Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour

The following message has been forwarded around my kids school. Seemed like a cool idea:

Earth Hour is coming! The people of Phoenix have an exciting
opportunity to positively impact climate change this Saturday, March
29th. Phoenix is one of four U.S. cities selected by the World
Wildlife Fund to participate in Earth Hour 2008, a worldwide event
March 29, from 8 to 9pm. During this one hour, please join millions
of people across the world in shutting off your lights.

Turning off all non-essential lights for one hour alone can make a big
impact. Last year, Sydney, Australia initiated the event and reduced
their energy use by 10% in a single hour. This energy reduction is
equivalent to taking 48,000 vehicles off the road!

The city of Phoenix cares deeply about the negative effects of global
warming and is committed to reducing our energy use and dependence on
foreign sources of fuel. As part of our sustainability campaign, the
city has retrofitted 95% of city buildings with energy-efficient
lighting, has implemented nine solar energy projects across the city,
has worked to build one of the nation's largest municipal clean fuel
fleets, and has partnered with grocery stores to reduce the use of
plastic bags and promote reusable bags.

APS and SRP will measure how much energy is saved during Earth Hour
Phoenix. So, we need your help to make every little bit count.
Please join us in demonstrating our city's commitment to keeping our
environment clean, safe, and sustainable for generations to come. To
volunteer or to learn more, contact the Earth Hour hotline at (602)
417-1363 or visit

Cultural Globalization

Copies of Cultural Globalization: A User's Guide just arrived in the mail today! It's an actual book! Very exciting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Movie Meme

I've added some hints in bold below, just to move this along some.

OK. Gil tagged me with a movie meme. He had tweaked the rules, which I'm tweaking some more.

The rules:

1. Pick fifteen of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie. (Or in some cases, just remember them.)
3. Post them for everyone to guess.
4. Strike out each quote when someone guesses it correctly, and append the names of the movie and the guesser.
5. No Googling/using IMDb/Wikiquote search functions. That would be cheatin’.
6. Tag ten people (I upped this from five, since I figure half my taggees won’t cooperate).

My tweak: I ain't tagging nobody. Partly this is because the only folks I really know with blogs who would be in real danger of actually reading this blog have already been tagged. So I'll open the meme up: if you're reading this and have a blog and want to carry this on, just let me know and I'll post it here. A voluntary meme.

Here's the list. Some are pretty easy (fish in barrel kind of easy). If you know the films, post your guesses in the comments.

1. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. [Star Wars. Gil]
2. Asps. Very dangerous. You go first. [Raiders of the Lost Ark. Gil]
3. It’s not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy? [Buckaroo Banzai. Gil]
4. I hope all your children have very small dicks. And that includes the girls! [hint: spoken by Jeff Goldblum]
5. You people are bastard people! [hint: spoken by Christopher Guest]
6. Well, nobody’s perfect. [Some Like it Hot. Gil]
7. You’re gonna need a bigger boat. [Jaws. Gil]
8. Keep watching the sky, MacIntyre [Local Hero. Tracy]
9. Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed! In Greenland! [Princess Bride. Tracy]
10. I’m a friend. Companero. [hint: spoken by Peter Falk]
11. There WERE blanks in that gun! [hint: involves a horse]
12. You’ve done a man’s job, sir! [hint: a line crucial to a central character's identity]
13. The Internet. Is that the one with the email? [hint: spoken by John Michael Higgins]
14. Back home everyone said I didn't have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here but it sounds better in French. [hint: spoken by Gene Kelly][American in Paris. Tracy]
15. Lost in time, and lost in space, and meaning. [hint: full quote begins, "And crawling on the planet's face, some insects called the human race..."] [Rocky Horror Picture Show. Gil]
and a bonus:
16. Girl: At least you've stopped kissing me like I was your Aunty.
Boy: What's my Aunty going to say when I kiss her at Christmas?
[Gregory's Girl. Tracy]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke has died. There are any number of obits out there. I never read his work extensively, but did like Childhood's End and the short story "Nine Billion Names of God" (which someone put on the web here--I forgot just how short it is) has stayed with me for a long long time. I like the mix of science and spirituality.

Before I was born, my parents lived in Ceylon and were friends with Clarke's diving partner, Mike Wilson. So they had Clarke over to the house once (he was apparently less than gregarious as a guest, but then he was also in the middle of writing 2001 at the time). Clarke did let my dad use his dark room, however.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Watch those cameras!

The London Metropolitan Police has a new counter-terrorism campaign going which has been drawing attention--basically by making everyone suspicious of everyone else. The main page is here. There are lots of vivid posters to go with it, including this one which tells folks to watch out for anyone with a camera taking pictures who may seem suspicious. Others include warnings to watch out for people with too many mobile phones. When in doubt, report it to the police and let them sort it out.

Fortunately quite a number of parodies are being circulated. A good sampling are on the Boing Boing blog. Which goes to show that though we may be increasingly ineffectual in slowing the rise of the surveillance state, we at least have a sense of humor.

Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax, co-inventor of Dungeons and Dragons, died a week or so ago. I was struck by just how many prominent obituaries of him I've noticed. Not only this, I've seen editorials speaking to his influence on our culture (some even saying that his game set the groundwork for the widespread success of the Lord of the Rings films, and definitely were foundational for the last twenty to thirty years of computer adventure games). It's nice to see D&D (or at least it's co-founder) receive some sort of recognition as a creative and potentially positive activity after all the lost-in-the-sewers-satanic panic against the game in the '80s. The game got my friends and I interested in medieval history and literature. For us, the games were always about problem solving, interaction, and being creative rather than the "hack and slash/might makes right/where's the treasure?" direction of some of the games. These were interactive novels that we created collaboratively (yes, in the basement of my parents' house, surrounded by Mountain Dew and Doritoes) where we thought about such things as character and setting. I still remember some of them, like good books I enjoyed reading. I remember that at some point in one of the manuals (perhaps the Player's Handbook or the Dungeon Master's Guide), Gygax urged players to avoid combat if at all possible: to think and not just fight. We always took him seriously on that point. Out of nostalgia, I dug up my old books (signed by Gygax, himself, no less). So I'll have to check.