Your Future, Your Choice

Some family of mine sent me this book recently: Your Future, Your Choice: Christian Character in a Changing Economy, by Kerry J. Koller. It’s short, and covers the basics of how this guy thinks Christians should relate to money and the economy. Much of it was straight forward—don’t have lots of credit card debt, for example. But there were a few interesting ideas that don’t show up in other personal-finance type books.

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review: The 300

I went to see “The 300” tonight at a sold out theater in Manhattan. The movie is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, which I managed to read just an hour or so before the movie.

The primary things I want to say about the film are:

  • Stylistically, it is very much like the graphic novel. In fact, a very many scenes are almost exactly what I imagined when I read the novel. This is a good thing. Lots of beautifully bloody and bad-ass slow-motion battle shots.
  • They made up some battle scenes with big ogrey guys for the movie. No problems here.
  • Oddly, the massive amounts of violence didn’t bother me much. However,
    there were a few scenes where they went a bit too far.
  • There’s not a whole lot of story in either the book or the movie. However, there’s more in the movie than the book. Primarily, the filmmakers added a side story about Leonidas’ wife (Leonidas being the king, the main character). They also added a political agenda: discourse along the lines of “freedom isn’t free”, “support the troops”, “finish the job”, “congress sucks for opposing the increase of troops in Iraq”.. well they obviously didn’t say that last bit but they might as well have. This particularly bothered me because I felt it subtracted significantly from Frank Miller’s original portrayal of the reason, freedom, and justice pose struck by the Spartans.
  • (minor spoiler) One interesting detail conspicuously missing from the movie: in the book, when Ephialtes, the betrayer, finds out by speaking with the king that he is not worthy of being a Spartan warrior, he jumps off a cliff in an effort to kill himself. He does not quite die, and then drags himself to his feet again to perform his betrayal. In the film, he does not try to kill himself at all–he instead immediately turns bitter and gets the idea to betray the Spartans. I thought the suicide was an important illustration of the depth of the warrior Spartan image. I’m not sure why it was left out–perhaps because they wanted to make Ephialtes more clearly a badguy.

In conclusion, I have to say that the made up plot points and political agenda turned me off significantly to what could have been a truly original and fine piece of work. Read the graphic novel; I felt that part was a valuable experience. Stay away from the film, or at least wait until it’s netflixed. It doesn’t deserve your $10.

xootr customer service for teh win!

I have a xootr mg. It’s a love-hate relationship; it’s a great ride, but it breaks in one way or another fairly frequently.

On the latest break, two screws wiggled loose and got lost. The scooter still rides but the handlebar clamp is loose and probably won’t stay on forever in this state. I sent xootr service the following email:


To: service@xootr.com
Subject: need little screws for handlebar clamp

Hi,

My xootr has lost the screws that live inside the handlebar clamp. I
don't need or want to change the entire clamp, but I need the two
screws that go in the front. I've attached a picture to describe what
I'm talking about. Can I buy just those from you?

Thanks,
XXXX

What sort of response would you expect from your favorite merchant? I was thinking of one of two things: either “please buy an entire new handlebar clamp kit” ($20 plus shipping, IIRC), or “okay, that’ll be x dollars”. The actual response follows:


Subject: RE: need little screws for handlebar clamp

Hi XXXX.

Let me have your address and I will send some immediately.

Best,

Steve

Radical. I like small companies, and I like companies that respect their customers. Yay Xootr.

Review of Practical OCaml

At work, we’re always interested in interesting OCaml developments. This is why we were very excited when a new book on OCaml came out, in english no less! (The O’Reilly OCaml book was originally published in French, but now there’s an english translation online). The prospects were great. How did it actually come out, you ask?

Title: Practical OCaml

Author: Joshua B. Smith

Technical Reviewer: Richard Jones, of Merjis
Publisher: Apress, part of the Practical series (which published, notably, Practical Common Lisp)

Pages: 456

Published: 2006

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