Tuesday: 24.May.2005

Kudos & a milestone

Today I pulled a letter from the Rad mailbox to share with you. One of the best things about running a site like this is all the people I hear from, who live all over the world. The subject of the message is titled: Most Useful Site since TOM's:

••• continued •••


Until I found your site, Tom's was my first stop whenever I needed to research something. He uses lots of graphics, which can be helpful.

Recently however, I was searching (Google, of course) for info about burning music for my daughter's new Karaoke machine, when I discovered your site. I came for the Karaoke info, but stayed for hours, reading bits of this-n-that, book-marking my way through your site.

Tom tends to stick to the hardware side of things, which is great, but you venture onto different paths. I don't see you as competing, but rather complementing each other. (Forgive any mis-spellings, MS has stolen much of my once-sharp mind.)

I learned a great deal from your site, and still have more to read. I don't have anything to offer, sell, or give away. Just want to say THANKS!! You're doing a tremendous job, providing a huge amount of helpful information, all in one place, with LINKS galore to boot. (Guess you hate being called a liar too, eh?)

Anyone can check your facts for themselves, since the things you say come with supporting links. That's really a good feature.

I also enjoyed your article on STABILITY. I too hate to waste time on a balky machine, just for a couple of extra MHz. I just want the doggoned thing to do what it's supposed to. (Is that asking too much?)

Thanks for sharing the fruits of your research with folks like me, who simply can't research everything personally.

I now live in northwestern Iowa, almost 50, raising 3 daughters (ages 5 to 10). My first "real" computer was a TI99/4a with 16k ram. Gotta love those tape decks.


Tom has sponsors, which he needs to cater to. Here at RADIFIED, we have no affiliate sponsors, so we can let it all hang out, and venture down whatever path looks most interesting.

In other RAD news, NightOwl noticed our 1,000th member registered at the forums today. This is surprising, cuz I long ago disabled the req'ment to register prior to posting. (People can post questions as a guest, without actually registering, unlike most forums.) So I guess that's something of a landmark.

The RAD forums are big enough that people can find answers to their questions, but small enough that we don't attract many trolls.

The new member's user-name is DCM, and he wins himself (herself?) an all-expenses-paid trip for two to beautiful Laguna Beach (uh, certain restrictions apply).

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 24May2005

Saturday: 21.May.2005

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: Rad review

In a galaxy far, far away ... I saw the new Star Wars yesterday. Had to catch the matinee, cuz the later shows were all sold out.

What a spectacular event. Lucas was criticize last time (Episode II - Attack of the Clones) for abandoning the element of "story" and relying too heavily on wiz-bang special effects. Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) presents a richly-layered, tightly-woven story.

What does it take for an altruistic Jedi to turn from the light and embrace "the dark side"? That's the backstory behind episode III. We see young Anakin Skywalker, the "chosen one", forsake his noble Jedi brothers and become transformed into Lord Darth Vader.

••• continued •••

If you are a visual type of person, like me, you will be mesmerized by this picture. The most striking thing is that the film contains many sweeping panoramas of various other-worldly scenes, yet those panoramas contain incredible *detail*.

If I had to mention something I didn't like, I'd say the love-story parts seemed out of place. I enjoy a good love story, but in this film, where another galactic battle ensues at every turn, they stood out awkwardly from the rest of the film.

Very entertaining. Well crafted. It doesn't feed you too much info, nor too little. Nice transitions from one scene to the next. It moves right along at a clip that holds your attention. The story is presented with a methodic pace. No glaring plot problems, except, Why do the space craft need wings in outerspace where there is no atmosphere?

I loved it .. enough to add it to my official Recommended list. It was an experience. The coolest character Yoda is still. Again, the visuals are simply stunning, especially when you consider their detail. Reviews here.

One of the most interesting aspects of human nature (and why the story works) is that even the best people have their dark side (whether they admit it or not), and even the worst people have a benevolent side. Life is not black and white, because people are not black-n-white (deities excluded).

Even Jesus cursed the fig tree, and killed it ("withered from the roots"), despite it being "not the season for figs." Seems like the Lord was in a bad mood that day, and took out his frustration on an innocent fig tree.

And what about Hitler? Certainly he wasn't *born* an evil man? I'm sure he was a sweet baby. What made him turn to the dark side? Could it have been something similar to what drove young Anakin there?

There's a great line from Apocalyspe Now (my favorite film, 1979, which just so happens to be inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel: Heart of Darkness), directed by Francis Ford Coppola (my favorite director), which says:

[spoken by GENERAL CORMAN] "You see Willard... there's a conflict in every human heart .. between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does *not* always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has a breaking point. You and I have ours. Walt Kurtz has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane."

That describes what I'm talking about. What would it take for *you* to go over to the dark side?

Speaking of the dark side, it seems that Episode III has already been leaked to the Internet, with downloads available via BitTorrent. When I walked into the theater, I saw a a notice posted on the entrance door that read: "Recording devices of any kind are prohibited".

When I came out of the dark theater, into the bright sunlight, I noticed (while squinting & blinking like a mole at high noon) that the line for the 6:30 show continued down the street and wrapped around the corner, extending clear out of sight.

Trailers HERE.

Some criticize the acting. I tend to think it was *intended* to be stiff in parts, because that's how people of the future will be: more brain, less emotion .. more like Spock from Star Trek. I know what they mean, but it worked for me.

Roger Ebert reviews the film here. Some people didn't enjoy it. If you're looking for more info, a Google search has been pre-configured for the query: star wars revenge sith review

UPDATE: Looks like Revenge of the Sith has broken several box office records, including opening day ticket sales, single day ticket sales, 4-day, and probably a few others.

If you could see this film on digital projection, *that* would be cool.

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 21May2005

Thursday: 19.May.2005

60 Minutes interviews Captain of nuclear sub that ran aground

The phone rang last night. Friends called to say, "Dude, turn on 60 Minutes." CBS was broadcasting an interview with the Commanding Officer of that nuclear sub (USS San Francisco) that ran into an underwater mountain back in January.

What struck me most about the interview was how the Captain accepted complete responsibility for the accident, even tho the Navy had provided him with inaccurate underwater maps, which did not show the mountain, and had plotted his course for him.

It was strange seeing the 60 Minutes correspondent actually *defend* the Captain, when they are typically the ones making the accusations. The 60 Minutes guy says, "But they plotted a course that took you right into that mountain." And the captain responds, "That's right, but the safety of the ship is still ultimately my responsibility."

••• continued •••

But that is the culture in the submarine service. Excuses are not part of the vocabulary. I spent six years in the "Nuclear Navy". And that is the norm: you accept professional responsibility for things that occur "on your watch". It was comforting to see that mind-set had not deteriorated.

Maybe you can understand why it frosts my BVDs to see people like Condoleezza Rice, back when she was the National Security Advisor, stand up and say, "How were we supposed to know terrorists were going to hijack commercial airliners and crash them into the world trade towers?".

I'm thinking, "Duh! The security of the country is your *job*." .. which is beside the point that numerous reports warned of it. And what happened with Condi? Did she get fired? .. like our Commanding Officer? No. She got promoted. Why does the government promote incompetence?

And again with the debacle with ENRON, where Ken Lay (who happens to have a Ph.D. in Economics) stands up and says, "Uh, I didn't know anything wrong was going on." He's the CEO. It's his job to know what's going on in his company. Have they no professional pride? Or maybe that Ph.D. stands for Post hole Digger?

I better quit before I make myself sick. Anyway, it's good to know there are still people out there who aren't afraid to take professional responsibility for what happens on their watch. Heck, I'd vote for that captain if he ran for office.

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 19May2005

Tuesday: 17.May.2005

CRASH - a reviw of the film / movie

Saw the movie Crash last night. Rotten Tomatoes rated it Certified Fresh, which is one reason why I went. All CF-rated films I've seen have been excellent.

Crash is about "the complexities of racial conflict in America." A rather ambitious undertaking. And it does a superb job at addressing this aspect. Many familiar actors & actresses lend their talents. Can't remember the last time I recognized so many faces in one film.

It reminded me a little of Pulp Fiction, the way it was disjointed. Many seemingly unrelated scenes are strung together, which tie together only at the end. This is not my favorite style of film.

••• continued •••

First thing to strike me was its subtlety, both visually (cinematically) and morally. The filmmakers devise scenes that effectively explore the gray areas of life. I love the gray areas. I mean, anybody can tell the difference between noon and midnight, but what about dusk? When does day surrender to night? Therein lies a challenge.

[After running the beach at sunset, I like to hang around long enough to watch for the exact moment when night takes over from day. It's a subtle yet distinct moment.]

But some scenes were too contrived. And absurd coincidences ensue. That ruins it for me. If a coincidence is so unbelievable that it would never happen in real life, it ruins the story for me, especially when that coincidence is required to make the story work. In this film, it happens regularly. I'm more skeptical than I used to be.

But the film also illustrates how circumstances & events in people's lives, which you don't see, make them feel the way they do. So, even the situations which *appear* black-n-white, are really gray, when you look DEEPER. (In the Deep is the soundtrack's next-to-last song.)

But I still enjoyed it. Not enough to give it an official RAD recommendation. But it's definitely worth seeing. It's not like any other film I can recall. The theater was half-full: surprising for a Monday night. And the soundtrack was excellent.

I also enjoyed the way many actors/actresses played parts that were opposite their normal roles. For example, Sandra Bullock, who normally portrays "nice" characters, played a real b*tch .. rather convincingly, too.

Trailers here.

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: crash movie film review

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 17May2005

Monday: 16.May.2005

Vibrant Media IntelliTXT contextual keyword advertising

Was surfing the web last week, when I came across double-green-underlined words (forget which site). So I clicked the "what's this" link, which led to this page.

Turns out it was of an advertising program. Since the Google thing went so well, I decided to apply for this other .. to see what gives. Can't hurt to get a little info, right? Today I got the following letter:

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Thank you for your interest in Vibrant Media and our contextual ad product, IntelliTXT. It does appear that your site would be a good match for our technology. I have entered your site into our ad sales approval process which takes one week. I doubt there will be any problem with having your guides accepted into our program. While we wait for the approval to come back, do you have any questions for me? I have attached an agreement for your review and a sign up form which has all contact and bank information as we pay by direct deposit into your bank account.

I look forward to working with you.

Warm regards,
Sr. Manager, Business Development
Vibrant Media

Since I'm so new with Google, having just recently implemented their ads here, I decided to ask them if they would have a problem with their ads being displayed along with IntelliTXT ads. Their prompt reply:

Thank you for your email.

We do not permit Google ads to be published on web pages that also contain what could be considered competing ads. This would include all content-targeted ads, such as IntelliTXT, as well as text-based ads. We do allow affiliate or limited-text links, but we do not allow text-based ads that either directly mimic or attempt to be associated with Google ads.

Our intent with this policy is to be as fair to our advertisers as possible and to maintain the integrity of the AdWords and AdSense
programs. This means limiting the other types of ads that AdSense publishers display along with our ads.

For additional questions, we suggest you visit our AdSense Support site at https://www.google.com/support/adsense. If you're unable to find an answer to your question on our site, please feel free to reply to this email.

The Google AdSense Team

This is bad news for Vibrant Media. Being excluded by Google seems like nowhere's-ville in the web ad market. But I don't see the problem, cuz both these companies only pay for *clicks*. If nobody clicks, then it doesn't cost anything extra, except for maybe the cost of the server & bandwidth to serve the ad .. but that can't be very much.

So I got to doing some research and discovered that their biggest client, Forbes, ditched them because their (Forbes') editors complained.

I actually thought their ads were reasonable. They didn't flash or flicker. If you don't bother them, they don't bother you. And they had great relevancy. Even the Scumware site didn't have anything bad to say about them. Nothing gets installed on your system and you can even filter their ads with Zone Alarm Pro.

This interview here quotes the CEO of Vibrant Media as saying:

The advertiser is getting very relevant, targeted placement. I think advertisers very much like the idea their advertisement is not going to be a distraction or an annoyance, but it’s going to be very relevant. The advertiser therefore gets click-through rates of 24 times that of normal banners and skyscrapers, according to our research.

24 times? Did you see that reference? Hard to believe. That's a remarkable number.

If I were a gambling man, I'd be tempted to short Vibrant Media's stock, because it does not seem to me that you can play the ad game outside of Google's domain and thrive. Google owns the Internet.

Oh, here's a site that uses IntelliTXT. Maybe that's some kind of sign. Notice they display no Google ads. But I have seen sites displaying *both* AdSense & IntelliTXT, but I think that's just because they don't know. Rotten Tomatoes also uses IntelliTXT.

Here's a list of 8 companies that do contextual advertising, including Google & Vibrant Media.

If you want more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: Vibrant+Media+IntelliTXT+contextual+keyword+advertising

UPDATE: The Sr. Manager called the house and left a message, wanting to discuss some questions I had about implementing their ads. That's professional. Nothing like a real person to talk to. She had a real nice voice, too. Kinda sexy.

Maybe I could do something like put their ads on *some* of my pages, just to see how they do, and remove the Google ads on those pages. Cuz you know how I like to play with new stuff.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 16May2005

Friday: 13.May.2005

Felix 'Tito" Trinidad vs Winky Wright: 13.May.2005

Major boxing match tomorrow night: Winky Wright (48-3) vs Felix "Tito" Triidad (42-1, Puerto Rico). This will be a serious fight. Too many fights, it seems, are arranged to produce a desired result. But this one has all the makings of a real contest.

I wonder who the Vegas odds-makers are giving the edge to. Probably Tito, cuz he has the knock-out power. But Winky has never been knocked out.

I admire Tito for not ducking tough opponents. He has fought all the big names (.. and usually wins). This doesn't surprise me, tho, because I grew up on the East Coast and knew some Puerto Ricans there (large PR population resides in New York City).

They are a very proud, nationalistic people. Prouder than any group I've met. At least the ones I knew. (I even dated a PR girl once, Sonia, but she was too uh, 'advanced' for me.)

••• continued •••

But I kinda think Winky may prove too tough. He's not very well known, cuz big-name fighters usually avoid him. Nice guy, too. He is stepping up a weight-class to fight at middle-weight, something he's never done. Could be a factor. He says not.

So this is going to be interesting. You have to go back a few years to find a fight this contentious. Maybe one of the local sports bars will carry it. (Pay Per View) Always good to see major boxing matches with a big group of people. The bout is being held at the MGM Grand, Vegas.

Team sports are cool, but there's nothing like the mano-y-mano spectacle you get when two lone-warriors step into the ring like gladiators of old. If you lose, there's nobody to blame but yourself. And if you win...

And I love the way the announcer, Michael Buffer, introduces the fighters .. gets me all fired up.

UPDATE: 14.May.2005 - I called all the local sports bars to see if anyone was hosting tonight's fight. Only National Sports Grill was game, but only at their Buena Park & Torrence locations ($20 per-person cover).

I talked to the owner of one local place, here in Orange county. He said it's just too expensive. I don't feel like driving up to Los Angeles to see the fight, so I'm out of luck. I even searched the web to see if I could find a webcast. Looks like the odds are 3-2 in favor of Tito. That sounds about right.

UPDATE: 15.May.2005 - Winky won! Descriptions of the fight at Sports Illustrated, and MSNBC, and New York Times .. San Francisco Chronicle. I thought it would be closer. The bout should air next Saturday on regular HBO (not Pay Per View).

This sets up a championship bout between Winky and the decade-long middleweight champ: Bernard Hopkins. What a good fight *that* would be. None is cagier than Hopkins, who owns more belts than he can carry. But, at 40 yeras of age, father-time is fast on his heels. Few boxers have more title defenses.

Posted by Rad at Friday: 13May2005

Thursday: 12.May.2005

RAD Bulletin Board Forum Moderators

While rooting around in the forum's administrative functions, I came across a feature to select Moderators.

Like any good geek, I love to tinker, and see what happens. So I selected one of the forum's more helpful members: Mr. NightOwl (who hails from Washington state .. aka God's country .. I used to live there myself .. for two glorious years) and assigned him Moderator status .. without asking, and without really knowing what that entailed.

••• continued •••

When I finally got around to notifying him, he said, "I did notice you were playing with things. Wasn't quit sure what to make of it. Had never seen those Admin-function shortcuts at the bottom of the threads before."

Moderator status seems to include the ability to 'stick-i-fy' threads (keep them stuck at the top of the index page), lock wayward threads, ban naughty members, delete redundant posts, and a host of similar administrative functions. But, mostly, they share their expertise.

Whilst in the Moderator-selecting groove, I asked two more members, Mr. El_Pescador (Louisiana) & Christer (Sweden) if they would also consider being RAD moderators. They graciously accepted. A significant step forward for the site .. which will celebrate its 5th anniversary next month.

Christer will be gone for some of the summer, particularly in June, when he'll be heading to the Viking Glide (pre-World Gliding Championships), where he'll be in charge of flight safety issues.

The RAD forums don't have much trouble with annoying trolls like some of the bigger forums might, even tho I disabled the requirement to register before being able to post a question. But the questions posed tend to be sophisticated, cuz, ever since Symantec shutdown their forums, Radified has become the de facto forum for Norton Ghost.

There are actually *many* helpful members. I can now go backpacking in Yosemite for a few weeks this summer and feel be confident the site would be left in good hands. So I am grateful for their support and fortunate to have their help, cuz they know more than I do.

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 12May2005

Sunday: 08.May.2005

Celebrations & Massage in Laguna Beach

Congrats to Mikaela, who had her confirmation yesterday. The *bishop* was there (the guy with the cool hat) to preside over the ceremony. Celebration afterwards. (Best pot roast I ever ate.) Mikaela looked beautiful, downright angelic.

Yesterday was also my favorite party of the year. On the Saturday following Cinco de Mayo (a reason to celebrate here in SoCal), Teri & Alan host their annual fiesta. This year, it happened to fall on Siete de Mayo (7th of May).

••• continued •••

Great food (Alan on the grill). Plenty of Mexican beer (cerveza). Endless pitchers of margaritas. Some of the nicest people in Laguna were there. Great location (stone's throw from the beach). Good music. Perfect weather. The only bad thing is, it only happens once a year.

People who do massage for a living go to Teri for their own massages. She's a massage therapist's massage therapist. Got the mojo going on in a serious way. Been doing it for 25 years, also *teaches* massage therapy (Thai massage). If you're ever in Laguna Beach, and feeling tense or stressed .. you know where to go.

We trade computer work for massages. Bartering is the Lagunatic way. RADIFIED is still their home page. Alan told me (while flipping chicken on the grill) that he ordered a Neti pot after reading my blog entry, cuz he's had sinus trouble for years.

Another party tonight, at the City Manager's casa, up the hill. (Hopefully he can take care of a parking ticket I got last week.) Can't remember the last time I had so many parties in one weekend.

Here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: massage+laguna+beach+orange+county

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 08May2005

Saturday: 07.May.2005

Goa Psychedelic Trance Music (from India)

If you're a regular, you know about my buddy Battman, who left (in October) to begin his life-dream of touring the world. Today I received his 8th (& shortest) update:

"I'm in Goa, INDIA. On the west coast. The Arabian Sea. Just looking around, checking things out." (photos and more and even more)

Back in the 60's, Goa became famous as a haven for hippies. Its Garden-of-Eden-like climate drew hippies from all over the world. There, they would consume psychedelic drugs (LSD, etc.) and play a special type of music (now called Goa Trance), which was designed to stimulate their brains in a way that induced a trance-like state.

••• continued •••

They would dance to this music to for hours on end, sometimes all night long, working themselves into a 'trance' (hence the music's name: Goa Psychedelic trance). See here for a good explanation: What is Goa & How did it all start?

You can listen to some Goa Trance music at Digitally Imported radio. Scroll down ~3/4ths the way down the page, and look for Goa-Psy Trance. Gets you really amp'ed. Good music to work by, especially if you need to jam (work fast). Makes me feel like going for a run. =)

I've heard the music described as techno-tribal. Goa Trance can also be found at Philosomatika. You need a broadband connection to listen with any quality. Many such Goa-Psy Trance streams exist worldwide. Peace & love, baby.

Battman's previous (7th) update can be found posted 24.April, containing pictures from Africa.

If you want more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query string: goa+psychedelic+trance+music+india

UPDATE: Battman wrote back & said, "Some of those hippies are still here .. still in a trance."

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 07May2005

Wednesday: 04.May.2005

Finding reliable online info about computer hardware & software

How do you decide which computer hardware & software purchases to make? Especially when there are so many choices? And everyone seems to have a different opinion?

Say I'm interested in purchasing a DVD burner. Which brand should I get? Which model? Single or dual-layer? +R? -R? or both?

When researching such purchases, I have always put more stock in the things I read in community bulletin board forums, than what a formal reviewer might say.

People in forums tend to talk more plainly. If something sux, they'll say, "It sux." And I can ask specific questions .. whereas formal reviewers tend to mince their words, and are unlikely to answer my queries.

••• continued •••

People posting in forums usually have more experience with a product than the typical reviewer, whose time is limited. There are only so many paces the reviewer can put a new product thru.

Say you were in the market for a BMW. Whose opinion would you value more highly: that of your cousin Ernie who once took one for a test drive, or your neighbor, who actually owns one? .. who has one sitting in his garage .. and drives it daily...

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a show recently that described how some companies actually *pay* people to register at bulletin board forums, and "talk up" their product. Primarily, GAME companies are sponsoring these posters, but the practice isn't limited to video game manufacturers. More companies are joining "the game" all the time.

People who post in forums argue that they already LIKE the product, so they're not really being deceptive. But I doubt they'd post as frequently, or as enthusiastically if they weren't on the payroll. And I'd wager they give precious little voice to any misgivings they might have about their sponsor's product.

Some of these paid proponents take their job a step further and bash the competition. So you need to read online forums with a suspicious eye. If someone sounds too glowing or too negative, maybe it's cuz they're on the take.

Pleo offered a link to Buzz Marketing on the subject, with the comment, "Sad but true." Of course, this would never happen at the RADIFIED forums. =)

I have found there's safety in numbers. The more people recommending a particular brand or model, the more likely it is to be a good buy. If something really sux, you're not going to have many people recommending it .. without contentious others disagreeing.

Google search pre-configured for the query-string: reliable+online+info+reviews+opinions+computer+pc+hardware+software

[Comments closed due to problems with s*p*a*m*m*a*g*e.]


Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 04May2005

Tuesday: 03.May.2005

First check from Google for AdSense ads

Received my first check from Google yesterday. Wasn't very much, cuz it only included the period ending March 31st. And I only began running their ads midway thru that month. And it took some time to code their ads into my pages.

So it looks like they pay about a month behind. But it was good to know they actually send a check, and I didn't have to ask for it.

Working with the ads has consumed more time than I'd like to dedicate. It has taken some tweaking to find a style I feel comfortable with. Heck, I probably changed them half a dozen times already. It's tedious work, not the type of thing I find very engaging. But I feel they're working better with the site's design.

••• continued •••

I'm trying to avoid getting greedy. In other words, I'm trying to avoid using the maximum number of ads possible, on the maximum number of pages, with the biggest ads possible. But there is definitely that impulse. You know: more, more, more. (I'm sure the execs at ENRON know that impulse.)

For example, I removed all the ads from the pages containing images from 9-11. Something about that didn't seem right, even tho those pages produced over a thousand ads (page views) each day.

The guides clearly generate the most revenue. For example, there's the Guide to Norton Ghost, the guide to ASPI layer drivers, Doc's FDISK guide, the Partitioning Strategies, the guide to Ripping & encoding CD audio, the SCSI guide. These are the features which see the most traffic, and therefore generate the most clicks, which naturally bring in the most broccoli.

The Film school chronicles also do well, but only cuz they seem to generate a higher revenue-per-click ratio.

The most recent tweak was adding "Ad Links" to some of the more popular pages. They are the 4 links you see at the very top of the Ads by Google tower. That is a different style ad from the tower you see right below it. Something new from the minds at Google.

I think my approach is working, cuz yesterday saw the most page-views & most clicks ever. A new site record, so to speak.

I also added a few negative-color ads, such as the one you see here: Norton Ghost Quick Start, just to mix it up a little. But I think I'm pretty much done playing with these ads, and can finally get back to the fun stuff.

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query-string: google+adsense+ads

[Comments closed due to problems with s*p*a*m*m*a*g*e.]

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 03May2005

Monday: 02.May.2005

ENRON: Smartest Guys in the Room

Saw ENRON: Smartest Guys in the Room at the movies last night. Was hesitant to go, cuz I know the ENRON story: how the nation's once-7th largest company, seemingly overnight, turned into the biggest corporate failure in history .. how top executives made off with million$, while rank-in-file workers lo$t everything, including their pensions ..

.. how management encouraged employees to continue buying more worthless stock, while they were secretly selling off their own shares. It was the worst corporate scandal ever.

••• continued •••

This kind of story disturbs me, but the reviews were so strong that I had to go .. to see if it was really as good as everybody said. Rotten Tomatoes ranked it one of their top films.

I'm glad I went, cuz this movie *is* excellent. It's certainly no feel-good flick, but very well made (based on the book). I would not hesitate to put it on my official recommended list (if I had one).

Saw it up the road in Newport Beach at the Lido, in one of those old-fashioned theaters, the kind you rarely see any more, cuz the big chains have put most of 'em out of business. I try to support the little guys when I can.

So like I was sayin', this movie is well crafted. The first thing that stuck out was the music. As different aspecs of the ENRON story unfold, selected songs play.

For example, when they introduce Key Lay, the CEO of ENRON (son of a poor Baptist minister), they played: "The only one who could ever reach me, was the son of preacher man." (Dusty Springfield, 1969)

The Lido has a good sound system, so the music sounded great. It contrasted well with the ENRON corporate culture being described.

As a side note, Ken Lay has a PhD in Economincs (Univ. of Houston), so nobody believes him when he claims ignorance, saying: "I knew nothing wrong was going on."

The movie OPENS with a close-up of big red letters: JESUS SAVES. As the camera pulls back, we see it's a sign displayed over a church. The camera continues to pull back, and we see the ENRON towers begin to dwarf the little church.

I could say much about this movie, but the thing that really hit me was this: that people like Ken Lay, son of a Baptist minister, who claimed to be a pillar of moral rectitude, who prays and goes to church, who claims to have a strong moral compass, (I'm sure he's a nice person), can do more harm to more people's lives than the average heathen could ever dream of. The word *hypocite* just doesn't seem sufficient.

The film was not idle speculation. Rather, they presented their case well, producing *documents* .. which took up the whole screen .. with appropriate sections highlighted .. proving this guy was (is) a first-class weasel .. at least in the business world. He put profits (money) ahead of everything.

It's this contrast between *claiming* to be a do-gooder, of the IMAGE one presents, and reality. I think we'd all do well to be a little more skeptical of people who claim to have strong religious beliefs, who know how to talk the talk, and judge them rather by their actions, heeding the advice found in Matthew: Ye shall know them by their fruits. If ever there a wolf in sheep's clothing...

ENRON & Ken Lay were the biggest contributors to George Bush. They are close buddies from the oil industry. And you know how George claims to have a direct line to God. Many scenes in the film show them together.

So it was ironic the movie opened the way it did. I wonder if the filmmakers picked up on the same thing I did. They never came out and said it, tho.

[Comments closed due to problems with s*p*a*m*m*a*g*e.]

Posted by Rad at Monday: 02May2005