Monthly Archives: March 2007

Pardon me: are those Spartan abs under your jacket and tie?

As if we all haven’t heard enough about 300, there’s one thing haunting me that just won’t go away. No, it isn’t the horrible ginormous man-hands of Xerxes on Leonidas’ shoulders (That’s “Xerxes,” as in “Pat” and “Chris”). Rather, it’s the perfect condition of each and every one of those damn Spartans. Despite the fact that I did the Navy Seal workout for 7 months straight, and have been doing a close-to-full version of it for the last 1 1/2 years, I still don’t look like a Spartan.

Mark Twight (who is not a certified trainer) has now released the exercise regimen he subjected the movie’s stars to over a period of approximately 8 -12 weeks in order to achieve that perfect physique. A note of caution (obviously): if you’re not in great shape already, don’t try this at risk of serious injury or death. And another note: even if you are in great shape, you might want to check with a doctor before attempting. Now that I’ve cleared the potential liability caveats, here it is:

The 300 WorkoutThe workout gets its name from the total number of repetitions. But those 300 reps weren’t done daily, as some media accounts report, Twight says. Rather, the 300 workout was the finale of months of training, a kind of graduation test, after actors had weight lifted and trained with tools such as medicine balls and Kettlebells (cast iron weights with handles).

  • 25 pull-ups
  • 50 deadlifts at 135 pounds
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 box jumps with a 24-inch box
  • 50 “floor wipers” (a core and shoulders exercise at 135 pounds)
  • 50 “clean and press” at 36 pounds (a weight-lifting exercise)
  • 25 more pull-ups — for a total of 300 reps

Note: no rest is taken between movements, and the “score” is based on total time.

I plan to try this, after I file a few pleadings, chop on students’ seminar papers, and generally find time to do all the other important things in life.


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Gaming Forever

The New York Times has an interesting article on the increasing popularity of video games among retirees. Sports games appeal to those no longer able to engage in stenuous physical activity. The advent of the Wii has made it possible to participate even without fine motor control. Other kinds of games, such as online card playing, Scrabble clones, and similar products are popular as means of keeping the mind active.

Not only does this make my Halo2 addiction seem somewhat less immature, it has important implications for the future of video game design and marketing:

PopCap Games in Seattle, the maker of the diversions so popular at St. Mary, says its games have been downloaded more than 200 million times since the company was founded in 2000. A spokesman said that the company was stunned by results of a customer survey last year: 71 percent of its players were older than 40, 47 percent were older than 50, and 76 percent of PopCap players were women.

There is a huge potential here, and I predict it will only increase. Good news for those of us looking for more ‘mature’ games (and I don’t mean Grand Theft Auto or the Playboy Mansion). Historical simulations, turn-based gaming (as opposed to RTGs), and in-depth play will be what appeals to this demographic.

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Xbox 360 Elite vs. 60 gig PS3: Xbox 360 arguably the best value

[UPDATE 4, 9 July 2007: Xbox 360 Price Drop Coming Soon? And, PS3/Xbox 360 News Roundup, HERE.]

[UPDATE 3, 7 July 2007: the extended warranty and the "Red Ring of Death."  Is the 360 still the better value?  Analysis HERE.]

[UPDATE 2, 11 June 2007: Despite denials by Microsoft, indicators are that a price drop is forthcoming, likely by holiday season '07, that would see the Core dropping to an even more reasonable $199 (far less likely, but even more compelling, would see the Premium drop to $199--which would all but kill the PS3. I'm being hyperbolic, but it would be an exceedingly strong strategic move that would likely quickly cut into the PS3's hopes to accelerate gains in the market)]

[UPDATED 8 June 2007: A.O.'s new Xbox 360 Elite Review is posted HERE, examining MS' new 1080p HDMI, 120 gig, top-of-the line Xbox 360 in detail]

Interesting comparison over at, chart format.

If you compile all the costs of the 360 Elite vs. the 60 gig PS3, souping up each to meet the experience offered by the other, the 360 Elite is cheaper, even including the $179 cost of the HD-DVD player on the 360 side.

That’s right, a fully souped up 360 Elite (base price $479) matching all that the PS3 offers costs $849.95, while a fully souped-up PS3 (base price $599) matching everything the Xbox 360 Elite offers costs $857.70. The 360 Elite is cheaper by about $10. Factor in the new $179 price point of the HD-DVD drive, and you get a $829.95 price point, making the 360 Elite “complete package” $30 cheaper.

The fact that you’ve got to toss an additional $400.00 into each system to reach a point of equality demonstrates just how strategic Sony and Microsoft’s choices were in manufacturing these boxes — they’re hedging their bets about what consumers want. And off the bat, Sony decided that the Blu-Ray was non-negotiable — at significant cost to the consumer, and to the significant benefit (albeit possibly temporary) of Sony’s own Blu-Ray DVD format. (We’ll see if the console wars level out as PS3 adoption continues, or if the benefit seen to the format since the PS3’s release continues.)

Of course if you ditch the goal of making “exactly comparable” gaming systems and simply get the eminently playable 360 Elite, with 120 gig HD on its own, and purchase a 12-month Gold Card for Xbox Live, your total is $529.98. The PS3 has only a 60 gig HD, but has the Blu-Ray player — and it Continue reading


Filed under Gaming, Personal, Tech, Xbox 360

UPDATE: Xbox 360 Elite Officially Announced

If you’re a gamer you know what this is, unless you’re living under a rock. For your enjoyment, the picture above takes you to a Flickr gallery of it, and here’s another gallery of pics of the beast.

Yup that’s right, just an update for y’all, the “Zephyr” is officially announced on Above is the real deal picture of the new 360 Elite’s HDMI port — long the subject of heavy breathing in the rumor mills.

Just about all the speculation as I reported before is true: the 120 gig HD will also be sold separately for “early adopters,” and the information you’ve Continue reading

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Harry’s Movie Review: 300

As promised, I’ve gone and done it — seen 300. And what I have to report is this: it’s a very good movie, for what it is. Not great. But very good.


As I’ve gone on at length about before, this is a movie based on a graphic novel, which in turn was based on historical events — events, mind you, from 2500 years ago. So our records are none to complete, and moreover, the first written account of the battle at the Hot Gates was approximately 50 years after the battle, by Herodotus. Fifty years is a long time, so even if the movie was based on the record of events rather than the comic book by Frank Miller, it would be a stretch to say it was entirely accurate.

So up front, my assumption is that the movie, as a movie based on the Continue reading


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Balkinization, A.O.: 1; NYT: 0

Marty Lederman over at Balkinization goes through the same analysis of the U.S. Attorney firings that we did a few days back, and reaches the same conclusions as we do re the way the 18 U.S.C. 1505 charge would be brought. That’s small change, really, but it’s a heckuva intro.

More importantly, Lederman gives the next step in the analysis, that is, right, so assuming anything wrong was done, then what? Up front, there’s very little case law on this topic, re whether the Executive can invoke Executive Privilege to refuse to answer questions Congress puts to it pursuant to subpoena.

You’ll recall that here at A.O. we discussed that crimes under both sections 1505 and 1512 must be “corrupt.” Lederman follows the path to a significant and interesting observation:

What gives me pause about the prospect of violations of sections 1505 and 1512, however, is that presumably Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, et al., were serving as agents of the President. And the decision whether to prosecute a federal case under current law is ultimately the responsibility of the President himself. Can the President (or those acting on his behalf) “corruptly” influence decisions over which he himself has the ultimate authority? That seems like an odd notion (and would certainly be a novel

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Womanmarrieswomanmarriesman, wha?

Law Professor Ann Althouse satisfies with more of her typically provocative commentary. Apparently Wisconsin granted a marriage license to a transsexual woman (born as a man) and another woman, after an initial bout of confusion:

Because the state prohibits same-sex marriages, Terry and Winstanley’s bid for a quick Milwaukee County Courthouse wedding last week was derailed until a hearing could be convened to investigate, even though County Clerk Mark Ryan accepted their marriage-license application as valid. “They came in and applied just like anyone else would,” said Ryan, who accepted the application after the couple paid the regular $100 fee and swore they were eligible to marry under state law. Ryan said that Terry was able to produce a birth certificate listing the name Ronald and

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New Senior Editor on staff

Our staff has doubled!  It’s my pleasure to introduce Fredegar (as anonymous as H Lime), who in real life is a professor of archaeology and historian, and one of the keenest minds that I’m privileged to be able to call a friend.  Fredegar is on board as Senior Editor.  Over on “About A.O.” you’ll find his brief bio, and we look forward to his commentary.

Lime out.

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360 vs. Apple TV!!! Xbox 360 Web Browser? 120 gig Upgrade Data Retention Cable?

120 Gig Hard Drive / Data Retention Cable

Ars Technica reports the below scoop on the new 120 gig hard drive for the Xbox 360. The anonymous source reports that the new 360 will ship with “some sort of cable” that will allow current 360 owners to transfer data from their current 20 gig hard drive over to the new 120 gig drive. Anonymous source quote follows:

I work for a large game distributor. MS disclosed this SKU to us a few weeks ago—definitely not a fake story. Price, features, color are all correct. MS has told us that the data will be transferred via some sort of cable that will be included with the unit. The cable will also be included w/ the 120GB drive that will be sold separately (price TBD).Please don’t cite me, but this is all accurate info.

As you can see, the source reports that the device will be sold separately with the 120 gig HD upgrade. This is at least partly encouraging. Those of use who

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Filed under Gaming, Tech, Windows Vista, Xbox 360

300: The Persian Version

The Persian Version


Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition
Which represents that summer’s expedition
Not as a mere reconnaisance in force
By three brigades of foot and one of horse
(Their left flank covered by some obsolete
Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)
But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt
To conquer Greece – they treat it with contempt;
And only incidentally refute
Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute
The Persian monarch and the Persian nation
Won by this salutary demonstration:
Despite a strong defence and adverse weather
All arms combined magnificently together.

Robert Graves



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Legal Analysis of the U.S. Attorney Firings

New York Times’ Adam Cohen has this analysis of the possible charges in the U.S. Attorney firings issue. I’m not passing judgment one way or the other because as I’ve indicated to you previously, there simply isn’t enough info out there on the issue to do so. Cohen clearly agrees, and bravo to the NYT for taking the high-road approach when so many others have jumped on the tabloid ignore-the-facts-ride-the-buzz bandwagon. Nevertheless, it is an interesting legal exercise to examine exactly what charges could be brought if anything wrong was done (which, again, we just don’t know).

Cohen lists the following possible charges:

  1. Misrepresentations to Congress, 18 U.S.C. § 1505.
  • “Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees” is the actual title of the statute. Key here is that “intent to avoid, evade, prevent, or obstruct compliance, in whole or in part” is required, as is “willful” withholding, covering-up, and so on, “oral testimony.” This is the charge and § 1505 paragraph that the NYT cites, although the word “impede” is wrongly attributed by the Times article to the crime listed in the first paragraph of § 1505.

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Filed under Culture, Law, Politics

120 gig, HDMI Xbox 360, AKA "Zephyr” / “360 Elite”

That’s right, Engadget confirms what has been reported elsewhere for months, viz, that the Redmond giant is releasing roundabouts (that means “in”) May 2007 what’s been codenamed the “Zephyr.” It’s the “Elite 360,” and it has the following specs:

  • The Elite will be limited quantities only; that may be as much or as little
    as a couple hundred thousand.
  • The case, controller, and Live headset will all be black. It will have all
    new packaging.
  • Elite will cost $479, and will be a 3rd SKU; it will be sold alongside
    Premium and Core packs.
  • Eventually Elite hardware (in white plastics) will take the role of the Xbox
    Premium. That is to say, after the Elite is launched and sold out, future Xbox
    Premiums will have 120GB / HDMI.
  • We do not yet know exactly when 120GB / HDMI will become the standard for
    Premium, but it is loosely estimated to be late summer or fall.
  • Elite models run cooler than normal 360s, but they are not yet confirmed to
    have 65nm chips.
  • Prices may remain the same with the 120GB / HDMI hardware upgrade in the
    Premium Xbox, but we may still see a price cut on the line when 65nm chips start
  • The HD DVD drive will not be internal or bundled — Microsoft never did or
    nor does not currently have plans to put an HD DVD drive in the 360.
  • There are no current plans to integrate WiFi into the Elite or future
    Premiums (although that can always change).

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300 Spartans: Victor Davis Hanson’s comments on Frank Miller’s movie

Renowned classicist and historian Victor Davis Hanson has this great piece on the movie 300. Conflict of interest aside, it comes from his Introduction to a Dark Horse Comics book accompanying the movie. Despite that, anyone who’s read his op-eds, military journal pieces, and books (The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, and others), knows that he comes with a wealth of classical knowledge and a keen mind. For those of you who don’t know the history of the Spartans and their fight at the Hot Gates:

In 480, an enormous force of more than a quarter-million Persians under their King Xerxes invaded Greece, both to enslave the free city-states, and to avenge the Persian defeat a decade earlier at Marathon. The huge force of ships and soldiers proved

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IslamTube: Snipers and Destruction

Now this is interesting. Everybody knows YouTube, but who knows IslamTube?

Allow me to take a step back to our own majority religion. Yes, there’s also GodTube (catchphrase: “Broadcast Him.”). Looks like the top videos include titles such as “Lyrical,” “Heart for the Lost,” “Baby Got Bible,” and “Creation Short Film.” I nearly forgot “Easter Bunny vs. Pastor Al: Is Easter a Holy Day or a Holiday? You Decide.”

Right, but IslamTube is something completely different. Check out the top-viewed videos and… well, you’ve got, among the top five, “Sheikh Osama ibn Laden” (you can guess the topic,” and “Iraqi Sniper” (ditto). There’s a video mocking President Bush, and a few farther down, “Jihad in Iraq: Destruction.”

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Filed under Culture, Islam, Personal, Psychology, Religion

Americans don’t eat the right foods: Well, duh! Look at all the fat people! Get back to Plato’s advice.

Center for Disease Control reports that Americans still don’t eat right:

March 15, 2007 — Fewer than a third of U.S. adults eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC.From coast to coast, no state (or Washington, D.C.) meets the CDC’s goals for adult fruit and vegetable consumption.People should eat at least five daily servings — two or more servings of fruit, and three or more servings of vegetables — as part of a balanced diet, says the CDC.But today the agency reported that in 2005, fewer than 33% of U.S. adults reported eating at least two daily servings of fruit and barely 27% claimed to eat three or more daily servings of vegetables.

Americans Skimping on Fruits, Veggies

As I’ll evangelize ad nauseam, we need to eat more like the Japanese: lots of vegetables, and a good amount of protein in the form of poultry, fish, and tofu/beans, and pull far, far back on the red meat and fats.

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