Monday, July 30, 2012

Reds Roll

Yesterday, the Cincinnati Reds won their tenth game in a row. That's hard to do. I don't care if the last six games were against the Colorado Rockies and the lowly Houston Astros. It's hard to sweep any major league baseball team let alone do it against them at their ballparks. The Reds have not had this long of a winning streak since the special year of 1999. They did all of this winning without their best player, first baseman Joey Votto. They stand a whopping twenty one games over .500 and are now three games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds won yesterday by good starting pitching and clutch hitting. Drew Stubbs homered again. And yes, I'm one of those who's criticized Drew Stubbs for his strikeouts and failure to hit with runners in scoring position. Is it time to believe in him? I don't know. Anyway the Reds won by a of 7-2. Here's the story with video.

Guns and The Dark Knight Rises

After the Aurora shootings at a midnight The Dark Knight Rises premiere, is it time to talk about gun control? I hear conservatives say no. And there's no evidence that gun control could have stopped the killer from commiting his act.

The irony of all this is that Batman doesn't use guns. (MTV piece by Alex Zalben) He's not an executioner. We found that out in Batman Begins (2005) when he refused to execute a criminal that the League of Shadows wanted killed.
Maybe Batman's distaste for guns comes from seeing his parents being killed by a handgun. And by the way I'm talking about personal firearms not the cannons in the Batmobile or other vehicles. In The Dark Knight Rises, Director Christopher Nolan makes it a point that Batman doesn't use guns. In one scene, Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) wants to kill a Bane henchman and Batman (Christian Bale) stops her. He says no guns and says no killing. Later in a pivotal moment, there's a joke about using guns. Still, Batman won't use them.

But after the murder of innocent people at the theater, it's time to have a discussion about gun control. The Aurora shootings come a little more than eighteen months afer a crazed gunman tried to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. (R-Arizona) Six people were killed in that mass murder. Why is it a problem to see if we can do anything to stop the carnage? Yes, gun control may not have stopped Aurora. Gun rights are not absolute. But is there a way we can limit the amount of lives lost by these gunmen? Yes. Limit the size of a rifle's magazine. It may not stop mass murder but we can save some lives by stopping a killer from having so many bullets for so many victims. It's not un-American to have reasonable gun control.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A big win for the Cincinnati Reds

Championship seasons are made of wins like the one the Cincinnati Reds won against the Houston Astros last night. The final score was 5-3. For the second night in a row, the Reds rallied in the ninth to win a game. The hero in both games was the much maligned outfielder Drew Stubbs. Tuesday night he blasted a two run homer. Last night he hit a two run double. Both hits put the Reds ahead in the ninth. The Reds won't quit. They keep fighting till the end.

What I'm going to say is arbitrary. But as lifetime baseball fan, I always felt that playoff bound teams must have at least one winning streak of seven games or better. Yesterday's Reds victory was the seventh in a row. This is beginning to look like a season to remember for the Reds.

Here's the story with video.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Greenland is melting

Greenland's ice sheet is melting. According to NASA, Greenland's thawed ice has increased from 40 per cent to 97 per cent. Yet, conservative Republicans like former presidential candidate Rick Santorum deny the existence of global warming. Previously, I wrote about the danger of conservatives getting things wrong. Now conservatives endanger the whole planet by getting global warming wrong. Here's a piece from Chris Matthews and Hardball.

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The Dark Knight Rises IMAX review

Looking to see The Dark Knight Rises this week and wondering to see it in IMAX? Let me help. I've seen the movie in the regular format and IMAX. This review is to help you decide whether you should shell out the extra bucks for the IMAX version of The Dark Knight Rises. The extra money differs from city to city. Here in Cincinnati, Ohio, it costs five dollars more. For the general review of this exciting and thought provoking film, go here.

A little background about IMAX. IMAX screens are taller and bigger than most movie screens. You get better picture resolution. And the sound is crisper. I prefer IMAX 3D to the regular 3D at the cinemas. IMAX 3D gives better depth and pop than regular 3D. However, The Dark Knight Rises is a 2D movie.

As for The Dark Knight Rises, Director Christopher Nolan shot a whopping 72 minutes of IMAX footage for the film. (New York Times article.) If you see it in IMAX, the special footage will fill up the screen whereas the regular footage will appear as letter box. Don't worry the effect is seamless.

The problem with the film in IMAX is ironically the strength of the IMAX presentation. It's the sound. The Dark Knight Rises is one loud film. The musical soundtrack, even though its orchestral, is very loud. So loud, I don't recommend you take young children to this movie. The IMAX sound gave the film a kind of reverb or echo effect at times. While low level dialogue can be heard clearly, Bane's words can get lost in the volume.

But it's the picture that is usually the focus of any IMAX film. Nolan filmed the big action set pieces in IMAX. He also used the process for other scenes, some quieter ones and of course, beauty shots of the city of Gotham. The picture is so clear and crisp that you feel like you are seeing the scenes in real life. You're part of the picture. It's just gorgeous.

Since there is quite a bit of the film that was shot in IMAX, I recommend that if you are going to see The Dark Knight Rises, you see it in the IMAX version. There is a difference. But if you are cash strapped, you won't miss anything by seeing it in a regular theater.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A special kind of stupid

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) McCarthesque witch hunt of Muslims has now turned ugly. If you recall she and four other conservative congressmen have called for investigations of possible Muslim infiltration of the government by the Muslim Brotherhood. The other four Congressmen were Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga. No surprise they're all Republicans.

Now it's become dangerous. There has been allegedly a threat made to one of Bachmann's targets, Huma Abedin, aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms. Abedin was specifically named. Anderson Cooper of CNN debunked this nonsense. In essence, Cong. Bachmann connects Ms. Abedin's deceased father with a possible supporter of the Muslim Brotherhod. It's time to call the Republicans out. There are some racists in the party and I've previously written about this. Ms Abedin is no Muslim extremist. How absurd is this? Ms. Abedin is married to former Congressman Anthony Weiner who is Jewish.

I'm kind of tired of Cong. Bachmann's stupidity. (Here are ten crazy comments from Bachmann.) Look this woman is not a member of the fringe of the Republican Party. She ran for President. And she did well enough to win the Ames Iowa Presidential Straw Poll. We need Jon Stewart to show how crazy and stupid Cong. Bachmann is. Here's a funny piece where Stewart easily links Cong. Bachmann to Islamic terrorists. Maybe we should investigate Bachmann.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Colbert on the LIBOR scandal

Look, it's not the funniest news story, but it's an important one. I'm talking about he LIBOR scandal where banks in England set interest rates in a wrongful manner. Check out his Stephen Colbert's funny and educational piece.

Film and the Aurora shootings

Yesterday in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman opened fire in movie theater showing The Dark Knight Rises. The alleged shooter was James Holmes. It was a midnight showing. Twelve people died. Dozens injured. Holmes allegedly said to the police he was the Joker and had his hair dyed red.

It's hard to say anything about this tragic incident. It's so senseless. I'm speechless. I went to a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. The theater had an annoying promotion of trivia and costume contests. I recall that the promotion went over twelve o'clock and the audience yelling for the movie to start. In the Aurora shooting, some of the moviegoers thought it was a promotion. But as I think about the tragedy, it occurs to me that it could happen anywhere in America.

And if the gunman was emulating The Joker, a villain from Batman, the question arises, "Do films inspire crime?" I recall Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" (1994) allegedly encouraging people to commit murders. Films do not cause people to kill. They may encourage mentally ill people to make a fantasy into a reality. Chilling the speech of filmmakers does more harm than releasing a conroversial movie. Stopping a film, stops an idea. And ideas lead to change for the better of society.

I am saddened by the loss of life and injuries to those moviegoers in Aurora. God bless them and comfort them.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

And so it ends. Director Christopher Nolan ends his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. Time to reflect on the last forty years of live action tales of Batman. There was the sixties with a campy TV version. Then came Tim Burton's Batman. (1989) He took the comic book superhero seriously. While Burton's Batman movies were good, too many times, Burton let the abstract painter in him overwhelm the narrative. After that, the series was nearly killed by director Joel Schmacher's Batman and Robin. (1997) That was a bloated mess. Finally, Christopher Nolan (Memento) was called in and he turned to more realism in Batman Begins. (2005) And it's with that film, that The Dark Knight Rises acts as a sequel of since many plot elements from Batman Begins are present.

The Dark Knight Rises starts us out with the rise of Bane, (Tom Hardy) a muscle bound supervilain who breathes through a mask. Bane kidnaps a nuclear scientist from the hands of American intelligence. He takes the scientist to Gotham.

In Gotham, it's been eight years since Batman was declared to be a criminal who killed District Attorney Harvey Dent. (The Dark Knight) During that time, Gotham has enjoyed peace and prosperity because of laws passed in honor of Dent. Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Christian Bale) finds himself older and without purpose. Wayne had given up on being Batman for years. Bane enlists Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) aka Catwomen to get Bruce Wayne's fingerprints. During the botched exchange of the prints and money, Kyle almost gets killed. However the police arrive with Chief Gordon (Gary Oldman) who hunts down Kyle's assailants down into the sewers. It's there he's captured and shot by Bane. Gordon is thrown down the sewer where he's saved by police officer John Blake. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) Wayne visits Gordon in the hospital and tries to find out what Bane is up to. This causes Wayne to get back in the game and become Batman once again.

The Dark Knight Rises has wonderful performances by the actors. Christian Bale makes his Bruce Wayne rudderless and at a critical time gives the character, hope. Tom Hardy is scary in a judicial way. He's more than just muscle bound. He's a judge and executioner. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Chief Gordon, and newcomer to the series, Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate are believable and make you care about them. But Anne Hathaway nearly steals the movie as she should playing Catwoman. by the way, you don't really hear being called that. Hathaway is sexy, driven, bad and complicated.

Christopher Nolan and director of photography Wally Pfister have created a clear but realistic looking film. Nolan certainly knows how to let the scenes do the heavy lifting of story telling rather than rely on fancy camera movements. Action scenes feel real. One feels that the Batcopter (?) is a real vehicle. Unlike Batman Begins, fight scenes are shot like dances. Bodies are clearly seen. The result is that one is mesmerized by the story. And the screenplay by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and with a story assist by David S. Goyer coupled with Nolan's direction creates a tense atmosphere throughout the movie. One gets the feeling that Nolan is holding a Batman created mirror to society. The only misstep in Nolan's direction is having Hans Zimmmer's soundtrack pound the audience with volume. There were times that I wanted to yell at the projection booth to turn down the movie.

When Batman finally makes his appearance in the film, you will cheer and agree with the old cop telling his rookie partner that you're in for a show. The Dark Knight Rises is tense and fascinating. The grade is A.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When conservatives get the facts wrong

So I'm debating with a conservative right-winger and the thing that bothers me is not the policy differences. It is that conservatives often get the facts wrong. Maybe it's because conservatives, as one study puts it, engage in low effort thinking. The problem is that when conservatives get the facts wrong, bad things happen. You see, conservatives let policy dictate over the facts. The Iraq War is a good example. The Bush administration said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He did not. Billions of dollars spent by the United States. Hundreds of thousands dead.

But recently, conservatives have engaged in ideas that are just wrong. They range from the silly to the dangerous. Here are three of them.

1. Rush Limbaugh says new Batman movie is a liberal conspiracy. He said this on his radio show on Tuesday.

"Do you think it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane? .... So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there's discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It's going to have a lot of people, ....The audience is going to be huge. A lot of people are going to see the movie. And it's a lot of brain-dead people -- entertainment, the pop culture crowd -- and they're going to hear Bane in the movie and they're going to associate Bain."

Now in case you didn't know, the reference to Bane is to GOP's presidential candidate Mitt Romney's former company, Bain Capital. It's the center of some controversy since in the early part of this century, it engaged in takeovers, and outsourcing of jobs. The truth of the matter is that Bane is a criminal character invented by the Batman comics in 1993. The genesis of the new movie, The Dark Knight Rises, didn't start until February of 2010. All of those dates are before Romney announced in April of 2011, he would seek the presidency for 2012.

2. Texas Republicans oppose critical thinking. It's hard to make this up. A plank in the Texas state Republican platform opposes the teaching of "critical thinking" to school children. That may not sound like getting the facts wrong but not thinking critically will lead one to get the facts wrong.

Yes, they now say it's an oversight. But how is this an oversight? I will misspell a word. That's an oversight. Somebody had to write it down and type it in the platform. And if it's an "oversight" then that shows the Republican Party doesn't engage in critical thinking. I'll let Stephen Colbert brilliantly satirize it.

3. Michele Bachmann alleges that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's aide, Huma Abedin of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Former Republican presidential candidate and Tea Party darling, Cong. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) is calling for an investigation of the government to determine whether there has been infiltration of the United States government by Islamic fundamentalists. She points out Secretary of State's longtime aide, Huma Abedin as an example of possible infiltration. Anderson Cooper of CNN debunked this. Basically the best evidence is that Ms. Abedin's deceased father may have had the support of another who may have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. That's it folks.

If Bachmann sounds like Sen. Joe McCarthy ( R-Wis.) that's because this is the same type of witch hunt that he did in the fifties. So off base was Bachmann, that fellow Republicans blasted her. Just remember at one point of this year's presidential campaign she showed her popularity by winning the Ames, Iowa straw poll. And like I said she's a darling of the Tea Party.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said some eloquent words in support of Ms. Abedin. Yesterday, on Rachel Maddow's show, Rachel played some of them back in a greater piece about the ongoing Republican racial smear against President Obama, i.e. he's foreign. 7:00 minute mark)

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Today, Chris Matthews on Hardball also did a piece on Bachmann.

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Jon Stewart on the LIBOR scandal

Republicans argue that the problems with the economy are too many regulations and taxes. When the biggest problem is caused by banks and the interest rates they charge. These interest rates affect the ability of businesses to borrow money. So when banks manipulate the rates, the economy suffers. There's a current banking scandal. And it's coming from England. We're talking about LIBOR. It's the interest rate that the biggest banks charge each other to borrow money. Doesn't sound like fodder for comedy but Jon Stewart educates and has fun with it. Excellent and funny piece.

Limbaugh thinks new Batman movie is a liberal conspiracy

On Tuesday's Rush Limbaugh show, Rush made this charge about the film, The Dark Knight Rises:

"Do you think it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane? .... So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there's discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It's going to have a lot of people, ....The audience is going to be huge. A lot of people are going to see the movie. And it's a lot of brain-dead people -- entertainment, the pop culture crowd -- and they're going to hear Bane in the movie and they're going to associate Bain."

Just in case you don't know, Bain is the name of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's former venture capital company Bain. The company has been in the news for its corporate raiding and outsourcing of jobs.

Here's a funny piece by Rachel Maddow. On Wednesday, Rush back tracked because he looked like a big fat idiot. Rachel called him out by saying that's not what he said on Tuesday. Video.

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Republicans oppose critical thinking

You knew that conservative Republicans don't believe in critical thinking. Look at their opposition to the facts of global warming. Well, we finally have proof. The Texas Republican Party has a plank in their platform that opposes teaching children 'critical thinking." I'm not joking. Couple that with the fact that conservatives engage in "low effort thinking" and we got a party run by Neanderthals.

Now Republicans say it was an oversight. But Stephen Colbert points out that if it happpend like that then the Republicans didn't engage in "critical thinking." Here's his "The Word" piece. Colbert is brilliant.

Jon Stewart on the Bain mess

The other day Jon Stewart of the Daily Show covered Mitt Romney's Bain Capital mess. Funny stuff.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mitt Romney's America

The Obama campaign has released this devastating ad featuring GOP candidate Mitt Romney singing "America the Beautiful." He sings it badly by the way. It punches hard because it shows what Romney did as a businessman and governor. Outsource jobs. Offshore accounts. And now it seems if Romney was in charge of Bain Capital up to 2002, he either lied to the SEC by saying he quit in 1999 or he was part of some the draconian actions done to businesses and workers from 1999 to 2002.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More evidence of Khan

In an exclusive interview, Star Trek writer Bob Orci confirmed that Alice Eve (pictured) will play a character that is canon to the Trek world. Now we know Alice Eve watched all the TOS episodes of Star Trek to prepare for her part. Why would she do that? And she seemed to focus on Captain Kirk.

"Now, I’ve watched them all and there are some scenes with [William] Shatner that break my heart… It’s so sweet."

I believe she's Carol Marcus. Now Marcus was introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (1982) She was a lover of Kirk and the mother of his son, David. Eve's dedication to the character indicates that she's looking at the relationship of Kirk and Marcus. Bringing an iconic character from Wrath is another piece of evidence pointing that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan.

Let's review the evidence that indicates it's Khan.

1. There was a search for a Hispanic actor to play the villain. This would be continuity with Ricardo Montalban, a Mexican actor, who played Khan.

2. There was a hint of a teaser that was supposed to be placed at the end of the 2009 movie. The team hinted in movie commentary that they were going to have a clip of a ship called the Botany Bay. That's Khan's ship found in TOS episode, "Space Seed."

3. Leaked video and photos show Cumberbatch's character beating the tar out of Spock. He chokes Spock with one hand. Now Spock is stronger than humans. He's half Vulcan. That means Cumberbatch has superhuman strength.

4. Alice Eve plays a character from canon. She studied for the part by watching all the TOS episodes and seemed to focus on Kirk. She's also very blonde like Bibi Besch was in Wrath. I believe she's playing Dr. Carol Marcus.

5. Oops. I forgot.'s sources indicate it's Khan.

Mitt Romney lies, Part Two

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lied again. For days, he's been talking about his business background as reason why he should be President. His company, Bain was a corporate raider. Romney claims he left Bain in 1999. Important, because there were companies that went bankrupt and jobs that were outsourced in companies that Bain took over. See GST Steel which went belly up after Bain took it over. He claims these things occurred after 1999.

The Boston Globe is reporting that on SEC filings, he is listed as CEO of Bain and received a salary of $100,000.00 salary until 2002. DOH. Want to explain that Willard? That's Mitt's real name. Here's the story from Lawrence O' Donnell.

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Get Well Patrick

I started hanging out at Hap's Irish Pub, Cincinnati, Ohio around 1994. It was your classic Irish pub. But one thing I noticed that caught my eye or should I say ear. The jukebox had an eclectic mixture of CDs. There was rock, country, RB and jazz. I was surprised to see jazz. And one of the jazz CDs was Shirley Horn with strings, Here's to Life. (1992) I consider it wone of the most beautiful CDs ever made.

I asked who put that album on the jukebox. It was jazz lover, and regular customer of Hap's, Patrick Loney. Yesterday I found out that Patrick is ill. I wish him all the best and hopes he gets well soon. Here's a cut from that beautiful Shirley Horn album, "How Am I to Know."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tom Cruise, Superhuman?

In case you've been living under a rock or don't care about celebrities, actor Tom Cruise has been in the news lately due to his divorce from actress Katie Holmes. Cruise is a well know practitioner of Scientology. Some Scientologists believe that Tom Cruise has telekinetic and telepathic powers. You know, he's like Charles Xavier of X-Men or maybe he's Obi Wan Kenobi.

Confused about what is Scientology? Why don't I let the South Park boys explain it for you. Here's the very funny and Emmy nominated episode of South Park called "Trapped in the Closet."

(Picture of Xenu from the episode. Courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mass Effect 3--Grissom Academy: Investigation; tips for Insanity

One of the toughest missions in Mass Effect 3 on any difficulty level is the side mission, Grissom Academy: Investigation. This post will cover how to get through the toughest parts on the Insanity difficulty setting. Remember this is a side mission and it will go away if you don't play it soon after it comes available. Besides, you want to save Jack don't you? Before you deploy, go over my general tips.

1. Your class and weapons. Engineer. You can sabotage turrets and turn them against Cerberus. You have combat drones and the sentry turret. For weapons, I bring the M-99 Saber and M-97 Viper sniper rifle. That combination allows for me to use powers quickly.

3. Your squad. Garrus and James. Why? You can arm each with the M-37 Falcon assault rifle which is s grenade launcher. It packs a wallop against the enemy. Liara is another choice since her Singularity and other biotic powers are good against Guardians. But remember you won't face Guardians in frequency.

4. Hardest parts of the mission.

a. Orion Hall. After a cutscene, you're confronted with an Atlas. Get to cover immediately. Launch a combat drone at it. Now, the hall has one set of stairs to the left and to the right. The Atlas is near the left stairs. Take your Saber and feed the Atlas lead.

Okay, the Atlas may be on top of you. You can sabotage it. But you will have to deal with it sooner or later. I run to cover on the left (concrete bed?) before the stairs. The drone and your squad should be keeping it busy. Your saber will eventually bring it down.

Now you need to go over to the right. There are Cerberus infantry over here attacking the students. Stay in cover under the benches. Use the combat drone, Garrus and James' powers. Let them have it with your Saber. Area is cleared.

b. The Atrium. Perhaps one of the toughest sections in the game outside of London. As you enter the area, Cerberus troops rush you. Launch a combat drone at them. In the distance, an Atlas will unleash missiles at you. You can't get to the Atlas yet; it's over in the second section of the area. First, run up the ramp and seek the high ground. At the top, there are two flower beds, next to a wall which provides cover. There's a stairway with a regenerating ammo clip next to it. Deploy sentry turret. Position squad members up here. Stay at the top for the most part of this section. Note up here, the Atlas can't get to you.

Stay in cover. And unleash your Saber from the high ground on the Cerberus troops. Watch out for grenades. On Insanity, they are instant kills at close range. After about about 15 seconds, two Guardians magically appear at the top of the stairway. Launch a combat drone at them. Run down the ramp and seek cover at the first flower bed. You still have the high ground. Now deal with these pesky guys and kill them. Okay after they're down, head back to the top of the ramp.

Continue letting the enemy have a taste of your Saber. If you're low on ammo remember the regenerating ammo clip. Also sabotage any enemy turret. Watch it gun them down. Eventually with the students biotic attacks, your squad's fire and your Saber shots, you defeat all the waves.

Okay, move down the ramp but stay under cover. The Atlas in the other section will fire on you. But now you have an advantage. You can snipe at it from cover and at a distance. Eventually you and your squad take it down. Now move to the tunnel under the ramp.

You come on the door to the second section of the Atrium. Don't go through. Because enemy engineers will deploy turrets that will cut you down. If you want you can send a squad member through and have him take cover by the front pillar. But take out your sniper. Wack the bad guys from the safety of the door. Keep moving away from the door if a grenade comes. Use your combat drones to hunt down bad guys. Eventually you hear one engineer and his turret are left. Listen for the turret. Okay, don't take any chances. Go to the other side, i.e. the first section. Use your HUD to locate the turret. Sabotage it. That will kill the engineer or hurt him badly. If you can launch a drone, then do so. Now if the turret is weakened, carefully enter the second section. Run to the ramps and advance under cover. Destroy any stragglers or what's left of the turret. You're done. On to the final section.

c. The Atlas. You take control of the enemy Atlas and kick ass. Stick to using the gun over the homing missiles. You can keep moving while using the gun. Use the missiles when you see a group of infantry close together. That will take out a bunch of them.

The cool tip. Say during your battle with the infantry, the armor gets low on the Atlas. Do this. Hop out. Now hop back in. Your armor has replenished itself. Now take out the other enemy Atlas when it appears. Mission over. Listen to Jack "cuss" out Joker. Well, they bleep it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mass Effect 3- Priority: Perseus Veil; Disable the Dreadnought, tips for Insanity

We continue with our series of tips for Mass Effect 3 on the Insanity difficulty level. As with other articles, in this series, I cover only the hardest parts of the mission. First if you haven't checked my general tips, please do so. Today, we cover Priority: Perseus Veil; Diable the Dreadnought.

1. Your class and weapons. My class is Engineer. The class has combat drone, sentry turret and sabotage. Since your enemy is Geth, your powers are more relevant. My weapons are the M-99 Saber and the M-97 Viper.

2. The squad and weapons. Tali is mandatory. I equip her with the Graal Spike Thrower and the Scorpion pistol Garrus is my second member. He gets the Black Widow sniper rifle and the M-37 Falcon assault rifle which is basically a grenade thrower.

3. The hardest parts of the mission.

a. Dreadnought Operation Center. Okay when you enter the room, you get jumped by Geth troopers and Hunters. Hunters are problematic since they have cloaks. You need to look for distortions in the air. Firing at the distortion will expose them. They carry shotguns and will kill you with a couple of shots. The first thing I do is to deploy sentry turret to cover a flank. Once you regain the ability to use more powers, I might sabotage a trooper and get it to fight for me. I also use Tali's powers to launch a combat drone. All this interference will hopefully give you time to damage the Hunters or kill them. If they get too close, I run along the perimeters.

Once this first wave is down, you go to the operation console. Before I access the console, I deploy a sentry turret. Okay, access the console. You get attacked. Use Tali to either sabotage a trooper or launch a combat drone. The million dollar tip. Now at the beginnig of this attack, the Geth come out of a room on the far side to your left. Run to that room. If you stay by the console, the Hunters will flank and kill you. But once you get to that room, you create a kill zone because the Geth will have to come into that room. You cannot be flanked.

In the room, there's some cover. So use it. The Geth come to you and cannot flank you since they cannot move throught the walls. There's only one place they can enter the room and that is through the door. Keep using your powers, especially combat drones and sentry turrets. Eventually, you defeat the Geth sent to kill you.

b. Main gun battery. Keep your distance from the Geth as you advance. The electric charge takes down your shields and the Geth will finish you off. Use your and Tali's powers. If you have to retreat to the beginning of the battery, then do so. Don't confront a Hunter up close and personal. If you have to run, then run. Eventually, you defeat the Geth and can advance.

c. The Central Core. Okay, you're almost done. You ride the elevator to the upper deck. Access the console and come under attack. First, take cover along the pillars to your left.

Take out your sniper rifle. Reach out and kill the Geth from a distance. Remember to use your powers. Combat drones. Sentry turret. Sabotage. Life is good. Eventually you make your way around this semi=circle. You see a Prime in the distance. You can sabotage him, but realize you have to deal with it sooner or later. It becomes immune to your sabotage after a couple hacks. Again the safe way is to use combat drones and your sniper rifle. He goes down. Mission over.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reds Win Big One

The Cincinnati Reds won a big game today, 4-2. Yes, I know there are 162 games. But this win came against the San Diego Padres at the end of a long eleven game West Coast road trip. Usually, West Coast trips are a disaster for the Reds. The Reds had a winning road trip, 6-5. Pretty good for them. As Cincinnati Reds Dusty Baker might say, "That was big." The win allows the Reds to keep pace with Pittsburgh Pirates and trail by one game.

The game? Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick went back to back with homers. Reds fireballing Aroldis Chapman went 1-2-3 to earn his eleventh save. He struck out the side last night to save yesterday's game. Here's the story with video. The Reds are in good shape for the second half of the season.

Why some conservatives are idiots

Conservative icon George Will on ABC's This Week said this about the record breaking heat,

"How do we explain the heat? One word: summer,"

That's it, George Will?! That's your "intellectual" thought? Oy. And they gave this guy the Pulitzer Prize.

Jerry Meehl, a climate extreme expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said this about the heat streak.

"This is what global warming is like, and we'll see more of this as we go into the future."

This is all part of the pattern for conservatives. They react. The engage in low effort thinking as a study says. They get facts wrong. Unfortunately, when conservatives think policy over facts and get the facts wrong, people die. See Iraq War.

So who do you trust? Scientists or a conservative who is full of hot air? I say follow the facts.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chris Rock and White People's Day

Comedian and actor Chris Rock tweeted this on July 4, and set off fireworks.

"Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks."

It's been widely reported as Rock wishing caucasians, "Happy white peoples day." Now before you rednecks peel your skin off your necks, the "Happy white peoples day" is not correct. I mean if that's what he said, then I guess he would have followed that up with a rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

What he said was "Happy white peoples independence day..." Big difference. Because at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, African American slaves weren't set free. Independence met freedom for one race of people. White people. Today, African Americans are no longer slaves. But they still face discrimination.

The new teaser trailer for Star Trek 2013

It's here. The new teaser trailer for Star Trek 2013. Um, okay it's the teaser trailer for the Kreo-O toy of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Here's the story from Video below. Note it's a take on the teaser trailer for the 2009 Star Trek movie.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July. How about a scene from the film, 1776? (1972) In this scene, founding father and lawyer, John Adams urges the Continental Congress to vote on independence. I love it at the end where a congressman sings, "Will someone shut that man up?" A defiant John Adams shouts "Never." You go sir.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man 3D review

It's easy to be cynical about The Amazing Spider-Man. The film is a reboot but it comes just five years after Tobey Maguire donned the red and blue leotards for the bloated Spider-Man 3. I mean the story heads back to high school. Yeah, I'm thinking this is all about getting those teenagers into the multiplex. Still, the comic Spider-Man did start out in high school so maybe it's not so crass in its appeal to teenagers.

The Amazing Spider-Man starts out with the boy Peter Parker being delivered to his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) by his father, Richard. Peter's father, a scientist at Oscorp, must flee for mysterious reasons. The movie then flashes forward. Peter (Andrew Garfield) is a high school student at Midtown Science High School. He's kind of a rebel with a skateboard.
One day he stands up to a bully, Flash Thompson. That appeals to the pretty Gwen Stacy. (Emma Stone) Gwen's father also happens to be the New York police chief, George Stacy played by a convincing Dennis Leary.

Peter finds out that his father died and used to work at Oscorp. He sneaks into Oscorp pretending to be an intern. He finds that Gwen is an intern there. He also meets the one armed Dr. Curt Connors. (Rhys Ifans) Dr. Connors research is the area of cross-spieces mutation. While there, Peter wanders into a room where genetically engineered spiders are creating super strong webs. A spider falls on Peter and bites him in the neck. As a result, Peter develops an ability to sing bad U2 songs. Okay, that didn't happen. As a result of the bite, Peter develops superhuman strength and all that spidey goodness. You know. Walk on walls. Spidey sense.

After a fight with Uncle Ben, Peter wanders the streets. Ben runs out to find him. Peter watches a robbery take place at a convenience store and refuses to help the victim. Unfortunately, Ben runs into the robber and they struggle. The robber shoots him and kills him. Peter decides to try to find the robber to enact revenge. As he does so, he becomes a vigilante.

Meanwhile, Dr. Connors has developed a way to regenerate limbs using reptilian DNA. He injects himself with the serum and turns into a giant human reptile hybrid aka The Lizard. As the Lizard, Dr. Connors doesn't want to commit crimes such as robbery. He believes that humans must evolve into creatures like himself. He seeks to turn the population of New York into lizard type creatures.

What surprises me about The Amazing Spider-Man is that it's not your usual popcorn, tentpole movie. Writers James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and
Steve Kloves have created a story that is big budget character piece. The dialogue feels real and there are deep emotions in the story. Ideas from the Spider-Man comics are here. Social responsibility. The limits of science. Love.

This movie won't work if there's no chemistry between the two leads. And there is. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have as much chemistry as Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst did in the first Spider-Man. It's a touching romance. And Garfield does the teenage angst thing well. He's also becomes heroic when he realizes he must use his great power for good. Stone is just charming. She beams brightly like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Rhys Ifans is more than a mustache twirling bad guy. He's three dimensional and sympathetic. Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Aunt May give the movie gravitas. Excellent performances all around.

Director Marc Webb does things great directors do. First he gets great performances from the actors. Then he lets them do their thing without letting the camera interfere with gymnastics. That could be because of it being filmed in 3D. Regardless, letting the screenplay and actors tell the story is better than forcing down needless camera movements. Webb's action set pieces are organic, exciting and inspiring. The special effects are also well done. The Lizard looks like something that really exists.

As stated, The Amazing Spider-Man was filmed in 3D. And it shows. There are many night scenes and you can see the action without it being too dark. While I wish Director Webb would have emphasized the 3D more with shots set up using objects in the foreground and background, it's still worthwhile in 3D. Many scenes have depth and others pop. If you're going to see The Amazing Spider-Man, see it in 3D.

Tentpole movies aren't supposed to have this much smarts and heart. The Amazing Spider-Man is simply amazing. The grade is A.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tony LaRussa sticks it to the Reds

It came as a surprise to me to find out that Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johhny Cueto and second baseman Brandon Phillips didn't make the All-Star team. Both are among the best in their positions. Phillips is the best fielding second basemen in the game. And Cueto is one of the best starting pitchers in the game. Then I saw who was picking the remaining All-Stars. Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. Remember that fight from 2010? Cueto and Phillips were in the center of it.

I'll let my man Lance McAlister of HOMER 1530 AM, say it.

"Did anyone really think Tony LaRussa would select the two central Reds figures in a Reds-Cardinals brawl for the All-Star team? Tony LaRussa is a bitter, spiteful, vindictive old man. ...

Did anyone really expect LaRussa to pick Cueto and Phillips or give them the edge in a head to head vs anyone else? This was payback. This was LaRussa standing up for his former team and for Jason LaRue. ...

Cueto has the 5th best ERA in NL this year (9-4 2.26) and best ERA in MLB since Opening Day last year. Jonathan Papelbon (2-2 3.03, 18 SV)? The closer on a 36-45 team? Stop.
Heck, LaRussa could have/should have taken Cueto over Bruce.
The Phillips snub (.288/10-46) is a little more justifiable. Two 2B were already on the team. Phillips is only 5th among NL 2B in OPS. Yet, he's the best all around 2B in the NL and wasn't even put up as one of five players in the on-line fan vote that starts today. In the end this was par for the course for LaRussa."

Amen, Brother Lance.

The face of the Republican Party

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is a rock star in today's Republican Party. He also represents the nature of the Republican Party. Saturday, Christie called a reporter stupid and an idiot. The reporter's crime? He went off topic. Of course, this type of behavior endears him to the Republicans. See Mitt Romney.

But it's an example of what the modern Republican Party has become. There are some who are racists. Merciless. Mean. Bigots. Prone to anti-intellectualism. Don't believe me? Let's go over my past posts and the evidence.

1. Racism in the party. Exhibit A. The Birthers. Exhibit B. Cong. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) use of the term "tar baby." Exhibit C. Calling Obama a chimp and comparing Michele Obama to a gorilla. Exhibit D. The Southern Strategy.

2. Merciless and mean. Exhibit A. During a presidential debate last year, an audience member cheered for the death of an uninsured person. Exhibit B. Gov. Chris Christie. By the way, he's known to calling people idiots. See above.

3. Bigots. In Virginia, a gay Republican prosecutor was rejected for a judgeship by Republicans.

4. Prone to anti-intellectualism. Studies show that conservatives get facts wrong and are inclined to low effort thinking.

So who does the modern Republican Party appeal to? Conservative, angry white males.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ted review

If you have ever watched Seth MacFarlane's TV creation, Family Guy, you'll get the gist of his new movie, Ted. You see in Family Guy, there's a smart ass baby by the name of Stewie who speaks at the tender age of one. Ted's premise is about a boy's teddy bear who comes to life and grows into adulthood. The bear is not sweet and utters wise cracks. No coincidence, both are voiced Seth MacFarlane.

Ted opens up with hilarious narration by Patrick Stewart. We are told about a boy named John Bennett growing up in Boston. He's so lonely that the other boys won't even let him join them in beating up the local Jewish kid. Yep, from that joke, you know you're not going to get politically correct humor. Anyway, his parents give John a teddy bear. One night, John wishes upon a star that his bear would come to life and it does.

John (Mark Wahlberg) grows into an adult. And the bear, called Ted (Seth MacFarlane) grows up with him. The bear becomes a politically incorrect, wise cracking, pot smoking, furry buddy of John. Problems arise when Ted's antics interfere with John's relation with his girlfriend Lori Collins. (Mila Kunis)

The jokes in Ted come at you fast and furious. There are religion, pop culture , geek, sex, poop jokes and of course there are fart jokes or as they say in Boston, "fahh...t" jokes. Almost all of them hit. There are some funny cameos too. Expect to see Ryan Reynolds, Norah Jones and special guest star, Sam Jones aka Flash Gordon.

There are three big comic set pieces. One is the result of a truth or dare with hookers and poop. Don't worry you don't see anyone poop on screen. Another is a wild party with Sam Jones. And then there is your classic buddy fight. In this case, it's an indescribable fight between John and Ted. So ridiculous that it had me laughing loudly.

Ted may not be original within the context of Family Guy. But it is original in a summer full of sequels. Who knew that you could mix sweet jazz, Flash Gordon, Patrick Stewart, and subversive humor to make a great comedy? So far, it's the funniest movie of the year. The grade is A +.