Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm a Ticking Time-Bomb

or I was anyway. I knew my parents made a bad call when they filled out that birth certificate!

According to LiveScience:

Boys in the United States with common names like Michael and David are less likely to commit crimes than those named Ernest or Ivan.

David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania compared the first names of male juvenile delinquents to the first names of male juveniles in the population. The researchers constructed a popularity-name index (PNI) for each name. For example, the PNI for Michael is 100, the most frequently given name during the period. The PNI for David is 50, a name given half as frequently as Michael. The PNI is approximately 1 for names such as Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Kareem, and Malcolm.

Results show that, regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity. The least popular names were associated with juvenile delinquency among both blacks and whites.
Something that was drummed into me ad infinitum in my psychology and statistics classes was the maxim "correlation does not imply causation,"--something a science news service and its writers I'm sure know. But, the corollary, "correlation makes for more sensational headlines" trumps that. So buried in paragraph 5 we are told:
While the names are likely not the cause of crime, the researchers argue that "they are connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime, such as a disadvantaged home environment, residence in a county with low socioeconomic status, and households run by one parent."

"Also, adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships," according to a statement released by the journal's publisher. "Juveniles with unpopular names may also act out because they consciously or unconsciously dislike their names."
The scary part of this study is:
The findings could help officials " identify individuals at high risk of committing or recommitting crime, leading to more effective and targeted intervention programs," the authors conclude.
Racial profiling is out, but appellation profiling is a good move? (suddenly, Ann Coulter's obsession with a certain president's middle name isn't so crazy)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bones: Double Trouble in the Panhandle

Catching up on last week's Bones...

I know Bones isn't supposed to be the grittiest of the forensic crime fighting shows, while not being as light as most USA fare. But sometimes they just go too far. "Double Trouble in the Panhandle" is probably the lowest point yet. Bones & Booth go undercover in a circus as a knife-throwing act? Come on, people. Try a little bit. I'm not done yet, so maybe they'll pull something good out of this, but I don't see it happening, beyond some good stuff with Sweets.

Writer Lyla Oliver is certainly capable of better--her previous two Bones episodes were pretty good--definitely having none of the silliness in this episode, I particularly liked "The Priest in the Churchyard."

Should add that it was nice to see The Practice's George Vogelman again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quiet Night Out

TLomL and I haven't had a night out in months--we had an afternoon out in December, though, so that almost counts. More out of determination to rectify that than a real desire to do something, we made arrangements for last night. Yesterday, we'd talked ourselves out of our planned activity due to total lack of interest and Boise being too far to travel for something we had half-hearted interest in at best.

It's strange, we used to drive there a few times a week--and now when we're living closer to the interstate than ever, it's a major undertaking. Seriously, when we lived in Boise it took us almost as much time to get to any of the major points of interest there as it would now.

Anywho, we'd already had childcare arranged (the greatest hurdle for us to overcome), so we felt we'd better do something. The best we could come up with was going to a chain restaurant we frequently go to anyway. But we changed it up quite dramatically: no kids, and instead of entrées, we had shared a couple of appetizers. How's that for wild?

It took practically no time at all to realize we had nothing to talk about beyond our food and drink--the quality of fried mozzarella differing so much from eatery to eatery. We maybe spent five sentences talking about the kids' schooling, that's all I can remember that didn't involve what we were consuming. We found ourselves ready to return home within an hour (would've been sooner, but our server clearly realized she wasn't getting much of a tip from us and paid us due attention), but that didn't seem right, so we went to a chain coffee shop, had a specialty drink and shared a brownie (which provided a bit more conversation, "hmmm, you can taste the espresso in this," "sure can, and it's chewy, too.") Naturally, their closing time was fifteen minutes after we arrived. So we were probably away from home almost 2 hours in the end.

As strange as it sounds, it really was a very nice time. It's probably dull to read about, certainly doesn't seem terribly fun on the surface, just a couple of hours of light snacking and saying uninteresting things about good, but wholly unremarkable food. And that's one way to look at it.

Another way to look at it is that I got to spend a couple of hours with my favorite person in the world, and it doesn't get better than that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Couldn't have put it better myself

And yet Coca-Cola BlāK is gone. . . Why is it that the truly momentous inventions are ignored by the public, while trifles like cell phones, the Internet, and artificial insulin are treated like miracles of science?
- Shawn Spencer
(from A Mind is a Terrible Thing
to Read by William Rabkin)

Not for the Weak of Heart

From The Mail Online:

The largest kidney stones most doctors ever get to see is the size of a golf ball.

So surgeons in Hungary were taken aback when they removed a stone the size of a coconut from a man earlier today.

Sandor Sarkadi underwent an abdominal operation in Debrecen, 150 miles east of Budapest, after doctors discovered he had a kidney stone inside him that was 17 centimetres in diameter.
Yeah, 17 cm in diameter, 2.48 lbs.

Click the link to see photos, X-Rays of the thing. I honestly do not know if I've ever felt sorrier for anyone than I do that Hungarian. Feeling faint just thinking about it.

If Movie Posters were Honest

Since he has this tendency to only post things of merit and substance, am reasonably sure that Micah won't post this link. I, however, being dedicated to all things media, especially if it makes me laugh, will.

From The Holy Taco (strange name, I know), If Movie Posters Were Honest. Start the end of your work week with a laugh.

(unless you're kletois, and have already started your weekend)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Runnin' with the Big Dogs

The boys' sensei recently opened the door for a few new students--younger siblings of some of the others. The Princess jumped at the chance (Arnold would've too, but the sensei decided to wait a few months with him), tonight was her first class.

She was supposed to start in February, but Tuesday night the sensei gave her the green light. To say she was excited was a bit of an understatement. She'd been counting down the days and hours since she got the go-ahead.

Reportedly, she did great--the months of sitting on the sidelines had prepared her, good to see she was paying attention. I'm really looking forward to her getting some more time in and getting proficient. Especially if she picks up the aggression I saw in the girls at the tournament--would be good for both her and her brothers if she could go toe to toe with them.

The boys, meanwhile, are progressing well, and are even considering competing soon (they'll get slaughtered, but will learn from it--and I think they know that).

I Counted a Few Gestating Chicks

Boy, was I ever wrong when I said that I'd put my streak of bad movies behind me. Really wrong.

Last night, I put on hold watching the last three episodes of Damages, Season 1 to watch Repo! The Genetic Opera.

I can't quite come up with a way to summarize this thing, so I'll just copy and paste the blurb Netflix gives it:

In the near future, a biotech company saves mankind with synthetic replacements for failed organs. But those who default on their new liver or heart are subject to repossession. Shilo (Alexa Vega) navigates this dystopia while searching for a cure for her rare illness. Her odyssey is set to a number of catchy songs in this tongue-in-cheek opera. Paris Hilton, Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head and Sarah Brightman round out the deliciously diverse cast.
So why'd I grab that? Well, the premise could work in a SF flick if done right, I hadn't seen Sorvino in a dog's age, I always like Anthony Head, and I'll admit I wanted to see how bad the Hilton train-wreck would be. Essentially, it was quirky enough that I figured there was a good chance it'd work.

Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles, a good chance is no guarantee.

The songs were catchy (supposedly a record 64 were composed for the movie), some of the lyrics weren't horrible, most of the singing was good. The story was paint-by-numbers, the characters were cartoons (and not in a good way), and...words are failing me--look at the cast, look at the premise and think gothic rock opera. What more really do I have to say? Oh yeah, I could say that the director was the same, um, individual that brought us the first 3 Saw sequels.

Then again, it wasn't Napoleon Dynamite. Shouldn't complain too much.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Feelin' a little Icky

On this historic day (which would be historic no matter who won--a fact that eludes so many), Challies links to the lyrics of Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Goodbye Mr. President."

Haven't heard the song, and honestly, will do what I can to avoid hearing it. Can't quite put my finger on it, but something about the song just made me feel kinda nauseous.

A Football Score, but a Different Game

My niece is in her last year of Rec Basketball--on the verge of what will probably be a decent Junior High/High School career (hopefully she'll get good enough to grease the rails towards higher education). Anyway, Saturday was the first game of the season--and somehow, the first game I've attended, despite her doing this for 5 previous years.

Anyway, I had to keep reminding myself this was their first game--it was a disaster. They were clearly rusty (except for the very few who were playing their first game), very few seemed to understand the game at all--and most of them didn't understand much. Of the 20 or so girls out there, I'd say 1 really knew her stuff (not my niece, for the record), and 4 looked like they'd be a real threat once they got warmed up. The game was 2-2 at the half, (I wasn't sure at that point if I was watching basketball or soccer) 12-8 at the end.

The refs, I should add, were wholly professional--they acted just like NBA level officials--clearly in the bag for the home team.

I'm really looking forward to returning at the end of the season to see how much they've improved--I have moderately high hopes.

But what really struck me was the level of play--and I'm not trying to pick on these girls. Most of them are in their sixth year. Contrast what I saw to a Little League game of baseball--opening of the season or not, you're just not going to find that level of...clumsiness and cluelessness much beyond T-ball. Especially not in people with 5 years under their belt.

Is basketball so different from baseball? What is it about the two sports (I'm really only a casual observer of one) that gives these kind of results?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

There's a kid who won't be working for Disney anymore...

2009 has not been my year for movies--am hitting about 50/50 on quality (normally, I'd rate about 10-15% of the movies I watch as bad). The bad movies have been really bad (DeNiro and Pacino should have to return their Oscars after Righteous Kill), and the good movies have been passable.

But all that's going to change now, if The Wackness is an omen. This was a really good movie--poignant, profound, sad, laugh-out-loud funny. Frequently in the same line of dialogue. This is one of those small indie flicks that really deserves a much larger audience than it will ever receive.

I really need to pinpoint the time when Ben Kingsley become the comic genius. He was one of the very few things Cusak et al. got right with War, Inc., he was great in Lucky Number Slevin, and his portrayal of the Polish mob hitman working his way through AA's Twelve Steps in You Kill Me was inspired. This role was just as good--a drug-addicted psychiatrist trading therapy for marijuana from his step-daughter's high school classmate/dealer. I think we backed up the DVD three times to watch him quote the Notorious BIG--although it was the hand gestures that sealed his delivery.

Josh Peck, of Disney Channel's Drake & Josh, impressed me more than I thought he ever could as the dope-peddling high school loser, pining for Olivia Thirlby while dealing with his family problems and getting ready to go to college.

It's the relationship--shrink/client, dealer/client, mentor/mentee, and eventually friends that drives this film. Yes, there are romances, flings, families, but it's about these two relating to each other, learning from each other that makes the film.
Thrilby (Juno's BFF) was almost as impressive--getting the chance to shine outside of Ellen Page's shadow. Mary-Kate Olsen was decent, but the sooner I get the image of her going to second base with Kingsley the better I'll sleep at night. ('going to second base' isn't my phrase, it was Kingsley's character's). Jane Adams was Jane Adams, 'bout the only way I can think of to say that. Her scene with Kingsley was a testimony to what a good actor can do with only their eyes--especially if they're reacting to an actor doing just as well with theirs.

Jonathan Levine's sophomore attempt at direction likely secured him a few more shots, but it's his writing that'll keep bread on his table--great screenplay, I hope he's working on his next.

Fair warning: the depictions of sex and drug use are very explicit, and the discussions of both are as well. Other than that, I give this a wholehearted recommendation.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Exactly what I'd Write if I was Erudite

Terry Teachout's blogpost today, "Forty years with Nero Wolfe" is one of those posts I really wish I could've written.

Give it a read, hopefully Teachout can convince you to pick up Wolfe. Outside The Bible, a handful of Reformed and Puritan writers, Stout's the only author I'd recommend to every person I know w/o a disclaimer or a second thought.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Employee Appreciation

This is a great way to show your employees they're valued.

magine an employer who would shut down his business so his employees could spend a week relaxing on the beach in sunny Costa Rica.

That’s what Howard Olivier, owner of Flying Pie Pizzaria in Boise, is doing. And that means the pies won’t be flying at the two local pizzerias for a week, starting Tuesday.
...
There are 62 people going on the trip, including pizzeria staff, some family and one former employee.
...
Olivier is paying for a week's salary for the employees, some of whom could not afford to take the week off without pay.

Participants will get the opportunity to visit a volcano, ride a zipline through the rainforest canopy or just spend the week laying on the beach near their hotel at Ocotal Beach Resort.

[The marketing director] said the timing for the trip is perfect because January is a slow month for business, and staff members who are college students will be back for the start of classes at Boise State University.

"Our guess is that we’ll be able to make it up in later in the quarter,"
Flying Pie's not the area's best pizza (but it's close), but it's clearly one of the better employers.

Morbid and Creepifying

I'm not one to comment on (or think that much about) the personal lives of celebrities, but the news that Michael C. Hall, TV's Dexter, really affected me.

Why?

Because he got married to Jennifer Campbell, who playes OfficerDetective Debra Morgan, Dexter's foster-sister..

Something about that strikes me as wrong. There's nothing really wrong with it--I'm fully aware of that--and honestly, I'm glad for these two and hope they have a long life together. But, I honestly reflexively gotta give a visceral, emphatic, loud, "ew, EW, EW!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Friday, January 09, 2009

Yeah, this is what we need to spend federal dollars on...

The budget deficit is larger than ever, and our incoming president says it'll stay that way for years (duh). The states are facing the same problems. So obviously we need to make sure our government (at all levels) spending is for important things.

Like college football, apparently.

In November, three US Congressmen (including Idaho's 2nd District, so I can't vote against him) wrote the president-elect, calling for a Justice Dept. investigation into whether the BCS system violates the Sherman Antitrust Act. And now, Utah's Attorney General is investigating the same system for antitrust violations.

College Sports. This is where we need to spend our money? Not, oh, I don't know--bringing the troops home, finding Osama, freeing us from dependency on foreign oil, etc. etc. etc.

Puh-leeeeez.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Back for More of the Study

We had Day 2 of the big pediatric kidney study yesterday (see this and this for last year's). While we cooled our heels waiting for things to get going, Arnold got a little goofy and we captured a bit on video.

As I recall, this is the first time I've posted my own video here, so who knows how it'll work:


Once I'm at work, I'll try to update this post with further details. video

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Up and Coming Time Lord



By now, everyone who cares has likely seen the above photo, which the BBC released after it announced the successor to David Tennant, Matt Smith. Frankly, at first glance, the Flock of Seagulls hair, age, oddly rectangular face, and general un-Tennant-ness has left me cold. I'm trying to trust Steven Moffat...he's certainly given us plenty of reason to

But like any self-respecting nerd with too much time on his hands should, I did some research. He doesn't have much of a resume, truth be told. One of his biggest roles, from what I've read was in The Ruby in the Smoke. Through the magic of Netflix I've just watched a lot of that--couldn't watch it all, it was a mess--the fact that I watched 3/4s of it is a testimony to my devotion to Doctor Who. Most of the problems, I'm sure, can be laid at the feet of the writer/director/editor. But I'm also pretty sure that not all of Philip Pullman's literary sins are contained in his His Dark Materials series.

What did I learn about Matt Smith from this experience? A few things:
  1. Smith can talk fast.
  2. Smith can run.
  3. Smith can pull off one of those funny accents that so many people on the BBC tend to display.
  4. Smith can interact well with Billie Piper.
Think that covers the basic requirements for the contemporary Doctor Who (although I trust the Piper stuff won't come up once he steps into The Police Box). Now I just have to wait for 2010 to see what he does with it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Not Ol' Blue

Who needs an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time?

When you can have the Crossman StingerS32P shotgun-styled airsoft gun which features short barrel pump-powered shots of up to 350 feet per second?



Note the goggles, no one's going to shoot their eye out.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Losing Just a Little More Will to Live

the state of American Politics 2009:



it's bad enough that we have photos of the President-Elect sans logo and sans shirt on the beach in Hawaii, but this? At the moment, it's the best selling item in Amazon's Office Supplies category (incidentally, sample images from the calendar can be seen at Amazon or NewsMax or other places google can point you to)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

with "Auld Lang Syne" playing in the background

Harry: What does this song mean? My whole life, I don't know what this song means. I mean, 'Should old acquaintance be forgot'? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?

Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it's about old friends.


Not to be all cynical or anything, but really, what is New Year's Eve/New Year's Day celebration but one more proof that humans will take any excuse to stay up late, wear silly hats and drink? Not that I'm necessarily criticizing any of that--well, maybe some of the hats--I just don't get exactly why we make all the fuss.