Tuesday, May 30, 2006

English First?

I saw The da Vinci Code Sunday. It was OK. Not spectacular. There are plenty of websites devoted to the factual errors and misrepresentations in the story, so I'll leave that to others. Here's my complaint, and I haven't seen others posting on this thought: All the clues that they find, like the poem in the box and the keyword for the cryptex, whether devised by Leonardo himself or perhaps by the Frenchman who dies in the film, are IN ENGLISH. That's just stupid. Convenient, but stupid. It should have been in Latin or French.

Ah well. I rather liked the scene where they were walking to the church and talking about Newton's funeral. You could see the ghostly figures attending that funeral in period clothing. I'm not describing it well but it was a nice effect.

As a side note, I'm amazed at the slew of books and websites that exist in response to this story. I was an at the bookstore this evening and saw a tableful of them. The two that made me laugh were Freemasonry for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Masons. Both books' authors claim to be Masons. I looked through one of them and I have to say that the author was much more free about explaining the symbolism and beliefs of the Masons than any Mason I ever knew about! So I wonder if they're really Masons.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

And God said...

Pat Robertson says God told him there will be hurricanes that hit the US coast this year. "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. Wow, Pat! You're a true profit--um, prophet. If you heard the Lord right? Yeah, the Lord mumbles sometimes. However, He gave me the scoop on lunar eclipses: the Americas will see total eclipses on March 3, 2007; Feb 21, 2008; July 7 & August 10, 2009; July 26 & December 21, 2010. I guess that makes me a prophet too.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No sympathy for the devil

I'm very annoyed that yet another violent murderer has been given a reprieve from his execution. The courts are trying to decide whether lethal injection is so painful that it constitutes cruel and unusual punshment. Give me a break. Perhaps you could deaden the pain with a bullet in the head.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Internet is Their Playground

Producers of the popular television program Lost have created a fake corporate website for The Hanso Foundation, a company presumably featured in the story (I don't watch the show, so I have no idea). Although the purpose of the web site is ostensibly to inform people about the Foundation and its efforts, in fact it is a "game" referred to as "The Lost Experience," designed to lure in Lost fanatics hoping for some insight into the secrets behind the show's murky history.

It reminds me a lot of the 1985 Activision game Hacker, which purported to offer the user an interface to a secretive company with a malfunctioning security system. Armed with a password, you start worming your way in, gaining access to secret documents and sensitive information. This works the same way but it's on a massive, massive scale. The game is supposed to be based on, but independent of, the show.

ABC has been airing television ads for the Hanson Foundation, even though it's not a real company. The ad includes a phone number. If you call the number you get the initial password to get into the site. A newspaper ad has been printed as a PSA in some parts of the country, responding to a book that puts them in a negative light. The book appears to be real and orderable on Amazon, even though the author himself is as fictional as the story. In addition to the Hanso Foundation's main site, there are sites for ancillary companies such as Oceanic Air that may or may not be officially affiliated with the game. The problem is, anyone on the internet could set up a fake-out web site to mislead people trying to "solve" the game. There's no way to tell if what you're reading is a part of the game or someone's elaborate hoax to throw you off. Another problem is that the writers intend to drag this game out over the summer, so information and clues are trotted out incrementally. In other words, it's not solvable right now. You have to wait for the next clue.

For these reasons, I don't think I'll have the patience to stay with it. But if you're inteterested, here are some related sites (or at least, some that purport to be related!)