Sex and Film

...A friend of mine recently made a comment that the scene from Titanic where the lead character slaps her hand against the steamy car window was the sexiest moment in film.

Now. ...I agree that it was sexy, but I balked at the idea that it was the sexiest moment in film. However, when I started to think about it, I came up short with alternatives. In fact, the only example I could think of (which I will place in the comments, so as not to taint your thought process) was... well... from one of the weaker movies Hollywood has produced, and I hesitate to even admit it was such a turn on.

Help me out here. There must be some really steamy scenes I'm forgetting.



My father-in-law introduced me to port wines not too long ago, and I found I rather liked them. Having confessed this to a friend of mine shortly before Christmas, I was given a gift of a bottle of Reynella Old Cave 12-year port.

I must say: it's quite amazing. A very complex, satisfying taste. I'm not a drinker (by any stretch of the imagination), so I can't use drinker-jargon, or even speak to it relative to other ports or wines, but I can say that, of the three or four ports I've tasted, this was the finest.

I understand that, as ports go, it's also relatively cheap ($13-16 a bottle)... and thus, I recommend it.

Do you have a favourite port I should be trying?

Purity Was Hijacked by Religion

Some weeks ago, I had a series of posts about morality, based on some research by Jonathan Haidt.

I've had some time to digest those ideas, and wanted to field a suggestion developed from them.

Specifically, Haidt suggests (at the end of his TED talks) that liberals could open their doors, so to speak, to a wider number of people, if it could find a way to tap into the three morals that are usually "overlooked" by the left. Namely: Loyalty to one's group, deference to Authority, and adherence to Purity. He gives an example of the latter: most liberals actually do believe in purity. For example, many of us are vegetarians. (I don't talk about it much, but I am a vegetarian. ...Well, mostly. I eat fish.) ; ) Even better, a majority of us are green. That's a great example, actually: we do believe in purity when it comes to being green.

The first thing that strikes me when I consider this is that the word "purity" was hijacked by religion.

What do we think of when we use the word? Well, for me, the first concept to come up (so to speak) is sexuality. But when you think about it, there are only two aspects of purity that can really be applied to sexuality: avoiding harm to your partners and not letting sex consume your life. Sex is, otherwise, a pure thing. Absolutely pure: it is, in fact, the basis of all the life we see on a daily basis*. Nudity is pure: clothing is something we've added culturally.

I suggest you take a few minutes to consider your definition of purity and wonder if it's really appropriate. If you decide there are incongruities there, then perhaps you'll find you care enough about it to begin reclaiming the word "purity" to mean something more appropriate... like, maybe, decreasing the amount of poisons we're pumping into our environment. ...Or into our own bodies. Maybe it has to do with hygiene and disease prevention. Maybe purity should mean how well we act as stewards for our bodies, our environment, our families, our friends. Maybe purity is has something to do with our thoughts: how many we dedicate to creating net gains for the world, as opposed to self-indulgence.

Because I could get behind the idea of purity, if that's what it meant.

And why shouldn't it?

* No disrespect meant to the little guys who get away with budding and dividing. More power to you. But being small means we don't see you doing the nasty down there.

So disappointed...

Some memories from our childhood are inexplicably prominent.

One such memory for me was of riding in the car (a VW rabbit hatch-back) with my family. Probably on our way for Pizza in Auburn... but the destination wasn't salient. We were listening, as we often did, to the Beatles.

I asked if Lennonwere singing the song. Which song, I don't recall: with the amount of Beatles we played in the car, it all bleeds together.

"No, that's Paul", they said.

The next song came up. I asked if this song was sung by Lennon.

"No, it's Paul. Paul does all of the singing. John just does some back-ups. And Ringo gets thrown a bone for the silly songs."

I wasn't convinced. But these were my parents, and I decided to trust them.

Today, I was listening, as I very occasionally do, to the Beatles. Specifically, Come Together. And I noticed some minute detail that I hadn't noticed before, and decided to look the song up on Wikipedia. An interesting article, actually: I recommend reading it. About half-way through, however, was a section that explicitly states which band-member was responsible for what voice.

And it was sung by Lennon.

Looking around Wikipedia at a few of my other favourite songs (Because, Something, I Want You, etc), I noticed that, in fact, many of these songs were sung by Lennon (or Harrison).

I feel so betrayed!

For years I have visualized these songs as sung by McCartney... and the internalizations are all false. It's like I have to re-write all of these songs in my mind. I've lived all these years with wool pulled over my eyes, assuming the lead singer did most of the singing. It's a belief system built on lies.

It's like I don't even know the Beatles anymore!

Best Demo Ever

Best demo I've ever seen:

...You are, of course, watching a movie, but it was rendered in realtime, folks.


(Cross-posted on my music blog.)

Required Watching: Decision-making Skills

Superb discussion about risk, reward, and (my favourite) cognitive bias:

...Extra points to the second "question" (it was really a comment) from the audience. : )

NIN: Tight

Ever seen NIN perform live?

Yeah, they suck.

Rather, they used to suck.  I recently found a few You Tube videos which were surprisingly good performances (considering their past performance)... but, well... that's electronic music, and you can kinda fudge it.

But NIN has been working on The Slip, lately... and... well... they're tight.  Like, really tight. Clearly, they have have really been working on their live performances.  ...I'm surprised, but quite pleased. ...I spend quite a bit of time listening to The Slip, and I think it's great that A) they released a free MP3 version, and B) they've cleaned up the act, so to speak.

I would go to see something like this:

Music Piracy

Downloading copyrighted music is like shoplifting.  (This message is cross-posted on my personal and music blog.)

...That's what most people will tell you (example), and I disagree.

Personally, I think selling MP3s is like selling water. Misguided and ultimately abusive.

I understand artists need to make a living doing what they do. I understand that thousands of jobs revolve around the existing music industry, and I understand that stealing music is stealing money from those people. I'm sorry about that.


...The industry was built on a house of straw.  Sad though it may be, those people's lives will have to change when it tumbles.  ...just as it is with any industry that isn't sound. And, frankly, I don't think any of them will be out of a job when the dust settles: it will just look different. Well, except maybe the executives. They might suffer most. But industry executives are, in no uncertain terms, taking more money from the pockets of artists than we are. My heart will not bleed for them.


No product is being stolen. There's no box, no wrapping, no store. No effective way to prevent it. It's not shoplifting, and the ananlogy is a harmful one.

What's being stolen are services, and in such minute quantities (after it reaches an adequate number of ears) that the "debt" any individual incurs from their transgression is negligible.

Pay-per-download is not an efficient economic model. MP3s could be subsidized externalities. There's an opportunity here. Music is an enormous part of our culture. Enormous! In my humble, the industry needs to stop crying foul (they can't stop it) and do something productive. There are at least a half-dozen superb ideas to accomplish this already: I won't bother repeating them*.

I have no qualms with people freely downloading music, as long as they ultimately support the artists they appreciate.

And remember: I release my music for free**.

* Not often suggested, but: what if you put MP3s in the public domain? This could be the greatest thing since the Public Library System!

** Actually, I once made a few hundred bucks, at, which was subsidized, freely-downloadable music.  That model failed: it was too early and their math was way off, but that's a story for another day.


If you haven't seen it yet, definitely go grab the CoolIris plug in.  It's only for Firefox (as far as I know), but it has that perfect combination of being functional eyecandy.  It's extremely handy for finding media (images, movies) quickly, and it just looks awesome doing it.

Grab it.

...Also: one of our developers at EOL has hacked the code to allow us to feed info to CoolIris... so you'll be able to use it on our site.  ...Which is sweet.

WHOA! That's GROSS! Here, smell this...

(Don't you hate that?)

In the spirit of making your friends and loved ones smell things that make you wish for death, here's some some eye-gouging, brain-scrubbing Holiday cheer for you.


[Kasio Kristmas]

D&D4E Game Notes

Last night, I tried something new with my D&D game: I prepared a "calculated" encounter, rather than winging it.  Well, sort of.

I'd noticed that this party was cutting through my made-up stats too easily, so I thought I would try an encounter one level over what the book recommends for an average encounter.

The party is third level.  The book didn't have any formulae for the kind of encounter I wanted (just brutes), so I thought two brutes would be easy, four would be normal.

I browsed through the MM and found an appropriate Level 4 Brute (Orc Berserker), and that's what I used: two in the first encounter, four in the second. I added a decent stealth skill to them, to let the Orcs get the drop on the players in both cases. I also gave them throwing axes to use from the shadows before closing.

In the first encounter, the party wasted the pair of Orcs very quickly, taking only two HtH hits, and a handful of axes.  Hardly any damage... they had to spend a few healing surges after the encounter.  No biggie.  Definitely an easy encounter.

The second encounter did not go so smoothly for the players.  They ended up taking pretty massive damage.  Four of them withdrew for healing surges during the encounter.  One of them fell two rounds before the end, another two were down to single-digit HPs before the dust settled. Everyone used their daily (except maybe the cleric). At one point, things were looking so bad, I let a character kinda cheat: his die landed at the edge of his book with some low number, and he whisked the book away to essentially re-roll it, and it came up high. He was clearly joking (everyone laughed), but I was so worried about the characters that I gave it to him.  ...Dutifully, later in the fight he expended a daily that he didn't really have to, role-playing that his character was really pissed off... which I think was a fair trade.  (He's one of the most decent players I've had the pleasure of GMing for, actually.)

Defintely a Hard encounter.

So, lesson: Level (party_lvl +1) Brutes are Easy x 2, Hard x 4.  ...I would imagine that means Average x 3.  : )

On a personal note: I kinda like the new D&D, as long as one treats it as the hack-and-slash that it is.

That said: I am hoping we end up shy a player or two in the next few sessions, so I can run a quick game of Paladin (Star Wars setting) or Great Ork Gods.

Interrogation Without Torture (It works. Use it.)

There's a story at the Washington Post which, if you haven't read already, I recommend.  A snippet:

I refused to participate in [torture] practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

I enjoy hearing voices like these, and wish more people would listen to them.