Danny Taggart's Blogarama

A more-or-less daily dose of news, politics, techmology, and any random thoughts that pass through my head.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The death of one-way media

The much-hyped ascendancy of the blogosphere has been interpreted in various ways. Usually, the story is of a fight between the MSM and bloggers or Old Media and New Media. I look at it as a shift from one-way media towards two-way media.

The old paradigm is one of mass media beaming information from the omniscient elites down into the heads of the peons. The media environment was closed, monopolistic, and elitist. One leading newspaper in each city and a priesthood of three television networks.

The new paradigm is one in which the knowledge of any and all social elements is represented in the media. The media environment is open, competitive, and representative. Information flows not from top to bottom, but both ways (and indefinitely more). This is the real change that is taking place. If you want to figure out which media will thrive and which will die, don't look at "who's on the net" or "who has a blog". These are technical forms which may be easily appropriated by the old media. The important thing to look at is how information flows.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Asteroid update: move along, nothing to see here

I guess the big bad asteroid is not going to hit us (the risk has been downgraded to 1-in-27,000). The doomsday crowd was wrong, yet again. Did they admit how silly the hype was in the first place? Of course not! Just a quiet correction.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Needless asteroid paranoia

A bunch of people (Slashdot, Instapundit, Jane Galt) have been worrying about an asteroid with a relatively high probability of Earth impact. But what does NASA have to say about its own probability calculations?
    The probability computation is complex and depends on a number of assumptions that are difficult to verify. For these reasons the stated probability can easily be inaccurate by a factor of a few, and occasionally by a factor of ten or more.
In other words, don't take these calculations too seriously. NASA also makes the point that larger errors are present in the probability calcuations of newly discovered objects. This asteroid has only been observed for 187 days, but its impact is projected in 25 years.
    The uncertainty in the orbital elements also depends on the number of observations and the time span over which they are made. The more observations we have, and the longer the time span, the less the uncertainties will be, and the more precise the orbit will become. Thus, for a newly discovered object, the uncertainties tend to be large initially. As more observations are obtained on the object's position, the uncertainties are reduced, and any potential impacts are then eventually eliminated for the vast majority of the cases.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

US expels terrorist TV network

Shawn Macomber talks about the State Department's designation of the al-Manar TV network as a terrorist organization. He describes some of the typical fare on al-Manar, worthy of Borat no doubt:
    The popular game show, "The Mission," allows the home viewing audience to cheer on contestants as they "recapture" land stolen by the Jews. For every correct answer a contestant answers about the American-Zionist conspiracy, he or she (Oh, who are we kidding here? He!) moves that much closer on a giant map to Jerusalem. In between singing the praises of suicide bombers and denunciations of Jews, the show's host manages to get in some of the standard game show chit-chat. The first contestant to reach 60 points stands atop the holy city and receives a check for $3,000 while the Hezbollah anthem plays in the background -- "Jerusalem is ours and we are coming to it."
Now, I find it difficult to believe that Hizballah actually generates revenue by airing this hogwash in the US. It's value is primarily to provide an indoctrination channel for potentially disloyal American Muslims. However, these people are few, and the chance that they would be incited to anything by al-Manar's programming is small. Therefore, I believe that the negatives of al-Manar are clearly outweighed by the sardonic entertainment most Americans would get by watching it.

In all seriousness though, it seems like an unnecessary move. Why should we be afraid to let the terrorists have a channel to spout their crazy ideas? This kind of reaction only serves to reinforce the idea that the terrorists are fighting us in the realm of ideas. Let's dispel that notion by letting Americans see exactly what lunatics these people really are. Masking the face of evil allows the government to present an ideologically sanitized version of The Enemy, but it does not serve our purpose in the War on Terror. It is essential, as the saying goes, to know thy enemy.

Although I'm not sure the First Amendment applies in this case (al-Manar is a foreign organization), I find the reasoning behind the State Department's decision somewhat disconcerting.
    The Department of State condemned al-Manar broadcasts on December 9 when deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said it airs "disgusting programming that preaches violence and hatred" and ideas antithetical to American values.
Hmm, I thought the reason, according to the Patriot Act, was that al-Manar "incite[s] to commit...a terrorist activity." What's all this business about "ideas antithetical to American values"? Of course incitement to terrorist activities is antithetical to American values, but so are many other noncriminal forms of speech, depending on how you define American values (wow, can't believe I just said "noncriminal forms of speech"). Who knows what media the government will consider tomorrow as preachers of hatred? It's exactly these kinds of official statements that make me nervous: the ones in which the government's current action is completely justified, yet use language potentially leading to completely unjustified actions.

Crazy Castro getting paranoid

Cuba is holding military exercises, supposedly to prepare for an American invasion. It's hilarious how this is being reported as a civilian exercise, as if a militia of the citizenry at large is being called up. Wait a second, I thought Cuba has a ban on gun ownership - what gives? Of course, this is just a somewhat shoddy internal propaganda campaign. I'm surprised it's getting so much press in the US.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Scientists manufacture cells

This is really interesting. Some researchers at Rockefeller University have manufactured cells out of components from different organisms. The cells apparently function and produce flourescent proteins.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Santa bike parade

I was up on North Michigan today when a horde of Santas, elves and Dreidl Boy came bicycling down the street.

An elf rides atop one of the Santas:

Here is Dreidl Boy amongst the Santas:

Friday, December 17, 2004

Contracts on Osama capture up

The TradeSports "Osama captured" contracts jumped up wildly today. The price changes are as follows:

I don't know what news might have prompted this buying, except the new tape that was released yesterday.

Time to face reality on Social Insecurity

I was looking at this post from Mark Cuban on Social Security privitization and was suprised by its belligerent tone and ignorant argumentation. He makes a couple of points:

1. The nasty brokers will screw people over with bad investment products and high commissions.
2. People expect the government to bail them out, so they will take on high risks and lose their money.

The big problem with Mark's arguments here is that he compares Social Security with private accounts as if they are the same thing. Social Security is not your personal account. You have no rights to the money you have paid in - the Supreme Court has already ruled on this. The taxes you pay in go to the general fund, where Congress can spend them however they wish. It is absurd to compare rates of return or such nonsense between government-run and private Social Security accounts. The system is a sham, an illusion - it simply doesn't exist.

So what is reality? The reality is that after almost a century of living this dream in which everyone can have their wants without paying for them, the United States of America will finally wake up. The system will go bankrupt. It will be a cash drain on general funds, instead of a cash cow. Everybody knows this. Due to government failure, each person has to save for his own retirement now, along with paying taxes for a "benefit" that doesn't exist. Nobody who is young today expects the government to bail them out when they're old, as Mark claims. The only thing Bush's plan will do is help this process by giving people their money back so they can save it, instead of letting the pigs in Congress grab-and-spend it as they have for ... well, forever.

A lot of mumbo jumbo is being thrown around in the Social Security debate, so let's clear up the choices facing us here:

1. Don't pay out the benefits. This includes raising the retirement age or whatever scheme ultimately doesn't give people what they paid into the system.
2. Pay out the benefits, at the expense of the productive elements of society, and therefore, the economy itself.

Either choice by itself would cause an immense, possibly catastrophic, shock to our economy and society. The only reasonable choice is some mix of the two. This entails a lot of unpleasant pain that we don't want to feel; the hangover from our socialist experiment. It is imperative that we start early, so we spread this pain out over a long timeframe and reduce the probability of a lethal shock to the system. This is the essence of the plan to start privatizing Social Security.

The plan is not perfect. People should have complete control over their accounts, not be subject to certain government-approved investments. In this case, I agree with Mark that there is a potential for institutions to scam people, but only as a result of government restrictions on investment choices - and hence competition. Whatever argument the opponents of reform bring up, ultimately it boils down to the fact that the private accounts can't be worse than the status quo. We have to endure the pain that results from past generations' folly. It is amazing that smart people like Mark Cuban still don't realize this.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Hillary's new look

A number of people, including Tony Blankley, have recently commented on Hillary Clinton's divide-and-conquer strategy on immigration reform. To set herself up for a presidential run in 2008, she is talking tough on border security and illegal immigration in an effort to peel off disgruntled conservatives. While I'm all for her efforts, regardless of motivation, I question whether she would actually be willing or able to follow through on them. I also question whether she could win. Ayn Rand would probably question whether she should win.

I suppose the question of whether she can win boils down to whether or not she wins more votes from conservatives than she loses from liberals/Hispanics alienated by her policy. Pat Buchanan would probably vote for her, but he only polled at <1% last time he ran. Hillary has obviously done her math, but the answer is not superficially obvious. Is this just an election ploy to capitalize on conservative anger at Bush or does she expect to cause a real shift in constituencies, possibly fragmenting the Republican coalition?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Bum evicted from makeshift house

A bum was evicted from his makeshift house under a bridge on Lake Shore Drive. Apparently he had a TV, microwave, and PlayStation in there, hooked up to the bridge electrical system. This is a start; now the police should evict all the bums (excuse me, the politically correct term is "StreetWise distribution centers") from Chicago.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Murder rate is down

The FBI reports that the nationwide murder rates are decreasing again after increasing for a few years. I've superimposed the year-over-year percent change in murder rates on a graph of the DOW (from Yahoo):

It seems that the murder rate was increasing when the market was tanking, and vice versa. Cause or coincidence?

Pro-censorship activists threaten FCC with audit

Unsatisfied with increasing TV censorship from the FCC, the Parents Television Council is threatening the FCC with a Congressional audit in retaliation for a supposedly inaccurate complaint count. In case you didn't know, 99.9% of the indecency complaints to the FCC came from the PTC. The PTC points out that these complaints come from individuals via PTC, not the PTC itself. In a statement reminiscient of an election recount, the PTC says:
    “The FCC needs to count each and every complaint, regardless if the majority complaining are PTC members. ..."
Even though the PTC is technically right, so is the FCC. Go to the PTC web site and you'll see a "File an FCC Complaint" button on the right. It's an easy, no-cost channel for professional complainers. How many of these complaints are frivolous? How many are fake or duplicates (only an email address is used for authentication)? The PTC is clearly using their activist base to spam the FCC via their web site. Their complaint statistics are completely worthless.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Do insurgent attacks risk delaying Iraq elections?

As the time for the Iraqi elections approaches, the insurgency is stepping up its attacks on security forces and civilians. Many observers expect the level of violence to continue increasing up to the elections.

The Tradesports contract for Iraqi elections by 1/31/05 is currently at 84. I'm wondering to what extent discrete, spectacular attacks (as opposed to sustained, low-level violence) may cause temporary shocks in the contract market.

My gut reaction is that the contract is undervalued because everyone is already expecting escalating violence. However, this expectation will cause US and Iraqi forces to be especially vigilant in the coming month, thus decreasing the chance of successful attacks (at least relative to common perception).

A similar expectation of insurgent violence existed before the Afghan elections, but there were no significant disruptions on election day. If the same logic holds for the Iraq elections, it may be a good idea to buy the elections contract.

Friday, December 10, 2004

CBS: Blogs don't have free speech rights

From our good friends at CBS News:
    Internet blogs are providing a new and unregulated medium for politically motivated attacks. With the same First Amendment protections as newspapers, blogs are increasingly gaining influence.
Huh? Notice how blogs and newspapers are differentiated, implying that blogs don't or shouldn't have the same First Amendments protections. For clarification, the First Amendment goes something like this:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
Notice that by using the unnecessary modifier "unregulated", the author implicitly advocates government regulation of blogs. Why should blogs be regulated, you ask? Instead of reasoned argumentation, the author uses rhetoric and allusion to demonize blogs. According to him, blogs are responsible for "attacks" (read: violence) and are "gaining influence" (read: corruption). Elsewhere in the article, blogs are a "telling harbinger" of "dirty tricks".

Kind of ironic, given his apparent aversion to "politically motivated attacks", don't you think?

In Soviet Russia, the criminals sue the victims

Not Soviet Russia, but ironically, Britain.

A great day for civil rights

A progressive city overturns a ban on mixing the races.

Kofi should not resign

A number of conservative and libertarian commentators have suggested that Kofi Annan should resign his post at the UN in light of a number of scandals, including his son's apparent involvement in the Iraq oil-for-food bribery scheme. However, I agree with Pat Buchanan's take on this one: Kofi should not resign from the UN - the US should resign from the UN.

Let Kofi stay and continue to show Americans what a cesspool of corruption and hypocrisy the UN is. Let the UN continue to be delegitimized in the eyes of the world. At least next time we won't hear as loudly from our media about the necessity of the "international community" to give us permission to defend ourselves.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Sailor refuses to serve in Iraq war

Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes refused to board his ship when it sailed to Iraq on Monday morning, because of "philosophical" opposition to the Iraq war.
    Paredes had planned to publicly throw his military I.D. into the ocean to underscore his stand against the war. But yesterday, he changed his mind after learning that he could be charged with destruction of government property.
I wonder if he minds being charged with desertion.

Darwin would have something to say

BBC News warns men that frequent laptop use could damage fertility. I don't know about most people, but I never actually balance my laptop on my lap.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fraudsters issued fake diplomas online

phillyBurbs reports on a couple of brothers who are being charged with fraudulently issuing diplomas online, among other alleged fraud. Most likely, this will get billed in the national press as another instace of online diploma mills issuing "fake" diplomas. The phillyBurbs headline reads "Online university that gave cat diploma sued for fraud", even though no online university was involved. This was outright fraud.

This kind of reporting, which does not unambiguously differentiate between fraudsters and real, accredited online universities issuing real diplomas hurts the latter tremendously. The efficacy of online instruction is debatable, but should be evaluated on its own merits, rather than instinctively associated with fraud.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Argentina tax collectors threaten property owners

Say bye bye to private property and banking secrecy. This will do wonders for Argentina's economy, I'm sure.

US education: bad news

Corporate America is functionally illiterate in day-to-day business communications.
In other news, the math skills of US students relative to those in other industrialized countries are near the bottom of the heap. Ironically, the US is #2 in education spending.
Ain't u so happy we have public educashun system with lots of $$?

Study claiming Florida voting anomalies debunked

Wired reports today that a number of poli sci profs have criticized the methods used in a Berkeley study claiming that Bush received an anomalous number of votes in Flordia counties using e-voting machines.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The LaSalle Bank building is on fire

Here are close up pictures of the LaSalle Bank building, from the Post Office on Dearborn, taken at about 9PM central:
In the early evening, I looked out my window and saw a helicopter hovering in the area of LaSalle and Adams.

I went outside and started walking towards the Target on Roosevelt. As I walked, I realized that more helicopters were starting to show up, but not near the LaSalle Building. There were at least 5 helicopters clearly and systematically searching buildings and terrain south of Adams, both east and west. (The image quality isn't good, just look for a bright spot in the sky where there shouldn't be one.)

I can't figure out why all these helicopters showed up and searched buildings that were in no danger whatsoever from the LaSalle Bank fire. Is this standard procedure? Or did the authorities have some information here that wasn't made publicly available? My first thought was "they might have a tip about a terrorist threat". Anyway, I made a map with the observed helicopter locations (blue dots) relative to the LaSalle Bank building (red star).

Why are objectivists hyping "The Incredibles"?

I'm somewhat befuddled as to why objectivists seem so enthralled with The Incredibles. I suppose some of it has to do with some press coverage labelling the movie "Randian". It is understandable for objectivists to bask in the national spotlight that so rarely shines on them.

Objectivists seem to be confused by The Incredibles. What underlies their confusion with this movie is their reflexive attempt to fit cultural events into the narrative of Atlas Shrugged. The proper dichotomy should be, they argue, between the strong and the weak, the able and the incompetent. So it is not surprising that they should scratch their heads at a competing narrative: one of special people born with unearned gifts and of regular people who must make do with what they have. One of the regular people dares to rise above his station through hard work and innovation. As did Prometheus (an Ayn Rand favorite), this rogue attempts to bring the “fire of the gods” to man by means of a technology that gives everyone the Incredibles’ powers. For his impertinence, he is labelled a villain.

Now, I'm not arguing that Syndrome is not the villain - he is. That is how the writers have presented him, but that's not the point. The moral message of the movie lies beneath the superficialities of presentation, in the fundamental traits of its characters. Given their complaints about the false choice presented in this movie, one would expect objectivists to remain neutral in judging it on moral grounds. But, disturbingly, they are not. It's disturbing because, in a choice between a self-made innovator and a hero with innate powers, they side with the "hero". Instead of praising the American spirit of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, they engage in royalty- and god-worship. Anyone familiar with objectivism would find this sickeningly ironic.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Who's reading TownHall.com?

That's what I want to know. Their featured advertisement today reads "Secrets Of Millionaire Conservatives Revealed", so I decided to take a peek out of curiosity. It turns out to be Mike Litman promoting some new book that claims to change lazy procrastinators into overnight (or 30-day) successes by giving them the "secrets" of the rich. Notable quotables:

"just reading of the table of contents would be enough to shake the laziest person alive from their deepest slumber."

"Look, no one knows more than me that some people hate to read. I hear you. So what I’ve done is give you my personal study guide to “The Power of Concentration.”"

"You’ll get 3 powerful Mp3’s from me ... to change your life."

"I don’t care if your teachers told your parents you were as dumb as an ox, you’ll know what to do."

"I’m also going to include a free mystery CD that will excite and inspire you..."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Review: Paycheck

Movie: Paycheck (2003)
My Rating: Thumbs Down

I was expecting something in the vein of The Bourne Identity / The Butterfly Effect / Memento, but it ranks, at best, as a cheap imitation, fit for Saturday afternoon TV. The movie was just bad quality - the dialogue, the plot, the science, you name it - and it really did feel like I was watching an extended episode of The Outer Limits (but much worse). My gripes, among many others:

1. Why does Ben Affleck have to be a genius engineer AND a buff staff-wielding fighter? It's so nonsensical and gratuitous. He doesn't even use his fighting skills, except once at the end.

2. Shorty (Paul Giamatti) is a non-character. Ugly Uma likewise has but a thin veneer of personality. Come to think of it, all the characters, including Ben Affleck's, are completely undeveloped.

3. The inconsistencies due to seeing the future are especially bad. For example, why didn't Michael simply destroy the machine from the inside when he had access to it, instead of setting up an elaborate movie-like plot which could easily be disrupted (remember, the future CAN be changed)?

Don't waste your time on this junk.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Friday night stroll-blogging

Despite the 35 degree weather, I decided to take a stroll through downtown. I stopped by the Christkindlmarket which is a German-themed open-air market with crafts and food. The shops were nice and pretty; each one was supposed to represent some town in Germany. There were a few stragglers though: one selling African crafts and another purveying Himalayan chai.

I then headed over to Borders on Randolph and glanced through the pop investment section. I compared The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth with The Automatic Millionaire : A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich. On one hand, the "automatic" system is clearly faster than the "one minute" system. On the other hand, a minute is not very long, and I'd rather be "enlightened" than "powerful". The decision burdened me so much, I decided to forsake my millions and head home.

On the way back, some guy was playing great music on his sax. I asked him what it was, but couldn't make heads or tails of the jumble he spat out. Further down, I ran into a bum who accosted me because his third shoe was too big for his feet. I agreed with him - the shoe was at least two sizes too big for him. Finally, I got back to the relative quiet of Printer's Row, which is nicely decorated for Christmas.

Google business model in trouble

People have noticed before that Google faces a challenge with fraudulent clicks in its pay-per-click ad model. CNN/Money reports that the problem is much bigger than anyone thought and is potentially life-threatening for Google. We've known that AdSense is being exploited via publishers clicking on their own ads to generate revenue. AdSense is only part of Google's business though. The real menace, which is growing as we speak, is people expoiting the Google search ads, as an offensive weapon against competitors (i.e., I click on your ads to force you to pay money for no leads).

This situation puts Google's entire business model at risk. One problem is that Google actually benefits from this fraud. They know that a system which rigorously measures actual interest in the advertiser's product would generate but a small fraction of their current revenue. It's only because of recent media attention that they're even addressing this issue. This conflict of interest is paralyzing them from enacting real solutions.

Even if Google acts decisively, the financial incentive to commit fraud is great and its cost is very low due to easy automation. There are already third party services out there claiming to detect click fraud, but there are a couple of problems with them:
1. They are worthless unless Google agrees that fraud was actually committed.
2. Clickers will find workarounds because the incentive is enormous. The clickers/anti-clickers will get into a tit-for-tat dialectic, just like the spammers/anti-spammers do now.

My feeling is that as click fraud gets more attention, Google and major advertisers will make half-hearted attempts to solve it. When these half-measures fail to stem the tide of click fraud, advertisers will lose confidence in the system and bail out en masse. I haven't studied how this could impact their stock price, but I have a feeling investors don't fully appreciate the disasterous potential here.

The future of manufacturing

I was reading a nanotech article on TechCentralStation and started thinking about the future of manufacturing. I can see three potential futures. The real one may be some sort of synthesis, or the application of each in different domains, or the overall dominance of one over the others.

1. Assembly - this is the current manufacturing method, which has been used for centuries. It is a reductionist method: break up the system you want to build into component parts. Build those first, then put them together.

2. Digital printing - like the 3D printers today, except many times larger, faster, higher resolution, and using a wide variety of materials.

3. Self-organizing nanobots - simple little machines that do one task repetitively. Put a bunch of these suckers together (say, millions) and you've got yourself a ginormous workforce. The problem with this method is providing these drones with the intelligence to work in a context larger than their local environment. For example, a bot may know to join two molecules together, but it has no idea it's building a car.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Back-to-back two-term prez are rare

On November 2, G.W. Bush assured himself eight years in office, on the heels of his predecessor's eight-year presidency. How common are back-to-back two-term presidencies? Not very. Besides the present day, it has happened in only two other time periods in American history. Each time, there were in fact three consecutive multi-term presidencies (FDR had 12 years). The first period was 1801-1825; the second was 1933-1961.

3Thomas Jefferson 18011809Democratic-Republican 8
4James Madison 18091817Democratic-Republican 8
5James Monroe 18171825Democratic-Republican 8
32Franklin Delano Roosevelt 19331945Democrat 12
33Harry S. Truman 19451953Democrat 8
34Dwight David Eisenhower 19531961Republican 8

It would be interesting to figure out what is common between these three time periods in our history. What factors fueled the need for political continuity (or conversely, what kinds of events were brought about by extended political continuity)? War is an obvious one - the war of 1812, WWII, and the current war on terror. There may be more fundamental things going on as well.

UPDATE: Even though Truman served for eight years, he was not elected twice (taking over from FDR in 1945). If we only include re-elected presidents, we're left with the 1801-1825 period. If we include continuity of administration due to death/resignation, we also have:

Lincoln/A.Johnson 1861 1869
U. S. Grant 1869 1877
JFK LBJ 1961 1969
R. Nixon/G. Ford 1969 1977

Aww... our very own Terminator army!

Wired reports on new robots being tested by the Army in Iraq. They include machine-gun toting bots and unmanned ambulances. Could this be the beginning of the end of manned combat? The political implications of this are interesting - it makes it a lot harder to argue against a war with only an abstract monetary cost, without images of caskets coming home. This might make war more likely in the future.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Review: The Safety of Objects

Movie: The Safety of Objects (2001)
My Rating: Thumbs Down

What a horrible, horrible piece of crap. It's one of those trying-hard-to-be-meaningful films that just ends up being filled with hollow characters enacting endless cliches. Not worth my time.

Review: The Stepford Wives

Movie: The Stepford Wives (2004)
My Rating: Thumbs Down

I contemplated going Thumbs Up on this one because it is somewhat funny and entertaining (plus it's got Nicole Kidman), but ultimately it's just a bad movie. One problem is that the script kept killing the suspense of what was going on by constantly hinting (over and over again) that the wives of Stepford are really robots. It would have been more effective to explore the conformity/brainwashing as human issues first, then have a suspenseful revelation scene where Joanna finds out what's really going on.

There was a huge continuity problem. It was never clear if the wives were robots, or just had chips implanted in their brains. In one scene, one of the wives spits out bills like an ATM, implying she's a robot. But in scenes towards the end, the wives are human, but controlled with microchips.

The dialogue towards the end was pretty shoddy - it's most likely the bad script, rather than the actors. And frankly, the plot twist at the end was stupid and unnecessary.