why would anyone pay for Wi-Fi in a car?

General Motors announced at the New York auto show today that they will begin to offer a Wi-Fi option on the Cadillac CTS.

Aside from being an overpriced car (I observed that the the interior was horrible and squeaked like a mouse), who in their right mights would pay $499 + $29 dollars a month for Wi-Fi in the car? For less than that - one can easily get a PCMCIA or USB 3G cellular card for their laptop (which would also be a lot more practical because you'll be able to use it anywhere - not just limited to within the car).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Worst 5 films I've been unfortunate enough to see - Part 4.

2. Pearl Harbor [2001].

"Why does Michael Bay gets to keep on making movies?"
     - words of wisdom from Team America.

The film begins with two kids, Big Idiot (Ben Affleck) and Little Idiot (Josh Hartnett). Being a pair of idiots, they accidentally start the engine of a crop duster, take off on the runway, land, and get in trouble. Little Idiot's pa disciplines him (child abuse by modern standards), and Big Idiot calls Little Idiot's pa a "stinkin German" and threatens to bash his head in with a piece of wood. Little Idiot's pa seems hurt, because apparently he fought the Germans in the First World War (1914-1918). How is this relevant? I dunno.

Fast forward a decade + several years.

The two idiots are flying in Curtiss P-40s - narrowly avoids crashing their training aircraft and get grounded by Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin). Alec Baldwin offers Big Idiot the opportunity to fly in "Eagle Squadron," a group of "volunteers" to support the United Kingdom in the Battle of Britain. Five minutes into this "Pearl Harbor" film, there are already big glaring historical inaccuracies.

Because Curtiss P-40s did not enter service in the United States until 1941, we can postulate that this was sometime in 1941 (but before Dec. 7). In 1941, the historical Jimmy Doolittle did not command any training unit or other US Army Air Corps flight squadrons. What is going on?

So Kate Beckinsale is a US Navy nurse, who gets together with Big Idiot. She has an English accent, I think she is a spy. Big Idiot, being an idiot, decides to leave America and Beckinsale and heads to Britain. Big Idiot gets shot down and crashes in the English Channel.

Meanwhile, Little Idiot and Beckinsale have been reassigned to Hawaii, and they get word that the Big Idiot has crashed and is dead. Little Idiot and Beckinsale get together and soon after, Beckinsale is expecting a baby.

*GASP* Bid Idiot returns from the dead - claiming he escaped from occupied France. Big Idiot naturally gets pissed that his buddy, Little Idiot has been sleeping with Beckinsale - so they get into a bar fight. It is now December 6, 1941.

The next morning, the "day of infamy" begins as the Imperial Japanese Navy and begin their air raid on US assets on Pearl Harbor. Cuba Gooding Jr., like all African-Americans of that era, was relegated to being Mess Attendant in the US Navy. Despite having no previous training in aerial defense, he takes over an anti-aircraft gun and shoots down a Japanese plane. Horray!

Big Idiot and Little Idiot hop in some planes, take off, and shoot down several Japanese planes (even causing them to crash into each other - because you know, the Japanese are stupid). They get praised for their work, and get assigned to a "secret mission" under Doolittle (the actual Doolittle Raid concept wasn't conceived until January 1942 but whatever!).

Before the two idiots leave for the secret training - Beckinsale tells the Big Idiot that she is pregnant with the Little Idiot's baby. She also says she hasn't told Little Idiot, because she wants him to concentrate on the mission.

So why does she even tell Big Idiot?! To distract him? This lady has more issues than a magazine stand.

Apparently, because the United States does not have enough qualified pilots. The two idiots, having prior experience in light fighter aircraft, are trained to fly B-25 bombers. Despite being idiots, they qualify as B-25 pilots in record time, and learn how to fly a medium bomber off an aircraft carrier.

The Doolittle Raid (both historically and in the film) was essentially a one-way mission, where 16 B-25s were launched from an aircraft carrier, dropped their bombs symbolically on Japan, and crash land in China.

Big Idiot crash lands in China, and gets arrested by the Imperial Japanese Army (oops). The Japanese soldiers are about to execute the Big Idiot, when in a WTF? moment, the Little Idiot shows up in his plane, shoots up all the Japanese (without hurting the Big Idiot), and crashes. Then the two idiots get captured again - Little Idiot naturally sacrifices himself and Big Idiot escapes (presumably with the help of the off-camera cinematic Chinese).

Big Idiot returns to America and settle down with Beckinsale and raises Little Idiot's spawn.

On behalf of the cinematic Chinese people, I apologize for for the return of Ben Afflick. They should have sent him to Vladivostok where Comrade Josef Stalin could have interned him until after the war.

This was probably Michael Bay's worst movie (that says a lot). As usual, Ben Afflick is useless as an actor (his best performance was Good Will Hunting [1997], where he "pretends" to be an idiot from Boston). It was a waste film, and a waste of Alec Baldwin and Cuba Gooding Jr.'s acting talents.

Pearl Harbor sucks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Film Appreciation Interlude: The Battleship Potemkin [1925].

To clear my head of the hideous films I've already mentioned (i.e. Titanic, Batman & Robin, and The House of Flying Daggers), I've decided to write an interlude and talk about a good film.

The Battleship Potemkin [1925] was a silent film directed by Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein. I was first exposed to his work when I was an undergrad taking a film class, and he pioneered the intellectual use of camera angles, particularly the montage. Contrary to the plain meaning of "silent film," films were not literally shown in silence, but were usually accompanied by records of orchestras, sound effects, etc.

Keeping in mind that this was a propaganda film, it focuses on the 1905 mutiny of Russian sailors against their officers. In the real Potemkin mutiny, the sailors enticed other navy vessels to defect, and after layovers in Odessa (in modern day Ukraine but was a part of Imperial Russia in 1905) and Romania, were eventually forced to surrender. Even though the Bolsheviks hadn't seized power yet and the Russian Revolution was 12 years away, the Soviets basically framed the story of the mutiny (which was in response to poor conditions of the Tsar's navy), into a class struggle.

The Odessa Steps Sequence is among the most famous and influential clips in cinema history. I've taken the liberty of embedding it below.

The context is important. Basically a gathering of people from all classes with no visible social cleavages have gathered to wave to the Potemkin (sailed by the mutineers). The Tsarist forces appear to clear the crowd, and begin to massacre the Russian people (Editorial Note: the massacre actually never happened).

The scene was essentially reproduced in The Untouchables [1987] at the Union Station in Chicago. Click here to watch the Union Station shootout (or a young Andy Garcia).

And speaking of montages... Team America: World Police [2004] has probably the best montage in recent cinema history. If you haven't seen it - you should definitely check it out.

Worst 5 films I've been unfortunate enough to see - Part 3.

3. House of Flying Daggers [2004].

I must confess say this that this particular film, was for the most part, beautifully shot. There were a lot of visually pleasing sets and landscapes. Zhang Yumou is a very good Chinese director and cinematographer, and has a good eye for stimulating color (his other works include Raise the Red Lantern, The Story of Qiu Ju, Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower - as well as being involved in the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony).

However, it was a disappointment because the acting was so mediocre that it distracted the audience from the film. I suspect that it was better received in non-Mandarin Chinese speaking markets because the audience couldn't understand what the actors and actresses were saying anyway - so bad acting was not as noticeable. But the film was universally criticized in Chinese-speaking markets.

So uh... basically the film is set in the end of the Tang Dynasty. There are a bunch of anti-government rebel groups, one of which is called the "Flying Daggers" - whose members naturally throw daggers.

Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro are two law enforcement officials for the government. They seem to get along. Together they arrest Zhang Ziyi, who is a member of the "Flying Daggers" despite being blind. Andy then tells Takeshi to "escape" the prison with Ziyi, to gain her trust so the law enforcement officials can infiltrate the secret organization.

Andy Lau is Cantonese. Takeshi Kaneshiro is a Japanese/Taiwanese mutt. Naturally they have horrible accents when speaking Mandarin - and sound like idiots when they read their lines. For those who don't speak Mandarin, imagine casting Tom Cruise to pretend to be a German in Valkyrie, only the entire film was in German.

Oddly enough, Zhang Ziyi, who is from Beijing, can't read her lines worth a damn. She accents and tones are all in the wrong places and sounds like a nervous schoolgirl reading a textbook out loud in class.

Maybe the director is trying to explain why the Tang Dynasty fell apart? In the same way that the attempted assassins in Valkyrie selected a one armed, three-fingered, half-blind man to set the fuses for an explosive device to kill Hitler. FAIL.

Back to the film... Takeshi "rescues" Ziyi from the prison, and they go off running to the secret "Flying Daggers" location. During which they are pursued by Tang Dynasty soldiers. Some are in on the plot - so they pretend fight and pretend to be killed by Takeshi. Others are not - and he is forced to kill them.

They fight in some beautiful bamboo forests (I'll imagine they were stung by a lot of mosquitoes) - then fight on some Ukrainian steppes. Both Takeshi and Ziyi, due to the tension and stress, have increased cortisol and adrenaline levels and misinterpret it as love and decide to make out.

The duo eventually arrive at the "secret location" - but Takeshi, instead of being greetedas a rescuer, is detained. They knew he was an undercover cop, and *GASP* Ziyi is not really blind and was in on the con the whole time. Apparently Andy is a undercover "Flying Dagger," and sent Takeshi on this suicide mission to weaken the government.

The story then nosedives into the empty swimming pool.

Andy and Ziyi were previously lovers. But now due to the elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels, Ziyi thinks she is in love with Takeshi. So instead of killing Takeshi, Ziyi releases him. But Andy was spying on them - and jealous that Ziyi is now infatuated with Takeshi, he fatally injures Ziyi and starts a day long fight with Takeshi.

The duo fight in what appears to be central Europe (birch forests can be seen in the background), and fight so long that snow falls and before you know it they're bleeding in a foot of snow. It was actually a pretty scene, but it makes me terrified of the Chinese director - who is big on symbolism. Maybe he is hinting that the Tang Dynasty extended to Ukraine and therefore Ukraine is a part of China.

At the end of the film, both of them sorta fight over Ziyi, she dies anyway - Andy walks off and Takeshi weeps.

The End.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Worst 5 films I've been unfortunate enough to see - Part 2.

4. Batman & Robin [1997].

This film was so bad the only things I could remember without referring to Wikipedia were the rubber nipple suit and Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzeneger). After I read the Wikipedia plot summary, I could still barely remember what that stupid film was about.

So George Cloony (Bruce Wayne-Batman) would rather hang out with Christopher O'Donnell (Robin) instead of Elle MacPherson (Bruce Wayne's girlfriend). They act like brothers, but sorta have some sort of repressed sexual tension, and then get mad at each other over Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). I couldn't figure out if they were jealous of each other, or Poison Ivy. But in any case - they eventually resolve their dispute and get back together as Batman & Robin.

Speaking of Poison Ivy - she was a botanist gone mad to become a sort of a polar opposite of a vegan. Like a crazy animal hater who wanted plants to take over the world. What was that about? How did she eat and survive?

The Governor of California wanted to freeze everybody because his wife has some strange disease so he froze her. I guess he was a misunderstood villain who really wanted to just show the world his love.

I don't have much more to say. This was a horrible movie. It was so bad I couldn't really apply myself to summarizing it through Marxist lenses or attempt to find humor in it. Schwarzeneger's political opponents should just distribute free copies of this film before the next election - the mere fact Schwarzeneger took on this film shows bad judgment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Worst 5 films I've been unfortunate enough to see - Part 1.

Inspired by an anonymous person (I've assigned the codename "Echo Sierra"), I'm starting a five-part miniseries about the worst 5 films I've been unfortunate enough to see.

5. Titanic [1997].

Lamest chick flick ever to win any awards. Here was a big ship that everyone knew was going to hit an iceberg and sink. It begins with an old lady, Rose, who is getting all sentimental on this exploration vessel that is revisiting the Titanic. She has this diamond.

The only avenue for story development and suspense was about Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) - but 15 minutes into the film, it was obvious that Jack would die because Rose was the lone survivor on that modern ship having a flashback and getting all sentimental about the Titanic.

The film then basically shifts to a plot line resembling Soviet-era cinema. An epic battle between the proletariat Jack against the bourgeoisie Billy Zane (Rose's fiance). Billy Zane gives Rose a diamond, but Jack emerges victorious by wooing the petite bourgeoisie Rose. And they make out in a 1912 Renault CB Coupé de Ville, sealing the proletariat's final revenge (it also goes to show how old the Titanic was - when Renault made cars were worth importing to America).

From that point on - the ship hits the iceberg. The head engineer discovers how bad the situation is, the captain gives the order for everyone to abandon ship. The movie reintroduces the class struggle again - as the crew seals the poor Irish passengers in the lower decks, while the wealthy bourgeoisie and their petite bourgeoisie spouses and servants get to escape on the lifeboats. Some members of the proletariat nevertheless overcome and triumph - and convinces some members of the petite bourgeoisie join the proletariat in their struggle.

After that epic class struggle, the ship resumes sinking and we see the best scene from the entire movie. Which I call "The Propeller Guy." Basically as water is rushing into the bow of the ship, the stern lifts up above the water, exposing a large portion of the keel, the rudder, and propellers. People at the tip of the stern start losing their grip, and there is this stunt man who is forced to let go of the ship's rails and plunge into the ocean.

I assume that the special effect people and post-production nerds involved in the project hated the rest of the film as much as I did - so they did the scene and CGI-ed the stunt man to bounce on the propeller on his way down. Many people believe it was the best scene of the movie. Don't believe me? Google does not lie.

The scene was so good this dude made a parody interview with "The Propeller Guy", which I encourage you to watch. The specific scene starts at 5:53.

So after that awesome scene, the ship resumes sinking. People scream, shout, and die. Jack and Rose fall into the water, and they swim around in the cold Atlantic. Jack finds a piece of driftwood, Rose climbs on. Jack hangs on nearby and freezes to death. He then magically sinks.

Now I'm pretty sure some of you have heard me rant about the unrealistic nature of this, as frozen dead people do not sink. But I've realized the errors of my conclusions. I assumed that Jack was not weighed down.

It is my hypothesis that he had looted all the bourgeois' jewelry and either swallowed them or kept them in his pant pockets & boots. It would explain why he sank like a lead anchor, or wasn't able to get upon other driftwood/swim to a lifeboat/climb on the driftwood with Rose/any other possible self-help measure.

So then the flashback stops. Rose goes all crazy, and throws the diamond into the Atlantic. Why did Rose toss the diamond into the Atlantic? I do not know. She could have donated it to a museum or charity or something, maybe create an auction for the shipwrecked people of the world? But I'm guessing she had returned to her petite bourgeoisie ways.

So that concludes the fifth worst movie I've been unfortunate enough to see. Tomorrow, I will naturally resume the series and discuss the fourth worst movie.

Ford SportKa - the Ka's Evil Twin.

Warning: Potentially Disturbing.

The Ford SportKa - produced and sold in Europe between 2003-2006.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"What is that? It almost looks like a soup?"

So we were at a Vietnamese restaurant on Friday night.

When our food arrived, it was naturally Vietnamese food - as we were in a Vietnamese restaurant, and had ordered Vietnamese food. We had Món cuốn as an appetizer, a rice noodle dish (which I can't pronounce or remember), and Phở.

We were seated next to two elderly lady friends who were gossiping loudly about their mutual acquaintances, ex-husbands, and whatever was on their mind. When our food arrived, their topic of conversation quickly changed to marveling at our food, and they quickly asked our waitress what sort of food were we having?
"What is that? It almost looks like a soup?"

It hadn't occurred to them that they served Vietnamese food at a Vietnamese restaurant. When their food arrived - it was clear they had ordered from a Chinese menu.

It hadn't occurred to me that there was Chinese food at a Vietnamese restaurant. So I guess we're more similar than we are different - I obviously don't read the menu carefully enough.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Handbrake parking a Toyota iQ.

I don't actually think the iQ will seat four American adults - but it would be funny to just watch people try to squeeze in and drive on the interstate. The iQ with the 1.0 liter gasoline engine (67bhp) will do 0-60 in a whopping 12.8 seconds. Top speed is 93mph. According to Toyota UK's product site, it'll do 65.69 miles per Imperial gallon, which converts to something like 54.7 miles per US gallon.

Cheaper and more practical than the Smart car & doesn't require premium gasoline. Five star in EuroNCAP safety testing (amusing crash test video). I still wouldn't want to be in one on the receiving end of an Escalade tho.

The iPod Shuffle (3rd Gen.) is Dumb.

The newest generation of the Apple iPod Shuffle is dumb. Click here to view this stupidity at Apple's website. Apparently the prior generation's wheel controls was too complicated for the average shuffle user - so the controls have been simplified to one button, which have been integrated into the headphones.

Click the top end to increase the volume. Click the bottom end to decease the volume. Press the button to play, press it again to pause. Then there's a whole lot of combination, click holds, double clicks, etc for scrolling the playlist, selecting, forwarding/rewinding a particular song.

What happens if the headphones break? What if you don't like the fit or sound quality of the OEM headphones? What if you would like to plug your Shuffle into the car stereo's AUX?

It reminds me of a parody from The Onion. Embedded below.

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Friday, March 13, 2009

Google Voice.

A friend informed me of the recent changes to Google Voice yesterday.

Apparently, in the not too distant future, Google is going to allow you to sign up for the service, for free!

Users will provide their telephone numbers (home hone, work phone, and a mobile) - and then Google will provide them a new number, consolidating all three into one. Google will also provide free long-distance, and caller ID.

So when someone calls this new number - all three will ring. And you wouldn't be able to get away. The new number will also have voicemail, and Google Voice will transcribe your messages, which will be accessible online. SMS messages can also be sent through this new number, which will be archived.

(Assuming Google Voice is open to business users), if I were starting a business (say a small law office) - I would seriously look into getting a cheap local line at the office and give out the number assigned by this service as a business line.

One has got to wonder tho... what's in it for Google?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lamb, Peas, and Almond Curry.


        • 24 peppercorns.
        • 16 cardamon pods.
        • 10 whole cloves.
        • 1 & 1/2 tablespoon curry powder.
        • 4 dried red chillies.
        • 2 bay leaves.
        • 1 cup of almonds.

     Other Stuff
        • 1 leg of lamb (~4.5 lbs of meat).
        • bag of peas.
        • 2-3 onions.
        • 6 cloves of garlic.
        • 2 strips of ginger.
        • 4 tsp of coriander powder.
        • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.
        • 6 cups of water.
        • 1 tsp of garam masala.
        • 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
        • bundle of cilantro.

I hate recipes that require complicated steps. So this is my reduction of two separate recipes into something quick, easy, and tasty.

Put all the ingredients of Mush in a pulverizing/crushing device (spice grinder, mortar & pestle, fists of fury). Add a few drops of water. Destroy it into Mush. Set it aside.

Butcher the meat off a leg of lamb. Trim the fat. Cut the meat into over-sized chunks. Julienne the onions. Pulverize the garlic and ginger into pulp.

Heat up an appropriate amount of oil over medium heat in a large vessel (stock pot, dutch oven, what have you). Throw the onions in. Brown onions. Salt onions. Throw the meat in with the Mush. Brown the meat. Add the water with the garlic/ginger pulp, coriander, cayenne pepper, and garam masala. Stir.

Reduce heat to low and let the mixture boil for 45 minutes. Add peas. Reduce heat to simmer. Add heavy cream. Finely chop the cilantro. Throw it in the pot.

Simmer 15 minutes.

Serve over rice/roti/nan, or eat it by itself. I don't care. It is good.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

食神 aka God of Cookery [1996].

Beware of the folding chair. Unlike the cane sword (the possession of which is strictly prohibited in many jurisdictions across the United States), the folding chair is legal in all 50 states.

The Chevrolet HHR/Nissan Cube are Dumb.

I recently attended the Pittsburgh Autoshow. I made some observations. I've summarized some key points below:

1. American cars are generally <sarcasm>"exquisite"</sarcasm>.
2. The Koreans are up and coming.
3. Mercedes-Benz (Daimler AG) must have contracted automotive syphilis (lousy plastic interiors & overpriced cars?) from its near decade long relationship with Chrysler.
4. The Volkswagen Group (subsidiary of Porsche), owner of subsidiaries like Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Škoda, MAN AG (buses), and Lamborghini, is a rising star of European automotive industry.

But two cars I could not get my head around to understand or ever appreciate are the Chevrolet HHR & Nissan Cube.

So I spent 5 minutes to research these two automotive abominations and this is what I turned up.

The Chevy HHR was designed by Bryan Nesbitt.

Nesbitt designed the Chrysler PT Cruiser. So apparently he worked at Daimler-Chrysler, designed the PT Cruiser & then got recruited by GM. Where he designed the Chevy HHR. I must admit I hate the PT Cruiser - it is a horrible car (I had the misfortune of riding in one that was a cab), but at least it was... different and was a pioneer in the whole retro-movement (the PT Cruiser also allowed Chrysler to raise its "truck" CAFE fuel economy and dodge some fines). But what was he thinking? Trying to be eco-friendly by saving some design paper?

One of the three HHRs I saw at the Autoshow did not have any windows in the rear - and one had to open the front doors to open the back doors. I thought it was a "boom boom" car. But apparently it is a delivery van - only dumb.

Any reasonable person knows - that if you want an American delivery van, you go with a Ford Transit. Why? Because it is not assembled in America, has won multiple international awards for the delivery van category, and has been driven around the Nürburgring in 10 minutes 8 seconds.

As for the Nissan Cube. I saw it at the car show - but it was locked so I wasn't able to explore it. Nissan is promoting it under the slogan "Symmetry is so last year."

But... aren't boxy cars? (i.e. Scion xB, Honda Element).

One thing I'll give credit to the Cube designers is that the larger windows near the C-pillar on the right side of the vehicle actually reduces the blind spot for the driver - but... really? It is essentially a Nissan Versa (same platform, transmission, engine) - but... with a smaller boot, heavier curb weight, and worse fuel economy. Why? Why would anyone want to pay for one? Why would anyone spend $$$ to design this thing and waste the capital to promote it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Introducing PowerSearch!

Legally Irreverent is introducing PowerSearch! Your one click search engine that uh... will provide you the opportunity to search for whatever topic you are interested in through websites filtered by... me and you!

I've taken the liberty to institute the search - then create a poll to determine whether the search should exist. It will probably be a little buggy until all the appropriate sites are added/removed.

Comment me websites you think should be included in the list of approved websites - and it will filter the junk/crap that ends up in your usual search results.

Pennsylvania to spend $170,000 to teach Liquor Control Board employees to be polite.

Apparently because liquor customers respond to how polite the state-owned monopoly employees are, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (LCB) is spending approximately $170,000 USD on consulting firm "Solutions 21" to teach the LCB's employees on how to be polite, greet customers, and thanking them for their purchase. Read the story here.

I am not an economist. But I would presume that the demand for alcohol is strongly correlated with social/economic factors encouraging/discouraging consumption - not based upon whether the LCB employee greeted you properly.

In addition, since the LCB has a monopoly on the distribution of all wine and spirits in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there is really not a whole of difference if customers prefer one LCB store (let's say it is more polite) than the other.

So I got interested and searched around, and it turns out that the one of the three Pittsburgh regional managers for the LCB, Susanne Hobart is married to the president of Solutions 21, Buddy Hobart. Now - I'm not insinuating that the Hobarts influenced the LCB to award the bid to Solutions 21 (I'm not interested in defending myself against libel).

But offering "training" on proper store etiquette to 29 district manager, 620 store managers, and 3000 employees for over $170,000? Damn.

It might be too late to submit a bid. But for a simple fee of $80,000 dollars + expenses, I will photocopy letter sized newsletters that will be distributed to all 3469 district managers, store managers, and employees. I will even create an electronic copy of the newsletter (in TXT, PDF, DOCX, and DOC formats) - made available online at the LCB's website.

The newsletter will warn all employees that rude conduct against customers will be part of their performance evaluation and may be used to evaluate who gets bonuses, promotions, layoffs, etc (I suspect that may require some policy/legal changes in how the LCB is operated).

Then I will create a channel on youtube called "PLCB Adventures" - and invite people visiting the PLCB and videotape their liquor procurement experiences, and with the power of online polls, we can vote one employee off every month. The employee will be dismissed/demoted/what have you - but then he/she will be afforded the opportunity to make a sincere heartfelt public youtube apology. Upon which the people can vote to reinstate their position.

It would provide entertainment, ad revenues for the PCLB, and also probably have a longer lasting impact than some training session to encourage proper etiquette. Plus it would make me economically well off for a couple years.

鷹拳 aka Shaolin Iron Claws [1978].

A cadre of skilled martial arts fighters line up to take on the legendary Silver Fox.

My favorite line has go to be "Hee heee heee heee - being arrogant, and a waste of time, who care for you?"

I actually felt sorry for the old "Silver Fox" - here's this old guy who is far along in life to warrant riding a litter, and these two young punks show up, beat up his carrier/bodyguards, and then take him on 2 on 1. I am appalled by the lack of manners. Oh - and the ending is quite a shocker!

Monday, March 9, 2009

John Oliver reporting on the White House Press Corps.

At 4:00 - Press Secretary Gibbs actually sits down with John Oliver!

In other news, President Obama issued an Executive Order overturning the prior administration's obstruction in the Dept. of Health and Human Services' support for human stem cell research.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Poll Results.

After four successive recounts - I am happy to report that 10 members of Editorial Board of Legally Irreverent have approved the displaying of ads in the sidebar.

Final Results Below:

In other news - the MPRE has come and passed. Fingers crossed that I'm ethical enough to be a lawyer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Beef Noodle Soup.

Adapted from Regional Cooking of China(1975) by M. Gin.
        • 1 cow (I prefer tri-tip cut into oversized/bite sizes chunks)
        • 4 onions (chopped)
        • 3 slices of ginger root
        • 4 whole cloves
        • 3 whole anise
        • 2 tablespoons of sugar
        • 1 stick cinnamon
        • 1 cup of soy sauce
        • 2 cups of water
        • 2 tablespoons of rice wine (or whatever you have handy)

Throw all the ingredients (minus the cow) into a vessel (stockpot, dutch oven, what have you). Bring it to a boil. Add cow. Add as much (or as little) water as you'll like for the soup base. Then let it simmer. If you have a vacuum cooker/slow cooker - you can use that too. I usually let it cook for a couple hours.

To serve - just boil some noodles (handmade recipe to come later) in salted water; put the noodles in a bowl, then spoon over some of the soup and beef. Blanch some vegetables in the soup - or not. Either way it is tasty.

The Chevy Volt is Dumb.

Before I begin this musing, let me announce a new gadget addition - the countdown to graduation! Woo hoo!

Ok... moving right along.

We have all heard about the Chevy Volt. If you haven't - I'm sorry but this post wasn't intended for your demographic (again with my sledge hammer precision), and I recommend you to click here to go back.

A study by some CMU folks from the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Dept. of Engineering and Public Policy, and the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering recently concluded that plug-in hybrid vehicles achieve optimal balance between range & energy efficiency when the vehicle is designed to exclusively run on electric power for 20 miles.

Click here for the study [WARNING: PDF, engineering speak, math, and colorful diagrams]. The study primarily addresses the environmental impact and energy efficiency of plug-in hybrids, which is really sorta interesting, but I'm not really interested in summarizing or repeating their findings.

I am calling the Volt dumb for another reason. Google the Chevy Volt's Price. Basically the industry is estimating a cost between $35,000 to $50,000 USD. What a consumer will be paying that amount of money for is... the ability to plug their car to a electric socket in their garage at night, charge the lithium ion batteries during non-peak hours and drive approximately 40 miles before the battery is flat (and the gasoline engine kicks in to uh... allow you to move it to a safe place to charge it some more).

Now... I'm not an electrical engineer - but pretty much everyone has experience with lithium ion batteries on their laptops. Lithium ion batteries (as opposed to the Ni-Mh batteries used in the current generation of hybrids) have the advantage of being lighter. However, a disadvantage to lithium ion batteries is that they begin to age from the moment they were manufactured. Variables such as the charge % and temperature greatly affect how quickly/or slowly lithium ion batteries age.

According to the experts at Wikipedia, a lithium ion battery stored at 100% capacity in 25 °C (77 °F) will lose approximately 20% of its total capacity per year. According to this guy, keeping lithium ion batteries charged at a recommend 40% storage level at 25 °C will minimize aging to only 4% after one year.

I don't have a business degree - but who would trust a car dealer to properly care for a car during the time it sits on the lot? Particularly during the summer months? In addition - who is really going to pay $35,000 to $50,000 USD, for a Chevy that might only have 32 miles (80% of 40 miles) after it has sat on the lot or has been driven daily for a year?

The Chevy Volt is dumb. And so are the automobile executives who claim it will save GM. Aside from people who buy vehicles to project an "eco" image - who in their right minds would spend that much money on a 40 mile range electric car?

And for people have that much money and want to project an "eco" image? I have a proposal. Take the $50,000 dollars, spend $20,000 of it to buy a VW Bluemotion Polo (diesel, estimated 60+ mpg). Then spend the remaining $30,000 to pay for persons of immense size to get liposuction. The human fat can be rendered into biodiesel (which you can now use to power your "People's Car"), the persons of former immense size might now walk more, and will also able to fit in a VW Bluemotion Polo. You would be able to project an "eco" image, be personally responsible for the reduction of short-term cardiovascular stress of persons of former immense size, while also recycling the unwanted fat.

EDIT - One of you (an Editorial Board member) has also informed me that another reason why the Chevy Volt is dumb is: Chevy has an ugly logo. I concur with that assessment.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

All Beginnings Are Hard...

I'm starting this blog because I've accepted the possibility that I will probably remain unemployed for the remainder of this semester. Therefore I shall dedicate my creative talents to uh... the amusement of other similarly unoccupied law students (if you're surfing at work - that's ok too).

In order to put off making difficult decisions (and also to parse off any potential backlash to the anonymous readers), I will force the decisions upon you. Look to your right, and you see the first poll (many to follow - I promise) under which I will dump the grave responsibility of determining where this blog is headed.

For those of you who are hesitant and shy from this responsibility - let me remind you that you could pad your resume with the following line:

Legally Irreverent
        • Editorial Board Member (with voting rights!), March 2009-present.

In addition, the more people you get to visit this blog, the more renown Legally Irreverent will accumulate - making your padded resume increasingly marketable. Essentially - visiting this blog and getting others to visit this blog is sort of like a stock option. If everything goes according to plan, by 2012, your padded resume will have enabled you to run for Governor or the US Senate (probably in a state where the law is not revered), and you will have the full support of this unaffiliated neutral blog (I'm taking on TPM & POLITCO - my layout is already better than Drudge Report, which I will not link to).

Oh! If you are still unpersuaded to participate - I will also, from time to time, post my personal secret recipes, talk about some car stuff, video games, and whatever that comes to mind (you will notice that I am covering my intended demographics with the precision of a sledgehammer).