AIG Bonuses

Everyone is putting up their 2 cents about the AIGFP bonuses. So here is my little 2 cents — 1 cent, really, since I don’t have time to pontificate:

– It is pretty bad because these CDOs and credit default swaps are going to destroy the world economy and AIG was the primary peddler of these little toys. There is also a huge scam going on right now with the secondary recipients that makes me cringe.
– However, these were contractually given their bonuses.
– It is explicitly unconstitutional in the United States for Congress or any legislative body to levy an punitive tax to a specific group.
– They should have their bonuses.
– But nothing says the names and size of reward cannot be published on the front page of the Washington Post.
– I agree with Planet Money — the Administration has bigger issues. They should not even give lip service to any issue less than, say, $10 billion right now. $100 million is a tiny drop in an enormous river. Let it go, let the talking heads have outrage, move on.

Amigurumi!

I buy yarn and turn it into stuffies!

I have made several things — scarves, mostly — but they haven’t been terribly interesting. Katie really liked the one I made for my Mom but otherwise they’ve just been scarves.

Then I decided to graduate to much more difficult crochet and started making amigurumi! These stuffies are tons of fun to make and they’re utterly adorable when they’re done. The first one I completed was a purple octopus but I didn’t have plastic eyes yet so I had to make the eyes. He turned out pretty good, and I am likely going to make him a pal. Katie immediately kidnapped him and now the purple octopus lives in Katie’s bed.

The more impressive amigurumi I made was the pink bunny in the white dress. The dress came out so-so, but the bunny came out spectacularly adorable. I can always make another dress, or a couple of dresses. The bunny is small and squeezable. By tomorrow morning, the bunny will also be stolen.

I love yarn you can squeeze! Yay!

Watchmen

I have always liked the Watchmen graphic novel, although I have to confess that of all of Alan Moore’s work, From Hell was always my favorite. Or maybe the Green Lantern short story, “Mogo Does Not Socialize.”

Watchmen is essentially unfilmable in its complete form unless it has a 13-part HBO mini-series. It has too much stuff. And I don’t mean just the pirate story that was left on the cutting room floor: extended character backgrounds, extended backgrounds of characters within characters, sub-characters with full backgrounds, side stories, everything that makes Watchmen.

Zach Snyder did, what I felt, was the best possible job he could have with the material in two and a half hours — and it is a full two and a half hours. He stripped Watchmen down to the main story, he gave as much background as he could, and he filmed the essential panels. Jackie Earle Haley is awesome as Rorschach. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a great Comedian. The opening credit sequence does a great job of summing up huge swaths of the graphic novel. It is a distilled Watchmen. It is a more faithful adaptation than his adaptation of the 300 simply because he didn’t need to pad out the material with extra story. It preserved dialogue. It even preserved the pacing and scene transitions.

And being a big comic nerd I am, I greatly enjoyed the very faithful adaptation, and I understand there is only so much Watchmen one can cram into the two and a half hour time frame. I will buy the three and a half hour version with all the cut parts put back in and the reams of director’s commentary.

DinkyScope

One of Katie’s very first words was “Moon.”  She’s been fascinated with the moon, and now Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars, since she could point up at the sky and point out that there were holes up there through which light passes.  We figured she was old enough to understand basic instructions, so we were bad and bought her a present.

We bought Katie her very first piece of serious scientific equipment, the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian telescope. It’s an interesting scope because Orion advertises it as their starter/kids pack to get kids started.  It costs just as much as a crappy refractor from the Mall but it’s a real scope that can do real scope-like things. And sure, she’s only 4, but one cannot be too little to have a telescope!

Here’s what we have learned in the whole 6 hours from owning this scope:

– It is an awesome scope for the price.  The scope is only $200.  Because a Dob is just a light bucket, Dobs are cheap.  They have high mirrors – cost ratios.  The one doesn’t have any electronics, but it is exceptionally well built, sturdy, and all the gears work like they have been greased with butter.

– It was easy to lift, easy to set up, and took about 5 minutes to get going and shooting things.

– Even without the mirrors properly aligned, I took it out, put it on the driveway, got it pointed at the Moon (in daylight!) and let Katie see the Moon through the eyepiece.  This was a moment of extreme excitement.  It wasn’t even a full Moon, or in the dark, or with one of our high-quality eyepieces.

– If I had this Dob, even without electronics, when I was a kid I would still be in the backyard.

– This is seriously making me consider one of the big Dobs with all the electronics and gears. We have a Mak-Cass and it is awesome but it is mostly for planetary viewing.  The big Dobs will get you the best Hercules Globular Cluster you’ve ever seen where you can make out about 10,000 stars.

If you have a little kid and you want to get out and look at the planets and the Moon and some real easy to find deep field objects, this is a hell of a piece of starter equipment.  It’s a ton of telescope for the price, and it’s good for Mom and Dad, too.