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27 July 2009 @ 01:33 am
Starting now, byoolin's trebuchet will be over at Blogger.com. Be sure to update your bookmarks (hahahahahhah!).

[Dear blah, blah, blah, etc.]

I recently received a notice from your department advising me that “after careful consideration,” you've decided to lower my credit limit. Fair enough; that's certainly your prerogative, and, really, I'm not complaining.

I'm sure it's purely coincidental that your letter was dated only two days after the outstanding balance on my card was paid in full, after having been at or near its limit since May of 2007. I am sure that the strain on your company's resources from this oversight was barely covered by the interest charges ranging from 25% to 32% annually for more than two years on a balance in excess of $2,000 and applaud your efforts to get your house in order. Indeed, it was only through similar efforts on my part – controlling my own spending and making diligent efforts to pay down my own debt, to name two – that I am now able to say that all my credit card balances are at or very close to zero, and that what I call my “total available credit” is higher than it has been in at least two years.

Which brings me back to your letter of July 17. I'm not sure how your organization calculates “total available credit,” but how I do it is to look at the available credit on card A and on card B and so on. I add up all those numbers and I call that my “total available credit.” I can perform a similar exercise to calculate what I call my “total bankcards balances.”

And this is where I get confused: according to your letter, the two “primary reasons” my limit was lowered was because my “total bankcards balances [were] too high compared to credit limits” and that my “total available credit” was too low. As I've just explained, my balances are actually lower and my available credit is actually higher than they've been in ages.

Now, I'm not saying you lowered my limit because you've already figured out that the tap from which I've been sending you roughly a hundred bucks a month for two years has been turned off, but you can see how people might read it that way, right?

Nothing could be further from the truth, I'm sure. It's kind of the like the way you might misconstrue my saying that I've found other providers offering more competitive rates as sounding like a complaint about getting hosed by you guys.

I hope we can still be friends, albeit in a “you won't use me and I won't use you” kind of way from now on.

[Yours blah, blah, blah, etc.]

25 July 2009 @ 11:14 am
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was asked about the the arrest by a white Cambridge Police officer of Harvard University Professor and black man Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct as he tried to break into his own house. The Governor said it was "every black man's nightmare and a reality for many black men".

The Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Police, Jimmy Machado, responded that "it's shameful to play into the hate and the racial tensions that are out there in America."

Speaking of those racial tensions, what a wacky coincidence that a Harvard student named Seth Bannon just happened to take a picture of another Cambridge cop getting into his SUV - the one with the license plates reading "WHY TEE". And what a wacky coincidence that WHY TEE rhymes with WHITEY! Hahahahaha!

I suppose the officer's plate could be an existential question about golf.

But really, a cop playing golf? Why, that's even less likely than a black man living in a nice house in the Boston suburbs, isn't it?

22 July 2009 @ 08:08 am
Just about everyone who knows me knows that I am an atheist and that I've been one just about as long as I can remember. What they may not know, however, is that I'm a little bit arrogant about it. My wife, the Lovely Mrs. byoolin's trebuchet, noticed this early in our relationship and brought it to my attention.

"Just because you don't believe in God doesn't mean you're smarter than people who do," she said.

"But I am," I said, cleverly.

As you might well imagine, this line of discussion continues from time to time and remains unresolved.

Then again, it's hard not to feel superior when you've got people who think the pattern in the bird shit on their pickup truck is an image of the Virgin Mary and when "a steady stream of family, friends, neighbors and strangers has stopped by to pray" over it.

Image Of Virgin Mary Appears In Bird Dropping On Area Family’s TruckCollapse )

They say that John Dillinger's penis is stored somewhere at the Smithsonian. It's not, which is a shame, because if it were there might have been an interesting movie made about it. As it is, though, we're left with Michael Mann's Dillinger picture “Public Enemies,” which is neither about Dillinger's penis nor the least bit interesting.

Mann seems to have utterly forgotten how to direct a movie. To say his characters are one-dimensional is to overstate their geometry and to say they're unsympathetic is to imply an emotional response to any of them. Not only is there no tension between any two characters, there's none between any two scenes, either. The movie trundles along in its internal chronological order with all the excitement of the digits changing on an odometer. (I initially wrote “digital watch” instead of “odometer,” but with the watch there was the tension of wondering just when the movie was going to end.)

There's been some notice taken of the attention to detail in the film - Mann redressed North Lincoln Avenue near the Biograph Theater in Chicago to the point of reinstalling long-gone streetcar tracks - and some inaccuracies have also been pointed out, but those details become academic if the movie is, as this one is, boring.

And the cast wasn't really given much to work with. Johnny Depp walks around managing to look a little like the real Dillinger while looking just like Johnny Depp. Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette, played by Marion Cotillard, is pretty enough, but she doesn't do anything. It was nice, though, to hear Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis speak in something other than a John Connor/Batman whisper for a change.

It's nicely photographed - Mann knows how to set up a shot. There are a few beautifully filmic moments, such as when one of the bad guys is gunned down by Purvis's G-men during a night-time car chase. The camera, at ground level, looks over the dying gangster toward the backlit Purvis. A last puff of smoke from the criminal's spent submachine gun curls up into the light at the same time as the vapour from his last breath does.

But it all comes back to this: nothing much happens. Dillinger talks to Billie, J. Edgar Hoover talks to Purvis. Then some Tommy guns go off and a car races into the night. Lather, rinse, repeat, until Dillinger's luck runs, as we know it must, out.

Unfortunately for us, that luck's exit was preceded by our interest forty or fifty minutes earlier.