Sunday, August 28, 2005

Quicker DVD releases?

It's good to see that movie distributors are moving toward an even shorter "window" between movie releases in the theatres and their subsequent release on DVD, a window which has already decreased markedly over the past decade or so:
The gap between a movie's opening weekend in theaters and its debut on home video has been narrowing from about six months in 1994 to about four months in 2004.
This has theatre owners furious, since they presumably stand to lose out as people substitute away from their medium, but it seems to be strictly good news for movie lovers.

Todd Wagner makes two very perspicacious comments on the situation:
"If I hear a song on the radio, they don't say, `Five months from now you can buy the CD.'"

"It didn't kill professional sports when it was available simultaneously on different mediums," he said. "They cross promote each other and they're all doing just fine."
While theatres probably stand to lose, it's not as if watching a film at home on DVD is a perfect substitute for watching it in the theatre, so it's not as if DVD sales would completely crowd out movie-going. I'd go to the theatre to watch a movie I already own on DVD, in fact, if old movies were ever actually shown in the theatres. But they're not (except for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is not something I really want to see, much less see every Saturday evening). I don't know why--maybe there's just no market for it. But, damnit, there should be.

Coffee is good for you

Despite having an acidity to burn a whole in your stomach, nutritionists tell us that coffee is good for you. I love ex post justifications for something that I already do (here, drinking coffee). From the article:
Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet, according to a study released Sunday.
[...]
They concluded that the average adult consumes 1,299 milligrams of antioxidants daily from coffee. The closest competitor was tea at 294 milligrams. Rounding out the top five sources were bananas, 76 milligrams; dry beans, 72 milligrams; and corn, 48 milligrams. According to the Agriculture Department, the typical adult American drinks 1.64 cups of coffee daily.

That does not mean coffee is a substitute for fruit and vegetables.

"Unfortunately, consumers are still not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are better for you from an overall nutritional point of view due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber," Vinson said.
Now, I'm just waiting on the study that will tell me I don't have to eat fruits or vegetables. And in the meantime, I'll hold off on eating any of them.

In other news on the coffee front:
1) I got my Panera espresso card, whereby if I drink 8 espresso-based drinks, I get one free. This is huge.

2) Apparently, Starbucks and Panera both put two shots in their medium-sized espresso drinks. This means that when I habitually have gotten an extra shot, there has actually been three shots in there. Those wiley ol' coffee sellers!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hello Blog-o-Land!

Sometimes I look at the date of my last post, and it just doesn't make sense. How can it have been that long? How is it that I've seen Forty Year Old Virgin twice in the meantime? What happened to the month of August, anyway? College kids have already overrun my peaceful, trendy borough of Central West End, with their scavenger hunts and drinking and running around aimlessly, not-so-subtly reminding me of my schism with life at the academy.

Oh well. It's easy to get jazzed up about writing a blog entry about some recent event, and then give it up as soon as the ol' mind blanks when faced with a blank screen. Who's going to succeed Greenspan? Well, there are three principal candidates, and a couple of dark horses... but I don't really feel like looking up that third guy's name, and most of what I had to say was probably covered better in the article. Yeah. And just linking to the article is kind of lame, in a wanna-be-Drudge sort of way.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Top o' the World! (on Yahoo)

I always get a kick out of exactly which keyword searches on Yahoo! happen to put my blog on the very top. Part of the kick I get is the fact that my blog is not really anything to speak of, and so it doesn't really make sense to cite previous postings of mine on certain not-unimportant topics. Try some of these:

Why Wisconsin is better than IL

Cook County Correctional Facility [ Yeah, I really want THOSE hits. ]

Best proverb

the enjoyment obtained by putting a bare leg [ Yeah, that's odd. I'm glad I have a monopoly on THAT one. ]

This post is not an attempt at self-aggrandizement; no, it is merely to point out how search engines can get things screwy.

Post-college: Working full-time

Stop and think for a moment. As soon as you graduate college, you will (probably) be getting a full-time job sometime in the not-so-distant future. Let's suppose, now, that you have that job.

Unless you're somewhere in the field of education, never again will you have more than two consecutive weeks of freedom.

Now answer me this: how are you supposed to have time to play in the forest, read books and sip lemonade on your porch, or play in pick-up games of soccer? Surely two weeks every year is not enough to accomplish all the leisurely activities necessary.

I wonder if they include children in random airport/subway searches?

From today's AP wire:
Ingrid Sanden's 1-year-old daughter was stopped in Phoenix before boarding a flight home to Washington at Thanksgiving.

"I completely understand the war on terrorism, and I completely understand people wanting to be safe when they fly," Sanden said. "But focusing the target a little bit is probably a better use of resources."

"It was bizarre," Sanden said. "I was hugely pregnant, and I was like, 'We look really threatening.'"

Sarah Zapolsky and her husband had a similar experience last month while departing from Dulles International Airport outside Washington. An airline ticket agent told them their 11-month-old son was on the government list.

They were able to board their flight after ticket agents took a half-hour to fax her son's passport and fill out paperwork.
Now, as much as I understand the position of these parents, you have to consider the evil, discriminatory nature of age profiling.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Gasoline and inflation-adjusted prices

I hate seeing news stories that talk about how the price of gasoline has hit an "all-time high" or whatnot. (That reminds me: I wonder if gasoline used to be a trademark, and was written "Gas-o'-Line" or something.) Thankfully, the Wall Street Journal knows what it's doing when it comes to adjusting prices for inflation: from a story today ("Fed's Fight Squeezes Banks, Spooks Markets"):
Also weighing on stocks was another 22-year high for crude oil, which jumped $1.63 to $63.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It is up 47% this year, although still below the inflation-adjusted record of $94.77, hit in 1980. Oil rose yesterday on fears of supply problems and on reports of threats to the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia. Investors worry that high oil prices could both spark inflation and hold down economic growth.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

ACLU sues NYC over Subway Searches

The AP reports today that the ACLU has filed suit against NYC for their recently-implemented policy of conducting random searches.

The ACLU has come down on the right side of the issue. From their associate legal director, Christopher Dunn: "What is the point of searching a bunch of grandmas going down the subway steps with their Macy's bags?"

But the irony of hearing this out of the mouth of the ACLU is hard to miss. Indeed, the ACLU's website has a section devoted to racial profiling which urges activists to send their congressmen letters in opposition to the issue. (I will leave aside the issue of who is most affected by profiling.) Dunn seems to understand the rationale for criminal profiling (using information to narrow down the pool of possible criminals), but doesn't want to apply it consistently.

Also, it's hard to see how these types of searches, though ineffective, are "akin to a random search of people's bags and packages on public streets and a violation of a fundamental civil right". The analogy simply isn't there. Airports are owned by municipalities, but there would clearly be problems with prohibiting searching air passengers.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Profiling in England

They're starting to catch on in England. Drudge linked to a story today from the British newpaper The Evening Standard, which reads in part:
[British Transport Police] Chief Constable Ian Johnston said that his officers would not "waste time searching old white ladies".
The British police seem to have taken the opposite tack of the NYPD, which has actually managed to implement a program of searching subway passengers that rules out catching any terrorists.