30 May 2010

Some Reviews

"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (Cinema) - Stieg Larsson named his first novel "Men Who Hate Women". Apparently, the publishers felt that was a little too unfriendly. We saw the Swedish adaptation today, and even at two and a half hours, plenty was removed. Still, it was a pretty faithful adaptation. The book, of course, is better. If you haven't read the Millenium trilogy yet, by all means do. An American film is being made, I predict it will make poor Mr Larsson spin in his grave. I doubt I'll see it.

"The Damned United" (iPad Kindle reader) The first is a fictional account of Brian Clough's brief tenure at Leeds United, and if you don't follow English football you are unlikely to enjoy it. I do and did. The Kindle iPad reader is not bad, but Apple's iReader is better

"City of Thieves" (paperback). Outstanding story of the siege of Leningrad. At once funny and tragic, it is captivating reading. Highly recommended.

"Sherlock Holmes" (blu-ray). Guy Ritchie made a new and worthwhile depiction of one of the most portrayed characters in movies. Two characters stand out especially: Robert Downey Jr's Holmes and Victorian London. Jude Law is good as Watson; to be honest everyone else is overshadowed. Entertaining and recommended.

26 May 2010

Moores Speaks Out

I have been following Liverpool football for only four years, so my knowledge of David Moores's stewardship of the club is second hand.

After reading his open letter, though, it is obvious he still cares deeply about the club. Gillett and Hicks will cash out (at a profit, no doubt), and it is unimaginable to think three years later they'll be writing open letters about the club. If they cared at all about the club, they'd be trying to find the best new owners, not the ones willing to pay most over the price.

I haven't read the details of UEFA's new policies, but they will hopefully be a step in the right direction.

16 May 2010

Hacked

One of my online accounts was hacked this weekend. It is almost certainly my fault. The account in question was for a game that I've put a great deal of time into, so while it's a big inconvenience, it could have been a lot worse. I have literally dozens of online accounts, each of which requires a user id and a password. Keeping them straight is a chore, and I fell into the bad habit of using the same user id and password for many accounts. The password in question was a six letter word, so it was vulnerable to dictionary attacks. Or possibly one of the many other sites where I used that user/password combination was compromised. None of them were financial accounts, but it has still turned out to be a major pain, because once a user id and password combination is compromised, all of the accounts that share those values are also compromised.

Since the compromise might have happened at one of those sites, it means I'm using a distinct password for each account. I've spent much of the weekend changing passwords. For many accounts, I'm changing to generated passwords that are nearly impossible to remember. Stuff like 7nRHLhd8#. Since I won't be able to remember them, I'm storing them in an encrypted file (actually, I'm using a password management application that stores them in an encrypted file).

The whole thing is a major pain in the neck.

09 May 2010

Misery's End

Liverpool's miserable football season has finally ended: bad luck and bad decisions, bad play and bad players, distractions and precious little of the beautiful game.

Bad luck - Injuries seemed especially problematic this season. Torres's battle with fitness is well documented, and Gerrard and Johnson missed games as well. But injuries to Aurelio and Insua, Skrtel and Agger took their toll as well. Last week, Liverpool was in the absurd position of playing Chelsea with three central defenders, four central midfielders, three wingers, no fullbacks, and no center forwards on the pitch. A volcano eruption just before an important match meant the team followed a bizarre itinerary to Madrid. A deflection off of a beach ball, for Pete's sake.

Bad decisions - So many, it hurts to catalog them. Player signings, giving Benitez a long term contract last season, Gillett and Hicks buying the club in the first place, negative tactics (poorly executed).

Bad Play - Gerrard has been mediocre this season. Not by his standards; judged that way he has been awful. There has been ample speculation of the cause which I leave to others, but whatever the reason, he has been no better than an average Premier League midfielder. Johnson has had numerous defensive lapses. Carragher had an extended run of mediocrity. Only Torres (when healthy) and Reina have been consistent throughout. Too many last minute lapses in concentration in cup competitions: Lyon (twice), Fiorentina, Reading, Atletico Madrid.

Bad Players - Dossena. Degen. Riera. Lucas. To be honest, these aren't necessarily bad players so much as simply not good enough. None would spend one single minute on the pitch for Manchester United. Babel and N'Gog might yet develop, but aren't now good enough to justify their time on the pitch.

Distractions - See bad decisions.

Benitez complains incessantly about his transfer budget, but regularly over pays. The jury might still be out on Johnson and Aquilani (though at around 20M each, both were over priced based on contribution this season). But there can be no argument about Dossena (7M), Babel (11.5), Keane(19) (and I won't go further back).

Last season, Liverpool finished with 86 points, four points behind the Mancs, and scored 77 goals while losing only two matches (one, ahem, to Boro). The losses of Arbeloa and Alonso were to be offset by Johnson and Aquilani. In retrospect, last year's results flattered the club.

Conversely, I believe that this year's disastrous results are causing an overestimation of Liverpool's fall. Liverpool will not challenge for the title next year, but there is still some quality in the squad; enough to challenge for a Champion's League spot. I assume that Benitez will be back, and that he'll field weakened squads for the Europa League and League Cup and face early elimination. Rafa will focus on the FA cup and the league.

Today's match was not broadcast here; I was spared a nil-nil draw against relegated Hull. A fitting end to a sorry season.

06 May 2010

Quite a relief

Dear Blaise,

Congratulations! We have a place for you in our incoming freshman class this fall...

05 May 2010

5 May

Today is Cinco de Mayo, which is when people outside Mexico celebrate Mexican heritage. Or beer and tequila. The holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla, in which Mexico defeated Napoleon III's invading army. It is not Mexican Independence Day, which is 16 September.

Today is also Raegan's final exam for her last course in the spring semester. She has requested Margaritas to celebrate, and I am happy to comply.

I have been using this recipe but today I ran across this one, which seems much easier to make, though it may be a little more sour (both recipes can be found at my Drink Recipe page). Lemons are relatively expensive this time of year, so the latter recipe has a cost advantage as well. I plan to try a taste test of the two recipes tonight. I'll try to remember to post the results.

Speaking of stupid, redneck, homophobes

I think this guy might be the single most awful person in America.

03 May 2010

PR

Trevor and I ran a 5k Saturday. The good news is that I managed a personal record of 27:25. The bad news is that I did walk part of the last hill. The course was mostly downhill for the first two miles. I passed the mile markers at 8:10 and 16:30. Then the last mile is all uphill. I knew that I'd set a PR, and that made it hard to push as hard as i could on that hill. Trevor finished and was really excited. He really didn't train at all, but he's 16.