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wFavorite posts
halloween 2002 roundup
the future of online gaming
star wars cereal review
japanese culture link of the day (12/6/2002)
japanese culture link of the day (12/23/2002)
reviews: hentai games sux0rz
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Recommended:
megatokyo
sinfest
8-bit theatre
mac hall
penny arcade
twisted kaiju theater
this modern world
dilbert
destroy all monsters
giant robot
8bit joystick
retrolounge
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greg costikyan
techrepublic
u.s. constitution
indiana democratic party
tompaine.com
fark
boing boing
metafilter
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spinsanity
the daily howler
this modern world
the joe bob report
gamespot
quake 2
 

Blogs:
nextblog (random)
blogdex
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technorati
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#!-usr-bin-girl
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busy, busy, busy
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charles murtaugh
cogent provocateur
confessions of a g33k
cooped up
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crooked timber
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daily kos
democratic veteran
destroy all blogs
die puny humans
disgustedliberal
d-squared digest
electrolite
eschaton
exploits and musings of heidi
flit
founding issues
geisha asobi blog
gorilla-a-go-go
how appealing
hullabaloo
insanekungfu
intel dump
interesting times
ipse dixit
it's still the economy, stupid
kieran healy
late night thoughts
lillianchan
long story, short pier
making light
mark byron
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matt welch
matthew yglesias
meryl yourish
min jung kim
modulator
mydd
nathan newman
never trust a monkey
no more mister nice blog
notes on the atrocities
not geniuses
oliver willis
oni blogger
onye's livejournal
open source politics
orcinus
pacific views
pandagon
peevish
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political aims
quaker in a basement
reachm high
roger ailes
royal blue
ruminate this
sadly, no!
scoobie davis
seeing the forest
self made pundit
semi-daily journal (brad delong)
shadow of the hegemon
sixdifferentways
skeptical notion
skippy the bush kangaroo
south knox bubba
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tacitus
talking points memo
talkleft
tapped
tbogg
ted barlow
terminus
testify!
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the agonist
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the likely story
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the power pill
the rittenhouse review
the road to surfdom
the sideshow
the talking dog
the volokh conspiracy
thinking it through
through the looking glass
to the barricades!
to the point
tristero
uggabugga
unmedia
unqualified offerings
untelevised
uss clueless
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Saturday, May 18, 2002x


the unsinkable spiegel grove


Having something of a fasincation with shipwrecks, I noticed with interest the other day that the US Navy was planning to sink a decommissioned vessel to create an artificial reef off the Floriday Keys. I noticed with amusement just now that during preparations to scuttle the ship, the thing started sinking by itself. The ship was last reported capsized and mostly submerged, with its bow above water, and in the wrong position. Apparently work crews had to scramble off the 510-foot ship when it began going down. Plans are now under way to adjust the ship's position and finish scuttling the vessel.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/18/2002 //



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x


listen, bud, he's got radioactive blood


spider-man
Well, it's genetically mutated in the new film version of Spider-Man, but despite a few minor liberties with the storyline of one of my all-time favorite comic book characters, the movie was a delight. Crystal and I were able to get a babysitter and get away to see it (which means, of course that we still haven't seen Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones yet). Here are some very fresh initial impressions, courtesy of an email I sent to my friends Hardin, Sparky and Joe. Please be aware that at least two of them had already seen the film and given me their impressions (as I mentioned earlier), so the following may contain spoilers.

I can now say that the Spidey movie is amazing, spectacular and even Web Of. I put this movie right up with Superman, which until now has been in a class by itself in comic-book movies. Ask Crystal...I was cackling with delight all the way home.


One thing I really appreciate that I haven't seen much mention of in reviews—the film does an astonishing job of making Spidey move just the way I imagined from the comics. His speed, his agility, his funky, McFarlane-esqe bodily distorting poses, it was all in there.


To be honest with you, I actually dug the slight variations in Spidey's orign. The slight twist on the wrestling match (ooooh I loved that scene), the fact that Peter's enough of a teenager that he gets off on his powers and uses them to stand up to Flash. (And *then* gets shunned for it, like when Peter and Flash had the boxing match, and Flash got distracted just as Peter hit him, making it look like he'd cheated.) I was a little disappointed Flash totally disappeared from the movie...the notion of Peter's tormentor being Spidey's #1 fan could have been cool.


I also loved that the one thing they got right tone-wise—and I'm sure Raimi really had to fight for it—was to keep the central theme of Spider-Man can't win. It's hard to think of a movie other than Casablanca where the hero gets the girl and then lets her go because he knows he has to, but that was so cool.


Actually, I was a little concerned about the bridge scene since I saw it in a preview, but I think it was well-done. If memory serves, Spidey didn't do the Roosevelt Island cable car fight in the same battle in which Gwen Stacy dies—Gobby just kicked her off the bridge. This not only combined two notable episodes in Spidey's career, but underscored the Spidey Can't Win theme—that he always has to make a choice. If I have any complaint, it's that the wide angle made Spidey saving both the cable car and MJ look too easy—in the comic we'd have had some of Stan Lee's thought balloons to let us know what an effort it was.


I just hope Dr. Connors eventually gives Peter his job back.


And I did dig the opening credits. When they had all the comic panels, I said to Crystal, "I like it already." Really, I think a lot of movies make the mistake of—far from being true to, not even acknowledging their source material in order to draw the widest possible audience. ("It's not a comic book movie! It's an action movie!") Well, this one was *definitely* a comic book movie, and a kick-ass one at that.


But the *closing* credits, when they spun the old Spider-Man cartoon theme song...*that* was cool! I have the MP3 of that, which I listened to directly I got home. (The cartoons are out on DVD now too! W00t!)



posted by Gregory Harris on 5/18/2002 //



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Friday, May 17, 2002x


a slice of mortality


This just in from the Center for Science in the Public Interest: Pizza is far from a health food. The group, which conducts nutritional analysis of various foods, found that one cheese-laden slice is as high in salt, fat and calories as a typcial fast-food burger, and that consumers (myself included) regularly down more than one slice per sitting. Throw in variations like cheese-stuffed crusts, high-fat meats and melted-butter dipping sauces, and you're looking down the barrel of a coronary, buster.

The Surgeon General has cited obesity as a major health crisis. Accordin to the CNN story, one in six American restaurants is a pizzaria.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/17/2002 //



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Thursday, May 16, 2002x


// update //


Bruce Springsteen (see my earlier post) has nixed the idea of being drafted to run for Senate, according to CNN. He even paraphrased Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman: "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve."


posted by Gregory Harris on 5/16/2002 //



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x


napster r.i.p.


Although I'm a big user of MP3s, I never used Napster personally. It seems that the file-swapping service is at last defunct, with the departure of both its founder and CEO, and Wired ran an "obit" yesterday (I meant to post it then, just didn't have time). Still, the news may be too late for the recording industry, which has already seen record-low sales and faces the widespread popularity of file-swapping software like Gnutella. Meanwhile, industry technology to render songs copy-proof remains elusive.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/16/2002 //



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not as much of a surprise as we were led to believe


I'll write about this later when I can be more rational about it. For now:

Bush Told of Hijack Threat Before Sept. 11--Aides (Reuters)

Bush briefed on hijacking threat before September 11 (CNN)

Bush Was Warned of Hijacking Plot (AP)

Bush Was Told of Hijacking Dangers (Washington Post)

White House Plays Down Hijack Report (AP)

Oh, one thing I love, though:

"Hijackings have been possible in the United States for decades," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "I don't think this should come as any surprise to anybody," he said of the warning given to Bush. "But the president did not — not — receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers. This was a new type of attack that was not foreseen."

Great! So the fact that they didn't know what the terrorsts would do with the planes once they were hijacked makes it OK somehow that they were woefully unprepared for the hijackings themselves. One thing I'm sure of: From now on, the fact that this happened on Bush's watch is a fair criticism, regardless of what he did afterward.

// update //


I'm eagerly awaiting mention of this development on the ever-vigilant conservative/media bias blog community. C'mon, folks...none of you has anything to say?

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/16/2002 //



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on the rocks


Just a week after an iceberg 10 times the size of Manhattan broke away from the Antartic ice shelf, another has followed suit. The latest one to break off from the Ross Ice Shelf is larger than the state of Delaware and twice as big as the small nation of Luxembourg. Besides the hazard they pose to shipping as they drift northward and break up, the giant icebergs raise concerns about global warming.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/16/2002 //



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Wednesday, May 15, 2002x


the boss for boss?


bruce springsteen
A group of New Jersey political activists are floating the idea of drafting singer Bruce Springsteen to run for one of the state's Senate seats. However, they have reportedly not spoken with Springsteen himself about the possibility.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/15/2002 //



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x


no dog this time


An oil tanker captured by pirates two months ago was found empty and abandoned in the Gulf of Thailand. The Thai navy boarded the craft, which had been repainted and renamed, but found no one aboard. The crew had apparently been put off on boats and rescued by Indonesian fishing vessels.

Piracy is a growing concern in Pacific waters, as the Asian economic crisis coupled with thousands of islands and reefs created ripe pickings for ships loaded with valuable cargo such as oil.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/15/2002 //



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Tuesday, May 14, 2002x


i'm sorry, but I really think this is funny










I've been peripherally aware of the imbroglio over Penthouse magazine's publishing photographs mistakenly identified as Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova. It seems the much-heralded topless photos were instead frame captures from a video shot seven years ago of the unsuspecting 28-year-old daughter of an Italian clothes designer. The magazine contends that it tried to verify the identity of the woman in the photos. But the man who sold Penthouse the video, who apologized in court to the women involved, testified that he thought he could identify the sunbather as Kourikova because he recognized her nipples from photos of the sweaty tennis player. Both women are suing the publication, which has acknowledged the error and apologized.
anna kournikova

It seems Penthouse could clearly have used the circulation boost genuine pictures of the much-downloaded tennis player would have provided. The financially troubled magazine's circulation hovers around 600,000, down from a one-time high of 5 million. However, even as a judge contemplates ordering the magazine to recall the June issue featuring the photos, fans on the Internet who bought the mag complain that the woman in the pictures bears little resemblance to the tennis player.

I wonder what effect, if any, this post will have on this blog's so-far nonexistent search rankings...I still haven't fixed the meta tags yet.


posted by Gregory Harris on 5/14/2002 //



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the scary thing is, i remember those days


This is an absolute howl. Mouse and monitor not included, of course.
ad for tandy 5000
(Via wetmartini)

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/14/2002 //



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at last, some good news


W00t! Sony has confirmed it's dropping the price on its PlayStation 2 a cool hundred bucks, from $299 to $199, undercutting Microsoft's Xbox by a C-note. (As a bonus, the original PlayStation will now go for a mere 49 bucks!)

I'm still not thinking of picking up a PS2 just yet, but definitely by Xmas...if not my birthday...

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/14/2002 //



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more idiots who should never have reproduced


Here's one from CNN about a nine-year-old blind and deaf girl who fell to her death from a third story window after apparently freeing herself from the radiator she'd been tied to. I can only imagine what she experienced as she fell, but unfortunately the plunge wasn't immediately fatal; she was reported semiconcious and undoubtedly suffered.

The child had apparently been left home alone frequently and had fallen down stairs at least once when left unsupervised. In a seeming echo of the case of the vegan couple who nearly starved their baby on some half-@$$ed version of a vegan diet, neighbors voiced concern to the girl's stepfather, but apparently backed down in the face of his anger. (Meanwhile, prosecutors are considering new charges against the vegan pair, while their lawyers have begged off in disagreement with the father's decision to testify before a grand jury.) No charges have been filed yet against the nine-year-old's parents.

I've said before that it really gets to me when kids suffer. As a parent, I know that kids can get into all sorts of trouble when left unsupervised, even for a moment, but there are times when momentary lapses of vigilance will occur. But it's one thing to turn around and realize that your toddler has crayoned all over the book you were reading, and quite another to leave a blind and deaf girl in a situation where only being tied to a radiator prevents her from falling out the window. There's a common thread with this post and the previous one—it's called parental supervision. That's a form of a thing called responsibility.

(At present I'm giving the stpefather of a missing California toddler the benefit of the doubt, and I don't want to imagine what the boy's parents must be feeling.)

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/14/2002 //



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unfortunately not kidding


I've had it with these people. A 13-year-old Dallas boy blows a friend of his away with a pistol including inflicting at least one contact wound and then claims a day-long binge of violent video games—courtesy of playing hooky—made him do it. Police seized 11 video games from the boy's suburban home—which also obviously housed a loaded pistol in a place accessible to children—but didn't release their titles.

The tail end of this story mentions an upcoming report on the effects of violent video games and the industry's self-imposed rating system. The ratign system, however, can't compensate for one crucial factor—a modicum of parental supervision. These kids played hooky, played a bunch of games that were probably bought by a parent, and then one of them used an unsecured weapon in what seems to be a confusion between fantasy (the game) and reality (the mess a bullet can make).

This incident occured a little more than a year after a 14-year old Florida boy was sentenced to life in prision for killing a six year old girl while "imitating professional wrestling moves"—which are staged on TV by professional athletes but inflicted injuries equal to a fall from a third-story window when dished out by a playmate twice the girl's age (he was 12 at the time) and nearly four times her weight.

The boy's defense lawyers filed an appeal on the grounds that at 12, he was too young to realize the wrestling moves could injure the girl that badly. How old do you have to be before you figure out that it hurts someone when you hit them?

I know such incedents are isolated and anecdotal, but really—this is a case of someone who has no conception at all of the line between fantasy and reality, nor a clue about whether it's appropriate to attempt a mad beatdown on a little girl. And here's the sweet part—The boy's mother denounced the verdict, which took the just less than an hour to reach after defense attorneys rejected a much more favorable plea-bargain from the prosecutors. "How do you tell a child you're going to prison for the rest of your life for playing?" she was quoted as saying. Playing?! Sure, kids do act out stuff they see on TV, and kids do sometimes get hurt, but not to the tune of a fractures skull and ruptured liver. And by the way when my friends and I played Super Friends and Ultraman back in Louisville, we didn't go looking for kids half our age to beat up on. So yes, I do beleive that justice isn't satisfied in this case—the boy's mother, who obviously didn't teach this kid anything about the difference between fantasy and reality, was apparently not charged.

Really, that's the sad part. A six year old girl is dead and this boy is going to spend at least agood chunk of his life in prison—the sentence was without parole—because the boy's parents never bothered to instill an elementary grasp of reality on him. And there's really nothing we can do about that, which is scary, because I'm sure these kids aren't the only ones without this important social skill.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/14/2002 //



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no kidding!


Engaged in furious backpedaling over its threats to sue a Dallas Web site for deep linking to the Dallas Morning News, DMN parent company Belo now claims the suit wasn't intended to stop deep linking—a practice some of Belo's other properties apparently indulge in—but rather focused only on the BarkingDogs site, which dishes up criticism of the Dallas Morning News. In other words, deep linking is really OK, but if Belo doesn't like what you say about them, it's a handy pretext to sue you in the hope their deep corporate pockets outlast yours.

Guess Belo didn't count on the widespread scorn heaped upon them from the Internet community or the offers of legal counsel on BarkingDogs' behalf—from Ralph Nader's Public Citizen group among others—that tended to blunt the threat's effectiveness.

(Via Ipse Dixit)

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/14/2002 //



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Monday, May 13, 2002x


pressing buttons


The Society of Professional Journalists has an interesting article on reporters being duped into reporting on stories that turn out to be hoaxes. Chris Berdik considers the question in light of polling data indicating the media steadily losing its credibility. His article includes some thoughtful analysis on why reporters might fall for hoaxes, not surprisingly including deadline pressure, increasing reliance on pack reporting, and lack of resources in news organizations. Along the way, though, I think he raises an fascinating point.

The example Berdik leads with is a 1999 story about a cemetery-themed amusement park that was picked up by the Associated Press and reported in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Herald, and other papers. The theme park was apparently the invention of an artist who sent press releases in the name of a phony development company and played the roles of various media contacts. The artist's ruse was sure to fool ordinary inquiry; after all, it's unlikely any reporter writing a 200-word filler would assume the press release was a fabrication and the media contact a liar.

But that goes to the heart of what I feel is wrong with the media—no, it isn't allegations of bias, it's that the press is too often reluctant to investigate whether the subjects of their stories are lying to them. And when the subject of a sensational story is later found to have made everything up—as is apparently the case of the woman who claimed to be kidnapped and beaten by her trucker boyfriend—the story is virtually ignored, having lost whatever sensational appeal it once did (not to mention being an embarrassing goof).

Although I studied journalism in college, I'm increasingly glad I never made it my profession (I don't count freelance writing). I have a fairly low opinion of the media myself, but it has nothing to do with bias. It has to do with a notion of "balanced journalism" that seems to involve the uncritical presentation of spin doctors' statements. The whole notion of a "spin doctor" involves a person whose job it is to tell the press how to approach a particular story. It's sad to think that such has become the norm these days. But today's entertainment-focused sound bite journalism doesn't allow for follow-up questions, and anyway, that'd be perceived as unfriendly.

I'm usually silent on the question of media bias because I don't pretend to have the facts. I know there's a big blog community out there that's dedicated to proving the notion to itself, of course, but somehow I still just don't buy it. I do, however, think they're onto something in one regard—the media is not doing its job. I think that may be one reason why the public seems to be losing confidence in the press (and yes, I do blame the concentration of ownership for this phenomenon, at least in part). I just don't think that if the press did adopt a more skeptical attitude—skeptical, not cynical; there's a difference—the media-bias crowd would like the results any better.

(via Media Minded)

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/13/2002 //



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looking google-eyed at you


The Washington Post's WashTech section had an interesting analysis this morning. Noting the increasing use of the ubiquitious search engine Google in researching anything—or anybody—the article points out that people with a limited presence on the Web might be at a disadvantage when everyone from potential explorers to prospective dates look them up online.

As I noted earlier, my friend David Henry was able to locate me with a Google search. Although searching for "gregory harris" will yield several hits that aren't me, it currently ranks my home page second, and looking further will turn up my bio at TechRepublic, Barnes & Noble crediting me erroneously as co-author of at least three books I edited while at Macmillan, an article I did write on autograph collecting for idiotsguides.com, and several reviews I wrote for BookPage.

However, Google doesn't link this blog yet (which is my fault; I need to fix the index meta tags in the header), nor does it point to any of the material I've written for Destroy All Monsters, because I use the pen name Mazinga (not that my real name is a big secret). Still, I think I'd be able to prove I am who I say I am, as long as I don't try to pass myself off as a basketball player.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/13/2002 //



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take that, bt


MIT's Technology Review scoffs at British Telecom's patent suit claiming it owns the notion of hyperlinking. Seth Shulman's well-researched article finds several progenitors to the idea, but still cautions that the US's patent system, which was developed in the 18th Century, means BT's suit is far from a dead duck.

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/13/2002 //



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it seems...


Which Evangelion Child Are You?

Which Evangelion Child Are You?


posted by Gregory Harris on 5/13/2002 //



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Sunday, May 12, 2002x


home at last


We flew back from Florida this morning (and boy are my wings tired, har har). Actually, it wasn't too bad a flight; it was nonstop form Orlando to Indy and just about two hours long. Cecilia was really good on the flight and Naomi slept almost the entire way. Of course, we returned from sunny Florida to find it's raining buckets here. Figures.

And to my mother, my mother-in-law, my wonderful wife and all the other mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day! When I checked my email upon my return, I discovered that Amazon had sent me a message indicating that the shipment on Crystal's present was delayed until tomorrow. That explains why it isn't here, of course. Fortunately Crystal was a very good sport; she just wanted me to tell her what I got her, so I did (two books from her Amazon whish list and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack CD).

posted by Gregory Harris on 5/12/2002 //



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