Life Suppositions

One thing I forgot to mention in talking about Lost in Translation, yesterday: there was a scene where Johansson and Murray are talking, and she says, "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do". I didn't think anything of it last time I watched the movie, but it bothered me this time, because I think it's entirely the wrong way to look at things.

"What can I do that I enjoy doing, and will make me enough money to live on" is, I think, a much better question. Or, if money is less of an issue, perhaps something closer to, "What can I do to help other people", which might well lead to something like the Peace Corps. (And as a side note, while I never did, or even considered, the Peace Corps, the people who I've met who've done it have uniformly impressed me. I'd definitely recommend it, if you're thinking about it.)


How do we know, what we know, even if we don't know that we really know it?

I mostly enjoyed Jeff Passan's 25 Things column (tip o' the cap to Neyer).

I definitely did learn a few things in there. One of them, and I'm surprised Neyer didn't mention this, as he's a big fan of knuckleballers in general, is that it looks like it might be time for Tim Wakefield to retire. His knuckleball is the worst off-speed pitch in the majors so far this year. That surprised me a great deal, even if Wakefield didn't seem to be doing so great (ok, yes, that's an understatement) in my casual following of his performances.

One disappointment was in note thirteen. For pitchers, what he says about it being largely a luck-based metric is true (not entirely, but mostly). Hitters, however, do show the ability to influence their BABIP from season to season. That being said, Teixeira does seem largely a victim of bad luck, as xBABIP does indicate.

The two notes about Tyler Clippard were pretty cool.

Ahh, the other note I had a bit of an issue with was calling Billy Sullivan's 1909 ISO of .012 the most unbreakable record in baseball. Obviously it's incredibly unlikely, but I could envision someone managing it. Tug McGraw's number of seasons as a manager, though, or Cy Young's win total? I cannot envision either of those ever being broken. Well, maybe the former, if medical anti-geriatric advances improve as much as some people believe they will. Though, even then, it would be awfully unlikely.

Oh, and the peripheral note about Gagne's 2003 season FIP? Had missed that one. Very cool.


I watched My Super Ex-Girlfriend again the other day. Something had put me in mind to watch it a few days before, so I finally watched it.

I remembered liking it when I watched it the first time, but really couldn't remember much of anything specific about it.

It was pretty funny, even the second time, although without remembering much more, I still wouldn't have called her back after the first date if it had been me. Egads; scary. Good performance by Uma for that. And I did like the way the whole situation was resolved. Kind of pat, but it worked.

Like many rom-coms, pretty cheesy, but enjoyable. I'm sure I'll watch it again some time.

I was amused after watching Lost in Translation again the day after. I hadn't realized that Anna Faris was in both. Supporting roles in both, but well done (even if her movie star in LiT was a bit out of touch, if appropriately so).

Lost in Translation was another that I couldn't remember much about. It was really nice to see it in high def (the only advantage to HD-DVD going away is that you can now get movies dirt-cheap, although I've now got just about everything I'd ever want that was published in the format); the first time I watched it the picture was terrible.

I think it might have been the slowest US movie I've ever seen; very quiet, as well. Johansson and Murray both gave strong performances, and I liked the movie, although I'm not sure it deserves praise as high as it has gotten.

But it is a very nice, introspective movie. Definitely worth watching, at least once.

I am Lion, hear me roar

I finally upgraded my main machine at home to Lion yesterday. Early returns leave me mostly indifferent. Despite my iPhone/iPad experience, I find Launchpad to be not so useful on the Desktop. Mission Control seems ok, but Cmd-tab has always worked well enough for me. And I'm trying to get used to it, but I suspect I'll switch Mail back to the old interface.

And the reversal of scrolling is really irritating me. Can the "reverse" work? Of course it can; when I played Quake 2 a lot I swapped the up-and-down viewing the same way. But the problem is that a) I'm long since used to scrolling the old way and b) I still need to use windows and linux machines at work, which keeps me from getting entirely accustomed to the new way.

What I am more excited about is that I recently discovered Plex, and that rocks. Especially once I got the iOS app for my iPad so I can stream from my library straight to that. And finding that I can send my Aperture library to it as well? That was just the cherry on top. Seriously sweet. Not perfect; there still are a few bugs. But really nice.

Getting back to Lion, though, it's definitely been underwhelming. Not terrible, but not terribly exciting, either. On the plus side, it was cheap enough that the improved internals alone are probably worth the upgrade.

Oh, and one other bit of annoyance; support for PPC apps was dropped. I had a bridge game I played quite a bit that I can't play any more (well, not on this machine, anyway). And nobody is making any bridge games in the App Store. A little bit of searching did just turn up Bridge Pro. It's very expensive, but I'll have to give some thought as to whether or not it's worth it. I do like bridge a lot.

A book to look into

I went poking around a used-book store today, thinking about trading in a number of books that I have. I didn't see very much, which was disappointing, but I did run across one book that has me curious.

It's The Looking Glass Wars, and I wonder if it was any part of the inspiration for the recent Alice in Wonderland movie I discussed.

A brief look is enough to show it not to be the entire inspiration, but I wonder if it was part of the gestalt. I need to look into this book in the near future.

Great moments in sports writing

I was looking at the Post several days ago, and found two particularly silly things in the same day (last Wednesday).

First, we had Rick Maese talking about the Redskins troubles in the red zone (never mind that two games is far from enough to draw any firm conclusions about this), where we learned that game-plan is, apparently, a verb. There was this gem that ran, "Because it’s only preseason, the Redskins didn’t game plan specific red-zone plays...". Would it really have been that difficult to just say, "Because it’s only preseason, the Redskins didn’t plan opponent-specific (or, perhaps, defense-specific) red-zone plays..."? Which of those sounds like it came from a native English speaker?

And then we had Tom Boswell. As an aside, I see a lot of people online saying that they love Boswell, and wish he did a column every day; I don't get it. I more often find him idiotic. Case in point, on that day, he wrote, "My two-cent, two-eye verdict: He’s back. Almost all the way back, give or take some rust on his curve and issues with command that he will fix". Am I saying he's wrong with that statement? Well, yes and no. That probably is right, as to where he is in his recovery. But the problem with it is that that's always the last part to come back from ligament replacement surgery (and the most important). So his statement is a little like saying, "He's entirely recovered, except where he isn't". Duh.


Sometimes you need to step back

I just got For Your Eyes Only, and watched a few minutes out of a 'Making Of' documentary included on the disk. They mentioned that it was following up on Moonraker, and how successful Moonraker was (news to me; I thought it was supposed to be one of the worst Bond films). Anyway, the key point is that Moonraker was pretty far out there (in many different ways), and they realized that they needed to take a step back; if they tried to out-do it, they were going to lose all believability.

What I found hilarious about that is that, with the exception of Casino Royale, the last five to ten Bond films have just been completely detached from reality. Really, I was excited when Pierce Brosnan was named as the new Bond way back when; I'd been hoping for that since the idea of him doing that was first mooted in the late 80s (damn you, NBC!). But only one of his was even decent; they pretty much all failed on the believability scale.

So United Artists needs to go back and re-learn a lesson they first learned thirty years ago. Really, they should have retired the franchise a decade ago (we would have missed out on the excellent, if out of character, Casino Royale, but that's life). I hope they'll either re-learn that lesson, or retire the series.

Hard-luck Chuck

I'd watched a couple of episodes of Chuck when it was on the air, and found it decent. A friend has been watching it a lot more, and convinced me to check it out a bit more thoroughly. I got the first season, and just finished watching it.

So, what to make of it? I'm not sure. I've definitely generally enjoyed watching it. The way that they deal with classified data, and such, is ludicrous. And their grasp of Constitutional issues is... weak, to say the least. And Sarah's cover is pretty bad, with her Porsche and expensive apartment, while working at a hot dog store.

It does generally manage to be pretty funny, though, and the interplay between Chuck and Sarah is pretty entertaining, if sometimes a bit strained.

I also like the human touch they try to add, not just in the Chuck and Sarah relationship, but also in how Chuck tries to deal with the various challenges thrown his way. Similarly, I mostly like what they did with Brice (except for the unbelievable ego of the man, directing Chuck's life like he did).

So, I think I'll at least watch another season sometime soon. One thing I keep thinking, though, is about the old show Moonlighting. I really, really liked the show, but it definitely dropped off a cliff when the two principles (Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd) finally got together. I suspect the same dynamic would apply here. And I wonder, without having watched too much, how they've managed to maintain that unstable situation over four seasons.

In any event, nothing to compare to Pushing Daisies, but still a good show.


I experienced my first earthquake this afternoon. It felt rather like the trucks that go by our house with regularity, except a bit more of it and lasting slightly longer. It also made a lot more noise from the house (particularly the garage door, it sounded like). Given that there was no damage while it was happening, and I was in my driveway, it was actually pretty neat.

When my wife got home with our (infant) son, I asked him about his first earthquake, but neither of them had noticed (they were likely driving at the time).

I was really surprised to hear the magnitude, a bit later. I had guessed right around 4.0, based on that's the point where damage generally starts happening, and that, while nothing broke, I wouldn't have been surprised to find things pretty close. So I was shocked (if very thankful) when they announced that it was a 5.9 (later revised down to 5.8). After going through the house pretty thoroughly, we found a couple of small things that fell down or over, but, luckily, nothing broken.

Weird year, this year, for sure. Freak macroburst taking out lots of trees, and leaving us without power for several days, and now an earthquake. We definitely live in interesting times.


A Matter of Trust

Via Brin, via NPR, the Washington Post reports about how Afghan military contracts were ending up going to insurgents, and how they're doing better about it.

Now, color me skeptical, but hopeful, about whether all that is true. But what I really wanted to highlight is this:
“I think we’ve finally got our arms around this thing,” said a senior military officer who was authorized to discuss the matter only on the condition of anonymity.

What I want to focus on is this little nugget at the end: [he] was authorized to discuss the matter only on the condition of anonymity.

Why the hell does anyone need authorization to speak anonymously? It speaks to fundamental dishonesty somewhere along the way. We're talking about someone giving the official line, but being told to do so under cover of darkness. The military is not standing by this statement. It's just being thrown out there, hoping that it makes people feel better. Given that it's being reported, I suppose it is probably doing that, too.

Let's remember, too, that the Post has guidelines for when to grant anonymity, and is supposed to tell us why that source is credible if the source must remain confidential. Those guidelines are not available to the public, but there's some discussion about them here. I'm trying to find where I found more discussion (I'm pretty sure it was on Glenn Greenwald's blog some time back), but haven't found it yet. In any event, this goes against everything I remember about those guidelines. You might note, too, that this isn't in some half-hidden blog at the Post, it's in their foreign policy section.

This is one of the news outlets that's supposed to always be on the ball about verifying facts, and not putting out half-baked information. This sounds decidedly half-baked.

And really, why should we give any credence to what this person is saying?


Panning for gold

I watched the old classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre last night. I'd heard a great deal about it, but didn't get around to buying it until very recently.

It's very much a morality tale about the dangers of greed and excessive money. It starts with Humphrey Bogart, broke in Tampico, Mexico, begging for money from Americans. It progresses with him getting a short-term job and then getting swindled by the guy who hired him. He does meet another broke American, Curtin, while working, and they become companions for a bit.

While laying out in a flophouse, they hear an old prospector talk about looking for gold, and how no amount is ever enough. He caps it off by saying something like, "Never heard of a gold digger that died rich". Curtin and Dobbs (Bogart) talk about how it wouldn't change them, but move on.

A couple of days later, they run into the guy that swindled them, and he offers them a drink, saying that he still can't pay them as he hasn't been paid. A fight breaks out, where Dobbs and Curtin manage to knock out the swindler. We see that they're basically honest men, as they only take from him what is owed, even though the man had more.

But then they find the old prospector, pool their money, and agree to outfit themselves and go searching in the mountains.

As could be predicted, based on the initial conversation with the prospector, things head south pretty seriously as soon as they find gold. Paranoia sets in with the younger men (particularly with Dobbs), and they start fighting each other (verbally, mostly).

Eventually, after being found by others, they decide that they've made enough money, and can head home. On the way, some Indians come to them, asking for help with a little boy who drowned (they think). The old prospector agrees to help, and catches up the next day after saving the boy. The Indians return soon after, saying they must thank the prospector, and insisting that he return with them. He reluctantly agrees, leaving the other two with all of the money (he will join them later). After he goes, things really break down between Curtin and Dobbs, as Dobbs' paranoia reaches new heights.

He eventually shoots Curtin, and keeps going. Soon, almost back to civilization, he is caught by a couple of bandits that he's seen before. After some back and forth, they end up killing him. Not recognizing the gold as such (it was basically dust, and easy to mistake for sand, as was pointed out earlier in the movie), they dump it on the ground. When they get to town, the burros are recognized, leading to the bandits being recognized and killed by authorities.

Meanwhile, Curtin was not killed, and managed to find his way to the indians. He was mostly healed by the old man (who had become the medicine man for the tribe), and they set out (with Indians) to find Dobbs. Obviously, they didn't make it in time, but showed up in town just after the bandits were killed. They were given the rest of their stuff, but went back to find the gold. A huge wind storm came up as they got close, though, and blew the gold away. They realized that soon, and made their plans for the future.

It was a very well-acted movie, with outstanding performances by all three of the principals. Walter Huston (father of the director, John Huston) won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor award for his performance.

One thing I found very interesting is that there were a number of conflicts, and despite having weapons at hand for most of them, they didn't always devolve into gun fights. As a contrast with many modern movies, there was one point where they were going to shoot the Indians, but realized that the rest of the tribe would quickly kill them if they did.

Another point that was interesting was the appearance of the gold. It put me in mind of reading Collapse, by Jared Diamond, which opens by talking about the environmental damage done in Montana by gold mines. I guess there were several differences: the scale of the minds, and final processing. Perhaps the steps that turned the dust in the movie into blocks of pure gold were what did all that environmental damage. In fact, thinking about it, there was actually a nod to environmentalism w/r/t the mine in the movie. That can't have been a popular viewpoint back then.

Anyway, the movie was an interesting view on how money can work on people. It gives an idea of the sort of thing that frequently happens with, for instance, winners of big lottery prizes. But what really got me thinking was when, in the movie, they started speculating on what they'd do with the money, that maybe gives a bit of insight. That is, they were seeing themselves as being changed, as evidenced by their plans (and, not coincidentally, I think, Dobbs was changed the most), and I wonder if that, in and of itself, is actually the biggest danger. Plus, of course, once you have something to lose, you become afraid of losing it.

I don't really know that there's a recipe for not losing yourself, although I wonder if not planning on any major changes would be a bigger first step than ever occurred to me before.

I will have to give this a bit more thought...


Who is the enemy?

I recently ran across a blog by a former Navy Warrant Officer called StoneKettle. It's fairly entertaining and well written (though with a fairly aggressively unfriendly notice about copying), but I mostly wanted to point out to this golden quote that succinctly summarizes much of what passes for political debate in this country.

If you see your neighbors as the enemy, it should come as little surprise when your elected officials do likewise.

I'm not really good at this, and not sure how to get around "the other side" doing this to you, but it's really important that we do. And, by extension, we need to have debates that are grounded in actual facts (because if you can't agree on those, the idea of compromise and agreement is impossible).


Rating the USA

Well, it seems that the S&P actually did lower the US' debt rating. I'm reminded of reading about the ratings agency guys in Michael Lewis' The Big Short that they were the short-bus guys. The ones who couldn't get jobs at the investment houses.

Looking at this, this, and this, I can see where that impression arises.

And this is also kind of amusing. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I wonder what Apple, with their $76B in cash has for a rating. You've got to think that when cash on hand is enough to keep the company running for multiple years, that the odds of bankruptcy (and that's what the rating is supposed to measure) is pretty low.

Strung Together

I find it pretty funny that, last year, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis worked together on "Black Swan". But this year, they're both doing sex-buddy movies. In fact, I wonder if Kunis' Friends With Benefits was done specifically to compete with No Strings Attached (only because the latter was released earlier, although as Antz shows, that's a much less than perfect barometer on which to judge).

I haven't seen FWB yet, although I watched No Strings Attached last night. I didn't have much in the way of expectations; I like Portman, of course, but was unaware of or didn't know the rest of the cast. Kutcher has struck me (rightly or wrongly) as a bit of a goof, and I hadn't seen him in anything except The 70s Show, but he was very good.

Kevin Kline was also, as usual, very good (I hadn't been aware of him being in it). And Cary Elwes even had a small role. I'm not sure I'd seen him in anything since Robin Hood: Men in Tights (and he looked a lot different; I didn't recognize him at all), but I've liked him most of the time. Lake Bell also did a fabulous job in a supporting role as the helper (aide de camp?) of the head of the TV show on which Kutcher worked. The scene where her and Kutcher got together was really painful, but in an appropriate way with how we'd seen her on the set, previously.

Story-wise? There was an awful lot of chance involved in them meeting so many times over so many years. Doing this sort of movie with a doctor-in-residency I have some problems with, as well. I heard, long ago, that the divorce rates for doctors-in-residency were astronomically high; I tried looking that up, with limited success. Maybe it isn't as high as I heard, although I wonder how it couldn't be very high.

The hours that they work are absurd, and not healthy for anyone. Not for the doctor, not for their SOs, and, most importantly, not for their patients. I just don't see how they have time for anything resembling a healthy relationship. My hat's off to those who do manage it.

Anyway, I'm getting a bit off-topic here.

I guess one thing that was weird for me was that I've never been in a relationship anything like that. I've never gotten into a relationship where I didn't at least see the potential for the relationship to go somewhere (well, at least nothing beyond hanging out together).

But, getting back to the point, I mostly did like the writing in the movie. It was low-key, and not clever, but did a solid job of conveying what it needed to convey. My only issue was that it did seem to be a bit one-sided. It done to totally build up Kutcher's character, and mostly to knock on Portman's character. More than a few times, I found myself wondering why he was interested in her. Initially? Sure. But after a little bit, it didn't seem like she had any business being in a long-term relationship with anyone. (Tangentially, though, I loved her response to Kline's announcement that he and Kutcher's left-over were thinking of having a kid. I was surprised, watching that scene, that it wasn't that they were already having a kid. Thank goodness for that.) I suppose it might be partially my lack of comprehension of that kind of relationship that leads to my surprise about him sticking around; as I said, I don't get that, either.

Overall, I thought it was an ok movie, but nothing special. And, given that it stars Natalie Portman, that qualifies as a disappointment.


Leaping through Summer

I haven't been watching nearly as much anime recently as used to be the case; a lot of it being in the form of TV shows which take much longer to watch is definitely part of the reason. Not buying directly from importers anymore also doesn't help, as I don't get much new stuff. Amazon's generally (periodically they do good sales) crappy discount on anime also doesn't help; as near as I can tell, it averages about half as much as standard fare.

But I have gotten a few newer things recently that I've found time to watch.

The first was Summer Wars, and today I watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Summer Wars follows a shy but brilliant (mathematically), high-school boy who agrees to help an upperclassman (man, upperclass-woman sounds unwieldy) who is going home to visit her family. What he doesn't find out until they get to her ancestral home (and yes, the place deserves that description) is that, beyond helping her with her luggage, is that he's supposed to be a university student (at the top school in Japan) studying abroad, and engaged to Natsuki.

Things really start getting complicated when someone starts taking over the global computer network (Oz), and Kenji is blamed for it. Kenji is pretty sure he's innocent, but unable to prove it immediately.

In any event, the story whirls around his interactions with the family and what's going on in Oz. Natsuki's slightly-older, black-sheep cousin also has an important part to play, but is with the rest of the family, with Oz, or with Natsuki?

Natsuki, in fact, spends almost the entire movie as a McGuffin to put Kenji there.

So, was it good? It was excellent. The family is very complex, and mostly believable (the characters are believable; some of the stuff they have access to? Not so much). I really, really like the grandmother. She is just the epitome of wise, above-it-all matriarch. Kenji was also a good character, and the Oz environment was really neat.

I will definitely watch this one again.

And as I mentioned, I watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time earlier today. In fact, I brought my infant son in the room when I went to watch it, and let him play on the floor. By the time it was over, my wife and daughter had joined us, and both of the kids had fallen asleep.

So where does the name come from? Makoto is on her way home from school, and finds her brakes out when going down a long hill. She hits the barrier stopping people from crossing the train tracks at the bottom, and flies over it, into the path of the train. Suddenly, she finds herself on the ground with her bike, about halfway up the hill, having run over a woman she had narrowly missed the first time around.

With a little experimentation, she figures out that she can jump backwards in time by literally jumping, and thinking of the time she wants to go to. She uses it for some incredibly trivial things which work out well for her the first few times, but later finds that things don't work out like she likes. She also sees that some other people take the pain when she tries to get out of bad situations.

Eventually, things really come to a head when some classmates are going to be killed. Can she save them? Is there a reason why she has this ability? Can she keep doing it forever? Will she ever go on a date? And who is her "Aunt Witch"?

This is a beautifully-executed story with a bit of a lesson (albeit a pretty predictable one). It's very touching.

Like most time-travel stories, it is not completely consistent, but is much closer than most.

The last question above is actually the most interesting, although I can't explain the how of the answer. I think I need to watch the whole thing again (maybe even more than once). And definitely listen more closely to the dialogue when doing so.

In the end, I highly recommend this one (and strongly recommend going for the blu-ray release of both of these, if possible. They both take good advantage).

Oh yeah. There's a bonus trailer in the latter movie for another title called The Girl Who Leapt Through Space. The Japanese titles are not nearly as close as the english ones. In fact, they're almost completely different, and the stories appear to even be done by different studios. Do not be suckered in.


What price, success?

Well, it appears that the answer is 1.8M jobs. But, hey, what's another percent added to unemployment, as long as no new taxes are raised, right?


Everyone goes home happy?

Well, it appears that a debt ceiling deal is done, and everyone is going home happy. Except those people who, you know, actually worry about putting the economy back into recession.

The only good thing about this deal is that the cuts are minimal for the next two years. And half of those cuts are in the military, where it is easy for the effect of them to disappear. So that's something. But affecting the wealthy? That's still unthinkable, apparently.

And now we'll have a "supercommittee" that will capitulate further to Republican demands or deadlock, leaving a dreadful run of cuts all over the place, hurting everyone. It'll probably push the entire economy back into recession, if the last week or so's worth of economic indicators is to be believed. 1937, here we come. Yay.

I guess it's good to be completely intrasigent, because apparently that gets you everything you want.

It really would be nice if we had a Democratic President. The only good thing I can really say about his policies is that they're moderate, rather than extreme. Given all the extremists running on the other side, I guess that is something, but damned cold comfort. I certainly thought we were electing a Democrat, and maybe even a real progressive. But apparently those fall into the same category as unicorns and dancing faeries. Sigh.

Eli's Tome

I got Book of Eli mostly for my wife a while ago (she's a bit Denzel fan). We finally tried to watch it Saturday, but, for some reason, the blu-ray player didn't want to output sound at all. After monkeying around with everything for a while, I finally tried unplugging the blu-ray player for a minute. For unknown reasons, it worked perfectly after that.

But it was really too late to watch it at that point (started trying pretty late, plus there were some other hindrances), so we went to sleep.

We tried again last night, and things worked much better.

It was a very interesting movie; I liked the slow start that very slowly filled in the background. But the whole premise was a bit weird; if a book is going to be hard to find, the Bible is the very last one I would guess. There are just too many copies in existence; heck, how many Gideon Bibles exist in hotel rooms across the country?

I suppose it's probably just me, but I'm also a bit uncomfortable mixing science fiction (particularly on Earth) with a faith-driven story.

There were some other major flaws as well: life will not last thirty years without copious water. They seemed to have Eli living on sixteen ounces or less of water a day; that just isn't enough. More importantly, there must be green, growing things, and those need even more water. If the bottom of the food chain is kicked out, the top cannot survive. Canned food is not going to last anywhere near that long (except stuff coming out of MREs). And scavengers will not have that kind of extra flesh. And with no agriculture, there won't be anything except scavengers.

I also wondered why the Alcatraz people, whoever they were, being so excited about a working (if manual) printing press. I guess there's some value in archival, but with a near-zero literacy rate you really need to start from the ground up, and a printing press doesn't do a whole lot for that.

And let's not even get started on an iPod lasting 30 years. Especially one with a (magnetic) hard drive.

Another minor issue: the size of the Bible. I knew, based on once having part of a Playboy in braille (part of, because the full magazine was published in seven pieces, and I only had one piece (itself larger than the normal, printed mag)), that a braille bible would be way larger than that. Looking it up, I can find a King James Bible that was published in eighteen volumes, each the size of the one in the movie.

Not-so-minor: you don't get that good at shooting a weapon without practicing. Practicing takes a lot of ammo. Ammo, it seems (to hear characters talk), is basically non-existent.

Similarly, three vehicles leave town. One blows up (and that grenade throw, to a moving vehicle, having never practiced? To say nothing of that being the most powerful grenade the world has ever seen). One turns around with barely enough gas to return. And the third has enough gas to drive all the way to San Fran? When the characters don't seem to know about the existence of San Fran? And when the clapboard house from which they drove seems midwestern? And when the vehicle has been heavily armored (mentioned because of its effect on gas mileage)?

And the odds of surviving that firefight, shooting from obvious locations, protected only by clapboard? Oy. Hmm... and the RPG didn't ignite the house. And, for that matter, they weren't afraid to use that RPG when they knew they wanted a book out of the house?

There were also a couple of scenes showing people with gas masks; who's making new filter cartridges for those masks?

I really find myself wondering how anyone could survive without being close to the shore (which is to say, within a mile or so of water, with closer being preferred).

I did like the five minutes of back-story they did on Carnegie; I guessed roughly how he was planning on using the book, but it was good to see what gave him the idea and drive. Of course, I suppose even that ignored one thing; if he thought it was so important, why didn't he get a copy when it was easy (ie: before the war).

Aside from all those issues, there really wasn't anything surprising going on. The biggest surprise was the braille; we were expecting either blank pages (my wife) or a booby-trap (me). Blank probably would have been better than braille; it really would have forced home the faith-driven aspect of the movie.

I'd classify the whole thing as well-acted and beautifully shot, but poorly conceived. I wonder how I would have reacted to the graphic novel; I suspect I would have liked it better. Part of that is that some of the flaws would not have been as obvious. In particular, the lack of vegetation would not have jumped out at the viewer as it did. It also might not have been as obvious how much was being stored in such a small backpack.

In any event, I have to rate it as, overall, disappointing. I wouldn't say it was bad, as most of those flaws are easy to overlook, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to see it again.