Apr 29, 2009

Jon Stewart and Cliff May

My favorite quote in the entire interview might just be:

"I'm surprised to see us making arguments that we ourselves would never accept."

Or, maybe,

"Our ideals are only valid when we use them in difficult times." Wow.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
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Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

Apr 20, 2009

The Result is Irrelevant

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be either good or evil.
~Hannah Arendt

It seems to me to be a non-subject as to whether prosecuting CIA officials who called for the torture of any human being, no matter how despicable, is the right thing to do. When you cannot distinguish your methods from your enemies, then you yourself become indistinguishable from your enemy. And, while I am appalled at the conflation of CIA officials with Nazis defending themselves using the now-titled "Nuremberg Defense", I can certainly see no reason why "just following orders" is acceptable.

President Obama deserves harsh criticism on this point, I think. He cannot forgive and forget these indiscretions, especially since the proponents of torture attempted to - nearly successfully - cover them up. Releasing the memos without doing anything substantive about them is both politically and pragmatically dubious. Not only is it helping the fundamentalist recruitment effort - though to prosecute only on that basis would be morally shady - it is also inherently wrong, I think.

And, going a step farther, if it is, in fact, in violation of some international accord to not prosecute, then it is decidedly a stupid move on the part of our president to release the memos and then claim that all past offenses should be forgotten. Now, I am not so shallow as to believe that there is not some political edge to be had from making these documents public. Surely, political democrats wrung their hands at the idea of letting these hot little documents see the light of day. Of that, I am almost positive. It's just I am not so sure that it will not backfire in the long run, which is, in its own right, a very cynical point.

Apr 14, 2009

I Always Thought the Food Was a Little Salty...

This video may be pulled from the internets by the time you get to it, but trust me, the story is worth disseminating. You know how people always joke about fast food employees, how they "do things" to the food of unruly customers? Not true. They do it to ALL food.

Two obviously well-educated Domino's Pizza employees videotaped themselves tainting food while preparing it for delivery and then posted the video to YouTube. Of course, the defense is that this is an isolated incident. I'm sure this kind of thing doesn't happen anywhere else, since we have no proof.

Interesting Postscript to that:

I just read on Consumerist that some people watching the video identified the EXACT Domino's franchise by using contextual video evidence and then alerted the store's manager. The Exec of Communications, Tim McIntyre, was also extremely communicative with the whistle-blowing parties, and below is a copy of the e-mail that was sent by "Kristy Kristy" to explain the "practical joke":

I am sorry about all of this! It was all a prank and me nor Michael expected to have this much attention from the videos that were uploaded! No food was ever sent out to any customer. We would never put something like that on you tube if it were real!! It was fake and I wish that everyone knew that!!!! Michael never would do that to any customer, EVER!! I AM SOO SORRY! You see all the time of the pranks that people upload and the pranks need to seem real in order to get a laugh out of people but this prank was very very immature and I am sorry for the embarrasment that I have caused your company!

And, in addition, the two people featured in that fast food snuff film have been fired. Internet Justice, Unite!

Apr 10, 2009

GH: Metallica

Tonight I'm going to completely be a fanboy and partake in a little PS3 Guitar Hero: Metallica. Thankfully, the band won't really be watching me, because I'd do little more than embarrass myself on the Expert Difficulty. I'll get there, thought.

Prioritizing Your Life: Services

Recently, I contemplated adding HBO back to my list of cable channels. I used to be a proponent for having the biggest cable package on the planet - I'm a "movie buff", after all. I also had Netflix, to get those movies I couldn't watch on HBO, Showtime, and Starz. To complement that, I bought the movies I really liked, to show some kind of perverse allegiance to the movie.

That was also when I was in college and lived with several people who could share the cost of paying for all those wonderful movie channels. When I moved in with my fiancee, I convinced her to throw out the channels, on the grounds that we could rent the 'exclusive' TV shows on Netflix or buy them on DVD, if we were desperate.

What I've learned is that availability matters to most people. I thought I would absolutely die when my favorite drama, Dexter, came back this year. I made it out all right. During this last stretch of Big Love, LP and I went over to JOAJ's apartment to watch HBO, bringing along brownies or cookies to "pay" for what we were watching.

It's easy for convenience services to get out of hand. This post is pertinent to my life right now, as well, because I am contemplating getting rid of a video game rental service from Hollywood Video. I keep rationalizing it by saying that it's actually saving me money, because I'm no longer buying video games.

And, honestly, it has probably saved me money, as I did not buy the new Resident Evil - which was very tempting - or Bioshock - which I wanted very much. Those two games alone would have set me back $120 bucks, easily half of my total yearly cost of being enrolled in the Hollywood Video service.

So what I guess I'm advocating here is that you should weigh the cost, both actual and opportunity, of these services instead of blindly paying for them. They could easily eat into your paycheck without any benefit. For example, if you have Netflix, divide the monthly cost by how many movies you watch per month. If you pay $24/month and only watch four movies, you're paying six bucks a movie. Is that worth the cost to you? What if you go months without watching a movie?

Moreover, if you currently suscribe to monthly convenience services and don't want to get rid of them, start using them to decrease what I'll call the per cost. Like Netflix above, if you suscribe to it, start watching movies. In fact, if you spend more time at home with movies - if they are your passion - you'll probably save money on other things, like going out to movies or to restaurants. It's all in your perspective.

Apr 9, 2009

Ferry Boat

I've just begun researching ferry boats for a short story I'm working on, and found this picture. I liked it, so I decided to post it.

Apr 7, 2009

Video Game OCD

I just found a hilarious list of the Top 9 OCD Behaviors in video games, and, even though I'm not susceptible to all of them, there are a few that I'm definitely guilty of. My favorite? Timing the jump in Super Mario Bros. 3 to catch the wand mid-jump.

G.I. JOE's Bataan Death March To Release

I have become increasingly skeptical of the possibility that the new G.I. Joe Movie will be any good. Good, of course, in that way that any movie based on a cartoon based on a toy line could possibly be. I may be wrong. I just may be wrong, and, if I am, I will have to eat a little crow - or a little Falcon?!? - the weekend of release.

But let me present exhibit A: An interview with "Duke". Or, rather, commentary on an interview with the movie's Duke, Channing Tatum. In the following BQ, Mr. Step-Up discusses at length the mood on the set of filming the movie:

"It's weird, and you laugh at it. It's the only way to really do it. I don't know anyone that wasn't laughing on the set all the time on G.I. Joe. Especially, Marlon Wayans is my partner in the movie, and we laughed through the entire thing. I'm sitting there looking at a green screen like, "RIPCOOOORD! NOOOO!" Stuff like that, and you're just like, "What am I doing?" Or you're like, "You get the rockets, I'll get the nanomites. Wait a minute, what are nanomites?" I don't know what's going on, but you're just having fun with it. You just pray. Pray, pray, pray that they get a good take in all the slew of things, because you don't know what anything looks like. You can only trust your director, and that's it."

Obviously, the quote has been taken (sort of) out of context, and the cast should definitely have fun on the set of the movie. Having a good atmosphere on the set means blah, blah, blah. I am fully aware that this is not a Charlie Kaufman flick. But, still, guys, you understand my fears, right?

Apr 3, 2009

Plot Synopsis for S. King's 'Under the Dome'

The official plot synopsis for Stephen King's upcoming release, Under the Dome, can be found on his web site.

From what I've heard, it's going to be a long novel and that the original conception of the story dates back as far as - I think - the Seventies.

Prioritize Your Life: Cleaning

I'm not going to pretend that I can solve all of your problems with a single, short blog posts. Believe me, I'm no saint of cleaning myself (ask my fiancee).

But I do have a system, and - when I follow it - my system works very well. My system, obviously, is not a panacea. I have certain cleaning tastes that fit my personality, and working within a certain set of standards helps me to achieve.

The best advice I can give you is: figure out what kind of cleaning personality you have, and then work it out from there. It will help you develop shortcuts to take all the work out of cleaning. For example, I am pretty lazy when it comes to mail, so right by the door I have a container where I can put all of my mail to go through once a week (or so). If I didn't have it, then there would be letters everywhere and I wouldn't be able to find anything.

I recently read a blog post over at Unclutterer, where they recommend cleaning for no more than fifteen minutes a day. They say that, cleaning for fifteen minutes a day, focusing on a different task every day, will save you from having to do a major overhaul each weekend.

I don't always use that system, because I clean in cycles. I'll get really adamant about cleaning for a week, and then have a bad week. Which is okay, because I realize that. So what I end up doing is setting up systems so that everything doesn't go crazy when I don't clean every day. I have a "landing pad" for all my stuff when I get home, so that my shoes and bookbag don't get strewn everywhere. Also, I try not to wash clothes and dishes on the same day, and I do one the very best that I can, so that one task doesn't get neglected.

Unclutterer always has useful information on how to clean efficiently, even for those who don't know your cleaning 'type'.

Apr 1, 2009

The Kite Runner & Afghanistan

Sometimes I feel like I use my "five paragraph essay" voice when I talk about quote-endquote important issues, so forgive me.

Anyway, I'm about ninety percent done with Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and have an overarching feeling of dismay about the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful novel, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

But the line between fiction that so often gives me comfort in and escape from the REAL WORLD has been shattered by this book, which details the life of a child who grows up in Afghanistan in the Seventies, moves to America, and then returns [for an important plot thread] after the country has been taken over by the Taliban.

So, anyway, that's the novel in a nutshell, and since I have painted the story with such a broad brush, please don't disregard the book based on such a silly little paragraph. There is too much to be explored plot-wise in the story, but the literal, surface meaning is not what I mean to talk about. The political undercurrent is, and it is that which interests me. It is so alive with the modern state of the country and pessimism about its future that I couldn't help but be fundamentally shaken by its implications.

When war is waged on a country, it is difficult for people to understand the daily struggles of those people and whether or not the beliefs of the everyman align with those who have (ostensibly) caused the war. In Afghanistan, the fundamental - again, no pun intended - question is: do most people in the country align themselves with the Taliban?

The answer, I would say, is a resounding NO. I can't extrapolate all of Afghanistan out by the comments of one book, of course, but I do think it is important to note that perspective can be derived from sympathetic texts. And, while I criticized escalation of forces in Iraq, I have to say that I agree with Mr. Obama in sending more troops to Afghanistan to help the country get under control.

Khaled Hosseini himself has something to say about the presence of the US:
But this much we do know: Without a genuine and sustained, long-term commitment on the part of the U.S. and its allies, Afghanistan is doomed. Though Afghans are an independent people and take pride in their sovereignty, polls have repeatedly shown that, despite growing skepticism and disillusionment, the majority of Afghans still view the foreign presence in their country favorably. They know that a weakened western resolve will mean that positive gains that have been made so painstakingly will vanish swiftly and the country will slide back.

So, if I haven't depressed you too much, I encourage you to give The Kite Runner a chance. It's a damn fine book, and one that may help you get something that almost never hurts: a perspective other than your own.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Update

I just read on BoingBoing that you can read the first three chapters of P&P&Z online for free.