Thursday, September 30, 2010

Freakonomics: The Movie

I just finished watching Freakonomics the movie and the verdict is that it was ok.  Would I have liked it more had I not read the book first?  It's hard to say.  What I will tell you though is that the movie felt like a Cliff Notes version of the book.  While the movie was interesting, it simply didn't go into adequate depth on most of the topics discussed.  I continually found myself wanting more data after they had moved on to something else.  I suppose that this is a problem endemic to the movie format, making it not the best medium for the topic at hand.  That being said, if you prefer the quick and dirty version, then this is the film for you.  Completely standing on it's own merits, the film is adequate.  Each segment is directed by a renown documentary film maker, however due to my limited knowledge of documentary film makers, the only one I've heard of is Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame).

For those of you unfamiliar with Freakonomics, it is a "rogue economist exploring the hidden side of everything."  And by that it means that Steven Levitt applies economic principles to tease out the contributing factors to things that are not normally paid much attention.  For example, does giving your child a particularly ethnic sounding name like Deshawn have a negative impact on his or her future?  Does giving your child an unusual name have an impact, for example: did Robert Lane's sons Winner Lane and Loser Lane live up to their names?  Is the sport of sumo wrestling rife with cheating and fixed matches?  Can children be bribed to perform better in school?  The answers lie in the data and it's a pretty interesting ride getting there but ultimately lacks the depth I would prefer.

In other brief movie reviews, I recently watched Kick Ass which exceeded my expectations.  Perhaps it was the low expectation I had going in that made it easy to exceed, however I will admit to enjoying the movie.  It had a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming.  If you're bothered by the concept of an 11 year old girl who has the foul mouth of a sailor and kills people, then you're better off skipping this one. 

Also recently watched was Live!, the fictional tale of a sleazy network executive who tries to boost the flagging ratings by televising 6 people playing Russian roulette.  A lot of the characters were stereotypes and cliches, but I still enjoyed it.  I may have been influenced by the fact that I was dangerously low on sleep at the time I watched it (in the middle of the night while I couldn't sleep), and the fact that it starred Eva Mendes who in my humble opinion is one of the most attractive women in the world. 

City Life

Where else but in a large metropolitan area does one come across bizarre behavior on a regular basis?  Today while waiting for the bus I saw a man in his early 20's standing on the corner waiting for the cross walk.  But that's not even the weird part.  Clad in board shorts, socks but no shoes, a sweatshirt tied around his waist but no shirt worn, and a backpack.  Completing the ensemble, he was holding a strip of bubble wrap over his eyes and talking in his best robot voice to no one in particular.  I tried my best to get a picture but people kept walking in front of me and I came away empty handed.  Anyway, as I watched him I did my best to discern whether this was a case of mental illness, brain damage, or heavy drug use.  He appeared to otherwise be in reasonably good physical condition so I ruled out the first two.  People in those categories seem to have a more disheveled look to them or at least less awareness of their appearance.  So in my professional opinion, this was some douchebag frat boy stoned out of his mind.  Possibly also with brain damage resulting from the aforementioned drug abuse.  Just one more reason I have to get a job on the East side - too much lunacy in Seattle.

Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act

Following just over two centuries of abusing it's citizenry, the US government is finally considering legislation to aid it's citizens.  The CALM Act, which would limit the volume of television commercials, has already passed the Senate and is headed back to the House.  In a rare moment of compassion and common sense (for a Senator), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, "TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial."

It's hard to believe that government intervention was required to resolve this issue, but it's about damn time somebody did something.  I'm surprised that tv manufacturers never shipped models with compressors, but now they won't have to.  It's a glorious day.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well there's a frightening injury that you don't see every day. I've seen lots of scary injuries in sports but this is a new one for me.  Cubs rookie Tyler Colvin had to be taken to the hospital after being impaled by a shattered bat in front of what appears to be a sellout crowd.  The wound is being described as "fairly deep" and a tube had to be inserted into his chest to prevent his lung from collapsing.  He will remain in the hospital for a few days for observation, but his season is over. 

This is the scariest thing I've seen since Paul Abbott got hit in the face with a broken bat several years ago while on the mound for the Mariners.  I don't think he was concussed, but he did have a hell of a black eye afterward.  Anyway, here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Tyler Colvin.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You Know What I Hate?

After watching approximately 72 hours of football over the last 3 days, I'm reminded of how annoyed I am by measuring for a first down.  The refs just estimate when they set up the chains.  They eyeball the spot of the ball when the runner goes down.  Then they have to waste my time putting on a show by bringing the chains out to the middle of the field to see if there is a first down.  Why can't they just keep the damn game moving by looking at the spot and making a judgement call, or at least getting out a laser sight and pointing it at the side line?  When instant replay was first introduced there were repeated complaints about it slowing down the game, but in my opinion the measurements are far more disruptive, partly because they are more frequent.  I just wish the NFL and the NCAA would get rid of measurements.  If anybody has Roger Goodell's email address, pass it along.  There are other things I need to discuss with him, not just this. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome Back NFL

Like a beloved friend that I haven't seen in 6 agonizing months, the NFL has returned.  Oh how I have missed you NFL.  And after sweating it out for a quarter of the Seahawks looking absolutely terrible, they suddenly put the pieces together and dominated the 49ers for the remainder of the game.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief and will admit to a great deal of trepidation heading into this season following several confusing months of Pete Carroll and John Schneider's mad scientist act.  I didn't think, and honestly still don't think that they have any kind of plan.  It will take more than a week to convince me they aren't just blindly tinkering.  But I will say that today the season outcome looks more promising than it did yesterday.  Here's hoping that the moves pay off and the team continues to play well. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What's The Word

I know that anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to animals, but what is the word for adding human body parts to an animal?  I was watching Donnie Darko last night and the mascot of the school Donnie attends has the body of a human and the head of a bull dog.  There should be a word for combining human and animal bodies into one, like the Sphinx, I just can't think of what it is for the life of me.  I searched around the internet a little to try to find it but had no luck.  I did learn, however, that the word sphinx is derived from the Greek word meaning "to strangle" and that the word sphincter is derived from the sam word.  This fact, unfortunately, is not very helpful and not what I was looking for.  I also tried looking up mermaids in Wikipedia to see if there was a mention of the term there but again no luck.  In the unlikely event that no term exists, I suppose I'll have to make one up.  And on a side note, the word for making up new words is neologism. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Freakonomics: The Movie

Having read Freakonomics, which was kind of interesting, and Superfreakonomics, which was very interesting, I'm intrigued by them turning the book into a movie.  Based on the subject matter I'm not sure they can turn it into an interesting movie, but there is a trailer out and it looks promising.  The movie is already available to download from itunes, but I'm not paying them $11 to watch it.  The theatrical release isn't scheduled until 10/1.  Anybody interested in heading to the theater with me, let me know.  Until then, here's the trailer.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

You Have No Marble

I saw a highlight of this catch from a Japanese baseball game the other day and a) I can't believe it's legal, and b) I can't stop thinking about the abysmal Major League 2.  I assume the player spent the rest of the game saying, "you have no marble!"

Apparently he was trying to show up his team mate who made this catch a few weeks earlier.