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Public Service Announcement: Six is a Serious Number

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:39 AM

Just in case you've forgotten, every time the Cardinals score six, Mobil on the Run has discounted fountain drinks and coffee. The price has risen to fifty cents (for any size), but it is still a generous deal and On the Run has quite good brewed coffee.

Legends are Born in October

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:18 AM

Last year's slogan for the Postseason seems apropos tonight as the Birds on the Bat managed to again do what they did so memorably last year: reach the final strike on the final out of Postseason elimination and come back in triumph. Not just a repeat though, recovering from an apparently hopeless 0-6 hole gives this team a new legend to chirp about: such a recovery has never been done before in this sort of situation.

The road to 12 in 12 continues onward. I'm excited.

Back in Action

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:57 AM

Nice to see the Red Birds are acting like their usual selves again:

Four innings after his 12-pitch walk sparked the Cardinals go-ahead rally in the game, Robinson lofted a two-run homer on the second pitch of an at-bat in the seventh inning to put the game away. The Cardinals finished their 10-game, 11-day trek with a 14-2 romp against Houston at Minute Maid Park. It meant for the first time on the journey they had won a series and it was the difference between returning to Busch Stadium on a 3-7 plunge or a two-game winning streak.

14 is an even more serious number.

Teller on Magic

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:51 AM

Smithsonian Magazine has an insightful article on magic written by Teller of Penn and Teller:

But magic's not easy to pick apart with machines, because it's not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic's about understanding””and then manipulating””how viewers digest the sensory information.

Later on, he refers to magic as an art. Given his description here, I think he has a point. Today, we typically think in terms of inputs and outputs: if I insert $x materials, I should get $y widgets. A magic act, though, isn't about raw materials, but what you make of them. The trick may be illusion, but it isn't merely illusion. We are delighted to be misguided when watching a magic trick. It achieves something more than the sum of its parts. In a similar way, more traditional forms of art — painting, writing and the like — may often seem superfluous, but there is a lot going on beyond what we immediately register.

The Voice, Week 4

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:43 AM

The Voice has been off to a great start this year. If you haven't started watching it yet, you really ought to give it a whirl on YouTube. Good singers and an overall good show.

The Voice

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:39 AM

Surprisingly, I have been looking forward to watching TV tonight for a very long time. Anyone who knows me knows that is rather odd. But, in this case, I've been looking forward to what was on tonight since last June. No, I didn't watch the Super Bowl — I tuned in afterwards to watch the Voice.

It is going to be incredibly hard for this season to replicate what made the first season so good, but it got off to a great start tonight. If you missed out the first time around, you should tune in for the second night of blind auditions tomorrow night. I suppose technically this show fits into the reality/talent show genre, but I love that it is centered around talented people actually performing (and being encouraged) as opposed to tearing apart folks.

Matthew Broderick's Day Off

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:46 AM

Honda has brought a decidedly Buellerish Matthew Broderick in for its Super Bowl ad. It is very well done, down to the very close of the commercial, which those of us who bother to watch ending credits can appreciate.

Netflix Raises Rates by 77% in a Year

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 8:27 PM

From the Netflix blog:

Now we offer a choice: Unlimited Streaming for $7.99 a month, Unlimited DVDs for $7.99 a month, or both for $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). We think $7.99 is a terrific value for our unlimited streaming plan and $7.99 a terrific value for our unlimited DVD plan. We hope one, or both, of these plans makes sense for our members and their entertainment needs.

The new $7.99 plan sans streaming is a decent idea for those who will never use streaming, but remember that up until last November, the plan with both streaming and DVDs-by-mail cost just $8.99. Netflix's blog entry is somewhat misleading when it says “Last November when we launched our $7.99 unlimited streaming plan, DVDs by mail was treated as a $2 add on to our unlimited streaming plan.” The statement is factually true, but it obscures the fact that existing customers who wanted to keep the same level of service saw a $1/month price increase (and given that so much of Netflix's catalogue is still unavailable for streaming, the bundle is still their most attractive plan).

Still, a buck a month is the sort of thing most people will absorb and ignore. I think nudging it up another dollar or two a year later would also have been OK. But, a 77% price hike in less than a year is overly bold. It is enough of an increase to reach the “let's reassess if I need this” category. I'm guessing I won't be the only one to pull the plug on my Netflix service when September rolls around.

Now would be a good time for Apple to announce its oft rumored Netflix competitor. I wonder what Netflix alternatives people will primarily be switching to?

The Matrix

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 8:00 AM

Well, eleven years later, I finally watched the Matrix. The symbolism and allegory are fascinating. In the realm of drama and story, it seems like allegory is an under appreciated form, albeit one that is still richly rewarding. It is nice to see it used.

I think it is one of those films I will need to chew on for awhile. I cannot say I ever had much of a desire to see it… But I think it was good that I now have.

Olympics are Whizzing By

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:05 AM

Is it just me, or are the Beijing games going by really quickly? It seems like the opening ceremony was just the other day, and now most of my favorite events have passed. Gymnastic events are my favorites of the Olympiad, although this year swimming may have landed on top (how could it not with Phelps?). I always hate to see the Olympics go by! But, London will come all too fast — it seems as if Athens was only the other day.

How much life can change in four years…

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