Days of future x-es

A friend and I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past yesterday, and I was pleasantly very surprised.

I noted with some surprise that the Xavier and Magneto from X-Men: First Class were in the trailer at all.  The movie turned out to be set up to take place not too long after First Class (well, at least well before current day).  The future part of it took place probably about ten years in the future (relative to today).

To get it out of the way very quickly, this did a terrible job of keeping with the specifics of what happened in the original comics, but a fantastic job of keeping with the feel of it.  And despite my love for the original comics, that is more important.

So the broad outline kept with the original; someone's mind was sent into the past to prevent the Sentinel program from being started, and from turning the US into a huge concentration camp for all mutants and mutant supporters (and pretty well wrecking the world for everyone else, too).

The nexus for the prevention had to do with keeping Mystique (with her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, in the original) from killing someone whose death would drive support for the program (Bolivar Trask, the designer, here.  Senator Robert Kelly, in the original).

Mystique, in the movie, is a much more sympathetic character (in the original, she was a cardboard-cutout bad guy, more or less.  At least to that point in the comic), and much deeper.  And her motivation is much more visceral than the fairly vague terrorism intended in the original.

Xavier and Magneto are primary characters in the movie, despite being window dressing in the original.  While that's a little weird, it works pretty well.  In the movie, we see Professor X going through an existential crisis, helped through it by Wolverine, of all people.  That was definitely playing against type for both, but it worked.

Magneto had been in jail (under the Pentagon, which was very, very strange) in the movie, and the heroes' first move is to bust him out, with a large helping hand from Quicksilver.  He made a funny character as a larcenous 15 year old, and I really liked how they used him.  In particular, the kitchen sequence, if a bit strained in one or two of the details, was really neat.

I did like that they worked in (at least the implication of) Magneto being Quicksilver's father, although I wish they'd worked the Scarlet Witch in, as well.  Despite remembering very little of issues I saw of her (Vision and the Scarlet Witch, as well as her occasional appearances in X-comics), I remember liking her.

The one thing I didn't like about the movie was that Magneto kept being able to manipulate metals in ways he couldn't possibly visualize (at least, not accurately), but that was a fairly minor thing.  (Well, it was even more minor, but it was a little weird that the X-Men of the future, in the opening sequence, were one-on-one not a match for the Sentinels, but needed to be overwhelmed by numbers at the end.)  One thing I didn't understand was how Kitty was able to send Wolverine back in time; I've seen a few variations of Kitty, but none of them had telepathy.  Rachel had to send Kitty back (telepathically) in the original.

One thing that was different, and probably not as good, was that the X-Men in the future were merely running for their lives.  In the original, they attacked the Sentinels HQ in hopes of slowing them down before the Sentinels triggered nuclear Armageddon.

What I meant about them keeping the feel of the original was that they were basically all killed, but it's a big difference between trying to survive and trying to make a difference.  Still, it worked on its own.

One bit that I found interesting was how the climactic sequence was largely stolen from the end of the first story arc of Ultimate X-Men, although they changed the ending a bit.  There was a cutaway shot of Quicksilver at home, there, and I expected them to go from that to the same ending, but it was a more compact resolution (in terms of characters used).

The one thing I ended up unsure about was how they're going forward.  It essentially rebooted out of existence X-Men The Last Stand, which might not be a bad thing (my memories of that one are pretty fleeting).

Regardless of all that, I did like this movie quite a bit.  A lot more than I expected to, for instance.  It held together very well, and didn't feel like a betrayal of the original, despite few of the same characters appearing.  And, like I said, it kept much of the original's feel.

It might well be the best X-Men movie adaptation yet (though it's true that I haven't even seen The Wolverine), though I'm still holding out hope for an adaptation of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine.

Oh, and I just remembered the easter egg at the end, implicating Apocalypse (though a shockingly normal-looking one) as the villain of the next movie.  We'll see.


Steampunk revolution?

I've been listening to a bit of Abney Park the last couple of days, and I'm fairly amused by a few things.  The biggest is that they call it Steampunk music; that makes sense for some things, but I'm not at all sure it does for music.  (And yes, I've never been into it, but I've known of the existence of steampunk since around when Gibson's Difference Engine came out.  And trying to look up the year for that, 1991, has made me aware that I've lost my copies of both that and, more importantly, Neuromancer.  Not cool.)

But mostly I'm amused at their song, Steampunk Revolution.  To be clear, I do like the song, but the video has lots of pictures (and video) of steampunk things people have made.  What I find amusing about that is the combination of saying that they're going back to 1886 and the reliance on modern things.  (Plus, it just hit me that it disses evolution, which theory goes back to the late 1830s.)

What sorts of things?  Primarily transportation infrastructure, but also availability of highly precise, machined parts and of modern materials (especially different kinds of fabric, but it would also encompass how much better made even the metals are than back "in the day").

Regardless, enjoy the music.

Hawks fight back

I wasn't able to watch all of last night's game; I turned it on about eight minutes in, when LA was already down by a pair (both from defensemen; go figure).  But I watched them claw back, scoring one only a few minutes later, giving up another a minute and a half later, then getting a second of their own two minutes after that.

The second period was pretty much all kings, and they took the lead after scoring two more (Brown shoveled it home in a mad scramble in front of the net, then Pearson grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, skated over the line, and wristed it over Crawford's shoulder).

At that point, I was pretty tired, and went to sleep.  Glad I did, too, because Chicago managed to tie it up early in the third, then win it in double overtime.

Now Chicago needs to do it again, on the road.  I don't like their odds, but we'll need to wait until tomorrow night to see what happens.


Habs live on

I think I put out thirty or forty tweets during last night's Habs/Rangers game.  It was tied at one when I turned it on, with Montreal having scored early on a power play, and the Rangers tying it up (very shortly before I turned it on, I think) on a pretty weak goal later.

And it was all Canadiens for quite a while after that.  Plekanec scored on a wickedly deceptive wrister between two defenders very shortly after I turned it on.  That actually closed out the scoring in the first, but there were a number of good chances (one or two for the Rangers, and several for the Habs).

In the second, it seemed to all go Montreal's way.  Pacioretty scored off a very nice feed from Gallagher, putting it between Hank's legs and over his stick.  Then Bourque scored his first of the night when he found himself five or ten feet from the net with a lot of time and he found the top of the net.

That got the King pulled (and came close to getting me to turn the game off), which somehow sparked the Rangers to come back with three goals of their own over the next seven minutes and change.  One was a lucky deflection off a defender, and the other two were not-good save attempts by Tokarski.

Montreal didn't lose heart, however, scoring to re-take the lead only a minute later as Bourque got his second.  Despite the Rangers taking a penalty a couple minutes later, that ended the scoring in the second.

The third period was almost all Canadiens, as Tokarski was able to stop the few chances the Rangers got (and a couple of them were amazingly close).  Really, the biggest bright spot for New York was that they got more shots in defending a major penalty than the Habs did.

Montreal did get two more goals of their own, though, which was more than enough to seal the game.  I'm still trying to figure out why Talbot was on the bench, leading to an empty net goal, with more than four minutes left.  I'd looked away before that, alas.

Anyway, that did it for the game, giving Montreal another gasp of life, which comes tomorrow in New York.  We'll see if they can do it again; I'm not holding my breath.  I think they got all their lucky bounces last night.  But who knows?

Thanks, auctioneers

I almost never use ebay (I've only bought something there once, I think, and looked at a couple of other items), but I've had an account for many years.

Well, ebay finally emailed me yesterday to tell me to update my credentials after their server compromise last week.  Thanks, guys, for the many-days-late warning.

Happily, a friend had told me about it the day it became public news, so I'd long-since updated my password.

Ebay gets a D-, at best, on their handling of this.

Bleeding hearts

Read, a day or two ago, about Apple forgetting to update the software update machine's SSL certificate.  Made me think of a problem with the heartbleed problem.  If the certificate wasn't updated (and it obviously wasn't, from looking at the dates), then heartbleed could still be a problem.

Even if the heartbleed bug was fixed, if the server cert hadn't been updated, then it would still be possible to do a "man in the middle" attack, if the server was compromised before the heartbleed bug was patched.  Maybe not a big deal, as there probably isn't all that much data flowing across the software update server.  But still something to think about.  I hope they've done a better job with itunes, app store, mac app store, and apple store server certs.

Plumbing the depths

"Joe the Plumber" recently said, publicly
As harsh as this sounds -- your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights
What I find interesting about that is not the brash lack of tact or good sense, but the implied recognition that gun control will save lives.  What kind of sociopathy leads one to think that saving lives isn't even a worthy goal?

But that recognition is something that hasn't been seen from the "pro-gun" lobby.  I'm not sure what to make of it, but it's interesting.


Game of Skins

One thing that's funny about preorders is that you sometimes forget about ordering something until it arrives.  I ordered Butcher's latest Dresden novel, Skin Game, about six months ago, and it arrived over the weekend.  Thank goodness no one took it from the doorstep, because I'd've never known.

Anyway, I'm putting it off for a few more days, because I just started Riordan's latest Olympians (House of Hades).  When that one arrived, I put it off to reread the first three books of the series, and the third one took quite a while to finish.  Anyway, Skin Game arriving reminded me I was still in the middle of those, so I finished it yesterday and started on House of Hades.  I imagine I'll finish both books by the end of the week (although my sleep schedule will not thank me for it).

One other thing that's been percolating for a while.  I think the local football team, the Redskins, is probably going to change their name within a year or two.  There's just too much pressure, and I think the financial incentives will finally outweigh the inertia on that one soon.

I did want to mention one thing about that, and I wonder how wide-spread that is.  And that is the offensiveness of the word.  I'm not going to argue about its usage that makes Native Americans upset; what happened certainly happened, and I respect that.

But it's hard for me to work up much outrage about it, for the simple reason that I've never heard the word used except to refer to the team or to potatos.

Regardless, it will be a good thing when it's gone, and the sooner the better.


Amusement parks

I haven't been around in several days; we took the family down to Williamsburg, to spend the weekend at a resort, and visit Busch Gardens (the kids are much too young for Colonial Williamsburg).

We had a really good time, overall.  The resort was great (well, it did kind of fall apart when we went to lunch just before leaving); they gave us a tour of the facilities when we arrived, the food was excellent, we spent a lot of time at the pool.

It was quite a change of pace for us.  And there was the amusement of being on the shuttle one time (we got a lot of use out of the shuttles) of having a woman talk about it being much more relaxed than Northern Virginia.  No surprise there, except that a sentence or two later, it came out that she was referring to the Richmond area as "Northern Virginia".  That was very funny; Richmond is at least an hour south of anything I would call Northern Virginia.

And our time at Busch Gardens was a lot of fun.  A lot of time spent in lines, alas (yes, no surprise there), but the kids had a blast.  I wish we'd had a chance to try a bit more of the food there, but that was the only disappointment.

Watching the kids on the bumper cars was hilarious; most of them didn't have any idea what they were doing.  I was glad both of ours showed at least an inkling.

The only downside was that I didn't get to watch any hockey, or to see the UEFA Cup final (though I did see a bit of highlights that night on TV that seemed to indicated that Real had won).  No huge losses there, but it would have been cool.

Anyway, beautiful scenery, good food and some relaxation was nice.  We should definitely do something like that more often.  And next time we go to an amusement park, we'll probably pay the extra fees for shorter lines.

Picking up... well, something...

I haven't heard a whole lot about the shooting in Santa Barbara Friday night, but this follow-up seemed mighty weird to me.

There was a line that I loved in the recent british Sherlock Holmes series, where a policeman called him a psychopath, and he responded, "I'm a highly functioning sociopath, get it straight!"

This article talks about a site that the killer visited (and where he apparently wrote a manifesto decrying the fact that women didn't like him), and another site dedicated to the Pick-up Artist community.

There's just all sorts of weird, there.  The pick-up artists seem like semi-functional sociopaths, and it seems that the shooter (notice that it's always a shooter; it isn't someone using a knife, or anything like that) slipped over that line into being a psychopath.

They're just deeply deluded into thinking that women are just objects, apparently.  Or at least have no more right to get in the way of the pick-up artists than any other object.  Just a very sick mindset.

And then there's the idea that these guys getting laid would prevent shootings.  Oy.  I don't even know where to begin, honestly.  I don't know what gets people to that spot, mentally, but it's definitely sickness.


Rangers stretch on Lundqvist's arms

I only watched a little bit of the Rangers/Habs game last night.  I saw a few minutes in the first, when the score was tied at one, and five or ten minutes in the second, during which the Rangers scored their third goal.

During the stretch that I saw, the Habs weren't looking too good; the 3-1 score at the end of the first stretch seemed pretty reasonable, and the Rangers scoring more wouldn't have surprised me.

But it appears that I saw the only bad stretch, and that the Habs played extremely well in both the first and third.  They had a huge edge in Fenwick For%, both overall and 5v5 close.  So what I saw was a bit misleading.

And a friend who watched it tells me that Henrik really had to stand on his head in the first and third periods.

So maybe it isn't as hopeless as the results thus far make it seem, although without Price, it'd have to be considered pretty unlikely, even without having lost the first two games at home.



I finally saw the trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I must admit to quite a bit of disappointment.

The original comic books (X-Men 141 & 142) were two of my favorites, and involved Kitty Pryde's mind (she was chosen because she had just joined the X-Men and hadn't yet built up much in the way of mental defenses) being sent back from the future to try to stop the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (second incarnation: the Mystique-led group) from assassinating a Senator.

Xavier was in DC for some hearings (at which the assassination was to take place, although Prof X knew nothing of that when he went; he was already in Washington when the switch occurred), and had nothing to do with the switch taking place.  And he was not young at that point, so why is the Xavier from X-Men: First Class appearing?

Magneto wasn't even in the story; I think he was down in the Savage Land at the time.

Apparently, there have been a few changes.  I wonder if Destiny (who was the one who was going to fire the shot to kill the Senator) will even appear.  Or Kitty, for that matter.

I was looking forward to seeing this, but now I'm not so sure.  I'm still hopeful, but now thinking the hope is likely to be betrayed.

A bit of catch-up

I missed both of the weekend games, after LA did manage to knock of Anaheim.  Man, some serious schadenfreude tweeting of "The Bruce Boudreau Playoff Experience" from that one.

What I missed was the Rangers taking the Habs out behind the shed and spanking the hell out of them.  Price got the worst of that, as he was hurt early in the second (with the Habs already down), and was only able to play through to the end of the period (and he probably shouldn't have tried).  He's out for the rest of the series, so you have to think that the Habs chance of winning has gone from small to microscopic.

The only good thing to be said about it was that, despite the injury coming from a Ranger colliding with Price, there appeared to be no malice or gamesmanship involved.  Kreider, who did the injuring said that he was just trying to score, which is what it looked like.

In the other game, the tired Kings (third game in four) ended up ceding the first to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.  Well, that's probably a bit facile; the Blackhawks probably are the better team (though it's very close).  Nevertheless, the Kings need to come back in the series.

Personally, I don't have a favorite in that series, though I did enjoy watching the Kings against the Ducks.

Game two of the Habs and Rangers is tonight; I expect I'll have it on for a while, probably in the background since I expect the beatings to continue.

The incomparable Kiki

I sporadically listen to the podcast The Incomparable, and had to listen to the last one when it was about one of my favorite movies, Kiki's Delivery Service.

There's a bit of irony, there, though.  I watched the movie a bunch of times back in college; a friend had the Japanese laserdiscs (plural to refer to other non-Totoro Miyazaki movies.  He refused to watch Totoro for some reason) so we watched the repeatedly.

I got my own copy when Ghibli ga Ippai laserdisc set came out, a few years later (IIRC, it was a couple years before DVD came out; for sure before they became popular).

Many years later, I got the Disney DVD (I didn't buy it as soon as it came out, for whatever reason), and have since watched that a couple of times.  The reason I mentioned irony, earlier, was that I haven't watched it much at all in recent years; I've only watched it once, I think, with my kids.  I really need to remedy that.

But to get back to one of my points, the vast majority of times I've watched it was watching the untranslated laserdiscs.  The little bit else was watching it in japanese, with the subtitles turned on.

So the discussion about the dub entirely went over my head.

But there was a lot more to the discussion; I hadn't really thought about how much of the movie (pretty much all of it) was driven by Kiki's decisions, rather than things happening around her.  That might factor into why I like it so much, but I hadn't consciously noticed it.

The music certainly factored in; I'm a big fan of Jo Hisaishi.  About the same time as the laserdisc set above came out, they also came out with a CD set of the soundtracks (picture above; the laserdisc set had essentially the same packaging, except a bit square).  That made my second copy of several of the Miyazaki movie soundtracks (definitely including Laputa, and I think including Kiki's as well), but I was very happy to get the set.  And I listened to those discs a LOT, for quite a while after that.

A couple less substantial things to mention, about pronunciation.  They were debating between "jib-lee" or "gib-lee".  Both are sensible.  The Japanese write it (in katakana) as ジブリ(ji-bu-ri, and they usually swallow the 'u'), hence the "jib-lee" pronunciation.  But you can see, from the way that they write it in roman characters, that it is originally an Italian word, "ghibli" (a type of wind, IIRC; and that's why, in Japanese, it is written in katakana, rather than hiragana.  That's how they write borrowed words), which is pronounced (in Italian) as "geeb-lee" (and, to be super pedantic, that's not a 'j' sound at the beginning).  So either one is perfectly defensible.

John's pronunciation of Nausicaa, on the other hand, was a bit weird.  Here's a bit of a guide to the pronunciation.  As mentioned there, the katakana (again, borrowed word) is ナウシカ, which is 'nah-oo-shi-ka' (to be super pedantic again, the 'sh' sound doesn't exist in english; it's identical to the soft 'ch' in German.  An english 'sh' is a close approximation, though).  I had to look at that guide for the original Greek, though; I only know a few words of Greek.  And that only because of English cognates.  The point being that 'nah-si-kah' is a bit... odd.

Anyway, moving back to more substantive things; I'd never considered that Jiji might be an imaginary voice.  I'm definitely going to have to rewatch it with that thought in mind.  In fact, I need to rewatch it anyway, to show it to my daughter again (and show it to my son).

And I liked how John talked about how the various women in the movie were potential role models for Kiki to follow.  I've never been big on role models, and had never even considered them functioning that way (other than the artist (Ursula?)).

I also liked that he mentioned how much of a change of pace it was for an American audience to see a pregnancy in a movie that's just a pregnancy, rather than a big plot point.  I'd never really thought about how rarely we see pregnancy in movies over here.  Certainly part of that is the puritanism he mentioned; I wonder if part of it is the opposite end of the spectrum.  That is, playing up romance and sex (the latter especially happening recently).  Babies do a lot to get in the way of both of those (and generally follow both, coming after the movie ends).

Anyway, as someone who has seen the movie dozens of times, I learned new things about it (and have more things to consider, as well).  I'd recommend anyone even slightly interested in the movie, or Miyazaki generally, to take a listen.


The beats go on

I'm somewhat bemused (and confused) about the rumors that Apple is buying Beats for $3.2B, likely making the heads of Beats executives at Apple.

I'm really not sure what to make of it; Beats is certainly successful for what they're doing.  I wouldn't buy them, as my priority for headphones is sound quality, not looks.  But apparently I'm way into the minority on that one.

It seems, to me, that it's way out of character for Apple.  Not just because it's a huge-dollar acquisition (as noted many other places, their previous-largest purchase was NeXT, at $400M), but also because I can't see how it's got anything essential for Apple.  Apple's purchases are normally ones that put a key piece of technology under Apple's control.

So from both of those perspectives, it feels weird.

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps Apple sees the streaming service as being vital, somehow.

When I first heard about this, I was sure it was a joke, or written by someone with no clue about Apple.  But I've now heard it from so many places, and with enough specific details, that I guess it must be happening.  I am curious to see what comes of it (replacing the B logo on the sides of the cans with Apple logos?).

Premier finish

I've finally finished watching the last few games of the premiership season.  Over the weekend, I still had Crystal Palace and Liverpool on the DVR, so I watched that one.  It didn't start out looking like it, but that probably ended up being the most interesting of the several I watched over the last few days.

It started with Liverpool needing to win, and win big, so they could pressure Man City for the title.  They needed to close the goal differential between the two teams.

For much of the game, Crystal Palace was mostly hanging back (they rarely pressed past the midfield line), letting Liverpool build up, but giving Liverpool very few good chances.  And that's how much of the game went.  Liverpool did get one in the 18th minute, but that was all for the first half.

Things broke open soon into the second, however.  A fortunate deflection put Sturridge on the board, and that's when I decided I'd had enough.  Well, mostly.  Instead of turning it off, I started skipping ahead, and saw almost immediately that Liverpool had scored again to make it 3-0.  That definitely felt like the end, but I kept skipping ahead (after backing up to see the goal; helped along by a fortunate bounce in getting the ball to Suarez above the box).

Not long after, I saw that Palace had gotten a lucky deflection of their own to make it more respectable.  Almost immediately, they got another to come within a goal on what looked like a 2-on-1 counterattack (six defenders got back, but somehow none of them managed to cover Gayle).  At that point, I needed to watch the rest of the game.  And Liverpool was playing like a scared team, back on their heels.

It took six more minutes, but Palace kept pressing and managed to hit Gayle as he got behind Skrtel.  Mignolet wasn't able to stop him (it would have been an amazing play, if he had; I'm not blaming Mignolet by any stretch), and they got the Crystal equalizer.

I was kind of hoping Palace would manage to win, at that point, but that was the end of the scoring.  Brutal rug-pulling for Liverpool fans, and quite a cause for celebration for Crystal Palace.

The next game I started to watch was Man U v Hull City, but I turned that off after only a couple of minutes when I decided that its irrelevance to the championship made me not care.

So I turned on Man City's game against Villa.  I was expecting a good game, likely with City winning.  Well, it wasn't a terribly good game.  It started with Villa immediately bunkering down.  They weren't even challenging City at midfield; they were giving them a good 15-20 yards beyond that.  And they couldn't hold the ball at all.  I didn't see the stats, but I bet City had 90% or more possession in the first half.

But somehow, they weren't able to break through for the entire first half.  They had a couple of good chances, but weren't able to put it in.

But Djecko put one in in the sixty-fourth minute, and that pulled Villa out to challenge more.  And, as you'd expect, that gave City a lot more room to operate, and they did, clinically.  They scored in the seventieth and ninetieth minutes, and capped it off with one hell of an impressive run by Yaya Toure in the ninety-third minute for his twentieth of the season (and City's century?  This one or the one before was the team's hundredth).

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that City didn't score more.  It was an impressive performance by City, and a strong statement that they intended to take the title, probably without worrying about goal differential (though it certainly would have been amusing for City to win on differential again).

Some stronger disappointment set in when I realized that all ten Sunday games were played at the same time; I'd wanted to watch more than one of them.  So the final game, for me, was seeing Liverpool playing Newcastle for the hope of the title.

Newcastle was playing an unusual formation, with three center backs to counter Liverpool's striking prowess.  And that worked very well for them, as they were not only holding off the attack but getting their own chances on counterattacks.

And, in fact, one of those counterattacks worked as Skrtel deflected a shot from the flank into the back of the net (sucks when you go to kick it, and hit if off the top of your shin instead of your foot).

That had Liverpool not just worrying about winning the title, but even about coming in second.  At half-time, that was still the score, while City was up one and Chelsea (who had an outside shot at catching Liverpool) was down one.

And Newcastle looked very good for quite a bit of the second, but then the wheels just feel off the hod.  A penalty near the box (right side) resulted in some argument with the ref.  I think one of the visitors was carded, although I'm not sure.

But Gerrard took the kick, and placed a beautiful serve for Agger to volley in for the lead.  Then Ameobi went ballistic and got two yellows for arguing before the ensuing kickoff.  After his sendoff, Liverpool got another free kick from nearly the same spot, with nearly identical results (except for Sturridge being the one to put it in, and doing so from in front of the goal, rather than a hair off to the side).

It looked like Liverpool was going to be able to score at will at that point, but somehow they never got into the net again, even with Dummett getting sent off for the Magpies as well.

But the game didn't really matter anyway, as City comfortably won their game at home (I didn't hear the final, but they were up 3-0 at one point) to take the title.

Thus ends quite a disappointing season at Anfield, while City celebrated (though perhaps a bit mutedly, as I heard something about them being sanctioned for transfer window shenanigans recently, which should cut into their chances of repeating).

Definitely some good games in there.  And Liverpool... wow.  I recently found out (a few days after the Chelsea débâcle) that my chiropractor is a Liverpool fan.  I imagine he was drinking after the Crystal Palace finish.  Will have to ask him when I visit next.

Ranger Danger

I didn't turn on the Penguins/Rangers game, last night, until the second intermission.  They showed the shot totals, and it certainly appeared that the Rangers were lucky to be ahead 2-1.

Well, the third period looked like the Caps under Hunter (certainly some irony there); play defense, play defense, play defense.

I really didn't think they could do it, and they sure gave the Pens some chances.  But somehow, they held on for the win.

Considering their records against each team, no doubt that they're hoping the Habs win their game seven.  We'll see.

I also watched a chunk of the Hawks/Wild game last night, although it was tied for the entire stretch that I saw.  It certainly looked like the Wild were overmatched, and that's how it ended up (well after I was asleep).  Kane got the series-winning goal for the Hawks.

I'd definitely pick the Hawks to win over the Ducks, although I'm less sure about versus the Kings.  I guess we'll have to wait and see if the Kings can come back from a pair of elimination games.  Even though I think they're the better team, I don't like their odds.


Useful note

I just found out, a couple days ago, that amazon has another storefront, which gives 0.5% of purchases to the charity of your choice.  Very cool for helping whoever you like.

Frozen in time

I mentioned, earlier, liking Frozen, "warts and all".  My kids have got me listening to the soundtrack quite a lot, which has resulted in noticing a few more things.

So, I just want to get a list of these things written, so I can hopefully ignore them in the future.  Most of them are anachronisms, but there are a few other issues as well.

The biggest is that I have to wonder if these people ever get cold.  I wear shorts in temperatures down to a little below freezing, but I don't go through water while doing it (seriously, at one point Anna's dress gets soaked in water and freezes solid.  And the only problem with this is that it's stiff!).  And I sure as hell wouldn't do it on a mountaintop (which is guaranteed to be a lot colder than freezing).

Olaf, Olaf, Olaf... He knows that he's frozen, which means that he knows what frozen is.  But he still doesn't know what'll happen to him in summer?  He knows that snow is solid water, too.  And he drops a rhyme that would've been puddle (funny line, granted, but doesn't make any sense if he's the one singing it).  Oh, and he's never seen summer, but knows what a tan is (and what a dandelion is).  First anachronism there: they show someone tanning, which is a distinctly modern phenomenon.  Taking it further, they're using something to even out the tan on the neck, which is something invented while I've been alive.

Anna... She's a princess who hasn't dealt with people since she was around four, but isn't completely weird (ok, that's almost a Disney trope, but still).  Her parents never saw fit to educate her, apparently.  As a younger princess, her entire life is going to be focused on getting her married advantageously (to the kingdom, not necessarily to her), but she wasn't taught to deal with suitors with unsavory motives?  And she's dreaming of romance, which is also a modern invention (in that form, at least.  Courtly romance, which goes back further, has nothing to do with wanting to sleep with your spouse.  It evolved out of having to marry someone you didn't love, and pining about someone else).  And sandwiches?  I don't know if they go back that far (hard to say since we don't have a solid idea of how far back that is), but they're definitely not food for royalty, if so.

Actually, I have to take back the bit about sandwiches.  They go back at least to 1762, where the OED quotes Gibbon as saying "Twenty or thirty... of the first men of the kingdom,.. supping at little tables... upon a bit of cold mean, or a Sandwich".  So it goes back rather further than I thought, and does get attributed to the rich.  That seems very weird to me, but ok.

Getting back to Anna, where does she carry her money (they didn't even have paper money, let alone credit cards)?  And does she worry about thieves (one of the many reasons she'd never be allowed to run off after Elsa, alone)?

Kristoff.  "I just finished paying that off"?!?  Who gave sled loans?  Buying things like that on credit is definitely a "latest century" type of thing.  And "it's the latest model"?!?  You have to get all the way to assembly lines for that phrase to have any meaning.  And cup holders?  It's only in the last twenty or thirty years that people thought about that in vehicles.

It was also a little weird to hear his blondness described as "unmanly".  And fixing someone up with someone else?  I thought that was within my lifetime (the phrase, that is), but Google's NGram viewer has it appearing in 1933.

There's even the name of the song, "Fixer Upper".  Phrase first appearing in 1940 (capitalized only since '65), again per NGram.  I don't know how to check it, but "quote engagement" is also a very modern turn of phrase (as a side note, why am I now seeing, for instance, "tailor/lawyer" now being written (yes, WRITTEN) as "tailor-slash-lawyer"?  It makes a little sense, spoken (though there is the old "tailor-cum-lawyer" that borrowed from latin), but none at all when written).  "Flex arrangement", huh?  Another neologism, although flexible arrangement goes back a ways (Civil War, roughly).

And that line about not seeing a ring?  Let me count the issues... Do kids know about these things?  I know I sure didn't (in fact, my first serious girlfriend got mad at me for wearing my graduation ring on my left hand; I had no idea why until she explained it).  Also, engagement rings are a modern assumption (though engagement gifts (including rings, though I'm sure that was rare), of course, go back centuries).  But the diamond solitaire as a recognition of engagement mostly come out of de Beers advertising about diamonds lasting forever, and that campaign was a bit less than a century ago (1935, again per NGram).

Anyway, I feel better having gotten all that out (plus, I have a much better idea of how to use ngram).  Now maybe I won't think about all those things whenever I hear the songs.

Update: I was reminded of two others this morning.  One was the "frozen fractal" phrase in "Let It Go"; I remember when fractal entered the common lexicon when I was in high school.

And Anna mentioned "actual, real life people".  What other kind of people did she experience?  I doubt they had movies (120 years or so), and they certainly didn't have TV (last 60-70 years).

Hockey update

For various reasons, I didn't watch any hockey this weekend at all.  So I missed the Rangers and Ducks tying up their series (wish I'd seen both of those), Boston taking control of theirs, and Chicago losing and regaining their lead.

The only big surprises there, to me, are Chicago losing their lead, and LA giving up consecutive games at home.  Pittsburgh might be a little bit of a surprise, but not a big one.

A friend just mentioned that Toews has four playoff goals this year, all game-winners.  I wonder if that could be enough to get him the Conn Smythe over someone scoring twice as many goals.  I suspect (sadly) that the answer is yes.

I'm looking forward to seeing more games, though.


Help the starving students

Had to laugh, today.  Was getting an iTunes gift card from Best Buy (15% off), and saw that they had some stuff on sale for college students.  MacBooks, ok.  iMacs, ok.  But scroll a little further down, and you see an XBox 360 with games.

Mighty cynical; they certainly aren't going to be using that XBox for studying.

Just thought it was a bit funny.

Keeping up

Didn't watch much hockey last night; saw a little bit of the Boston/Montreal game, but the Habs were up 3-0 when I turned it on. I kept it on long enough to see Boston get back within two, but missed the last two goals.

So, Habs... Keep it up, guys.  I'm still not convinced you can do it, but would love to see it.

And I'm glad I didn't stay up to watch any of the Wild/Hawks (that sounds like it should be the name of one team, not two, doesn't it?) game.  Since all the scoring was in the third, I'd've definitely gone to sleep before any goals were scored.

But both home teams won, supporting the notion of home-ice advantage.  And only one had a PP advantage.  And both did it while significantly behind in Fenwick, in all situations, and in 5-on-5 close.  In fact, both were further behind in 5-on-5 close than overall, which is definitely odd (though perhaps the power play discrepancy explains that for Minnesota?).

Anyway, I'm not changing my mind on who's likely to win either of these series, but it's always good to see the underdogs win (well, unless the Caps are favored, of course.  But that doesn't happen often).


Thoughts on cost of living

I've mentioned History in Pictures a few times before, and they recently posted a picture of some cost-of-living figures from 1938.
What was interesting to me are the relative increases over that time period.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased 16.6 fold over those seventy-six years, which feels like a lot. But there was a breakdown, and that's what I find interesting.
Harvard's tuition (as a proxy for college education, I suppose) has increased 105-fold, which is far the largest. What would probably be interesting here is to see the actual progression on that. I would bet that a large percentage of that increase is over the last twenty years (it's been around ten percent annually for a while now).
Houses have increased 67 fold, which is the second largest. Movies are next at 38-fold, a tiny bit ahead of gas, cars, and rent (37, 36, and 35, respectively).
All of these are well ahead of income, which is only 29-fold. All of these are well ahead of CPI, but here's another place where I'd been curious to see what the rate of increase is. The reason for that is that I know that, outside of the top one percent, income has not outpaced inflation over the last thirty years or so.
There were a couple of others. Stamps have increased 16-fold, almost exactly on par with CPI.
There were also numbers for several food items. And the multiples of those were all single digits, which makes me wonder about including food in CPI calculations. I guess they are necessities, though.
I guess what I wonder most about, though, is why houses (especially) and cars have increased so much faster than inflation. The average house was less than three times annual salary back then, and is now more than fives times as much. That's a striking distance, to me. Part of that relates to availability (and terms) of loans, I'm sure, but I wonder what else is involved.

Supreme Court actions

I don't have a lot to say about it, but I'm rather horrified (yes, even being a Catholic) at yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that prayers to open government meetings are appropriate, even if they do favor one religion.  It's allowing local government to implicitly (heck, maybe even explicitly) sanction one religion, and that's just bad news for everyone.

I haven't read any of the majority opinion (and it's a 5-4 split decision, going exactly along the lines you'd expect), but I have a hard time believing that this isn't a clear-cut case of judicial activism.

I wanted to talk a little bit more about inspections of cell phones, and the Fourth Amendment.  That's one that the court is considering, but hasn't issued a ruling on, and they talked about it on NPR yesterday (I think it was the Kojo Nnamdi show, although he wasn't there, so I'm not sure).

The discussion was pretty interesting, although there were a couple points made (it should be pointed out, as devil's advocate) that just don't hold water.  One was that police are in constant danger.  Certainly, if you watch crime dramas, you'll think this is the case.  If you watch them, you'll think that drawing a gun is close to a daily occurence for a police officer.  But in real life, it's closer to a once-in-a-career event (something like once every twenty years).

They also brought up the remote wiping trope, and I was very happy that one of the guests brought up Faraday bags as a defense against that.

They also spent a lot of time talking about horrific crimes, as if that somehow justifies things.  But it really doesn't.  The whole point of the warrant is to show that a) you are pursuing a terrible crime (or would jaywalking justify rooting through someone's phone?) and b) that you have solid reasons to believe that the person whose phone is in question is, in fact, a relevant part of the investigation.

Because the simple fact of the matter is that if there's an easy avenue for abuse (and not having to show probable cause would definitely qualify as an easy avenue), it will be taken.  Hopefully very rarely, but it will happen.  If history teaches us nothing else, it certainly teaches us that.  (And if there's a permissive atmosphere among the police, it will not be a rare occurrence.)

What it all comes down to is that there is a severe power imbalance in any interaction between an average citizen and a police officer.  And if there are no checks on police power, that power will be abused.

Update: Forgot to look at my own links.  It was the Kojo Show, and this is the episode.

Hockey updates

I wasn't able to watch anywhere near all of either of the games last night, but did see chunks of both.

I must say, the Rangers did look like the better team, last night, but weren't able to get it past Fleury (though, admittedly, part of that was penalty differential).  Who'd've thought that was going to be the case?

I watched most of the Ducks/Kings game, and that was a very good game.  Both teams were definitely going all-out, in a way that the Caps never do (at least not visibly).  I think part of that is coaching, though; Oates' system is just too passive.  Both Western teams were very aggressively attacking the puck, wherever it was on the ice.

I think the only way to make a "collapse to the goal, play defense all game" work is to be very, very good on the breakout (and have an amazingly good/lucky goalie).  Which is to say that I'm not at all sure it's feasible in hockey the way it is in soccer.  There are just too many scoring opportunities in a hockey game.  The defenders, no matter how good they are, just can't help out blocking shots as much as they can in soccer (just as a function of ball size, I think).

Anyway, getting back to the Ducks and Kings; I still stand by what I said about being comfortable that the Kings would be moving on.  The Kings deserved the win they got (and they played Sarge, and he didn't look terribly out of place), though it should be pointed out that Quick also needed to be very good from time to time.  The one goal he allowed was on a 4-on-3, where Doughty was one of the players in the box, and it still took a deflection off a defenseman to get past Quick.

At one point, Doughty took a slash to the back of the knee (from Beauchemin), and limped off.  I was wondering if that was going to leave them at a point they hadn't reached all season, with three defencemen out, but Doughty came back a minute or two later.

Getting back to the Rangers loss, they were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since Varly did it to them, and now need to win badly.  I hope they can do it (though I'm getting more skeptical).


App store cut

The other detail I wanted to talk about, with respect to the ATP show, is the money going to the App Store.

I can see where John is coming from, as far as volume discounts are concerned.  And maybe that's a reasonable way to go.

I disagree a bit, though, insofar as I'm not at all sure Apple is making a mistake is drawing a line at "30% or bust".  I guess I'm mostly in agreement with Marco on that, and that it didn't matter to Amazon.

But the reason I wanted to comment is to note that this does present an interesting opportunity for Amazon.  Since Amazon never allowed in-app purchases of books on iPads (a reasonable position, coming from them, I think), they never had any idea of whether that was working out well for them.

But for comiXology, they've got historical data on purchasing, so they'll know whether it's worth keeping out in-app purchases there.  I'm wondering whether it'll be enough money that they'll re-enable it in the near future.

My bet is that it'll prevent new people coming into comiXology, and cut down the people still using it by a large percentage (basically to only those people doing, in effect, monthly subscriptions).

I guess we'll see.  I wish we'd be able to see the dollars change, but Amazon would never do that, whether it was good or bad.

Who is a gamer?

I was amused, listening to the latest ATP, as they talked about gaming.

Especially the talk about gamers, and having console machines.  They mentioned gamers having consoles.  And I've got several sitting around.

I've got a Turbo Duo (I had a Turbo Grafx as well, but got rid of that a long time ago), a Dreamcast (pissed that I recently went looking for Crazy Taxi for that, and couldn't find it), a Playstation or two (not sure if any of them still work, though), a Playstation II (still gets used occasionally for DDR-related exercise), and a Wii (which I enjoyed for a while, but haven't turned on in several years).

Mostly, I was amused because I do have several around (actually, I'd forgotten a couple of them), but none of mine are even recent, let alone current, and they rarely get turned on.

I did recently turn on the Duo to play around with Bomberman (wanted to see if I could get the Saxophone powerup again).  But other than occasional DDR (and even more occasional Karaoke Revolution games), I don't use any of them anymore.

And none of them really for gaming, per se.

I'm not sure what that says about me, really, but I thought it was interesting.  And I wonder whether that sort of thing is typical.

These days, almost all of the gaming is iOS-based, and mostly games that can be played in very small chunks.

I do have games on my Mac, but those are also very rarely played.  I did, recently, get a couple new games, but I haven't played them either.

I need to do a bit better, somehow, I think.


More on net neutrality

The latest stratechery (now pronounced "strah-tek-ery", apparently) podcast had a lot of good information in it.  There was discussion of what "common carrier" status means, which I should have probably explained better in my last mention of the issue.  And there was an excellent discussion of what "rent seeking" means, in economic terms.

(And a brief sidenote about the Andreeson quote.  Utilities probably did have 10x as much poop to handle every three years for the first decade or more of laying pipes to deal with that.  I wish my grandfather was still around to ask about that; he spent most of his career putting in sewer lines.)

There's also some interesting things I never considered, like how Netflix' behavior might be rent-seeking, and how metered usage would solve a number of problems.

The problem with metered usage is a simple matter of cognitive load.  Until the prices get much lower (in line with the cost of providing the data), it adds much great transaction costs.  Very few people would have signed up for broadband at all, if it had been metered; they had no idea how much they used.  And even now, it'd be a big shift.  But maybe that's where things need to go; I've been solidly against that, but they've got me thinking a bit more about it, and maybe it's inevitable.

But there were a couple places where I thought the discussion fell down.  One was that they failed to mention how, back in the 90's, the telecomms were given hundreds of billions (yes, that's with a B) of dollars in tax breaks to provide Fiber to the Home (FTTH).  How much of that exists?  Yes, basically zero.

Another was that there was no mention of how the governments provide rights of way to put in cables.  That's also a hundreds of billions of dollars subsidy.  Not that I mind it being provided; I do agree with them that, at this point, internet access is a basic right.  But it does bear on the discussion.

A final one (and this is the important one) is the idea of content delivery networks.  The basic idea is that the CDN provider (Akamai, for instance) puts their servers in the ISP's data center, and Netflix, for instance, provides data to the CDN, and the CDN delivers to the customers.

What that means is that, despite the fact that Netflix is the bulk of all internet traffic, most (read: probably 99% or more) of their traffic is only going from CDN to end user.  And that means, as far as the ISP is concerned, the data is staying within the ISP.  And bandwidth within the ISP is, effectively, infinite.  The cost to the ISP is the cost of electricity.  In aggregate, that's a lot, but it's mostly the cost of having the system operating; data traveling adds very little.

So I fundamentally disagree about Netflix being rent-seeking.  And about the reasonability of the ISP charging extra for Netflix.  Netflix pays the CDN, and the CDN pays the ISP, so they're actually looking to triple-charge, not double-charge.

The other major issue is that they missed, as I mentioned, Wheeler mentioning "common carrier" status, and mentioning reclassifying ISPs.  Not a huge deal, as I don't believe Wheeler when he talks about it, but it's worth mentioning that Wheeler did add it to the discussion.

Still, well worth a listen, despite it being quite long.


Note on Ahrendts

I hadn't noticed that the hiring of Angela Ahrendts to be the head of Apple's retail operation makes her Apple's first female executive.  Good for hiring her, I guess, but they still need to do better. (h/t @counternotions)

Culling shards

Something got me to take a look at my program CDs this morning.  And it was an interesting exploration.  I found install disks for MacOS 9.2.1 (and another version of OS9 that isn't labeled), 10.1, 10.2, 10.3.7, 10.4, 10.4.5, 10.5, 10.6, and 10.6.2.

The surprises are that I couldn't find any 10.0 or 10.7 disks (I know 10.8 and 10.9 were just downloads), and that only .2, .4, .5, and .6 were commercial disks (the others came with Powerbooks G4 (pismo and titanium), a PowerPC Mac Mini, a MacBook Pro, and an iMac 27" 2009).

Now I'm trying to figure out if there's any reason to keep any or all of them around.  I'm leaning towards no.

Grudge-dome entered

I wasn't able to watch all of the Habs/Bruins game last night, but did see most of it.  I think I turned it on at the beginning of the second period, and watched through the end of the first overtime (I knew I wasn't going to be able to stay away through the period break).

So I missed Subban's goal to open the scoring, but did see Bourque's goal to extend the lead (he's still dead to me, though).  After that, it felt like the Canadiens kept playing well most of the way through the period, although the Fenwick chart shows that the rest of the game was pretty solidly dominated by the Bruins.

And it certainly felt like the Bruins were dominating for the last five minutes or so of the second, and solidly through the third and initial OT.

And, of course, that OT indicates that the Bruins did come back in the third.  In fact, they scored three, but Montreal did match one of those so that they never fell behind.

Although the Habs did get a couple chances in that OT, they spent most of the period playing defense.

But they got a break thirty seconds or so from the end, as they got a power play.  That didn't win it for them, but gave them some momentum going into the second extra time.  And in the second extra period, they got another break, as they got a second power play four minutes in.  And that did win it for them, as it took only seven seconds for PK to notch his second of the night and give them the lead in the series.

In the end, shots were 51-33, and Fenwick 68-44, so things don't look so good for the Canadiens, going forward.  But they've got a lead now, and have seized home ice advantage, so it's not terrible either.  I'm still calling it in favor of Boston, but it's much narrower, now (and it certainly wouldn't break my heart to be wrong).


Followup on FCC

Two things of note.  Wheeler, the head of the FCC, has come out and said that his plan actually will preserve net neutrality, and that if it doesn't, he might declare broadband providers to be "common carriers".

The first part of that is certainly not true.  The second part would be encouraging, if I believed that he actually meant it.  Declaring them to have common carrier status would be huge, but I don't believe him when he says that he might do it.

Separately, in a speech at a cable lobbying event, he said that he would seek to override states laws that forbid municipal broadband provisions.  Color me skeptical on that, but that would be huge, if true.  That would force the companies to potentially face competition, which would make them clean up their acts.

Again, he's probably lying (his choice of where to say that is certainly interesting, though), but that would be fantastic news, if true.  Because if there's competition, then net neutrality becomes largely a non-issue, because nobody would choose a company that violated that if there was an alternative.

First round finishes

I didn't get to watch as much as I'd've liked, last night.  I watched the second and third periods of the Flyers and Rangers, and most of the first period of the Avs and Wild.

So I saw everything that mattered of the former game, and very little of the latter.  And missed all of the Kings and Sharks, which was actually the series I most wanted to watch.

The Rangers got off to a quick start (well, relative to my watching) as they got a power play in less than forty seconds.  They didn't score on it, but did threaten quite a bit, and managed to score shortly after it ended.  Zuccarello tossed the puck toward the front of the net from the half wall, and found Carcillo's stick as he deflected it into the net.

The Rangers kept the upper hand through the rest of the period (including an impressive flurry right before time expired), but only managed one more goal, eight and a half minutes after the first.

In the third, it was clear that the Rangers were in lead-protect mode, and were mostly focused on keeping the Flyers out.  I'm not at all a fan of that kind of "prevent defense" mentality; it focuses on preventing very small percentage plays, and concedes a lot of larger percentage plays (larger in aggregate, not individually).  And overall, it works out much worse.

But it worked out ok, as the Rangers were able to keep the Flyers to only one goal in the third.

So the Rangers will face the Pens, which should be an interesting series.

The timing worked out pretty well, as I flipped over to the Wild/Avs game just at the opening faceoff.  And it started out very well for the Avs, as they got a power play goal in the third minute.  Things were looking pretty good for them until a mystery tripping penalty call was made on Wilson a minute later.

Minnesota didn't score, but they definitely seized the better of the play for the next several minutes, and Koivu put one in about five minutes later.  Things looked up again for the Avs when, several minutes later, McGinn got it past Kuemper to restore their lead.

Unfortunately, that was about when I had to turn the game off, so I missed the Wild coming back and winning in overtime.  Very disappointing.

I've already seen some people blaming Varly for "failing to hold the lead", but that's some terrible "analysis".  It isn't any easier to hold a lead (from a goalie's perspective, anyway) than it is to build one.  It's frustrating, but no goalie will ever be so predictable as to not give up a lead.  Sometimes he'll make the save, sometimes he won't; whether the team is ahead, tied, or behind has no bearing on that question.

I'll go out on a limb and say that the better team won.  Possessionally, the Wild were much better than the Avs this season, despite their respective records.  So the Wild should have been favored (I don't really know if they were, generally), coming in.  Much of the difference in records comes from Varly playing considerably over his head (ie: more than an entire percentage point better than his career average), to the tune of twenty goals over the season.  And there was no reason to expect that to continue in the playoffs (it was possible, but equally possible that he'd play significantly worse than his career numbers).

Oh, and on another goalie note, I was amused to see that a) another goalie was pulled (I believe that makes twelve for the playoffs, so far), and that b) the team pulling the goalie actually won (I think that's a first for the season).  It's a bit of a sign that, in the thirteen minutes and change that Bryz played, he only needed to stop one shot on goal.  That's some domination.

Anyway, I was a little disappointed, both because I like Varly (domestic violence aside) and because I used to enjoy watching the Avs play (haven't had that opportunity in a long time).

Which brings us to the last game, the Kings/Sharks game that I entirely missed.  I saw a bunch of tweets yesterday that the Sharks were going to fold like a cheap suit, and it would be easy to say that that's what happened.  But possession numbers show that the game was very close from start to finish, and the difference really comes down to goaltending.

Quick stopped 39 of 40, while Niemi only stopped 25 of 28 (two empty net goals gave the final score).

That actually makes it look like the Sharks had a big edge in possession, but they really didn't, as their lead in Fenwick only came in the last five minutes or so, with LA focused on maintaining their lead (which is to say that you'd expect a large shot lead in that situation).  In fact, 5v5 close Fenwick was dead even in the game.

I wonder how extreme the overreaction will be from Sharks fans and management.  Well, actually, given the ages of the key players, there might not be such a thing as an overreaction.  But if you were just to evaluate expectations, without accounting for age-related decline, you'd say they were merely unlucky (or "Caps West").

Anyway, all of that leaves us with an all-LA series and a very North-South (Chicago/Minnesota) series in the West.  And a small grundge match (Rangers/Penguins) and a large one (Bruins/Habs) in the East.  I feel pretty comfortable picking Chicago, LA, and Boston to win their series; I'd give a small edge to the Pens in theirs, but wouldn't go so far as to say I'm comfortable picking them to win (especially given the odds of Fleury remembering that he's a pretty terrible playoff goalie).

Torture within US

To add onto the torture that we know happened under US auspices at Guantanamo and Bagram, we now have the state of Oklahoma torturing a murderer to death.

Some of the cause of this has to do with availability of drugs used in executions; some drugs are only available from European sources, and the EU forbids sale of those drugs to the US for executions.

But whatever the cause, several days ago, an execution was botched terribly, resulting in the torturous death of a US Citizen.  Is this what we want to be, as a country?

I've been a skeptic of the death penalty for some years now, largely due to the efforts of the Innocence Project, and seeing how often innocent people are put on death row (and executed).  What is the worse crime? Letting a criminal (no matter how heinous their crime) live in a box for many years, or executing an innocent person?

I'd personally much rather see no one punished if we aren't sure about who is the right person.  Despite the threshold for a murder conviction being "beyond all reasonable doubt", it's obvious that the justice system doesn't always get it right.  Imagine the horror of being killed for something someone else did.  I truly can't imagine how terrible that would be.  And it happens.  And if we kill the suspect, there's no way to right the injustice if that happens.  Sorry, WHEN that happens.

But it becomes that much worse if the government can't even handle killing someone without doing something as horrific as the crime that put the person into prison.  Two wrongs never make a right, and this just takes that to an extreme.

So, as a short-term "fix", I'd be happy to see Obama commute the sentences of all death row inmates in the country down to life without parole.

Aside from how much that would make right wing talking heads explode, it'd also prevent some terrible injustices.