Target Centermass

10/3/2006

Entertainment Quick-hitters

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:00 pm

First, a reminder that Battlestar Galactica, the best show currently on TV, starts its third season in just three days. For those who haven’t heard, SciFi has created a series of BSG webisodes, nine of which have been released to date, that bridge the gap between the second and third seasons. Webisode one can be found here.

Second, it’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be the beginning of the tenth season of South Park. Hat tip to Trying to Grok for this lengthy but interesting behind-the-scenes look at the show’s secrets.

10/2/2006

New Legislation May Pull Plug on Online Gambling

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:51 pm

In a word, stupid.

The $12 billion online gambling industry could turn into a house of cards now that the Congress has passed a law banning the use of credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers for Internet gaming, industry experts warn.

President Bush is expected to sign the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which makes it illegal for banks, credit card companies and online payment systems to process payment to online gambling companies.

Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee tacked the bill on to the popular Safe Port Act bill on Saturday, before Congress went into recess for November’s elections.

The surprise passage of the law threw the online gambling industry into a tailspin Monday. Shares of publicly traded companies PartyGaming, Sportingbet and 888 Holdings tumbled in heavy trading on the London Stock Exchange, wiping out nearly $8 billion in market value. PartyGaming, the world’s largest online-gambling company, said it will stop taking bets from 920,000 active U.S. customers as soon as Bush signs the proposed law. Sportingbet said it is calling off its bid for World Gaming.

Shares in the publicly traded PartyGaming plunged 60% to 81 cents on the British market and 888 Holdings said it is suspending online betting operations in the USA. Its shares tanked 48% to $1.42 on the British market.

Sportingbet, which gleans more than half its business in the USA, said the bill’s impact is unclear. Sportingbet shares slumped 67% to $1.12 on the British market.

“This develop is a significant setback for our company, our shareholders, our players and our industry,” said Mitch Garber, PartyGaming’s CEO.

The federal government has been cracking down on Internet betting on sports, poker and other casino games that it considers illegal under the 1961 Wire Act. Considering that American bettors generate 50%-60% of industrywide revenue, many operators will be forced to either cash in their chips and go out of business or sell or merge with another provider, experts say.

Roughly half the estimated 500 companies operating 2,300 gambling websites across the Caribbean, Central America and Europe could be wiped out, predicts Sue Schneider, publisher of Interactive Gaming News. The survivors will have to make do on sharply reduced revenue, while seeking ways around the U.S. ban and building up their business in Asia.

After the bill is signed, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will have 270 days to determine how the law will be enforced.

Most credit card companies already ban customers from paying gaming sites as the result of a settlement between New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and several major credit card issuers a few years ago.

[…]

Unfortunately for players, the companies eliminated in the shakeout are more likely to be publicly traded operators that answer to regulators in Britain than privately held firms more likely disappear into the ether of the Web, warns Linda Goldstein, a partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

“The upshot is the legislation will drive away larger, more reputable gaming operators, leaving consumers with less reliable options,” says Ken Dreifach, an Internet lawyer who once worked for Spitzer. That could expose consumers to more fraudulent operators, he says.

Some gambling advocates are opting to continue fighting the good fight.

Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, says he’ll seek congressional support for a legislative exception for online poker, similar to the carve-outs for fantasy sports, horse racing and state lotteries in the proposed law. Bolcerek argues poker is a uniquely American sport, enjoyed by 23 million Americans.

“We believe poker is a skill game that should be separated from other forms of gambling,” he says.

Yeah, good luck with that in the face of a federal government that is only seeking to protect its citizens from themselves. In his own words, Frist makes it abundantly clear that this is his driving motivation behind the legislation.

Gambling is a serious addiction that undermines the family, dashes dreams, and frays the fabric of society. Congress has grappled with this issue for 10 years, and during that time we’ve watched this shadow industry explode.

This is not the Gipper’s GOP, and neither is it the GOP that was spearheaded by Newt Gingrich and his 1994 Contract with America. No, this is the GOP that often sickens me with its big-government ways. Ah, but for a viable, genuinely conservative alternative that would work more resolutely on protecting me from expansionist and murderous radical Islamists than protecting me from going all-in with a low pair. Unfortunately, that certainly ain’t the Democrats.

9/6/2006

Femtroopers?

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:59 pm

Perhaps these can salvage my heart-felt fondness for the Star Wars saga that I thought to be forever shredded by the travesties that were the prequels.

Hat tip to Lex, though he seems almost ashamed to post it. As for me, I say clone ’em.

9/4/2006

Crocodile Hunter Died ‘Doing What He Loved’

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:46 pm

Crikey!

Tributes from around the world are flowing in for Steve Irwin, the enthusiastic Australian “Crocodile Hunter” who enthralled audiences around the world with his wildlife adventures.

Irwin died Monday morning after being attacked by a stingray while shooting a TV program off Australia’s north coast.

Irwin’s manager and friend John Stainton said Irwin died doing what he loved — filming life in the wild.

[…]

Irwin was snorkeling at Batt Reef, a part of the Great Barrier Reef offshore from the town of Port Douglas, when the incident happened.

“He came over the top of a stingray that was buried in the sand, and the barb came up and hit him in the chest,” Stainton said.

[…]

Irwin was in the area to film pieces for a show called “The Ocean’s Deadliest” with Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques, according to Stainton.

But weather had prevented the crew from doing work for that program, Stainton said, so Irwin decided to do some softer features for a new children’s TV show he was doing with his daughter, Bindi.

Wildlife documentary maker Ben Cropp, citing a colleague who saw footage of the attack, told Time.com that Irwin had accidentally boxed the stingray in. “It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest,” said Cropp. “It’s a defensive thing. It’s like being stabbed with a dirty dagger.”

Irwin was pulled from the water by a cameraman and boat crewman. He died as he was being rushed to a nearby island for emergency treatment. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

[…]

“The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet,” Stainton told reporters in Cairns, according to The Associated Press. “He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, ‘Crocs Rule!’ “

What a freakish way for such a legendary figure to die.

The Animal Planet network has issued a statement and set up a forum for condolences to the Irwin family. Currently, the forum is unreachable because of high traffic.

UPDATE: Mr. Irwin had two blessings in his life — doing what he was absolutely passionate about and touching the lives of others. His body of work, of which I’m sure we’ll see plenty in the upcoming days, stands as witness for the former; for the latter, I’d like to submit this very personal remembrance from Jack M., blogging in Ace‘s digs.

8/31/2006

Trekkies, Intriguing News for Ya

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:08 pm

The Original Series is coming back … sort of.

Star Trek purists, take a deep breath! On Sept. 16, the iconic ‘60s series will return to syndication for the first time since 1990, but with a startling difference: All 79 episodes are being digitally remastered with computer-generated effects not possible when Gene Roddenberry created the show 40 years ago. The news could cause Roddenberry loyalists to have a collective cow, but the longtime Trek staffers in charge of the makeover say they’re honoring the late maestro’s vision, not changing it.

“We’re taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original,” says Michael Okuda, who spent 18 years as a scenic-art supervisor on Star Trek films and spin-offs. “Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would Roddenberry have done with today’s technology?”

[…]

The upgraded episodes — to be shown out of order and one per week — will kick off with “Balance of Terror,” a big fan favorite “that gives us a chance to really show off the ‘new’ Enterprise,” says Okuda. “The exterior of the ship now has depth and detail, and it will fly more dynamically.” Painted backdrops will also be brought to life: Once-empty star bases will have CGI people milling about, while static alien landscapes have been given slow-moving clouds and shimmering water.

Okay, I’m in, as long as it doesn’t conflict with BSG.

Hat tip to Cranky over at the Buffet, who adds the following after noting that the intro theme will also be redone:

No word yet whether the da-ta-da-da-da-da-DA-dot-tot-DA-da hand to hand combat music will be affected.

I believe that he is referring to this:

8/22/2006

Today’s Dump o’ Links

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:17 pm

All courtesy of the fine sites on my blogroll.

Fox Journalists Still Missing: Malkin Calls for a Blogburst

Sowell: Point of No Return? (Hat tip for this must-read to Rightwingsparkle)

Hezbollah sinks Australian warship (Hat tip to Argghhh!!!)

The Many Faces of Belgian Fascism (Hat tip to CDR Salamander, who adds other related links and some thoughts of his own)

Steyn: World is Watching as Iraq War Tests U.S. Mettle (Hat tip to Alan at Petrified Truth, who also has an interesting look at geysers on Mars)

Three Iranian factories ‘mass-produce bombs to kill British in Iraq’ (Hat tip to Richard at Hyscience who closes with the key question in just about any story these days involving Iran)

And on a lighter note … Bill Watterson’s Rarest (Hat tip to JohnL at TexasBestGrok, who adds a few thoughts and other links on the greatness that will always be Calvin and Hobbes

8/14/2006

Miscellaneous Links o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:20 pm

The 25 Greatest PCs of All Time [hat tip to Viking Pundit, whom I agree with about the absence of the TI-99/4A, the first computer that sucked away any of my time. To that I add the Commodore 64 to the notably missing.]

Funny Star Trek motivational posters [hat tip to TexasBestGrok]

While we’re at it, how about some genuine demotivational posters for sale? They’ve been around for awhile, but I’ve always enjoyed the sarcasm available at Despair, Inc.

College football is right around the corner — here’s your chance to grab a Texas A&M Hawaiian shirt or a set of A&M scrubs (for those unfortunate souls with ties elsewhere, feel free to check here and here respectively).

Also around the corner: the best show currently on TV returns for its third season on Oct. 6, less than eight weeks from today.

Speaking of BSG, Noooooo!!! Say it ain’t so, Trapper, say it ain’t so.

4/27/2006

Sci-Fi Announces BSG Prequel

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:52 pm

Sci-Fi channel has announced plans for a new prequel series to the best show on television today, Battlestar Galactica.

Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better.

But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot: a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the Battlestar Galactica), Caprica will weave together corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television’s first science fiction family saga, the channel announced.

Okay, I’m intrigued in the Caprica concept … a bit. Hat tip to Dean, who greets the news with even less enthusiasm.

Trapper at the Unofficial Battlestar Galactica Blog, a great resource for news, episode reviews and commentary, has a mixed reaction on the news.

I am really trying to figure out if this is good or bad. Sure more sci-fi is a good thing, but three seasons in? It seems a tad ambitious… Sure I will watch the hell out of both shows, but still… I can’t help but think it is a bit premature. I don’t think I have ever heard of a show that split its time lines being on the air at the same time. Stargate is parallel. Star Trek was parallel. This is going to be crazy!

At least Trapper will probably have a little bit more material to work with for a while.

4/4/2006

DeLay Calls It Quits on Re-election, House

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:54 pm

I don’t feel enough about this story is known yet to comment strongly, though I do feel that Rep. Tom DeLay was demonized for a willingness to successfully play hardball while Republican. Still, much more may come out about this during ethics investigations and his indictments at the hand of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, so for now I’ll settle for a little all-Texas link dump.

Houston Chronicle: DeLay says prospect of losing led him to step down

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay decided more than a week ago to resign his seat, disappointed with the margin of his Republican primary victory and looking at poll numbers that showed he might lose the seat in November, he said today.

[…]

His internal polling showed he had a 50-50 chance of winning in November, he said.

“The district was very polarized,” he said. “I had strong support and strong opposition.”

He would have had to draw votes of moderate Republicans and independents, he said.

“Why risk it, when we can save the seat?,” he said. The district leans Republican. “I’m incredibly confident I’m not leaving the 22nd District in jeopardy.”

Former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson is the Democratic nominee for the 22nd congressional district seat.

Lampson, whom DeLay has long lampooned as the “Hollywood” candidate because of his financial support from Democrats outside the state who oppose DeLay, will see that money supply dry up if he’s running against less of a lightning rod than DeLay, the congressman predicted.

“He’s got enough to run a campaign right now, but it’s not going to be a referendum on me,” DeLay said. “He has to defend his voting record.”

DeLay, the subject of more ethics investigations than any other member of Congress, has been under increasing pressure from a sprawling investigation into political corruption that grew out of the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff, with whom he had close political ties.

The ongoing investigation has an impact on him politically.

“I’m a realist and understand that,” he said. “But all they have is guilt by association. I’ve served honestly and ethically. I’ve never broken a law or a House rule.”

DeLay said he’s not going away, but will fight for conservative causes in a different arena. And he says he will work to elect a conservative Republican as his successor.

Houston Chronicle: Many show interest in seat

Familiar and lesser-known political names emerged Monday night as possible contenders for the congressional seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay.

Those who acknowledged interest in the seat or were mentioned as contenders included Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, state Rep. Robert Talton, Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, former state District Judge John Devine and lawyer Tom Campbell, who ran against DeLay in the March Republican Primary.

Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill said he started receiving calls from interested officials within minutes of hearing the news of DeLay’s decision.

“Numerous people have called me inquiring about the seat,” he said.

Other phones also were ringing as politicians gauged potential support or heard from backers.

“I’ve had a number of calls this evening. I’ll visit with my family and look at the process,” Eckels said. “I do have an interest in at least looking at the race.”

He said that his experience coordinating the local response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left him frustrated with the federal government and its impact on local issues.

Sugar Land Mayor Wallace said he got wind of DeLay’s decision over the weekend and began organizing a campaign.

“I’m running for that spot,” Wallace said Monday night.

“It is going to be a sprint. We have been working this weekend and today kind of organizing our campaign making sure we pull together a grass-roots team,” Wallace said.

[…]

Sekula-Gibbs, who lives in Clear Lake, said she has received several calls from local Republicans asking her if she would be interested in the seat.

“I’m saddened that the congressman has decided to step down, but I’m interested in the position,” she said. “I’m definitely giving it very serious consideration.”

Campbell, who came in a distant second with 30 percent of the vote in the March primary, said he still wants the position.

“I believe that Tom DeLay did the right thing in stepping aside and allowing the Republican Party to move forward,” Campbell said.

[…]

A special election to fill the remainder of DeLay’s term likely will be held on the next uniform election date, which is in May. Gov. Rick Perry will set the date.

It was unclear Monday night how Republicans will select a November nominee to replace DeLay, who won the GOP primary in March.

“We’ve never had this happen in a congressional race,” Woodfill said. “We’ll have a little bit of time to figure it out. We have our lawyers looking at it.”

At issue is whether the responsibility for selecting a nominee falls to the 62-member state Republican Executive Committee or to GOP officials in the five counties that lie partly within the 22nd Congressional District.

“It’s in our best interest to choose a nominee before the special election. Otherwise, the election is going to be a free-for-all,” Woodfill said. “The situation you don’t want is for our nominee to be someone different than the person who runs for the special.”

DeLay is expected to resign officially sometime after April 7 and move to Virginia to work with a conservative organization.

That would make him ineligible to run despite his nomination, opening the way for party officials to select another nominee, Woodfill said.

Petrified Truth: DeLay out?

DeLay has outlived his usefulness in advancing the conservative cause, but I do hate to see moonbat Austin D.A. Ronnie Earle get even part of what he wanted.

TexasRainmaker: Tom Delay Sacrifices Himself for Conservative Cause

Delay certainly understood that the campaign would be a rough one. He’s also an experienced student of the numbers and realized that for the first time in 22 years he would have a real fight on his hands. But he also realized that fight wasn’t about constituents of District 22, but rather Delay himself. There’s sure to be much speculation surrounding his decision…

But I think it just insures a Republican keeps the seat. His opponent, Nick Lampson has already been defeated down here and was only campaigning on the “Tom Delay is evil” mantra.

Rightwingsparkle: Tom Delay will resign

I never liked Delay. I can’t really say why. God knows he isn’t as bad as many in Congress and he was right on most of the issues, but there was just something that didn’t seem right with him. He was just a bit too slick for me. I never liked Newt Gingrich either. I get my vibes about people and I stay with them. I always seem to be right.

Here’s hoping for better leadership.

The Fire Ant Gazette: …

[Quiet on the DeLay story, but Eric does note with reservation that Peter Jackson is making a movie based on the Halo video game. Just thought I’d throw in that tidbit]

3/23/2006

About That Galactica Season Two Finale

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:48 pm
Frak Baltar!

Hat tip to Ace. Buttons now available from the folks at glarkware, who also offer this sweet cylon shirt.

While I’m thinking about it and haven’t pimped it in a while, it’s good to see the Unofficial Battlestar Galactica Blog is still going strong.

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