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Game 12: Nebraska 32 Michigan 28

December 30, 2005 at 5:09am By: D.M.B. Posted in D.M.B. Sports Report

For one brief day, Nebraska was once again the first highlight on every sports program and the talk of the nation.


King Kong is a Winner

December 27, 2005 at 7:37pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I stopped by Southpointe Cinema last night to check out King Kong, Peter Jackson’s latest three-hour epic. I went in open-minded, but skeptical. I left thinking “I have to own that movie”.

First, my skepticism. I’m wary of big-budget special effects flicks. Very few of them are done well enough to satisfy my picky eye. I have a hard time allowing myself to believe that computer-generated effects are real. My analytical brain goes into anal-retentive overdrive. My eye catches every little glitch, every green screen flaw, every shortcoming in the rendering software. I don’t want to see movies that way, but I do. It’s just how I’m wired. Thus, for me to really enjoy a special effects flick the director has to distract me so that I miss the flaws. Jurassic Park was the last movie to really succeed at distracting me. Until now.

Let me just come right out and say it: King Kong—the digital ape, that is—is incredible. Phenomenal. Outstanding. Peter Jackson clearly focused a ton of his team’s creative energy on making Kong as close to perfect as modern technology can achieve. He succeeded. In fact, part of what makes Kong so perfect is the fact that Kong isn’t perfect—he is old, scarred, and dirty. And Kong has a personality. He’s a big ol’ brute that has never had a friend, until Ann Darrow comes along. Peter Jackson makes all of that very believable.

Not all of the special effects are as believable as Kong, but by the time those flaws showed up, I didn’t care any more. Kong is the effect that matters. Still, the stampeding Apatasaurus scene had a definite green screen feel to it. The dinosaurs themselves were well done, and their movements were impressively rendered, but the actors and the digital effects just didn’t go together very well. The scene was thrown in for its action component, but I could have done without it (or with less of it).

One of the complaints I’ve heard and read about King Kong is that it is a story of woman-animal love in the, erm, sexual way. That is not true. There are two concurrent love stories in the movie, one among humans, one between a woman and an ape. But the latter is not a sexual love story. It’s a story about the love between friends, one of whom happens to be an ape. Many stories have been told of similar relationships between humans and dogs, horses, and other animals. This story just happens to feature a 25-foot gorilla. Peter Jackson wisely makes very clear that Ann Darrow loves the ape, but is in love with a man, in one of the final scenes.

King Kong isn’t a flawless movie. There are some loose ends left unresolved and some hiccups here and there. But overall it is a solid story told with solid acting among solid special effects, locations, and music. You can hardly ask for anything more than that.

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

December 27, 2005 at 5:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Whew! These past few days really flew by. I hope everybody had a jolly good Christmas, or a happy December 25th, if you’re not the Christmas type.

My niece had her second Christmas, but her first Christmas where she had any idea what was going on. She was a hoot. Christmas is much more fun with kids and toys around.

And dogs. There must also be dogs. Daisy loved helping to shred wrapping paper and boxes. We don’t let her do that sort of thing very often, so when she gets the chance, she goes to town.

I received some nice gifts from the family. Clothes dominated this year. My wardrobe hardly gets updated except at Christmas and on my birthday, so if Santa’s tailors don’t come to my rescue, my closet can start to look pretty sad. The only thing I didn’t receive that I had hoped for was a subscription to Reason Magazine. I think the ‘L’ word scared off any potential givers of that particular gift. No biggie; I’ll just pay my own way.

I get this whole week off work, so I’m putting in some hours on Lincolnite. I’ve already gotten a ton of work done, and I’m close to revealing some of it. An events calendar is my big project right now, but I’m also working on a classified ads section, data caching to improve the site’s performance, and other fun stuff. During my coding I’ve run across a couple bugs in Expression Engine 1.4, but I’m finally confident enough about my PHP skills that I’ve been able to either work around the bugs or to help the EE developers squash them. EE’s development team is awesome; they respond quickly and forcefully to squash any bugs that pop up. I’m pretty sure they don’t sleep, because I’ve received support at all hours.

Today’s plan is pretty simple: walk the dog (check), order a RAM upgrade for this computer (check), hang out with The Missus (check), head to Oso for lunch and then come back here for an afternoon of PHP coding. In my book that’s a pert-near perfect day around the house.

No Buses on Monday

December 23, 2005 at 1:26pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Lincoln Journal Star has incorrectly reported that StarTran buses will run on Monday, December 26. That is incorrect. I was advised this morning by my driver that StarTran is closed on Monday. Adjust your travel plans accordingly.

That being said, there is some confusion on the matter. My driver said she had planned to go to work on Monday until she was told just this morning that the buses would not run, and that the drivers should tell that to their passengers. Apparently even the drivers didn’t know they won’t be working that day. My advice: assume the buses won’t run. I’ll update this post if the opposite turns out to be true.

[Update: Michael Weston, StarTran Operations Superintendent, has confirmed to me via e-mail that the buses will not run on Monday, December 26, or Monday, January 2.]

Selling Ourselves

December 23, 2005 at 12:02am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I ventured up to Omaha today to meet with our adoption agency. Now we need to put together a portfolio. In essence, the portfolio is our way of saying “Ooh! Ooh! Pick us! Pick us!” to the birth mothers our portfolio is shown to.

The open adoption process is so strange. It’s basically a bizarre marketplace trafficking in…people. At this stage The Missus and I are both a product and a buyer. The Missus and I “shopped” for a good adoption agency; now we have to market ourselves to birth mothers “shopping” for parents for their children; and The Missus and I will soon “shop” for the “dealer”—err, mother—who can provide us with a quality “product”—err, child. It kind of makes me feel all oogie if I think about it too much, so I don’t.

I’m excited to put our portfolio together, but I’m also nervous. What if we don’t present ourselves well? What colors should we use? Should we make it super fancy, or will that alienate the mothers? How should we bind it? Which pieces of our family story should we include, and which should we leave out?

What if nobody likes us?

You know what’s really strange? The Missus and I are as little as a few short months away from welcoming to our home a new member of the family. I’m going to be a dad to a real live person, not just to this four-legged hairy thing staring at me pitifully and wondering why I won’t throw the ball she has set neatly by my chair. My niece will have a cousin, my parents another grandchild.

OK OK, enough daydreaming. I need to get to work on this portfolio.

Failure to Yield

December 21, 2005 at 11:33pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I’m glad to hear that nobody was severely injured in Tuesday’s crash between a small bus and a car near Zeman Elementary. The accident occurred at 52nd and Spruce Streets. The bus was traveling north on 52nd Street, while the car was traveling west on Spruce.

The last paragraph of the print version of the story (not included in the online version) has me confused:

Police issued no citations Tuesday. Because the intersection is open it’s hard to determine who is at fault, [Lincoln Police Captain David] Beggs said.

On the contrary, it’s quite easy to determine who is at fault. Lincoln’s traffic rules require drivers to yield to traffic coming from their right, barring the presence of traffic signals or signs indicating otherwise.

Right of way is determined by the “right hand rule” at low volume intersections which do not have a stop or yield sign. In these situations drivers are to approach intersections with caution and yield the right of way to the driver on their right.

In this crash, then, the bus driver was clearly at fault. He failed to yield to a vehicle on his right at an intersection with no signs or signals. Where is the ambiguity?

The “yield to the right” rule, common throughout the United States, exists precisely to address this sort of situation. If it does not apply to this scenario—or worse, if it applies but is not enforced, as seems to be the case here—then what good is the rule?

Granted, the intersection of 52nd and Spruce can be a bit deceptive. 52nd Street north of La Salle Street “feels” like it should have the right of way. Drivers on 52nd Street tend to think they have the right of way because that part of the street is a major entrance and exit point from the neighborhood, and the street is wider and more open than many of the other residential streets in the neighborhood. But that faulty perception is no excuse when it leads to an accident. Assuming the Journal Star is reporting all of the facts of the incident, the car unambiguously had the right of way, and the bus driver is unambiguously at fault, by virtue of the “yield to the right” rule.

Captain Beggs seems to be incorrect. It is quite simple to determine fault in this case. The bus driver should be ticketed.

Good Job Senator Hagel!

December 21, 2005 at 1:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m not a huge Chuck Hagel fan by any means, but I applaud those who deserve applause. Chuck Hagel deserves applause for standing firm against the Patriot Act renewal on the grounds that “more civil liberties safeguards need to be added to the proposed renewal of the Patriot Act.” Whether he’s staking this position out of genuine concern about the Act or in a shameless ploy to gain favor from voters is still unclear.

No Hamburgers for Links

December 21, 2005 at 2:43am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Unsurprisingly, Mayor Seng vetoed the proposed McDonald’s and convenience store/gas station on Capital Parkway across from Lincoln High, in what is now an Alltel parking lot. Her rationale? It’s not the right kind of economic development. In Mayor Seng’s world no economic development is better than economic development that falls short of her utopian vision. I could respect that if 1) Mayor Seng’s vision had a basis in reality; and 2) Mayor Seng had managed to demonstrate an ability to get Lincoln closer to her vision. It doesn’t, and she hasn’t. Mayor Seng would like to see an office building on the lot rather than a McDonald’s. So would I. There’s just one little problem: nobody has offered to build an office building on the lot. I’d like to see a lot of things happen in this city—new world-class arena and convention center anyone?—but that doesn’t mean we ought to turn away any offer that isn’t absolutely perfect. A McDonald’s and convenience store is a reasonable use for the lot in question, and the two businesses stand an excellent chance of doing very well at that location. What’s wrong with that?

Bond Issue Gets a Backer

December 21, 2005 at 2:27am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The school board today got good news from the Lincoln Education Association. The LEA put its support behind the upcoming $250 million school bond issue. It’s a small step, and an unsurprising one, but with less than two months to convince the voters, good news is great news for the school board.

Performancing for Firefox

December 20, 2005 at 7:09pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Hey there everybody, I’m just giving the new Performancing for Firefox plugin a whirl. Think it’ll work?

[Update: Well hot dog, it does work, unlike Flock, which I could never get to work properly. I’d be interested in hearing others’ opinions if you get a chance to install it.]

Red Shirtgate

December 20, 2005 at 1:21pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Breaking news! It was John Cook’s fault that Nebraska lost the National Championship volleyball match in San Antonio. How do I know? He wore a red shirt to the match and I’ve been told by folks in the know that Cook never wears a red shirt to matches.

Whew, I’m relieved. I thought for sure I had screwed up one of my superstitions. As it turns out, it was Coach Cook who offended the gods with his clothing faux pas. Tsk tsk. Remember Husker fans, if you see Coach Cook wearing a red shirt at the Qwest Center next year, it is your duty as a red-blooded Husker to get that evil thing off of him!

Dangerous Times

December 19, 2005 at 1:12pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I was out of town when the New York Times broke the story about the eavesdropping our government is doing, without warrants or judicial oversight, here in the United States. It’s probably just as well. The story pretty much speaks for itself, so it’s not like I would have had any earth-shattering insight to add to the discussion. But I simply must reiterate, as many others have done, how frightening it is that our President thinks that shredding civil liberties is the best way to protect civil liberties. In his own words:

The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I’m the president of the United States. [Emphasis added]

And he actually believes that stuff! Bush honestly thinks that violating our country’s laws and Constitution is consistent with his “power under our laws and Constitution”, and he thinks that violating basic civil liberties is the best way “to protect [us] and [our] civil liberties.” The man lives in a twisted, bizarre little world.

If domestic spying really needs to be done to protect our lives and liberties, fine. But there is no reason—zero—to circumvent judicial oversight of the process. If the spying is really necessary, the courts will allow reasonable covert activities to take place. The courts are comprised of Americans, after all, and judges no more want to end up dead at the hands of terrorists than does Joe Public.

These are dangerous times we live in, and unfortunately some of the dangers originate right here in the U.S.A., including Washington, D.C.

Upgrade to EE 1.4

December 18, 2005 at 11:22pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I just finished upgrading some backend software. I see a few glitches already, most of which weren’t unexpected. I’ll be working to fix those over the next day or two. If you notice anything wonky that doesn’t get fixed, please let me know about it.

Final Four Wrap-Up

December 18, 2005 at 5:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I have a lot to say about my trip to San Antonio to watch the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four.


Nebraska one win away

December 16, 2005 at 5:43am By: D.M.B. Posted in D.M.B. Sports Report

The Nebraska volleyball team easily beat Santa Clara 3-0 to move on to the National Championship vs. Washington.  A scenario that has been talked about all season has come true with Nebraska taking on Washington.  Both teams have won every game in their 4 matches in the NCAA tourney.  Santa Clara, who was the first VB team ever to get to the final 4 as an unseeded team, was no match for the Huskers.  The finals will be Saturday @ 5pm on ESPN2 and your favorite Pinnacle Sports Network radio station.

Mr. Wilson and Mr. T, our resident VB “experts” are on the scene in San Antonio, feel free to chime in with your first hand accounts of the big red blowout.

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