Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Divorce. Then some laundry, floors, vacuums, and a puppy spa

"The Divorce Store"

This place is in a strip mall on Ogden Ave:
The 5 stores in that strip mall are: Coin Laundry, The Divorce Store, Giada Michael Flooring Company, Naperville Vacuums Sale and Repair, and Sudzy Puppy Pet Spa.
(you know this is coming, ha)

Joke OTD
Q: Why is divorce so expensive? 
A: Because it's worth it.

Waiting for Skynet

Some AI news for you. There are some new AI programs out there that can read better than human beings can. I think. Maybe?

Microsoft and Alibaba have developed deep neural network models that scored higher than humans in a Stanford University reading and comprehension test, Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD).
Deep neural network models score higher than humans in reading and comprehension test
Another pointy-head poo-poo's this deal: the SQUAD test shows that machines can highlight relevant passages in text, not that they understand those passages.

I don't know. I'm all AI-paranoid at this point. I just don't want to miss out on the "Skynet becomes self-aware" news blurb. That would be emberassing. (ha) I have good company though. It seems that none of the Master-of-the-World tech plutocrats out there (Gates, Musk, etc) have any idea where AI is or where it's ultimately going either. (shrug)

Molly's Game

Movie: Molly's Game
Review: 3 bill-stars (out of 5)... ok

Molly's Game is ok, worth seeing. The actress who portrays Molly is very attractive and charismatic. The story is based on a real person, Molly Bloom. Her claim to fame/infamy: she ran a couple of high-stakes poker games in LA and NYNY. The poker scenes in the movie are the best part. It's funny in parts too, which is always appreciated.

The movie is too long, 2 hours and 20 minutes. You could easily cut 30 minutes out of this flabby screenplay. A lot of the repetition is done to hammer home that Molly is a victim and even a heroic character here. Yeah, I don't think so. She got a rough ride from the feds, and I agree that that stinks. But most of Molly's problems are of her own doing. She took a BIG risk and reaped the rewards that many people bend the law to attain: fame and fortune, of course.

A good movie.

His Essential Wisdom

Book: Ronald Reagan His Essential Wisdom, edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi
Review: 4 bill-stars (out of 5)... Reagan!

The Reagan quotes are 5 bill-stars. (duh) The book format is 3 bill-stars. So, do the math, and that's a 4 bill-star book. The format of this book is archaic. A fairly raw collection of quotes is basically a web page now, right? With larger pages and color photographs, this would make a good coffee table book.

En homage to the greatest president of my lifetime, I'll skip my usual Quote of the Day (QOTD). President Reagan has too many great quotes and wisdom for me to choose just one or two. A good read.

Homesick Restaurant

Book: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
Review: 5 bill-stars (out of 5)... wonderful!

Homesick Restaurant is an intimate portrayal of a single family in Baltimore. Pearl Tull and her children Cody, Jenny, and Ezra are an everyday family, and the plot is simply the story of their lives. I suspect their trials and triumphs feels pretty familiar to many of us. Anne Tyler's artistry brings these characters alive, and the result is a truly moving and interesting book.

"You don't understand," said Cody. 
"This may come as a shock," his mother told him, "but I understand you perfectly. With the rest of the world I might not be so smart, but with my three children, why, not the least little thing escapes me. I know everything you're after. I see everything in your heart, Cody Tull." 
"Just like God," Cody said. 
"Just like God," she agreed.
- Pearl (Mom) and Cody (son), Dinner at the Homesick Dinner 
Man, this is a great read, 5 bill-stars.

BTW, here's an excellent Reagan book that does occupy my coffee table:
Images of Greatness: An Intimate Look at the Presidency of Ronald Reagan
It's 5 bill-stars,
That's it.
thanks... yow, bill

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Milt and Mitch and Markkanen

"Reindeer crossing"

I hopped in my Sooby and headed to the Jew-el, when I was stopped by this reindeer crossing. (ha) We have so many deer in Castle land, they just walk right down the street. The buck in front is a pretty rare sighting.

The Mitch Rapp Movie

Movie: American Assassin
Review: 2 bill-stars... below average

Vince Flynn wrote the Mitch Rapp series of action novels. They are outstanding. It's my absolute favorite action series. Jeez, I can't believe it's been almost 5 years since Vince Flynn passed away.
He died of a rare form of aggressive prostate cancer in Saint Paul, aged 47, on June 19, 2013, at 1:15 a.m., surrounded by family and friends.
Mitch Rapp is the ultimate American bad-ass. He's patriotic, intense, ultra-violent, crazed and irreverent. Terrorists have no place to hide from the indomitable force that is Vince Rapp.
Here's the actor who portrays him in the movie. Dop.

It's weird to go into a movie expecting to dislike it. (he he) But I always wanted to see the movie because I loved the novels so much. Well, I liked it more than I thought I would. It's fast-paced. And I don't want to give that young guy who played Mitch Rapp a rough ride. He's miscast, but he did an okay job. Most of the movie, however, is formulaic and below average.

Can I slip in a quick old man rant here? The first scene left me cringing and writhing in psychic pain. Mitch Rapp is at the beach with his girlfriend when he uses his cellphone to video himself (a selfie video?) proposing to his girlfriend. How intimate and moving. (ugh) (I know, I know, get over it, ha)

Not a good movie.
Question: Time to re-read some Mitch Rapp? (hmm, perhaps)

Milt RIP
Milt Rosenberg died this week. For decades, he hosted an interview program on WGN Radio called Extension 720.
I would sometimes listen to Milt's show in the car. It was good, different. Milt Rosenberg was a smart, positive, and unique guy. RIP.

Oldie games, very fun!

It's The Older Than Game. Let's play...

Q: Is williamt older than the Oakland Athletics baseball team?

A: Yes, I'm older than the A's. (blargh) The A's are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

Oakland fans voted on an All-50 anniversary team.
Oakland A’s unveil Top 50 players for 50th anniversary

But there's no starting lineup. So, I'll help you with that.
Here's my Oakland Athletic All-50 starting lineup:
  • C - Gene Tenace
  • 1B - Jason Giambi
  • 2B - Mark Ellis (no strong choices here, this guy's summary is good:
  • 3B - Eric Chavez (tough one with Sal Bando and Joshy D also on the list)
  • SS - Campy Campaneris (Miguel Tejada is a close runner-up)
  • LF - Rickey!
  • CF - Billy North
  • RF - Reggie!
  • SP - Catfish Hunter
  • Closer - Eck
This is cool. This site lists all the Oakland Athletic anniversary logos. Marketing!

One more oldie game... What's Changed (in 50+ years). Let's see.

The Bulls are trying to drag me, kicking and screaming, into this new 21st century NBA. I gotta hand it to them. They're a pretty entertaining bunch sometimes.

I watched the Bulls @ the Knicks Wed night as I was taking down the Christmas tree.
Bull win 122, 119 in 2OT.

OK. What's changed?
Well, look at that boxscore. Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls. He's their best player. The catch - he's a 7' tall, 20 year-old rookie from Finland. Markkanen played 46 minutes and took 15 three pointers. WTF?!? (ha) He made 8 of them and scored 33 points. He also made clutch free throws at the end of the game and guarded the Knicks best player, Porzingis.

The cherry on top - here's an awesome video of Markkanen beating his man off the dribble and dunking over the Knick center. Awesome!

So, yeah, the NBA has changed. Three pointers all over the place. Defense, not so much.
But they didn't used to make 20 year-old 7-footers who could shoot threes and beat their man off the dribble. Markkanen isn't a clumsy big man. He's also not a weak, one-dimensional "stretch 4" that you see these days. He's agile, skilled, strong, and already a poised leader on the court. It's fun to watch. How good is this guy going to be in, like, in 3-5 years. Yow!

For at least one night, I enjoyed the new NBA. Bull win!
yow, bill

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

People are sex objects

"People are sex objects"

I saw this sticker in downtown Naperville stuck to a lamppost: People are sex objects. (giggle like a school girl) That's pretty funny, I thought to myself. So I whipped out my crappy phone and took a pic.

Then I looked again and realized. Oops. People are not sex objects. Well, that's not nearly as funny.
But it's funny how my brain works... and I may need some help. (he he)

You know what they say about women...
Nice and normal in the head.
Nice and normal in the bed.
- Mom, the TV show (not my Mom, he he)

Be the stock market

Hold on a second will ya?

OK, I looked back at my 9 blog posts for December and January, and there's only one that mentions media negativity about President Trump (a clever negative headline summary I did, I'm so clever, cough). I like that low number. I never want to fall into the negativity trap of just following stupid media stories. That not what this blog's about.

There's no way to gather the news of the day without experiencing some of the media's anti-Trump vitriol. But you can quickly dismiss stories that have no impact on Trump's presidency. How?
The technique I use ― Be the stock market!

For 18 months now, every hyperbolic, Trump-bashing story has been just noise. Or if you prefer (as I do), FAKE NEWS! It sells ads on CNN. And it makes lefties drool and hyperventilate. But the practical impact of these stories has been zero. It's all been a waste of time for the average joe. All the while, the Trump presidency has thrived. America, too!

But there's a sticky wicket... how will we know when a real story comes along? I think it will be easy. You should see a sharp, significant decline in the stock market. If the stock market doesn't react, then why should I? Simple!

Here's the record so far, btw. The S&P 500 is up almost 30% since President Trump was elected. Capitalism is back in style! For the stock market, 2017 was a year of record low volatility and no significant declines. I heard on CNBC that 2018 is off to the best start in 30+ years.

So, when I hear that Trump is this or that, I check my stock quotes. If the zillions of $$$ in the stock market aren't reacting, then why should I? It's just blather. I'm informed without caring about all the negativity that floats on by. All good.

It looks like 2018 could be another Trump blockbuster: immigration reform, infrastructure bill, replace Obamacare, etc. I'm also hoping that school choice will be a bigger focus for President Trump in 2018.

You ask: Why do we need school choice in our inner cities?
I say: Baltimore is a good example. Part 1 here is the bad joke. The schools are cold.

Baltimore public schools QOTD1
“What has the day been like for you today?,” Maybin asks the children.
“Cold!,” they reply, with one saying, “Very, very, very, very, very cold.”
'This is unacceptable': Former linebacker, current teacher Aaron Maybin decries frigid Baltimore schools

Part 2 is the punchline.

Baltimore public schools QOTD2
Baltimore City already spends $15,564 per pupil, the fourth highest per student out of the 100 largest school districts in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
For Md. schools, more money is not the answer

No Exit

Book: No Exit by Taylor Adams
Review: 3 bill-stars (out of 5)... good

This book is a fun thriller. No Exit isn't literature (liter-uh-chuh) per se; it's more like a good movie script. The hook: a young college student gets stuck at a highway rest stop in a snowstorm with some very bad sociopaths. (as opposed to very good sociopaths, ha)

The beginning is a slow, tough slog. I almost gave up. But then the book really ramps up with some humor and some of the old ultra-violence. Darby, our heroine, battles against the torments and tortures of the smarmy rest stop bad guys. Darby is a fun character, and the action scenes are pretty gripping.

She imagined them ― a huddle of strangers in a snowstorm, like gold miners and homesteaders must have shared refuge in these same mountains centuries past ― sipping watery coffee, sharing campfire stories, and listening to the radio for garbled clues as to when the snowplows would arrive. Maybe she'd make a few Facebook friends and learn how to play poker. 
Or maybe she'd go sit in her Honda and freeze to death. 
Both options were equally enticing.
- Darby, No Exit
A good read. And it would make a good movie, too.

The Zach Levine era begins

For your Chicago Bulls... the Zach Levine era begins Saturday.

Gotta admit. I don't know much about Zach Levine. He was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota. He blew out his knee. He's a young tall guard (6'5"). I think he won the slam dunk contest. Other than that...

The Bull are slumping a bit. They're 1-4 in 2018 so far. Go Bull!

BTW - silly sports media has already hailed the Bulls a winner in the Jimmy Butler trade. Well, nobody told Jimmy Buckets and the Timber-Pups. They're 4th in the Western Conference and surging. Buckets is the clear team leader, and he leads the team in scoring with 21.5 ppg, while shooting 47% from the field.

The only fly in the Minny ointment is Tibs, their doofus coach. He has all 5 of his starters averaging more than 34 minutes a game. We can expect the talented Timber-Pups to be exhausted by playoff time. ¡Que ridiculo!
bull win... yow, bill