Monday, November 13, 2006, 11:06 AM
I saw Babel last night with high expectations: it received good ratings on both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. The cinematography was excellent, the soundtrack was moving, the dialogue was convincing, and the acting was quite decent; unfortunately none could salvage an absolutely horrible script.

Apparently someone sat down and said, what we really need is a movie with a disjointed collection of characters who we don't get the opportunity to know or care about, who have a series of horrible things happen to them. The movie was like a slow motion human train wreck. Very quickly the audience is able to figure out that every pleasant moment is only placed there so that when the writer smashes the characters' lives to pieces their pain is all the more jarring. All this havoc is wreaked through a combination of callous indifference, negligent incompetence, bureaucratic indifference, and foolish decisions on the part of the characters as well as outside forces. Nobody in the movie deserves what happens to them, and I suppose that's supposed to form some "deep though" that is part of the point of the movie. In reality, though, Babel is simply a two hour saga of human misery that tosses out some cheap commentaries regarding language barriers and global connections as if they're supposed to excuse the film for lacking anything regarding a coherent storyline.
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Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 11:06 PM
From the NYT:

Anyone out of high school forced to watch more than an hour of “Laguna Beach” might possibly feel the urge to beat themselves about the head with a large stick.
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Torpedo is in the Water 
Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 02:08 PM
The launch was not as smartly executed on my part as I would have liked, but there is sufficient information for it to reach its destination.
1 comment ( 988 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 1974 )

The Price Being Paid 
Monday, November 6, 2006, 10:48 AM
Burials at Arlington National Cemetery took on a grim regularity in October, when at least 103 American troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the toll had reached 99 by Saturday, making October the deadliest month since January 2005.

Military officials attributed the high number of deaths to a spike in violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in late September and ended last week. They also pointed to a three-month campaign to win control of Baghdad from death squads that led to increased attacks on American troops.

But such explanations were little comfort to a 6-year-old girl weeping at the grave of her father, a mother clutching the flag from her son’s coffin, or a widow walking slowly through the rain behind her husband’s honor guard.

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Saturday, November 4, 2006, 02:42 PM
I just realized that all my links open up in a new window. I absolutely hate it when people force you to open a new window, as I always use CTRL-click to open a new tab if I want to stay at their web site. I'm not saying I'm going to go through all the old entries and change the links, but I will try and change things for future entries.
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Deuteronomy 30:19 
Saturday, November 4, 2006, 01:02 PM
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life that you and your seed may live,
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Thursday, November 2, 2006, 08:30 AM
I had duty yesterday, which means I have to make a complete round of the ship several times during the day, visiting sections that I don't normally find myself in while inport. Each area of the ship has its own special smell, from the vague musty odor of the gym, the suffocating chemical smell of the paint locker, the smell in the galley of whatever was cooking a few hours ago, to the ever familiar smell of fuel and oil in the engine room. It's that last smell that brought back the strongest memories of being underway as I inspected DOPR, and the feelings of dread, confinement, boredom, and stress came rushing at me for a brief moment. I quickly closed the watertight door behind me and moved on the next space. Less than a month left inport, and I plan to treasure each one of these days.
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Haystack Approach 
Monday, October 30, 2006, 10:58 AM
Someone gives you tasking to locate obscure information that likely isn't very important, or will be more easily obtained at a later date. You delay be shoveling vast quantities of hay in their direction, implying that the needle they are looking for is "easily" located in the information you have "painstakingly" gathered for them. This is especially effective on people who do not understand the sheer volume of semi-relevant information that can obtained via a simple google search. Proper routing and packaging of information is essential in the Haystack Approach -- make sure to package the "hay" in a professional manner, and if possible route the information through one or more persons before it reaches the original tasker. Since the intermediaries were not all tasked with this information they do have a stake in it and will likely just push the information up, both giving you a time buffer ("oh yeah, i'm on that, it's being routed to you") and adding legitimacy to your hay.
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Collective Moral Responsibility 
Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 03:32 PM
Here's a question. Let's say 12 to 18 months from now we have one of two options in Iraq:
1) Institute a one time draft and raise active duty strength to the point where we can have twice as many boots on the ground as we do now; or
2) Withdraw from the country with the full knowledge as a direct result of our actions it will be pluged into decades of civil war that will cost tens of thousands of lives.

What it comes down to is do we, as Americans, have a moral responsibility to fix errors our country has made. Or, in even broader language, when you allow someone to make a mistake in your name, do you still have the responsibility to clean it up?
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The Departed 
Friday, October 20, 2006, 02:31 PM
I watched The Departed the other day, an excellent film that is a remake of a Hong Kong blockbuster titled Infernal Affairs. I had previously seen Infernal Affairs and it was a pleasant surprise to see how closely The Departed tracked the original script. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I definitely recognized several conversations that were lifted directly from the Hong Kong original.

WARNING: Plot spoiler to follow
Despite the clearly demonstrated desire to stay true to the highly successful original, there were certain plot modifications made with an American audience in mind. Among them is the fate of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon's character) at the end of the movie. Other than adding a little additional color, and brief moments of humor, the desire for some "positive" closure appears to be the sole reason for the inclusion of Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg's character), a character who was not in the original movie.

What really struck me towards the end of the film was the necessity of Billy Costigan's (Leonardo DiCaprio) death. I'm not a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but I was quite surprised and impressed with how convincingly he played his character. There was a certain point where I realized that in the absence of some cheap trick by the scriptwriter, there was no way for Costigan to live happily ever after. The closest they could have come to a Hollywood ending would have been to have Dignam come in and somehow vouch for Costigan; fortunately it was not with this in mind that he was included in the script.

The one thing this remake was unable to capture was the strong father-son relationship between Costigan and Capt. Queenan. That relationship added a lot to Infernal Affairs and made the latter's death all the more affecting.
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