IceRocket Search Engine

April 30, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Web/Tech 

I got an odd e-mail last night. One of the founders of sent me a note requesting that I work with him to cross-promote this blog and his search engine.

So I did a little research. It seems that these folks are building a search engine that aims to come up with the most relevant result from all of the other search engines, without being burdened by advertising. Their About US page says: “IceRocket is pioneering commercial search by putting the interests and wants of consumers before advertisers.”

The e-mail that I received offered to make my site a free sponsored listing for any search words that I requested. I’m not clear on how to reconcile the concept of sponsored listings with the “putting consumers first” concept.

At any rate, I decided to test their site with a few searches. I found that their site DID come up with more relevant results for my queries than other search engines. I was heartened to see that they didn’t come up with the usual spam sites (the ones with millions of search terms embedded in them, just to get you there).

So, I’m with them. Over on the left you will find the IceRocket search box. Enjoy!

NOTE:  This was on a prior incarnation of this blog.  It’s not there anymore.

Automatic Swarming Traffic Cones

April 29, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Web/Tech 

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed automatic wheeled traffic cones that can change their formation as directed by a human operator. (New Scientist article)

This is a really neat idea, but I have to wonder what the potential for mayhem is. Do you remember the “crossing the road” scene in Toy Story 2?

Last Push for Spirit of America

April 28, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Weblogs 

The Spirit of Team

The blogsphere has managed to raise $36,000 for Spirit of America. However, our goal is to raise $50,000.

The contest has been conceded, and our Victory Alliance came in second. Too bad for us, but very good for Spirit of America. Now, we are extending the “contest” one more day to raise the last $14,000 or so.

Please make a donation by clicking HERE.

If you make a donation over $10 or so, you can also claim a prize. See THIS PAGE for the list of current offers. There are also offers at THIS PAGE.

Give! We can make the $50,000 goal!

Adoption Game Show

April 28, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Television 

ABC’s 20/20 television show is scheduled to air a program on Friday showing 5 couples competing to adopt a baby born to a 16-year-old pregnant high school student.

This is just vile and disgusting. ABC has passed FOX as the most depraved TV network. A CHILD is NOT a PRIZE! Reality shows in general are pretty poor (in my opinion), but this has to take the cake.

What’s next – a contest to get the 16-year-old pregnant in the first place?

Here we have more proof that Disney has fallen far, and fallen fast.

(Hat Tip: A Small Victory)

How Rude! Human Kleenex

April 28, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

The BushFlash website has this video clip, showing our President reaching over and using the sweater of an unsuspecting woman to clean his glasses during a commercial break on the David Letterman show.

How rude is that? At least he didn’t wipe his nose!

Protected Gay Speech? In School?

April 27, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Rosemary (Queen of All Evil) has a new blog. Stop by and say hi.

She lists a story where a high school student is in trouble. He is running for some post in his school elections, using his gay sexual orientation as his slogan.

His posters read: “Gay Guys Know Everything!” and “Queer Guy for Hunt High.”

The school removed the posters, and Jared contacted the ACLU. The ACLU has sent a letter on his behalf to the school.

Normally, I’m a strong supporter of gay rights. However, in this case, I think the school is right. The school has a duty to prevent discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

How would you react to these slogans?

“Once you vote Black, you never go back”

“It’s time a Girl wore the pants at this school”

“Vote Japanese, or face my samurai sword”

I don’t see those slogans flying either. Schools do have a limited ability to restrict speech for the preservation of order.

(Yeah, my position on this one surprised me too.)

Il Barbiere di Seviglia

April 25, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fancy Shmancy, Music 

On Friday night, my wife and I went to see the Barber of Seville presented by the Boheme Opera company at the Trenton War Memorial in Trenton, NJ.

The performance was excellent. Most of the actors (and I call them that intentionally, rather than singers or soloists) were very good. And it was FUNNY!

The opera is a comedy by design. It’s clear to me that Warner Bros. didn’t have to work hard to have the Bugs Bunny version be hilarious. In fact, it was clear to me that some of the gags in this production were stolen from the cartoon (or maybe it’s vice versa).

I won’t go into the story here – this page has a synopsis. You may want to read it before finishing this review.

Constantinos Yiannoudes filled the baritone part of Figaro. He did VERY well in his Boheme Opera mainstage debut. Figaro is a relatively easy part to play comedically in this opera – it’s impossible to be too over the top. The role of the title barber is a tough one to sing – he has to do his most famous and hardest aria (“Largo al Factotum”) as he walks onto stage for the first time in the first act. The audience gave him a well-deserved and long round of applause until he was forced to gesture for a stop. He was also very funny in the little “extra” comedy that this production added to the script. When he encouraged Count Almaviva/Lindoro to sing to his Rosina, he had to find something to sing. He finally walked up to the box centerstage and asks for a piece of music. He sings “Some Enchanted Evening” and then complains rapidly in Italian that he wants a piece “en Italiana”.

Mika Shigematsu sang the soprano part of Rosina. She also did a good job of comedic acting. Unfortunately, her voice was rather weak in the first and second acts. She improved for the third act, and turned in a good performance.

Matthew Lau played the baritone part of Doctor Bartolo, augmented by LOTS of makeup to age him and provide the perfect sour face (kudos to the makeup folks – it was amazing). He also did an excellent job of playing the comedic buffoon and bad guy in the same person.

The show was stolen by John Easterlin singing the tenor part of Count Almaviva pretending to be Lindoro wooing Rosina. His singing was extremely good (possibly the best of the cast), but that was overshadowed by his comedic acting! He could easily get a role as a comedy actor – preferably in a sitcom with lots of slapstick. He received the loudest applause at the end – and it was totally deserved.

The singing was powerful. No amplification was used in a full-sized theatre. I was seated in the 6th row of the right hand side of the house. When the singers faced us directly, I could actually feel the pressure of their voices.

Those who have read my story of a previous trip to the opera (A Night at the Opera) are probably wondering if any unplanned hilarity occured. I have to disappoint you on that score – as far as I can tell the production was staged perfectly. There were only two problems that marred the whole experience. For some reason, the printer failed to deliver enough programs, and only those patrons who arrived for the pre-show lecture were given them. I have had to use an article printed on Friday in the Trenton Times to keep my details correct. The other problem was a begging speech made by a woman from the opera company for 10 minutes before the overture began – begging for money to support the company and make sure that it will be able to continue next year. This was inappropriate at a performance from a company that calls itself “professional” on its website. I did enjoy the opera and would have been willing to make a donation – unfortunately, I was unable to find out HOW to make a donation by reading the program!

I did hear two Bugs Bunny references. My wife and I arrived early enough to have to sit in the lobby before seating began. Two men entered, and I heard one of them clearly saying “welcome to my shop … let me fix your mop.” During the overture, a woman seated in the row ahead of us had trouble not laughing, since the Bugs Bunny Rabbit of Seville cartoon used the overture as the main body of music.

All in all, a god time was had by my wife and me. I will be checking out the Boheme Opera Company’s schedule next year, and might be willing to see TWO operas as a balance to all of the hockey games that I drag her to.

Former NFL Player Pat Tillman Killed in Afghanistan

April 23, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Go to A Small Victory and read. I can’t say it any better than Michele did.

It’s guys like this (and several hundred others who have made the same sacrifice, and many thousands still at it) that are the reason that we are free. Free to talk about the war, to praise and criticize our government, free to be ourselves.

Spirit of America Challenge

April 21, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Television 

Spirit of America Needs You

It appears that I jumped the gun the other day, but the challenge is now open. Give, Give, Give!

Also, if you give more than $10 and send an e-mail to Michele at A Small Victory, she will put up a post in your honor.

Give ’till it hurts, or at least until it stings a little.

A Night at the Opera

April 20, 2004 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Fancy Shmancy, Music 

As some of you know, I have season tickets to the Trenton Titans minor league hockey team. My wife often accompanies me to the 30+ games per season. As compensation, I am expected to take her to an opera at least once a year.

This Friday, I will be going with her to the Trenton War Memorial to see the Boheme Opera Company‘s production of The Barber of Seville.

Now to be totally honest, this isn’t that much of a burden to me. Back in my youth, I was a somewhat accomplished musician. As a percussionist, I auditioned for and made the New Jersey All-State Band three years and the All-State Orchestra once. I love all sorts of music, including Classical. I also have some experience with the theatre, having been my high school’s Lighting Director for 2 years and therefore doing stage crew work all 4 years.

Besides, opera music is Cartoon music! (see also Rabbit of Seville)

This trip is not my first experience with opera. We went to see a production last year of Tosca at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ on January 23rd, 2003. This was more like a cartoon than opera. Click to continue reading.

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