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


Filed under Culture, Movies, Science Fiction

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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