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What made Seinfeld so funny

Jerry Seinfeld was the straight man.

Q: Where did the idea of, in Seinfeld, your character being a comedian for a profession, but be the straight man for your friends, come from? I always thought that juxtapositioning for the show was genius.

A: Very good observation and analysis on your part, Baxter. You are truly exhibiting a good comedic eye. The reason I would play straight was it was funnier for the scene. And very few people have ever remarked on this, because it was a conscious choice of mine, only because I knew it would make the show better, and I didn’t care who was funny as long as somebody was funny and that the show was funny. So you have hit upon one of the great secret weapons of the Seinfeld series, was that I had no issue with that.

Best Contract Negotiation Ever

And this folks, is why Scott Boras is worth the big money.

The Last Great Telescope

The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope and the world’s largest land-based movable structure. It is part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) site at Green Bank, West Virginia, USA. NRAO is located in the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 mile zone where all radio transmissions are either limited or banned outright, to help the telescope function properly. With the growing popularity of radio-array telescopes, the GBT may end up being the last single-dish telescope of its kind built in the world. 

Ray Donovan Official Trailer

 

 This could be the next series I binge on.

Canada’s navy not shipshape

The sad state of the Royal Canadian Navy

HMCS Iroquois DDH 280

There is also one other problem to solve.

A decision is needed on whether or not the Coast Guard’s long-planned new polar icebreaker will be built first at the same site.

The icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is set to retire in 2017, and will be replaced by a new Polar class icebreaker CCGS John G. Diefenbaker.

Meanwhile, the two RCN ships the new class will replace just keep getting older.

Both HMCS Protecteur and HMCS Preserver will be 50 years old (at least) by the time they head for the breakers. That would qualify them for museum status in most countries around the world.

During their lifetime they have contributed to the 1991 Gulf War and humanitarian aid missions in Florida and the Bahamas, peace-making off Somalia and East Timor and have been poised for the evacuation of non-combatants from Haiti.

The ships are also single-hulled which is in contravention of most international environmental standards and limits the number of ports that will accept them.

The RCN is acutely aware of operational limitations and is busy talking up the project.

National Defence and the Canadian Forces say that the new Berlin-class ships should “provide a home base for maintenance and operation of helicopters, a limited sealift capability, and support to forces deployed ashore.”

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, the now-retired commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, told a defence industry conference in Ottawa that the design had been selected “following a thorough, third-party-validated process, during which two designs were compared in depth based on capability, cost and risk.”

Clearly he is a fan but at some stage a keel will need to be laid and works begin. Even the most optimistic naval planner admits Ottawa is still years away from signing a detailed build contract.

Then there is the rest of the RCN fleet.

Canada’s Iroquois-class destroyers, our principal naval warships, are on average 40 years old. They are due for retirement/replacement.

The Halifax-class frigates are due for retirement/replacement starting in 2025.

Therefore, just to maintain the navy at its present operational capacity, Canada needs to build 15 new warships while completing the support ships and rebuilding the Coast Guard’s fleet of icebreakers at a time when the world is turning its attention to increasing sea traffic through the Northwest Passage.

And of course this is by a military that can not figure out how to procure anything right now and has an aversion to buying off the shelf designs from other navies (although it looks like they did with the JSS vessels).  Part of the problem is that unlike other militaries that regularly upgrade their equipment, Canadian equipment is kept well past its best before date.  The military is then forced to go after the cutting edge because it is going to have to last so long.

The Original Cast of Sesame Street

Original sesame street cast

Oscar the Grouch is orange!  He became green in season 2.

Giant Squid Caught on Tape for the First Time

Discovery Channel has captured a giant squid for the first time on video.  Of course now that I want to see is a video of a colossal squid.

Review: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Review: 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

I am not really a Lincoln kind of guy.  I work in a homeless shelter so it felt odd taking it as a tester and I don’t fall asleep thinking of luxury sedans which makes it hard to review but here is my experience with it.

When I got in the first time, I was confronted with my third different Sync setup in three different cars, a decision that confuses me.  It did look good with leather, genuine wood and chrome touches.  While young families aren’t Lincoln’s target market, there was plenty of room and despite coming from the 2012 Ford Edge, no one in the backseat complained. 

What suprised me was the quality of the ride; it wasn’t as good as the Ford Edge or as much fun to drive as the Ford Focus.  It does have some strong points.  It has both the Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert. Using two multiple-beam radar modules, the car  can detect when a vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone and illuminates an indicator light on the mirror. Cross-traffic alert uses the same technology to help detect if a car is approaching from either side within 14 metres of the vehicle when backing out of a parking space.  It’s a feature that works well in Saskatoon’s urban jungle, especially when looking for a parking spot.

The car didn’t win me over the first time I sat behind the wheel but it did grow on me as I got used to it.  While I wasn’t happy to see a new MyTouch interface, the combination of buttons and touch screen is a good one and the stereo is of excellent quality.  Despite the cold, the leather seats heat up quickly and the traction was excellent on some of Saskatoon’s icy streets.  The handling was fantastic but it did win me over as being comfortable and relaxing.  I never did take the car on a long road trip but after a trip to Pike Lake and back down Valley Road, I realized this would be a fantastic car for a weekend getaway or an extended road trip either with Wendy or the entire family

As for styling; it was non-descript.  I kept losing it in mall parking lots because it looks a lot like a lot of other mid sized sedans.  While Ford got the design right on the Focus and the Ford Edge, the styling of the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid was very conservative, again perhaps of it’s market.

It was an hybrid and I did get excellent fuel mileage out of it.  Ford says that the electric motor can take you up to 75 mph and while I didn’t get it up that fast, it did take a lot less fuel to commute to work than the Ford Edge or my Mazda 5 ever does.

Summary:

If you are looking for a fuel efficient way to get around in comfort, this is your car.  It will get you around the city with class and to your destination with comfort.

Short term mobile phone storage for students

This is kind of crazy.

Mobile phones are banned in NYC public schools so a company called Pure Loyalty parks trucks outside of several schools so that students can check their phones, iPods, and other devices for the duration of the school day.

All-22

The camera angle that the NFL doesn’t want you to see.

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith’s throw was "placed perfectly" and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was "a little bit late getting there."

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program "NFL Matchup," who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn’t late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

Frank Hawkins, a former NFL executive during the 1990s who is now a Scalar Media Partners consultant, says he remembers the NFL considering releasing the All 22. The biggest objection, he said, came from the football people.

Charley Casserly, a former general manager who was a member of the NFL’s competition committee, says he voted against releasing All-22 footage because he worried that if fans had access, it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio. Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.

"I was concerned about misinformation being spread about players and coaches and their ability to do their job," he said. "It becomes a distraction that you have to deal with." Now an analyst for CBS, Casserly takes an hour-and-a-half train once a week to NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, N.J. just to watch the All-22 film.

Lonnie Marts, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says there are thousands of former NFL players who could easily pick apart play-calling and player performance if they had access to this film. "If you knew the game, you’d know that sometimes there’s a lot of bonehead plays and bonehead coaching going on out there," he says.

If I was the CFL, I would make the All-24 video available on CFL.ca.  Not only would there be demand for it (I would pay for it), it would also show that the CFL isn’t afraid of it’s fans like the NFL apparently is.

Conan busts his staff for having a secret “free food” email list.

This is too funny.

In this clip from last night’s episode of Conan, Conan O’Brien busts his staff for having a secret free food email list that alerts them whenever there are free eats in the office. He sends an email to the list alerting people to an ice cream cake up for grabs in a conference room, and then watches a surveillance video to see "which rats coming to nibble at the cheese." When asked if they ever thought to put Conan on the list, they say: "No, never thought about it, no."

What was Stringer Bell’s biggest mistake?

Quora asks the question about what was Stringer Bell’s biggest mistake during The Wire.

Here is one of the better answers.

Stringer BellFailing to kill Brother Mouzone once Omar decided not to finish him. His hospital visit made it clear to Mouzone who had sought his demise and eventually led to Bell’s.

Failing to locate and eliminate Omar. Since Omar (and any of his associates) were the only links to Brother Mouzone’s assassination attempt, their failure should have been punished with their deaths. Failing to do this caused Bell problems later on leading to his death.

Not using Avon Barksdale’s imprisonment as the opportunity to seize control of the organization for himself. By isolating Barksdale in prison, Bell could have run the organization as he saw fit and actually turned the prospects of the organization around into a less violent, but more profitable enterprise.

Only killing D’Angelo Barksdale and not also Avon and Avon’s sister. A clean sweep of the Barksdale family would have allowed Bell to run the organization as he thought he needed to and removed an unnecessary level of burden to an already complicated situation.

Not using a knowledgeable intermediary to deal with Senator Clay Davis.He was clearly out of his league with Davis and had he used an attorney with the correct political connections, he could have likely gained all that he sought with fewer complications than he did.

Admitting that he had killed D’Angelo Barksdale. This very likely angered Avon Barksdale and led him to to betray Stringer more than the potential for his organization to cut off from a quality supply of product.

Stringer Bell had no mentor nor close adviser apart from Avon Barksdale. Had he had a "Butch" like Omar, a number of the obvious traps he was entering he would have easily avoided as they would have been pointed out to him.

Stringer Bell had few if, any men, that were strictly loyal to him. This lack of loyalty was exhibited in the fact that men loyal to him would have avenged his death regardless of input from Avon. He also seemed to have a very poor resource of internal and external spies to gather information for him.

Stringer Bell failed to properly use the police more effectively than he did. He was in possession of enough information to bring down his competitors, yet only used it against Avon and not the others. Any crime boss knows that cops are usually his second best tool against his enemies.

Bell failed to recognize that leaving the business (and thus Baltimore) was open to him. As the character was portrayed in the series, he clearly had no close family or friends in the city and could have easily departed a wealthy man to enjoy the fruits of his labours elsewhere. He chose to stay in a business that he eventually knew would either led to his imprisonment or his death.

Read the rest of the answers here.

CNN’s new advertising

I was watching CNN this week and was stunned by the poor job the anchor was doing bringing any kind of accountability to the Republican guest.  Considering that their advertising was “Keeping them Honest”, they seem to do a horrible job of it, even their respected hosts like Wolf Blitzer.  In an attempt to appear non-partisan, they are not keeping anyone honest by not taking a stand on anything. 

The “let’s leave it there” that you hear over and over again means that guest can lie to your hearts content and no one will call them on it.  In many ways it has made them less reliable than MSNBC and Fox News.  Jon Stewart goes to town on CNN in this 2009 segment.

image

What is scary about this segment is that it isn’t that far off base.  CNN seems to be going through the motions more than actually being a news source I can trust.

When a plan goes awry

I think we have all had ideas that turn out like this.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Geeks and Gadget Lovers | 2010 Edition

Shopping for the geek or the gadget lover on your list is never easy.  While they may be the most employable member of your family, they don’t have exactly standardized tastes.  Don’t worry, this list should help and even if it doesn’t, just get them a 1 terabyte external hard drive ($75 from Amazon).  They will love it, even if you don’t know what you gave them.

So if the Wii or PS3’s Move is giving them tennis elbow, maybe it’s time to go old school with this Atari 2600 Flashback console.   It features the same wood grain paneling and look of the Atari 2600, and has two classic joysticks for multi-player competition and vintage controls. The system comes pre-loaded with over 30 classic games. No new purchases are required, just connect it to your TV and play! The system that brought you hits like Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Millipede, Missile Command, Combat and Pong now has them all collected on one system.  The full game list is:

3D Tic-Tac-Toe | Adventure | Adventure II | Aquaventure | Asteroids | Arcade Pong | Asteroids Deluxe | Atari Climber | Battlezone | Caverns Of Mars | Centipede | Combat (Best Atari game ever?) | Combat 2 | Dodge’m |Fatal Run | Frog Pond | Hangman | Haunted House | Human Cannonball | Lunar Lander | Maze Craze | Millipede | Missile Command (I loved this game growing up) | Off the Wall | Outlaw | Pitfall | Quadrun | Radar Lock | Return To Haunted House | River Raid | Saboteur | Save Mary | Secret Quest | Space Duel | Space War | Video Checkers | Video Chess | Wizard | Yars’ Return | Yars’ Revenge

Available for $34.99 from Amazon.

If you don’t want an entire console, you can get the Atari Greatest Hits Classic for your Nintendo DS for $29.99 (available from Amazon)

Of course how cool would one of these USB Atari joysticks be plugged into your PC.

  • Classic black 8-direction, one-button controller.
  • No drivers needed on Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux.
  • Game with up to four joysticks at once (two recommended for Atari 2600 titles).
  • Works with classic console and arcade emulators including Stella*, VICE and MAME
  • Visit AtariAge to check out classic Atari games or join the homebrew scene in the forums

$24.99 from ThinkGeek

While we are on the topic of Atari video games, what about this Pac-Man Belt Buckle ($12.95) or this authentic Ms. Pac-Man tabletop video game ($3,815)

Pen Camera | This spycam is the classic pen camera, just like the ones used in secret agent movies, except it’s been updated for the modern age with full video capabilities. Simple to operate with a built-in USB connector. The internal 4GB of storage capacity are capable of capturing hours of quality video in AVI format. This pen camera can also take regular still photos, if that’s your thing.

  • Covert style video camera can capture hours of quality video (with audio)
  • Video file format: AVI
  • 640×480 resolution
  • 4GB of storage capacity
  • USB 2.0
  • Working pen with black ink
  • Extremely portable, no wires
  • Re-chargeable Li-ion battery (2 hour run-time)

$69.99 from Think Geek

Everyone has a R/C helicopter but don’t overlook this R/C Goodyear Blimp.  You need to have it filled with helium and don’t buy this if you are in Denver or high in the mountains (even real blimps can’t soar that high) and oh yeah, it’s an indoor gift, not an outdoor one.  That being said what could more fun then cruising around the house, monocle in hand, and asking your family to refer to them as “Air Marshal$79.95 from Amazon

ASUS O!Play Air – Wireless N TV HD Media Player | All true geeks have video on their computer.  Here is the easiest way to get that stuff from the computer to your HD television.  ASUS O!Play Air , with an integrated wireless N and a built-in card reader, it is the most convenient way access your media files to your TV/monitor. Stream your media content wirelessly or through the LAN. Also equipped with a eSATA, USB, card reader for a variety of storage support. This device is easy to use and highly compatible with many video and audio formats. Experience full HD 1080p playback through the HDMI port.

In other words it allows them to watch there four terabytes of YouTube downloads in high definition on any television in their house.  $129.97 from Amazon

T-Shirt with Built In Spy Camera | It is what 007 wears while having his tuxedo cleaned.

  • Stylish retro spy theme T-Shirt has a tiny color digital camera hidden in the chest
  • Use the pocket based remote to shoot color digital photos
  • Vibration feedback shutter lets you know when you’ve taken a new shot
  • Holds over 150 color digital photos, 640 x 480 resolution
  • Electronics are completely removable for washing
  • Plug in with USB to download photos
  • Works with any OS including Mac, Linux and Windows
  • Requires 3x AAA batteries (not included)

Check out the video below to see it in action

 

$39.99 from ThinkGeek

Moleskine Large Notebook | The Moleskine Large Notebook is made with top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go notes.  Every Moleskine product is thread bound and has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners acid free paper a bookmark an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history. | $12.21

R2D2 :: He is the ultimate gadget and having both served Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, he is built to last.  For $200, you can bring him home and reunite him with his proper master.  In addition to helping keep your X-Wing fighter’s deflector shields online, this state-of-the-art R2 series astromech droid unit is ready to obey your commands.  You can grab his attention by saying “Hey, R2″ and he’s ready for more than 40 voice commands.  He remembers his famous friends, like Luke Skywalker, C-3PO or Jabba the Hutt, and each name will stir up a different response depending on R2′s “feelings” for that character. $169 from Amazon

Sangean WR-11 AM/FM Wooden Cabinet Radio :: At the lake there are a couple of times when a great radio would be really handy, like when the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing on a Saturday afternoon.  Yes a satellite radio is cool but not all sports are on XM and Sirius (which boggles my mind) and there are times when what you want to listen to is being played locally.  If that is the case, this is the radio you want.  The WR-1 is the culmination of 30 years of experience in the design and manufacture of quality, state-of-the-art radios.  Plus, CBC and NPR sound better in a radio that looks like this. | $80.44 from Amazon

LED Shower Head | The LED Shower Light is a brilliant idea. It installs to a standard shower pipe in mere minutes. When you turn the shower on, the water powers a turbine and the LED Shower Light…well, lights up! Blue let’s you know the water is chilly. When the water warms up to 89° F (32° C), the light changes to red. Now you can step in and not freeze your giblets off. And you don’t even need to turn on the light now, because your whole shower glows. It makes for a much nicer morning, trust us.

  • Blue light means the water is cold; Red light means it has warmed up to 89° F (32° C).
  • No batteries needed – powered by internal turbine.
  • Installs in minutes to standard (3/4″) shower pipes.
  • Includes a Flow Regulator that limits maximum water flow to 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi (might affect Shower Light performance depending on your water pressure).
  • Approx. 4″ in diameter

Star Trek: TOS Communicator | Star Trek is already the quintessential staple of the geek. The mind boggles when considering how the original Star Trek communicator might be made more geeky. Then we saw this Star Trek USB Communicator and it all became clear… simply add USB.   Connect this exact replica of the communicator from “The Original Series” to your computer and enjoy the classic “chirp” sound when it’s flipped open. It also plays 21 other sounds effects when not being used to chat with your Starfleet friends via Skype, MSN, AIM, or iChat.  It is also perfect for a weekly Star Trek podcast.  The possibilities are endless.  $34.99 from Think Geek

USB Rocket Launcher | I never thought I needed one of these until a co-worker (and occasional reader) turned down my office thermostat so low that I almost froze to death a couple of weeks ago.  This thing has a 360 turning radius and will fire foam rockets 6 metres

Star Trek Ornaments from Hallmark | I had never heard of these until my friend Dave King posted some photos of the U.S.S. Reliant exploring his Christmas tree a couple of years ago.

This year one of the three ornaments offered are of the 2009 version of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  It is designed by Lynn Norton who has sculpted many of the best Hallmark ornaments during the previous 19 years. The ornament is 6 inches long and includes lights on the deflector dish and engines. It’s 34.99 and available from Hallmark stores across the continent.

This LED Beverage Cooler is retro styled and has a small blue LED inside. The LED helps your drink stay cool by tricking it to think the air inside the cooler is from the Arctic, because everyone knows that blue lights make you feel cold. So add a little style to your desk and keep your drink cold at the same time.  $19.99 from Think Geek.

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.