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Comment: Long lines here too (Score 1) 223

by sjbe (#47568191) Attached to: Comcast Confessions

Is the line shorter in other towns?

No. Last time I visited Comcast to get some gear there were about 30 people in line and I waited about an hour, not counting driving time to get to the one service center which is about 25 miles from my house. They announced loudly that if we were just dropping off gear that we could put it in their drop off big (a cardboard box) which nobody believed. Then there was no way to prove that you had dropped it off.

Fortunately my dealings with Comcast have been minimal and the service has been largely reliable for my needs. TV is WAY overpriced for what you get but the internet service isn't too bad as long as you don't need to deal with support too much.

Comment: Water tight = air tight (Score 1) 145

by sjbe (#47567475) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

He seals them in the barrels so they are water tight.

Of course if they are water tight then they are air tight too... That bit never made sense to me even when I was reading it as a kid for the first time. Unless there was a hole in the barrel the dwarves should have suffocated. If there was a hole in barrel they should have drowned.

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 145

by sjbe (#47565597) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

Yeeeeah, we'll get right on that. Everyone from the studio execs to the Oscar committee will positively leap with glee when we release our new $200,000,000 holiday-season spectacular, THE HOBBIT, PART II: A LEISURELY RIDE DOWN THE RIVER.

So instead we got a drawn out, absurd even by fantasy movie standards, pointless action scene that added nothing to the story. That entire scene could have been cut out and the movie would have been better for it. At most it should have been 1-2 minutes long if they absolutely had to have some action.

Pro tip: Don't quit your day job to move to Hollywood.

Sounds like you already did and worked on The Hobbit.

Comment: Suspension of disbelief (Score 1) 145

by sjbe (#47565253) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

WTF? It's fantasy with wizards, elves and dragons, and you're talking about suspension of disbelief?

Why not? Suspension of disbelief is probably the most important thing about sci-fi and fantasy movies. Far more than say a romantic comedy. You can do it well or you can do it poorly. You need a good script, good acting and good special effects to make a movie like that believable. If you are going to ask the audience to believe in magic or magic-science for 2-3 hours that is fine but you can't simply throw anything on the screen and excuse it just because the story says it is magic. The story has to be carefully crafted, the acting has to be believable and the special effects have to be good enough to keep your brain from screaming "bullshit" the whole time.

I've always had a hard time getting into Dr Who as an example. The stories are often flat out amazing and the acting has had some pretty good moments but the special effects and cinematography have been so bad (especially the older stuff) that my brain simply couldn't accept it. I have the same problem with Star Trek except that the stories aren't as good (IMO) though the FX is better (not great but better). One can enjoy them but I'm always left thinking that they could have been better.

Comment: No perfect LOTR movie (Score 1) 145

by sjbe (#47565063) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

Um, maybe Ralph Bakshi movie is an atrocity for you. For me it's the best Tolkien adaptation ever.

That rotoscoped steaming turd? I've rarely been more disappointed at a movie. It had reasonable fidelity to the books but that alone was hardly enough to make it good. I remember excitedly renting it from the video store sometime during the 1980s and thought that it was a really badly done movie. I thought the rotoscoping was bizarre and still do - uncanny valley reaction I guess. The voice acting was meh at best and the "action" was nothing to write home to mom about. Plus they released it as The Lord of The Rings but it only covered about half the story. I can live with it being condensed into a single movie even if they chop a lot out but then give some indication that there is more to the story. I clearly remember saying "That's it? Where is the rest of it?"

Jackson's adaptations of LOTR, like the recent The Hobbit trilogy, could have used more editing but it was at least in general a good and engaging movie. Visually excellent, faithful enough to the books in most places, captures the epic The worst bits of Jackson's adaptations are when they start going off script for stupid jokes like the dwarf tossing joke during the battle of helm's deep. It wasn't all bad but a high percentage of the dialog that deviated from Tolkien's words was pretty campy. That sort of thing should have only been on a gag reel. More editing would could have made a tighter story but it was a decent movie even if an imperfect adaptation.

Comment: Perfectly fair (Score 2) 25

by sjbe (#47564625) Attached to: University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title

'Major sponsors include Ford, General Motors, IMRA, Michigan Engineering, NYK, Qatar Airways and Siemens PLM Software.'

Why is that unfair? Other teams are permitted to get sponsors. It's their problem if they can't recruit good sponsors. Plus most of those companies hire Michigan engineering graduates so why wouldn't they sponsor the students they are likely to hire?

Comment: Designs converge on optimums (Score 1) 25

by sjbe (#47564557) Attached to: University of Michigan Solar Car Wins Fifth Straight National Title

As cool as these cars are, they are starting to all look alike.

Physics is a harsh mistress. They tend to look a lot alike because physics combined with the rules of the contest will generally force the designs towards an optimum. In other words they are going to tend to converge on the same general design over time.

Comment: The Hobbit didn't take the material seriously (Score 3, Interesting) 145

by sjbe (#47562757) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

What's so horrible about The Hobbit?

The movies are stretched and it shows. They simply didn't have enough plot or action to fill the time and I got fairly bored at times. There are seemingly endless and mostly pointless action scenes that serve no purpose and frankly aren't all that well done either. The special effects were rushed. The dialog they added is insultingly bad. Etc... While I won't say they are horrible money grab movies on the level of say The Phantom Menace, they could have been a LOT better even if they had just spent more time in the editing room. Basically they knew they would be a commercial success so they really didn't try very hard.

LOTR all had battle scenes that took up half the movies that were too long. Songs were not included and plot from the book cut to make room for action and Hollywood.

The Hobbit is worse regarding the action scenes - the ones in LOTR didn't feel nearly as stretched out. And as for the "songs", there are lyrics but no actual music in the books so any music would be contrived. And frankly NOBODY wanted these movies to be a musical. (If you did then you are the only one) I sure as hell didn't go into them wanting to hear a bunch of "music" and I've read the Lord of the Rings probably close to 20 times. That is not what is the really interesting bit about the books - it's more of an intellectual curiosity than anything else that would have been terrible on the big screen.

Comment: Re: Founders tend to make bad CEOs (Score 2) 180

by sjbe (#47558055) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

To be fair Steve Jobs didn't make the transition from startup WizKid very well at all... He got kicked out of his company got ten years... And used the time to seriously adjust his attitude toward his workers/managers.

He did better than most. And you will notice that the company did quite badly once they kicked him out and recovered when he got back. No he didn't get everything right but he's one of the rare founders that was able to make the transition. Most do not.

And by all accounts he was still an ass when he came back. Maybe a more polished ass an ass nonetheless. People overlook it because he got good results.

Comment: Bullets will not win this conflict (Score 2) 817

by sjbe (#47558017) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

The people in Gaza are not Israeli citizens.

And yet Israel insists on controlling the territory. They may not get a vote but they ARE Israeli citizens until such time as Israel actually stops trying to control their political processes and truly leaves. Israel conquered the territory, they control what goes in or out and they fairly regularly send their military in. Even the maps show Gaza as a part of Israel. What they have done is to conquer a territory full of people who don't like Israel and never made a secret of that and then treated them badly for a long time. Shocking why things have gone badly.

Since I'm sure you'll mention the naval blockade, So for your information, the blockade was enacted in June 2007, when the Palestinians elected a terrorist organization (Hamas) to lead them, and started firing rockets in to Israel. Btw, right after their election, Hamas eradicated PLO members from the Gaza strip (which were *relatively* moderate muslims), through a series of violent clashes.

Yep, both sides are doing all sorts of evil things to each other. That's what happens in a civil war. Ever consider that a big part of the reason Hamas has such a large voice is because of the decades of stupid decisions by Israel? I totally get that Israel is a bit touchy given that they are surrounded by neighboring nations who have to put it mildly been quite hostile. But this is a conflict that will NEVER be won with bullets or walls. It will be won with cooperation and discussion and genuine caring about others.

Comment: Win hearts and minds (Score 1) 817

by sjbe (#47557833) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

So what do you think should be Israel's response to the constant bombing of their country?

Here's a notion. How about trying to win the hearts and minds of the people who aren't trying to bomb Israel and get them on Israel's side? This conflict will NEVER be won by force of arms unless we countenance genocide. If Israel really wants to have a solution they need to listen to what the Palestinians are saying and actually work out a deal. They need to bring economic prosperity to the region and give it a voice in political matters even though the people there aren't Jewish. If they need to establish separate nation states then do that. Stop moving into contested territories. Stop making Gaza an outdoor prison camp. Kindness might work here. Bullets never will.

The fact that Israel hasn't just wiped the country off the map is perplexing to me. It is usually what happens when a weak country continues to poke at a stronger one.

So you are proposing that the Jews commit genocide? Have you forgotten the Holocaust? If ANYONE would be reluctant to do that I should think it would be the Jewish people.

Comment: A pointless conflict (Score 1) 817

by sjbe (#47557747) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

You also have to consider that the Palestinian people as a whole are not Hamas, in the same way the Northern Ireland population were not the IRA.

And yet the Palestinians have not rejected Hamas wholesale either. Obviously a large percentage of the Palestinian people supports Hamas and their goals. Some don't but clearly not enough to clear out the radicals willing to use force. The Israelis for their part are just as bad. They keep electing people who support policies that they know are provocative to the Palestinians and they damn well ought to know what the results of those policies will be by this point.

Comment: No innocent governments here (Score 2) 817

by sjbe (#47557707) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Hamas started it and reuses to agree to any proposed cease fire.

Doesn't matter who started it. That's an argument that children make to justify their own bad behavior. There is no innocent party here.

Israel isn't the group calling for the extermination, Hamas is.

Israel has turned Gaza into a large open air prison. Many people in Gaza are innocent of any criminal action and yet they are made to suffer along with the terrorists. Israel will not give any voice in government to anyone who is not Jewish. Israel is not remotely being a fair minded party here. They conquered this territory and haven't done a good job of winning hearts and minds. They aren't going to convince the extremists but they could have convinced the more reasonable people to deal with the extremists. There is no evidence I can see that this was ever tried with any serious intent.

Israel has also offered legitimacy to the Palestinian government in exchange for a cease fire and removing the language in the charter to kill all jews.

Hamas is not the Palestinian government. Neither is Fatah which is the other major political group involved. They are roughly akin to political parties with a percentage of their membership (particularly Hamas) who are radical. There are extremists in the Israeli government too and they keep provoking the Palestinians even when it is clearly not a good idea. Neither side is listening to what the other cares about and neither has been willing to do what it will take to bring peace.

Comment: No innocents here (Score 1) 817

by sjbe (#47557393) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Israel never bombed their own citizens, you probably mean Hamas.

The people living in Gaza are not citizens of Israel? They are for all practical purposes since this is territory controlled by Israel. So in real terms how is this anything other than a civil war? Both sides are bombing each other and neither side is willing to be calm or rational. If you ever needed a better example of why I think organized religion is a terrible thing I certainly cannot find it.

Israeli citizens has all the rights that Americans have.

Tell that to the people living in Gaza. I'm sure they'll agree that their "rights" aren't being trampled on in any way and I'm sure they're fine with being kept in what amounts to a large prison camp with walls and guards.

Comment: Founders tend to make bad CEOs (Score 3, Interesting) 180

by sjbe (#47557261) Attached to: How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

It's a good question and more common than you might think. Part of the problem is that bringing in competent outsiders can be uncomfortable for company founders. Gygax clearly had a problem with involving anyone who was not a wargamer but the people who are competent at finance don't overlap heavily with people who are gamers. Plus when things are going well it is easy to think that you can handle it. After all, it's gone well this far right?

One of the big challenges in growing a company is that the skill sets for founding a company and the skill sets for running it when it gets larger overlap far less than most people think. For every Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos there are thousands of people who simply cannot make the transition from small company founder to big company manager. The founders of Google were actually smart enough to bring in some outside management relatively early because they knew they didn't really have the skillset at the time to manage a company with a stratospheric growth rate. It would be like hiring a guy who has never managed a network larger than 10 computers to suddenly take charge of Amazon's data warehouses. The skills needed are just on a completely different level.

Happiness is a positive cash flow.