Not Your Average Martial Arts Film

Several years ago, some friends and I noted that there appeared to be “final” editions of a few genre films surfacing. For example, after Eastwood’s Unforgiven, there is little reason to make another serious Western film.

Acclaimed Taiwanese director Ang Lee (The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Ride with the Devil) has probably finished off a lump of genres in the beautiful Wu hu zang long, released in the US as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. IMDB lists this as “Fantasy / Action / Adventure / Western / Drama / Romance (more);” that about covers it — maybe. It’s the best thing I’ve seen since I don’t know when (American Beauty comes to mind).

Lee manages to juggle a reasonably complex plot, at least two romantic entanglements, fight scenes that defy description (think Bruce Lee meets The Matrix), a magic sword, and flying heros without seeming cheesy or contrived. Veteran Hong Kong actors Chow Yun-Fat (Anna and the King, Hard Boiled, The Killer) and Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) lead the cast, but Ziyi Zhang (the otherwise betrothed Jen) and Chen Chang (the bandit Lo, Jen’s actual love interest) are just as charming and compelling. Do not miss this, even if subtitles aren’t your favorite thing. By ten minutes in, you’ll forget you’re reading. Wow.

Dept. of Frivolous Technology

Years ago, when I first learned to code, there was a fairly well-known algorithm called animal that allowed a program to mimic intelligence by amassing data from user interaction about what animal they were pretending to be.

This is what happens when that algorithm meets the web and some weird people.

Hey, the kids love that wrasslin’…

Ever since the fifties, I think, Right-wing[nut] adults terrified of the popular culture that kids adore (perhaps largely because their elders loathe it) have tried to repackage their worldview in the trappings of something hip. Predictably, this meets with dreadful and obviously derivative results (I mean, when’s the last time a contemporary Christian band actually made a musical contribution?).

This, however, is really the most amazing example I’ve ever seen. Let’s just say I’m pretty sure Vince McMahon isn’t exactly shaking in his boots. What’s next, I wonder? Fundamentalist NASCAR?

Does AAA cover this?

These pictures of the USS Cole being, er, picked up in the wake of the terrorist bombing in Yemen are downright stunning. You’ll probably need to right-click and download the file (option-click for Mac people); it’s about 1.5mb, but worth the time unless your connection is particularly awful.

Curious Dubya

If the citation is correct, this brief illustrated biography of George W. Bush is the best thing ever to come out of Maxim, otherwise known as “Esquire for people who move their lips when they read.”

Also, check out the photoshopped image at the end of the sequence.


Please join me in annoying these freaks by celebrating the anniversary of the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 (sticklers will note that this simply restored the rights of states to make their own choices, but the point was made). Cheers.


I think we’re all quite familiar with the state of the Internet industry today. Many firms have been caught flat-footed by the sudden need for sound fundamental business metrics, and morale has followed valuations into the red — or, at least, to levels more justifiable on the aforementioned fundamentals.

Leave it to the New Yorker to have some fun with this. Taking a page out of Dan Savage’s election-primary prank book, former Letterman staffer Rodney Rothman masqueraded as an employee in the New York office of i-builder Luminant (which recently laid off 25% of its workforce) for three weeks. One day he just started showing up, camped a at a desk, and commenced to aping what he saw as local tribe behavior as “a transfer from the Chicago office.” He even managed to appear on their office phone list, and appears to have completely escaped detection (at least until the November 27th New Yorker hit the stands).

Needless to say, Luminant management is not amused by the story.

Lorem ipsum dolor…

Much of the gibberish used to demostrate typesetting and fonts begins exactly this way. It looks like Latin, but won’t parse as such. To make matters worse, it’s referred to as “greeking” or “greek text,” when it’s clearly not that, either.

Here is a page that purports to explain this pseudo-convention, why it’s used, and where it originated. It’s older than you think.

Electile Dysfunction

Regardless of your feelings about the Florida electoral madness, I think you’ll find Ron Rosenbaum’s column in the New York Observer to be a lovely burst of screed. He pulls no punches about some fairly bizarre events down there, and minces no words about the obvious conflicts of interest involved in having Florida Secretary of State Harris in key roles for both the recount and Bush’s local campaign. Food for thought.