Guns: Shotgun Lights
If you have any complaints which you'd like to make, I'd be more than happy to send you the appropriate forms.
I think "Paprika," a Japanese anime film from Satoshi Kon, would have fared better in my mind had it been released a decade or so ago:
It's a bit embarrassing when you discover a band that you probably should have known about long before. That's how I felt after I watched the 2001 movie "Donnie Darko" and looked up The Church, a band from Australia, and their lone top 40 hit, "Under The Milky Way." Here's a short clip from the movie to show you what I'm talking about (spoilers if you've never seen "Donnie Darko"):
Nestled in an unassuming strip mall on Main Street, Juniors has long been the most popular soul food buffet in the area. Come to think of it, it might be the only soul food buffet in the area. My friends and I have been visiting on a regular basis for years.
I've joked about Hillary Clinton's singleminded determination to get the Democratic nomination to my friends. Even I have to admit, though, that continuing the quixotic months-long campaign, in the face of scathing media coverage and often bitter opponents in her own party, have made me respect ole Hill, at least a little bit (never thought I'd type that).
The U.S. criminal justice system is definitely operating on the edge, and nothing makes it more apparent than stories like this:
Crime victims register confidentially online or by phone to track a particular inmate and Appriss notifies them whenever the prisoner is released, transfers to a new facility, or manages to escape.I think it's a good idea to notify victims when a convict is released, but it brings up the main deficiency of incarceration - you're locking someone up, but you may or may not be changing them for the better. In Byron's case, her boyfriend might have just been made angrier by his experience in the slammer. If he was such a danger to her, it seems silly to release him. But I suppose there's not enough jails to imprison everyone.
The system grew out of the 1993 murder of Mary Byron, who was gunned down in Louisville on her 21st birthday by an abusive boyfriend. He had been released from jail, but somehow the authorities had failed to warn Byron. The resulting public outcry led local officials to develop the first automated victim notification system, which has spread nationwide.
I'm a big fan of Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade - it's the best digital download service of the three consoles, since it has the best catalog of games (as well as free demos for every game). A few months back I covered some standout titles for XBLA...here's a couple more you may have missed:
There are two kinds of people who will watch "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" this summer - those who are avid followers of the adventures of Dr. Henry Jones, Jr., and those who are merely dilettantes:
The Heller decision should be coming later this summer, and if you follow firearms politics at all, you probably know about it. Another case that's related to gun rights (albeit tangentially) is United States v. Hayes.
In 1994, [Randy Edward] Hayes pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery offense under West Virginia law, in the magistrate court of Marion County, West Virginia (the "1994 State Offense"). The victim of the 1994 State Offense was Hayes's then wife, Mary Ann (now Mary Carnes), with whom he lived and had a child. As a result of the 1994 State Offense, Hayes was sentenced to a year of probation.
Ten years later, on July 25, 2004, the authorities in Marion County were summoned to Hayes's home in response to a domestic violence 911 call. When police officers arrived at Hayes's home, he consented to a search thereof, and a Winchester rifle was discovered. Hayes was arrested and, on January 4, 2005, indicted in federal court on three charges of possessing firearms after having been convicted of an MCDV [misdemeanor count of domestic violence], in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(9) and 924(a)(2) [the Lautenberg Amendment, which was passed in 1996].
There's precious little to eat when you're stuck on campus here at the law school, and even less to eat during the sumemr months when the cafeteria's coffee stand closes down. That's why it's not surprising that the Levin bookstore takes it upon itself to offer sandwiches and menu items from "La Familia," a local Cuban sandwich shop.
I suppose the movie "Pitch Black" was surprisingly successful upon release. Successful enough, at least, to merit an awful sequel, a good videogame, and a decent animated spinoff movie. I had never seen the original, though, so I decided to queue it up on my Blockbuster account to see if there was anything worth seeing.
Summer days are long and lonely.On almost all the tracks, Durand's floaty, French-accented voice is a good complement to the guitar and bass of Adam Schlesinger and Andy Chase (although the mix is nowhere near as jangly as bands like the Magnetic Fields).
Cars are moving slowly.
The streets are filled with air so still.
I'm trying to get out of the city.
Trying to get out of the city.
There can be room for genuine disagreement in politics. I can see how some might want a windfall profits tax on oil and food companies, even though I think the idea is kind of ridiculous (more palatable for me is the reduction of subsidies for these industries).
[Senator Leahy] asked Simon what his total compensation was at Exxon, a company that made $40 billion last year. Simon replied it was $12.5 million annually.
Two other executives, John Lowe, executive vice president of ConocoPhillips Co., said he didn’t recall his total compensations as did Peter Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron Corp. John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said his was “about $2.2 million” but was not among the top five salaries at his company’s international parent. Robert Malone, chairman of BP America Inc., put his compensation at “in excess of $2 million.”...
...Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill, accused the corporate executives of ignoring the plight of people suffering because of high energy prices. “Where is your corporate conscience?” he asked them.
“The issue is simple,” said Leahy. “People we represent are hurting, the companies you represent are profiting.”
One problem with Facebook is the overwhelming flood of applications available for it. While this seems like it'd be a good thing, the problem is that whenever a user installs one of these on his or her profile page, the application usually prompts them to automatically forward an installation request to every single one of their friends. As you might imagine, this kind of thing can quickly get out of hand.
My first "Blockbuster by Mail" DVD came today, and it's a comedy I've been meaning to see for awhile - "Hot Fuzz," a film from the guys who brought us "Shaun of the Dead":
"Hot Fuzz" is one of those movies that places the "payoff" in the last half-hour of the running time. Up until that point, it's a pretty straightforward, by-the-numbers comedy that stars Simon Pegg as Nicholas Angel, a hotshot cop who gets transferred from the London Police to a small town called Sandford. It's a pretty standard fish-out-of-water setup, with the most laughs coming from Angel's buffoonish partner Danny Butterman (played by Nick Frost).
When it gets to the final sequence, though, you get a fairly hilarious parody of every overblown Jerry Bruckheimer/Joel Silver-style supercop movie ever made. I don't want to spoil it, but let's just say action movie tropes can be pretty funny when taken out of their native environments and plopped down into a small rural village in England.
Actually, a friend of mine has a Bersa .22, and in my experience, its reputation as fun and comfortable to shoot is well-deserved. I'd like to test drive the .380 version, since it's both inexpensive and reportedly a good gun. This is actually a bit big for a mousegun; it's definitely on the borderline of what you could pocket carry in terms of size and weight.
"Grand Theft Auto IV," like its predecessors, is a video game that offers a big sandbox for you to play around in. Continuing the trend of ever-increasing detail, there are all sorts of places to waste time, including restaurants, strip clubs, nightclubs, and bowling alleys. The gameplay in GTA has gotten so complex that the first five or so hours are tutorial missions (you don't even get a handgun until a couple hours in). GTA IV has thus unwittingly turned into the "Dragon Quest" of sandbox games (a long slow grind), albeit with better plotting and more straightforward mission design than its competitors.
A problem not addressed in most mainstream reviews is the lackluster performance of the game engine. Like most GTAs, the framerate hovers at around 30 fps, which simply isn't very good for a fast-moving action game involving split-second shooting and driving sequences. Everything has lower polys than you'd expect, especially the character models. After seeing expressive faces on the NPCs in "Half-Life 2" and "Mass Effect," going back to mediocre-looking mo-capped models in the cutscenes of GTA IV feels like a step back.
The multiplayer is the big new feature, with plenty of modes to satisfy anyone's list of demands. You can race helicopters, you can play cops and robbers, you can re-enact "Gone in Sixty Seconds," or you can just mess around the city, all with up to 16 people at a time. I can imagine people getting pretty addicted to this stuff, since the driving and combat mechanics in the game allow for good players to really shine. Unfortunately, the whole experience is very rough and unrefined (the game kicks you out to the lobby if you want to switch games, for instance). Add to that the fact that the average knuckledragger you meet on Xbox Live isn't going to be very fun to play with - best to find some friends you can trust.
The minute-to-minute gameplay of GTA IV, whether single or multiplayer, is essentially identical to that of previous GTAs, so if you didn't like the old ones, you won't like this one. But while it isn't much of a leap from the previous generation, the game is still stuffed to the gills with content. All in all, GTA IV is probably one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals going this summer.
One thing I've realized in my antitrust law studies is that battles over industry standards are often, in the long run, beneficial to consumers. The recent skirmish over high-definition disc formats is a good example - while someone who bought an HD-DVD player for their Xbox 360 is certainly going to feel a little betrayed, the long fight allowed consumers to fully shake out any flaws in either of the formats. Though Blu-Ray won in the end, the competition between the standards gave the public a pretty clear choice in the matter.
Despite my fondness for "The Sound of Music," I don't think I'm going to Austria any time soon. First there was that "House of Horrors" guy (you know, that sicko who imprisoned his daughter in a basement for 24 years). Now, you hear about some guy calmly murdering his family of five with an axe. To put this into perspective, Austria has a population of only 8 million - much less than Florida (and if these cases happened in Florida, you bet they'd be front-page news, too).
When I was a little kid, I used to spend a lot of my time parked in daycare. The teachers and caregivers, thankfully, didn't mind hauling all us kids out and about every so often. One of the favored destinations on these excursions was the Palace roller skating rink in Lake Worth.
I've been listening to the excellent in-game music of GTA IV (an extensive soundtrack featuring everything from the Smashing Pumpkins to Bob Marley to John Coltrane). Currently, the only official soundtrack CD that's been released by Rockstar is "The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV." My favorite track from that album is "No Sex For Ben," a song by the Rapture. Here's a fanmade trailer featuring a clip from the song:
Fancy place settings alone don't make for great dining, but sometimes superior ambiance can compensate for average food. That's the lesson I learned from RA Sushi, a chain of restaurants that stretches from California to Chicago and all the way to South Florida (brand is now owned by the Benihana folks).
Natural disasters are a funny thing. In one sense, nature is brutally egalitarian; whether you're a prince or a pauper, a tornado will kill you just as dead. But industrialized, developed nations will always weather these conditions with minimum loss of life better than poorer countries (Hurricane Katrina being the unhappy exception to the rule - even then, it hit one of the poorest states in terms of per capita income).
One interesting doohickey that accompanied us on our journeys in and around Chicago was Hertz's NeverLost system. It's the Magellan-powered built-in GPS system that is helpfully available (for an extra charge, of course) on Hertz rental cars. Here's a review comparing it to Avis' solution:
I've been thinking about building a 9mm AR, mostly because my broken elbow showed that it may in fact be easier to shoot a pistol-caliber carbine with an iffy right arm than to try to use a pistol solely with your off hand. Plus, there's the cool factor of being able to use an AR-pattern gun in an indoor range, or being able to shoot at close-range steel targets (relatively) safely:
For me, getting a Mother's Day gift can be difficult, especially since I'm not a kid anymore. I almost wish I was still 10 years old, so that I could give Mom a card made with paste and macaroni without it being too ironic. Thankfully, with age comes wisdom, and I've found that a useful gift, tailored to the recipient's interests, will in the long run be more appreciated than a box of chocolate or some flowers (not that those aren't nice, of course).
David Mamet is known for cooking up wild conspiracy-tinged plots (just look at "Spartan") and "Redbelt" is no exception:
You hear a lot about "windfalls" these days when it comes to profits. First, of course, is the hurly-burly over the oil industries' profit margins, including the ridiculous proposal some pols advocate - a "windfall profits" tax on profits above a certain level. I mean, did these guys fall asleep in economics class?
While driving around Chicago, we often came upon people who were "guiding" traffic in intersections that already had fully-functioning traffic lights. Drivers literally ignored these folks in favor of using the traffic lights. It seemed fairly wasteful - why pay a person to do what is already being accomplished safely and efficiently by an automated system? It got even more ridiculous when I found out how much Illinois citizens, and Chicago residents in particular, pay in taxes.
Shopping at Chicago's Navy Pier is, in many ways, like rolling a pair of loaded dice - some stores are cool, but the vast majority of shops sell trinkets and clothing that have dubious value. The standout shops for me were a magic trick shop (really high-end magic tricks, by the way - no gag gifts there) and a game store. At the game store, I got a travel tin containing "Mad Gab," a light party-style game for 2-6 people.
If you haven't heard, "Iron Man" was the top-grossing picture at the box office last weekend, and, from what I saw, it's likely to hold on to that top spot for weeks to come:
Chicago, like all major American cities, features restaurants that serve an assortment of cuisine from around the world. You can literally have Chinese food for breakfast, Greek for lunch, and Mexican for dinner without breaking a sweat. Here are some of the more interesting eateries we encountered in our trip there:
There's plenty of stuff to do in Chicago, especially if you are in the mood to learn. Here's a rundown of some of my favorites:
On my travels, I've found it hard to start into the sightseeing and exploration of a new city immediately upon arrival. After what often amounts to a full eight hour day riding in airplanes, waiting in airports, and lugging your bags around, the act of finally checking in at your hotel represents the end of the day's journey, not the beginning. You throw your burdens down, you plop yourself onto the bed, and you turn on the TV.
I'm going to visit my uncle in Chi-town. And yes, I'll be careful (though physically disarmed :P). Regular posting will probably resume Wednesday.
Okay - this one probably won't make ANY sense if you're not a certain close friend of mine. Suffice it to say that when you're working nonstop, a little absurdity mixes into your triumph.
During exam week, there's nothing more satisfying than blowing off some stress with a "Grand Theft Auto" game. The series' nonlinear sandbox gameplay makes it perfect for messing around for a half hour in-between hardcore studying. The most recent entry, "Grand Theft Auto IV," was released to much fanfare this week. Here are my impressions from a quick run-through of the game's beginning.
First off, don't believe all those glowing 10/10 or 100% reviews you see on the web. This is, by and large, the same GTA we've been playing for years now, which might be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. For everyone who got tired with the series around Vice City, you won't find much different here - driving, shooting, short cutscenes that move the story forward, yada yada yada.
At the same time, though, it's obvious that this is the most detailed open world Rockstar's ever delivered. Taking some hints from other sandbox games like "Mafia" and "Saints Row," GTA IV refines the formula to its logical conclusion. Only a couple hours into the game, I can already tell Niko Bellic, the protagonist, is more fully fleshed out than the vast majority of video game characters. He's a former Serbian soldier who presumably did some bad things in the Balkans - is he coming to Liberty City for redemption? For revenge?
While the graphics and sound are no great shakes, the environment is more detailed than ever before. For example, I had Niko punch out an old lady in the middle of a neighborhood. A mob of irate neighbors started chasing Niko in retaliation - they loved that kindly old spinster, I guess. I had Niko carjack a taxi to speed away from them, and one of the neighbors (whose hand had a deathgrip on the door handle) ended up being dragged along the road with the car. I swerved and eventually scraped him off the hard way by sidewiping another car.
Now that's entertainment.
The stranger from a foreign land often gets shunned. Such is the case with Bono's Bar-B-Q, a regional barbecue chain that I recently visited. You see, Gainesville is Sonny's territory - Sonny Tillman himself is a big Gator fan, and his restaurants dominate the town. The only Bono's I know of, meanwhile, is a single place near I-75 and Newberry, perched almost precariously, as if the city itself has pushed it to the fringe.