Watchmen Review

So I finally got around to watching Watchmen. I’ve read and appreciated the graphic novel.

Like many other book/movie adaptations, I feel that the attempt to stay rigidly true to the source material hurt the movie. When I read the book, I was into the character development, background, and side stories. But when I watched the movie, a lot of it felt plodding.

Watchmen (either version) is basically a three-page big reveal writ long. I felt the movie could have cut more.

The movie was very graphic, wasn’t afraid to be bloody or brutal. It worked well.

I felt the film’s Rorschach was more tangible and interesting than I remember the book’s being.

I also especially liked the opening credit sequence. It’s artistic style and method of conveying the alternate Earth’s important events in short scenes were very well done.

Good soundtrack.

Ode to Playing Cards

♣ So old that the delightfully symbolic is comfortably familiar, ♠
♦ Playing cards are the Everyman’s Everygame. ♥
♥ Cerebral, twitchy, or drunken; amassed or singular; ♦
♠ All you need to start a game is a name! ♣

In all seriousness, I’ve renewed my appreciation of playing cards. But surprisingly, I’ve been having little success aggressively pushing a game of Canasta on my friends at every opportunity.

Also surprisingly, many of you don’t even own packs of cards. You fuckers are getting care packages.

Quote of the Day

From The Butler Did It by P. G. Wodehouse:

There was rather a lot of Roscoe Bunyan. … Most of his acquaintances would have preferred far less of this singularly unattractive young man, but he had insisted on giving full measure, bulging freely in all directions. His face was red, the back of his neck overflowed his collar, and there had recently been published a second edition of his chin. It is not surprising, therefore, that such passers-by as had a love for the beautiful should have removed their gaze from him after a brief glance and transferred it to the girl who was standing beside him.

Death Note

I’ve begun watching the anime show Death Note, after seeing my brother Pete watching it.

I’m only halfway through, but I like it so far. In particular, I like its anime-typical story arc that is designed from the start. The anime lasts 37 episodes but no more. Like a long-form movie.

Second, it makes you root for the evil protagonist, which is kinda cute. It follows the action from his point of view. The show presents challenges for him, and you are thinking, “How is he going to get out of this? Oh no, he’s in trouble now!” You find yourself hoping he escapes so that the episode ends in equilibrium again.

Lastly, it reminds me of a long-term 2-player game of mafia. The protagonist and his pursuer come in frequent contact and suspect each other. The pursuer keeps trying to test him to see if he’ll reveal himself as the killer.

Metric HOWTO

I’ve been trying to acclimate myself to metric. I always felt like the US was being kind of a dick by holding out for so long (well, us, Burma, and Liberia). And while I’ve heard people say, “Well, it’s too late for me, let the next generation learn it,” who will teach them if not us?

As for why the various metric measurements are better than British measurements, I won’t bother explaining in detail. Suffice to say, I think they are each wins, and I can elaborate if anyone cares.

Now, how to switch? Baby steps, mostly. Remember the advice the EU gave as they switched to the Euro: Try to get a natural feel for how much something is in the new system, without converting. Know in your gut how hot 14°C is, how it feels to walk 500m.

Time

24 hour time is not really part of the metric system, but it’s along the same lines: simplification, standardization, and the rest of the world is using it happily.

Switching to 24 hour time is pretty easy. Just set your computer clock to 24 hour, and any digital clocks in your house that support it (including any digital watches). However, likely many clocks won’t support it (like microwave clocks, etc), and 24 hour analog clocks are not common. So you will have some hold-outs. But as you replace digital clocks, look to buy ones that support 24 hour time.

The mental conversion is pretty easy (just add/subtract 12). The goal is to know that you leave work by 17:00, you eat around 18:00, you get pretty tired by 22:00 (or at least I do :)), etc. To reduce confusion when verbally saying a time, say “17 hundred” rather than just “17” (as you might just say “5”).

Distance

This is a bit tricky. A kilometer is about 2/3rd of a mile. A meter is almost exactly a yard (i.e. 3 feet). And a centimeter is about 2/5th of an inch (i.e width of a thumbnail).

But it’s not easy to get a grasp for how far each of these measurements are in a day-to-day sense. I suggest setting your GPS device to display in meters. Memorize your height to centimeters (e.g. I’m about 188 cm or 1.88 m tall). Have Google Maps (or whatever) show directions in km.

If you use a treadmill, see if you can set it to metric. That will give you a real sense of how far a kilometer is.

Weight/Volume

Also a bit tricky. Soda is sold by liters. Note it. 1 oz is about 30 ml. A shot of whiskey is almost 50 ml. A cup is a bit less than 250 ml. A tall glass of water is about 350 ml.

Most packaging has both English and metric measurements on the labeling. If you get recipes from a web site, they often have the option to display ingredients in metric. Use it. As you shop, you’ll quickly get a feel for how many grams are in a can of peas or whatever.

When you go to the gym, many weight machines show both English and metric. Think “I’m going to push 5 kg” rather than “I’m going to push 10 lbs.”

Memorize your weight in kg. I’m roughly 68 kg. (See! Smaller numbers! You can tell people “I’m 80” and just don’t elaborate.)

A paperclip is 1 g. An apple is about 150 g. An ultimate disc is 175 g. A newborn baby is about 3.5 kg. And remember, the camera adds 4.5 kg.

Temperature

Every 10°F is about 5°C. And of course 0°C is freezing (or 32°F).

So 0°C is literally freezing (32°C). 5°C is cold (40°F). 10°C is cool (50°F). 15°C is warm (60°F). 20°C is hot (70°F).

Again, you can usually set your computer (or whatever site/device you check) to tell you the weather in Celsius. As you check that daily and go outside, you’ll get a feel for it. If you do this, don’t make the mistake of also checking the temperature in Fahrenheit (so you’ll “know what the temperature really is”). You’ll just end up thinking of the weather in terms of the more familiar measurement. Your goal is not to convert, but to know.

Quote of the Day

From Robinson Crusoe, which I made Elaine suffer through during our Chicago trip:

I went home again, filled with the belief that some man or men had been on shore there; or, in short, that the island was inhabited, and I might be surprised before I was aware; and what course to take for my security I knew not.

Oh, what ridiculous resolutions men take when possessed with fear! It deprives them of the use of those means which reason offers for their relief. The first thing I proposed to myself was, to throw down my enclosures, and turn all my tame cattle wild into the woods, lest the enemy should find them, and then frequent the island in prospect of the same or the like booty: then the simple thing of digging up my two corn-fields, lest they should find such a grain there, and still be prompted to frequent the island: then to demolish my bower and tent, that they might not see any vestiges of habitation, and be prompted to look farther, in order to find out the persons inhabiting.

These were the subject of the first night’s cogitations after I was come home again, while the apprehensions which had so overrun my mind were fresh upon me, and my head was full of vapours. Thus, fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself, when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about.

This entry brought to you by the letter W.

Turkish Is Crazy

So I was working on a very odd bug at work. For some reason, printing didn’t work when you chose Turkish as your language.

After some digging, I discovered that Turkish is very odd in one particular aspect. The wikipedia entry about it can explain better than me, but suffice to say:

$ LANG=en_US.UTF-8 python -c "import locale; locale.setlocale(locale.LC_ALL, ''); print 'TURKISH'.lower()"
turkish
$ LANG=tr_TR.UTF-8 python -c "import locale; locale.setlocale(locale.LC_ALL, ''); print 'TURKISH'.lower()"
turkIsh

This has implications for all sorts of sloppily written code. Normally it works alright, if all you care about is if two strings are the same thing when lower‘ed, but if you are using lower as part of a hash function and then talking over a network, everything will screw up. I’m surprised anything works in Turkish.

Adoption vs Bearing One’s Own Young

I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t adopt. It seems both a medically and ethically better choice than having a baby oneself.

I understand that women have a strong hormonal desire to pass a baby through their body. So there’s that. But I’m trying to look at it from a less partial perspective (and as a dude that lacks those hormones).

So, financially, I’m not sure which is better. It seems adopting can cost up to $30k or $40k. That’s a lot. Though I’m not sure what the various hospital bills are for bearing your own. Nor how much of various health plans cover what in both cases. Regardless, I assume the up-front cost is dwarfed by the lifetime cost of a child, so this might not be an interesting point.

But medically, obviously, it’s safer to adopt. There are substantial risks with bearing a child, both physically and emotionally. So that’s a win. You also don’t have to be carrying around a child for 9 months. Just the next 18 years. 🙂

Now the ethics of it are what interest me. I figure

  1. The world is already overpopulated. Adding +1 to the count is being part of the problem, not the solution. It further strains our collective resources.
  2. There are children currently waiting to be adopted. Presumably you believe that they would be better off in your care (else you would put your kid up for adoption as soon as it is born). So there is a chance here to improve the welfare of an existing child by a great deal.

Ethically, bearing a child is both a net harm to the world as well as deliberately ignoring an opportunity to make some kid’s life amazingly better. There’s just the small matter of hormones and the desire to perpetuate your own stellar genes.

But if you can keep your hormones in check, you can adopt an 18-year-old and you don’t have to deal with any of that pesky childrearing. Just be sure to adopt someone that wants to be a doctor or a lawyer and you’re set for life.

Wizard People

So, last month, Nick hosted a Wizard People, Dear Reader party, wherein we watched Wizard People, Dear Reader.

Wizard People is an alternate sound track for the first Harry Potter movie. The idea is that you start the DVD and the downloaded audio track at the same time, turn off the TV volume, and enjoy.

It is way funnier than it sounds. The reader’s voice, choice of vocabulary, frequent cursing, and running gags are hilarious. I laughed so hard it hurt.