All entries for November 2006

November 30, 2006

Misogynists of the world rejoice! Men more intelligent than women!

Writing about web page http://education.independent.co.uk/higher/article2024763.ece

Or women less intelligent than men.

According to a recent analysis of data at Manchester University conducted by Dr Paul Irwing:

All the research I’ve done points to a gender difference in general cognitive ability. There is a mean difference of about five IQ points. The further you go up the distribution the more and more skewed it becomes. There are twice as many men with an IQ of 120-plus as there are women, there are 30 times the number of men with an IQ of 170-plus as there are women.

The results of both studies were a shock to me. I find prejudice abhorrent. I’ve always taught sex differences from a left-wing point of view, that women are every bit as good as men. My findings don’t fit my view of the world at all. Girls often do better than boys at school. There has to be some female compensating factor, most importantly the ability to process speech sounds, which means women read faster and more accurately and have an advantage in basic writing tasks. And women work harder than men and are more conscientious so they do things technic-ally correctly. Men are often quite original but deficient in what is technically demanded.

People should have equal opportunities but if you want a society where everyone feels satisfied you’re not going to find men and women doing the same things in the same proportions. It would help if we recognised that.

Jokey titles aside, some of the observations made by Dr. Irwing on the results of his research seem to appeal very much to common sense. Males and females have intellectual differences. He points towards compensating factors in females which could account to why women do better in parts of the education system but the gist of it is that in terms of IQ, there are more intelligent men than intelligent women.

It’ll be interesting to see any follow-up research or debunkings of this.


Borat Review

CONTAINS SPOILERS

I don’t really know anyone of our generation in Britain who hasn’t appreciated at least one of Cohen’s various sketch characters, be it Ali G or Borat. I’ve always enjoyed Borat as a character and when I heard the character would be developed within the framework of an entire movie, I was excited and, at the same time, weary because all too often what works for a few minutes might not be able to stretch for 76 minutes.

And that’s both the problem and the genius of Borat; it’s basically an extended series of the same TV sketch format crammed into a terrible framing mechanism.

At first it souds promising. Borat goes to the US to make a documentary to take back home to his native Kazakhstan. But the whole Pamela subplot turns into a convenient and central plot device. I really disliked the entire thread of that part of the plot and it leads to a fair few crappy jokes (when he finds out that Pamela isn’t a virgin he gets all teary-eyed… despite his sister being “number four Prostitute in all Kazakhstan!”) but also leads to one of the best pieces of slapstick in the movie:

Borat 1
Yes that is a hairy, obese, hobbit of a man masturbating

So if we forgive Cohen for the framing and sit down and enjoy the sketches, it becomes a good film, if at times a little hit and miss. You’ve got the homosexual humour (“You mean man putting rubber fist up my anus was homosexual?”), the Anti-Semitic Humour (“These rats are very clever”), the black humour, the redneck humour – pretty much every form of prejudice is lampooned, and quite successfully, by Cohen.

It has to be said there are some moments in the film which feel completely staged and therefore lose their impact somewhat. Because what we want to see is genuine reaction from folks to the difference of Borat. One typical example is the aside in a house owned by a Yarmulke-wearing Jewish man and his good-natured wife. It gives us a couple of laughs but just feels false. But then, just a minute after that we see Cohen in a gun shop.

What is the best gun to defend from a Jew?

I would recommend either a 9mm or a 45.

Now that’s fantastic. And he delivers this kind of genuine reaction again and again. My favourite moment in the film was with the feminists.

“Listen pussycat, smile a bit.” Wonderful. Add to that the early scenes in New York (“Yeah you kiss me and I’ll pop you in the fuckin’ balls.”) Who doesn’t love New Yorkers?! A hilarious driving lesson followed by a great scene with a car salesmen and then with a weatherman make for some hilarious viewing.

The movie dips towards the end as it focuses on the Pamela-chasing plot and we see more examples of the staged scenes. During the fight with his producer, the two of them end up naked in a crowded conference room and appear to get arrested. Well how about those visas? Not sure how he would have gotten away with that if it was a case of ad libbing gone mental. The same goes for the scene with Pamela Anderson where he chases her around a bookstore before getting apprehended by police. It just niggles at the mind and that’s not the kind of mental reaction I wanted from the movie, which managed to fill parts of its potential.

So it’s definitely worth a night out and paying money for. Don’t expect to be overwhelmed by the plot and don’t expect the humour to be of a uniform quality. But do expect to enjoy it. Especially as a smug Brit marvelling at his (or her) transatlantic cousins.


November 26, 2006

Videos of the day

Today’s Theme: Schadenfreude

Jesus – “I Will Survive” – An old ‘un but a good ‘un! Still one of my favourite Youtube videos. Slightly blasphemous.

Excited Pug – A very excited dog. Animals are funny when they smack into things.

Narcoleptic Dog – Animals get it too!

Embarrassing Dad Dance

That’s what happens when you’re a dumbass


CSI: Miami and Hollywood Realism

(This rant concerns CSI Miami 5×08 . Don’t read if you’re desperate to not know what happens in that episode)

I happen to like CSI Miami. I think it’s better than CSI Las Vegas and, thankfully, not generally as cheesy. It’s always stretched plausibility, by fielding these CSI agents in generally-dangerous situations, sometimes having them apprehend and shoot criminals. You’ve got to expect a little bit of stretching reality – it makes for more excitement. So I put my disbelief aside and enjoy the show, particularly Horatio’s constant posturing and repositioning of Sunglasses. Drama, drama, drama.

Until this latest episode of CSI Miami which plunges to the Hollywood depths of Realism in celluloid. Think Bravehear was a criminal in that respect? How about The Patriot? (OK, any historical film iinvolving Mel Gibson).

Basically we have a situation where the forensic scientists have unravelled a terrorist plot to blow up a nuclear power plant. Here’s how it plays out:

CSI 1

OK this hasn’t quite got anything to do with the episode. It just struck me that Horatio’s constant posturin reminded me of Paula Abdul. shudders

CSI 2

See the text in the image.

CSI 3

See, the cops are there. No FBI or DHS. Good ol’ fashioned Miami Police. With handguns… against a truck full of explosives. Lead by Horatio Cane… With a sniper rifle. Yes… seriously. A Forensic Scientist… With a sniper rifle. Fantastic.

CSI 5

Oh what’s this? A conveniently place flammable gas tank in the front of the truck… CARRYING THE HUGE PAYLOAD OF EXPLOSIVES. These terrorists are clever enough to almost get away with a plot to bomb a nuclear power plant, but are somehow stupid enough to put a “Please shoot this” sign on the truck. Wonderful.

CSI 6

He takes the shot. On a moving target. And hits it. He’s a forensic scientist. With a sniper rifle. Shooting at a moving truck. ARGH

CSI 7

The truck explodes and, defying the laws of physics, stays exactly in place. Yes, the truck exploded as though it weren’t moving at around 70 m/p/h at the time of explosion. It exploded almost as though it were standing still. Which it most likely was. But making a huge, mobile explosive device like that explode about 20 metres away from you means that if it’s travelling in a straight line, there’s a good chance that some of the material will collide with your roadblock.

So:

Woman clearly not wearing bulletproof vest, gets shot.

Horatio is an uber-sniping FORENSIC SCIENTIST (with a hunchback)


November 24, 2006

Jewish Professor Suing Canadian University for Defamation…

Writing about web page http://www.thestar.com/

The Toronto Star

History professor David Noble is suing York University’s fundraising foundation and several Jewish organizations for defamation, claiming they suggested he is anti-Semitic to try to gag criticism of their activities.
Noble, 61, who is Jewish, has brought a $25 million lawsuit against the York University Foundation, including outgoing York president Lorna Marsden, as well as the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Ontario region, Hillel of Greater Toronto and the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto for their criticism of flyers he distributed.

[...]

He said he criticized York figures for their political views on Israel, not their ethnicity or religion.
The university later issued a news release condemning what Marsden called “this highly offensive material, which singles out certain members of the York community on the basis of their ethnicity and political views.”
While it did not name Noble, it quoted a Jewish student leader who was concerned about “such inflammatory material,” and said “it is unacceptable for any students to be exposed to this type of bigotry.”

Should be interesting to see how this pans out, particularly following the recent decision awarded by an Israeli court against Plaut for libeling Israeli academic, Neve Gordon.

While we’re on the topic, it’s worth checking out this rather horrific website: CampusWatch.org . It’s a symptom of the organisation of Hasbarah elements within academia attempting to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel on campuses within the US and, indeed, any particular University.


Links of the Day

Kramer: I’m not a racist! Rap
– Excellent rap song created from samples of the actor’s outburst and subsequent apology on Letterman.

Bust-a-nut Corn Nuts! – Cheesy early nineties advert for Corn Nuts which caused a bit of an uproar when it was first released. Great stuff.


November 23, 2006

Videos of the Day

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com

Today’s Theme: Random Videos in different Languages

(Videos mostly sieved from a thread in a forum I frequent)

He-Man Intro in Spanish – I really liked this one. They even had a song for the underlying theme. Brill.

The (Mandarin) Chinese version of “I’ll make a man out of you” from Disney’s Mulan. Sung by 成龙 aka Jackie Chan , who’s also responsible for this , the theme song from 黄飞鸿 or Once Upon a Time in China .

A (Hindi?) Song that rips of Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Gotta be fun (and painful) to watch!


Prison Break's 'Surprise Twists'

WARNING CONTAINS SEMI-SPOILERS. DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE EAGERLY AWAITING ANY EPISODE BETWEEN 1×01 and 2×12!

It’s gone from Prison Break to Treasure Hunt / Fugitive . I can appreciate that. It’s still enjoyable. Though killing off the lawyer in the first episode was a bit of a bitch, OK you’ve proved you can kill off a central character without worrying about the audience. I like that. Keeps us on our toes. But there’s a fine line between that and just hacking away at a script wondering which character you can kill this episode. It’s exciting when it fits into the script. It’s cringeworthy to the extreme when it feels artificial and is clearly just a convenient plot-device.

So imagine my “surprise” when I watch Prison Break 2×12. Here’s how it essentially played out:

Pb1

Pb2

Pb3

Pb4

Pb5

Pb6

Pb7

Pb8

That’s pretty much exactly how it happens… And I think they’ve managed to kill of a character every other episode, and since they’ve flooded the drama with more characters than Lost, they can promise at least one death every episode. Yawns

It’s taking on the X-Men III theory of celluloid development: The number of deaths in a film/series is proportional to its sequential number. It’s absolute bollocks. To keep a good series interesting, writers shouldn’t shoot it in the head and hope that the body will be able to fill in the rest. It just doesn’t work. Now Desperate Housewives is a great example of how good script-writing and good acting can keep an aging series with a more-than-slightly ridiculous plot highly-entertaining and witty. Here are some examples of dialogue from the most recent episode (3×09):

(The hired help has just discovered Susan in the bed of her latest lover, who’s in the shower)

Rupert: I am Rupert. I work for Mr. Hainesworth…. That would be the man you slept with, in case names weren’t exchanged.

Susan: Oh no, I’m your boss’s girlfriend… he must have mentioned me.

Rupert: Mmmm not that I recollect.

Mr. H pops out of shower, gets robe for Susan.

Rupert: Would you care for some breakfast? Omlette? Strawberry tart? Brioche?

Susan: Um yeah, yeah, that sounds great. You pick. giggles

Rupert: You are aware there is a Mrs. Hainesworth?

Susan: Well of course!

Rupert: Tart it is.

--------
Later in the episode:
(Lynette’s at the Police station reporting a neighbour of hers, who saved her life, to the police, because he’s a rampant paedophile. Unfortunately she discovered this only because she was trespassing on his property. Oooht he moral dilemmas! PS Tom is by far and away the best actor in the series ;) )

Lynette: The door was open…I was bringing him a cake.

Police Officer: A cake?

Lynette: It was a thank-you cake… He sort of saved my life.

Tom: She didn’t know he was a paedophile when she baked the actual cake.

---------—-

In the words of that skeezy Gonzo director with a moustache:

Now THAT’S a fuckin’ plot!


November 22, 2006

Links of the Day

Writing about web page http://www.pandora.com/

http://www.pandora.com/ – I know this has been around for quite a bit of time now, but I’ve only just recently discovered it. Great site that tailor-makes a radio station for you. You set the ball rolling by telling it what Music you like, then it starts playing random songs (ie suggestions) and you tell it whether you like it or not, and keep moving on. Really great idea.

http://widgets.yahoo.com/ – Yay widgets for windows! The windows widgets have been around for a while (and Yahoo widgets is more-or-less just Konfabulator), so it’s nothing really new here. I use it just for the handy Weather, Shortcut Launcher and Currency Exchanger. I’ve also downloaded a neat little Gmail alert. Bound to have widgets for whatever you like.

Virtual Dimension – Really handy desktop organisational tool that’s perfect for computer-literate students. Wished I was using it back in the day! :’( Basically allows you to create multiple virtual desktops which you can instantly switch to, containing the different windows of your various programs. So for example desktop one might have Microsoft Word open with your latest essay, and you might also have a firefox window open with plenty of Jstor tabs. Desktop two might feature your MSN windows and a VLC window playing the latest ep of Prison Break (which I’m sure you’ve obtained legally!). It’s also open source, which means that all you geeks out there get to modify it without violating copyright. (DOWN WITH LINUX!)


Bond Villain = Freddie Mercury?

Has anyone noticed that the villain from the new Bond film (Casino Royale) looks substantially like Freddie Mercury (in his later stages)?

Here are some comparisons:

Freddie 1 and BondBaddy1

Freddie 2 and BondBaddy 2

Meh, you get the point.

---

PS – Watch Casino Royale. It’s a great film. Tough and gritty and with a good plot. No more of this “Hey yesterday I was Korean, now I’m white. I’m going to take over the world using a megadeathkill-ray while you hop around in gadgets borrowed from Star Trek (Voyager shudders)” crap…

PPS – If you haven’t already heard Good Old-fashioned Lover Boy, listen to it. Best least-heard Queen song. It’s available below for the lazier ones among us:


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