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Show Him the Money

Posted on July 12th, 2010 at 20:08 by John Sinteur in category: News


The same lobbyist recounted what he learned. “Donohue said, first, you walk into the room with the CEO and you hit the key issues,” said the lobbyist. “Then you sit in closer to them. And you make ‘the ask.’ You look right into their eyes and say, ‘As a result of what the Chamber is doing for your industry, I need a hundred thousand dollars.’ Or, ‘I need a million dollars.’ And then you smile and you shut your mouth. Your instinct is to start talking because you’re nervous. Don’t. Just smile and stare. And wait.” The lobbyist, who’d been trained well by Donohue, leaned forward and stared at me as I sat listening. I became nervous. I shifted in my chair. I started laughing, then stopped. He just stared. After a long pause he leaned back and said, “I tell you, there were people in that room who pissed in their pants.”

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2010 World Cup comes to a close – The Big Picture

Posted on July 12th, 2010 at 20:04 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


After a month of matches, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament is over, with Spain claiming its first ever trophy, the Netherlands placing second, and Germany taking third place. 32 teams came to South Africa last month, and the eyes of the world were upon them as television and online viewership broke records, and in many places productivity dropped sharply when matches were being played. Collected here are photos from the second half of the tournament (see earlier entries: 1, 2, 3), the action on the fields, and the reactions of those following the games in both South Africa and their home countries, as we bid farewell to the 2010 World Cup. (44 photos total)

Brazil’s Robinho (center) argues with Netherlands’ Mark van Bommel next to Nigel de Jong (left) and Andre Ooijer during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker) #

Netherlands fans form a sea of orange as they watch the 2010 World Cup final between Netherlands and Spain on a large screen near the Rijksmuseum on July 11, 2010 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Christopher Lee/Getty Images) #

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World War II was totally unoriginal

Posted on July 12th, 2010 at 20:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


As I mentioned in my last entry, I’ve been watching Babylon 5 lately. It’s not a perfect show, but it has one big advantage: it’s consistent and believable.

Contrast this with Doctor Who. Doctor Who is fun to watch, but if you think about it for more than two seconds you notice it’s full of plot holes and contradictions. Things that cause time travel paradoxes that threaten to destroy the universe one episode go without a hitch the next. And the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver, and the Doctor’s biology gain completely different powers no one’s ever alluded to depending on the situation. The aliens are hysterically unlikely, often without motives or believable science, the characters will do any old insane thing when it makes the plot slightly more interesting, and everything has either a self-destruct button or an easily findable secret weakness that it takes no efforts to defend against.

But I guess I’m not complaining. If the show was believable, the Doctor would have gotten killed the first time he decided to take on a massive superadvanced alien invasion force by walking right up to them openly with no weapons and no plan. And then they would have had to cancel the show, and then I would lose my chance to look at the pretty actress who plays Amy Pond.

So Doctor Who is not a complete loss. But then there are some shows that go completely beyond the pale of enjoyability, until they become nothing more than overwritten collections of tropes impossible to watch without groaning.

I think the worst offender here is the History Channel and all their programs on the so-called "World War II".

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  1. Babylon 5 was, overall, one of the best sci-fi TV shows made by Western TV. An epic story filled with believable, and often heavily flawed, characters told across 5 years. Its competition at the time was Star Trek which often seemed to reboot the universe (and the rules, relationships, technology etc) every episode.

    Star Trek often LOOKED better because they had a budget 50% bigger than anything JMS had to work with and it tended to show.

    Babylon 5’s first few episodes of the first season are fairly wooden and the ‘look’ of the aliens changed a lot during this time. I’m still surprised the show made it past this point but from there on, it went from strength to strength and I’m still unhappy that Crusade was cancelled because the idiot studio execs kept wanting to stick their oar in.

    Legend of the Rangers is still one of the biggest might-have-beens I know about…

Gryffindor won the House Cup!

Posted on July 12th, 2010 at 14:18 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. … and Wim-Lex & Max from Hufflepuff don’t look too pleased!

Hans Rosling on global population growth

Posted on July 12th, 2010 at 12:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


Hans Rosling, who helped usher in TED talks way back when using stunning visuals, envisions how the world will look in 50 years as global population grows to 9 billion. To check further population growth, which might have disastrous consequences, he exhorts us to raise the living standards of the poorest.
The Asian century calls for a rethink on growth – “What is really needed, though, is a new approach to growth. Noeleen Heyzer, head of the UN’s economic and social commission for Asia and the Pacific, says the impact of trying to maintain the existing growth pattern over the next 15 years would be environmentally and socially devastating.”

It is time for Asia to rewrite the rules of capitalism – “The western economic model, which defines success as consumption-driven growth, must be challenged.”

Marx Awakes as China Rises – “Something like 800 million Chinese will be moving from the country to the city in coming decades… Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, ironically, were the first to analyze the phenomenon. Peasants, they said, were hard to organize. (Marx compared them to potatoes, who could only be organized by putting them into a sack.) Factory workers are different. They work together, rather than each on his or her own tiny plot of land. Their interests are distinct from the factory owners, and easy to recognize. They have many opportunities to build trust and to organize on and off the job. They also have power; when peasants quit farming, they starve. When workers lay down their tools (especially in a tight labor market), the factory lies idle, costing the owner.” [1,2]

Sweet Spot for China’s Blue-Collar Revolution – “Manufacturers are strong enough to pay higher wages, but will other players adjust to China’s new labor environment?”

China Fears Warming Effects of Consumer Wants – “Experts worry that as China’s 1.3 billion people clamor for more cars and creature comforts, international efforts to limit global warming could be doomed.”

Can China cope with its massive urban population growth? – “How can China meet its energy-efficiency targets as it faces the huge demand growth expected to meet the requirements of 700 million urbanites by 2015?”

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xkcd: Dilution

Posted on July 12th, 2010 at 10:16 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections for your July issue.  One, it's spelled "echinacea", and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham

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