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June 29, 2005

Ben Kingsley Diagnosed With Acute CWS

zamboni.jpgI realize I am very late to the game on this- but Ben Kingsley is one hell of an actor! I've kind of gone Kingsley-Krazy the past few months. Double viewings of Sexy Beast, setting up a Ben Kingsley wishlist on my Tivo, talking him up quite a bit... But something's not right about this Oscar winning actor. He was Gandhi. He was Don Logan. He was in Thunderbirds?

Yeah, he's kind of got the Christopher Walken Syndrome (as in he's a great, strange, cool actor who says yes to way too many crappy films). I saw this poster for "Bloodrayne" on the web and I knew he got a bad case of it. He has made some great decisions in his career, and some astoundingly bad ones. His listing on IMDB is long and strange. Among the very very good: Sexy Beast, House of Sand and Fog (he was great, movie was disappointing), Death and the Maiden (must see with Sigourney Weaver!), Schindler's List and of course Gandhi. Then you have the bad: Bloodrayne, Thunderbirds, What Planet Are You From?, Spooky House (in which he is credited as having played "The Great Zamboni"), etc. etc...

As a fan who is thirsty for more Kingsley, I was a little disappointed after getting through those good ones. Quite a mystery. But let me say a bit more about his good...Sexy Beast has become one of my favorite films...HIs charcter Don Logan, the unhinged gangster who's Mother never loved him is a spectacle in modern film. When I saw Gandhi for the first time a few weeks ago, I was ready to fly to India and travel the countryside wrapped in a cloth...

He's amazing. One of the very best. So why does he do these terrible movies? Surely he knows that Bloodrayne ain't gonna give him any room to really explore the character. Maybe he just needs to pay the bills. Hard to imagine.

Posted by keegan at 01:40 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2005

Hey I like your car..I think I'll take it.

A man walks out of his house one day, looks across to his neighbor's yard, and sees a beautiful vintage red Mustang that his neighbor is washing.

"Hey, that's a really beautiful car neighbor!"
"Well, thanks. It's my pride and joy."
"I'd really like that for my own. I'd like to buy that from you."
"Thanks, but I'll pass. I've saved my whole life for this car, and I have spent a lot of time fixing it up, and restoring it to prisitne condition. Driving this car is my one true joy, and it makes me happy. I wouldn't sell this for all the money in the world!"

"But I REALLY want it. I have a great idea, I can buy it from you and drive it around and show it off at car shows and parades for little children. Everyone will LOVE that car."
"Again, I'm glad you like it, but get your own car. This one is mine and I don't want to sell it."
"Well, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm actually an elected official, and since I know best, I'm just going to pay you what I think the car is worth, and take it from you now. It's in the communitiy's best interest to have this car for parades and car shows. Here's a check. I'll take those keys. Nice doing business with you."

June 23, 2005 Justices, 5-4, Back Seizure of Property for Development

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

Connecticut residents involved in the lawsuit expressed dismay and pledged to keep fighting.

''It's a little shocking to believe you can lose your home in this country,'' said resident Bill Von Winkle, who said he would refuse to leave his home, even if bulldozers showed up. ''I won't be going anywhere. Not my house. This is definitely not the last word.''

Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Institute for Justice representing the families, added: ''A narrow majority of the court simply got the law wrong today and our Constitution and country will suffer as a result.''

Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

''The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue,'' Stevens wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

''It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area,'' he said.

At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for ''public use.''

Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

New London officials countered that the private development plans served a public purpose of boosting economic growth that outweighed the homeowners' property rights, even if the area wasn't blighted.

''We're pleased,'' attorney Edward O'Connell, who represents New London Development Corporation, said in response to the ruling.

The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.

''Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random,'' O'Connor wrote. ''The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.''

She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Nationwide, more than 10,000 properties were threatened or condemned in recent years, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington public interest law firm representing the New London homeowners.

New London, a town of less than 26,000, once was a center of the whaling industry and later became a manufacturing hub. More recently the city has suffered the kind of economic woes afflicting urban areas across the country, with losses of residents and jobs.

The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years.

City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.

New London was backed in its appeal by the National League of Cities, which argued that a city's eminent domain power was critical to spurring urban renewal with development projects such Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Kansas City's Kansas Speedway.

Under the ruling, residents still will be entitled to ''just compensation'' for their homes as provided under the Fifth Amendment. However, Kelo and the other homeowners had refused to move at any price, calling it an unjustified taking of their property.

The case was one of six resolved by justices on Thursday. Still pending at the high court are cases dealing with the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and the liability of Internet file-sharing services for clients' illegal swapping of copyrighted songs and movies. The Supreme Court next meets on Monday.

The case is Kelo et al v. City of New London, 04-108.

Posted by keegan at 11:34 AM

June 20, 2005

brain = off


Another page from my small Moleskine which I have been using recently to loosen up and relax while listening to The Magnetic Fields on the subway...

Posted by keegan at 03:32 AM

June 15, 2005

Frontline: Is Wal Mart Good For America?

Man, I have been waiting for this Frontline for a while! "Is Wal Mart Good For America?" certainly does sound like a loaded question. The truth about Wal Mart must be told. This company who wraps itself in the American flag, is in fact the purchaser of 40% all imported goods from China each year. And as they discuss in depth in this great report, they actively encourage (read: FORCE) their vendors to move their operations overseas, so Wal Mart can get their goods for 30% less than when they are made here in the USA. Truly an ugly, ugly enterprise...wait till you watch the creepy pep rally / shareholders meeting footage where everyone cheers "Gimme a W!". This is a must-see, and thanks to Boston's always-on-the-cutting-edge WGBH, the WHOLE SHOW (and most other episodes as well) is availabe for viewing online, in chapters. Go see it now!

Link: Frontline: "Is Wal Mart Good For America?" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/view/

Posted by keegan at 01:56 AM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2005

BBS - The Documentary

jeff-bbs.jpgMy big brother Jeff is featured quite prominently in Jason Scott's newly released "BBS - The Documentary" 3 DVD set. I remember Jeff being fused with a pair of Apple II's in his bedroom for a few years while he ran Xevious, a BBS (bulletin board system) off a 300 baud modem, and a gigantic 6 megabyte hard drive (yes, a 6 MEGAbyte hard drive). This of course was way back in the pre-internet days, when you watched the text scroll across the screen as it trickled in. I snuck on to the Apple II and dialed up to some of the BBS's when Jeff wasn't home as a kid, and got really swept up in it. It reached it's zenith with Diversi-dial (D-Dial), where more than one person could dial up at a time, and actually chat with each other in real-time! It was pretty amazing...

Anyway, Jason Scott has put together an pretty thorough account of those heady days, interviewing all of the orginal geezers responsible for the earliest BBS's creation. What it lacks in production quality, in makes up for in sheer content. This has a ton of really fascinating interviews, and I'm glad someone has taken the care to create such a through document of this often-overlooked critical time in the pre-dawn of the Internet. Check it out if you have ever used any modem slower than 1200 baud.

Here's a bit my brother wrote up about Xevious:

"Xevious was originally written by George Kasabgi of Needham Massachusetts. It ran on two Apple II computers, connected with two serial cards and a serial cable wrapped in tin-foil. It had a 6-meg hard drive. Two distinct features were a two-person chat system (where you could chat with whomever was on the other computer, not just the sysop), and Xevious Trek (a highly addictive grid-based trek game, with multiple planets, hidden galaxies, and the ability to attack other players while they were offline). When George Kasabgi had to go to Canada for several months, he considered closing the BBS. I (Jeff Keegan) offered to run it in his absence, and the BBS was moved to Stoneham, MA. If I remember correctly, the two lines there were 617-279-0354 and 617-438-???? Anyway, I ran it there for several months, eventually it went back to George, and then later he decided to call it quits. Nels Anderson stepped in, offering to move the BBS to Framingham, Massachusetts. At some point someone made the joke that since it was born in Needham, moved to Stoneham, and then moved to Framingham, it should probably go to die in Dedham." - Jeff Keegan

Link: "BBS - The Documentary" - http://www.bbsdocumentary.com

Posted by keegan at 01:39 AM | Comments (1)

June 07, 2005

Apple / Intel Thoughts

When I first heard this rumor in the WSJ a few weeks back, I was a little befuddled. Things are coming up roses for Apple. Record earnings, serious mindshare in the market, tons of momentum...Why choose to put themselves through another painful transition?

There was a weird clue to their plans in the past two earnings calls (yes I actually listen to them). Analysts kept bugging Apple asking when a PowerBook G5 will come out. Their response was that putting an egg-frying G5 into the slim powerbook is "the mother of all thermal challenges". Apple's pro laptop line is headed down a dead -end. You can buy iBooks that have fast G4 chips in them now, so why buy a PowerBook? So IBM simply can't deliver them a low-power, low-heat but fast-enough G5 to use in their portable line. That's enough right there. Also, knowing this now, I kinda wonder why they didnt do this sooner.

The next 2 years are gonna suck for Apple (at least for the Macintosh business). They have just made all of their shipping models- and the ones coming down the pipe- obsolete. Will definitely be a dicey transition, though they have been through 2 much more difficult transitions successfully (Moving to the PowerPC chip, and moving to Mac OS X).

As far as the end user is concerned, I'm not worried. I won't have any qualms about buying a super-fast Intel-based Mac when they come out. I won't see any difference, other than more speed. Sounds good to me.

Posted by keegan at 12:05 PM