Sunday Morning Reading Material Fourth Sunday in March 2012- Springtime Edition


Lol mathematicians!

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for cat sitting. Sundays are for lazy days in the rain. Sundays are for feeding the post-church crowd and hoping they leave enough money to help you pay your rent.

This week: Former American Vice President Dick Cheney finally received a heart. Pope Benedict the Sixteenth visited Mexico, causing many to wonder why the former Hitler Youth chose “the good” as his papal name. And also this week: NASA has found what may be liquid water on the Sol System’s hottest planet.

I’m having a hard time understanding why the Spiderman movies are being rebooted so soon after they launched. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the series– indeed, they were huge sellers. Overthinking it argues that Spiderman exists to teach children humility, among other lessons. It’s a bit breathtaking, if true. Society has demanded that we create a character who’s entire point is to suffer for our amusement, and- when he reaches personal happiness- is reincarnated to repeat the cycle. Ladies and Gentlemen: the Amazing, Webslinging Sisyphus!

It’s a typical story: single Dad raises daughter, daughter begins to like comic books, and… daddy doesn’t know anything about comic books. So he educates himself about his daughter’s interests, so that he can help guide her on her path to autonomy. No real moral here. Just a heartwarming story.

Even if you’ve never seen Casablanca, you’ve seen it. The movie is so good that every line and shot has been parodied and reproduced to death. And yet… and yet the movie is still fantastic. Apparently the Marseilles scene wasn’t really acting…

I find myself surprised that Encyclopedia Britannica is ceasing its print operations. It’s not that I expect anyone to be getting more use out those set of books than from the average set of paperweights. Rather, in the very near future, printed books will be status markers of their own. I have a Kindle, I love my Kindle, but a visitor to my home does not see my thousand ebooks. Instead, they see my thousand real books and know something about me. In the future, the only physical books we buy will be the ones that we want to show off. An encyclopedia seems well suited for that.

Google is huge. They’re so important that they have to actively fight against their name turning into a generic verb. To not be linked to by Google, to not be included as one of their search results, is to basically not exist on the web– and therefore to be outside of human knowledge. Google is required by the laws of many nations to remove links to certain pages known to discuss certain topics. “For example, no hate speech,” Depending on how they define “hate speech”, this is probably ok. “no death threats”, I, for one, hope they get local authorities involved when death threats are uncovered. “no incitement to violence”, again: depends on the situation, but generally agreeable. The situation in the US is certainly different than that in Syria; I hope Google makes that distinction. “no copyright-infringing content”. Wait, what? In Google-world, hate speech, death threats, incitement to physical violence, and copyright infringement are equivalent problems?!

Each of the stories today has been about the ability of a cultural artifact to shape the lives of those who interact with it. Each of those artifacts has been inside the control of a corporate entity- an unperson which is legally barred from doing anything that does not lead to increased shareholder revenue. Google has said that they will remove any story from any source that might contain “copyright-infringing content”. Finding if your content has been delinked is difficult, and requires a site owner to be vigilant. certainly no corporate entity would abuse that.

Probably infringing content:

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Sunday Morning Supplemental Third Sunday in March 2012- It’s never about the cupcake Edition

It’s Sunday Morning and I’m running to work. I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

Several weeks ago, a teenaged boy was murdered. His murderer bragged about the crime and was not arrested. The boy was black. The murderer was white.

This was not a hate crime. The murderer- so far as I know- does not realize that he has a deep seated fear and hatred of African American people. Rather, the murderer lives in a society that makes routine comments about how different African American people are. How “they” are less moral, more violent, and more aggressive. In bed? Better.

America has laws which target African Americans more harshly than white people. American waiters and waitresses understand as a matter of routine principle that “black people don’t tip”- and therefore give shittier service than they do for anyone else.

Putting all of that together, it is difficult to escape the conclusion: George Zimmerman pulled the trigger on a boy who was trying to “get away with” walking home. But it was American society- it was you and me- who handed George the gun and let him play hero. What are we going to do about it? How are you going to break the centuries of bad thinking? How will you help America atone?

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Sunday Morning Reading Material Second Sunday in March 2012- Bamboo Turkey Edition


Bunnies and kitties. Je Suis l’internet!

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for dada. Sundays are for resting. Sundays are for healing. Sundays are for Dim Sum. Sundays are for punchlines.

This week: I decided to ignore the news and get to the links.

Is the world too depressing? have some kittens.

“But I get the sense Santorum is speaking nothing but his completely unfiltered thoughts. I know it’s weird to say this about a politician, but I sort of wish he were lying to my face at least a little.”

Did Dr. Sues really say this? I don’t know. But I do love what it is saying.

Who a person’s enemies are says a lot about them. Perhaps more importantly is the lines along which they choose to attack their enemies. The brilliance here is that Tolkien is willing to tell Germany that The Great War was merely bygones, and that the contemporary unpleasantness is utterly transient. But racism? That’s unacceptable.

Republican economic nostrums are very bad for America. When the government spends money, it is possible to get positive return on investment. By removing that spending, we shrink the economy. And, of course, we return to the War of All Against All.

By breaking 300 million people into millions of 5,000 person pools, it’s impossible for Americans to get really good group deals on healthcare. And so we wildly overspend. Imagine how much healthier our economy would be if consumers had (say) 25% of their healthcare bills in their own banks, rather than in the insurance company’s banks.

Health Insurance is based on the idea that one person may or may not have a car accident, but that thousands of random people are unlikely to all at once. Once individuals are able to start stacking the odds in their favor, health insurance will start going away. Which, obviously, is why we need to have it be provided by the government.

The health insurance reform signed by Obama was only the first step. It was a needed step, because over half of all bankruptcies in America are because of medical issues. It is deeply immoral to force someone to choose between their cancer treatment or their children’s home. But that’s the system we have in America.

Kevin Drum is wrong. The best Star Wars movie is Attack of the Clones.

Remember: the war against healthcare-provided birth control is a front in the war against birth control. And the war against birth control is a front in the war against enjoyable sex. If you’ve ever had– or want to have– enjoyable sex, let your congressperson know that they need to stand with the President, and against the birth control opt out.

I’m guessing that most teachers- and parents- have engaged in sex- many of them have done it on camera. So I’m not at all clear to see why it should be a dismissable- or noteworthy– offense.

This sort of thing is why many choose instead to go it alone.

It sounds like crazy conspiracy mongering to suggest that the President has taken the power to kill Americans on no higher say-so than his own authority. The only checks on this authority are the ones that he himself decided to impose on himself. This is America. 2012.

When Americans were broke, we drove less. Now that we’re making more money, we’re driving more. This is causing gas prices to go back up. Gas prices may suck, but the alternative would be to… raise taxes to pay for a system of mass transit that would actually be useful. No right-thinking American would dare go along with such a plan.

Banks Behaving Badly.

By now, everyone knows that video games aren’t bad for people- and that saying so is simply the older generation’s way of bemoaning their own age. But a growing body of evidence suggests that gaming might be good for people. So I guess I’ll just play some more StarCraft.

StarCraft, actually, a large and growing esport, with a huge following. I like it. It’s like Football without the risk of concussion.

In 2012, America has a black president, and so therefore racism is over. Well. Kinda. Instead, we live in a society which doesn’t intentionally or formally create barriers between “races”, but rather has many informal and social ways of Otherizing non-white people. And when one of the leading StarCraft 2 teams discovered that one of their coaches was using the N-word… they had a choice. The reasons they made the choice they did are enlightening.

Scientific progress goes boink (warning: some technical jargon. But awesome)

HE NEVER SAID HE WAS A FUCKING JELLY DOUGHNUT. And other myths.

And the cold war. Israel and Iran have been engaged in one for a very long time. Obama would like Israel to stop rattling its saber, and would like Iran to please stop working on nukes. Me? I just want us all to stop using oil.

Super bonus happy fun time video: the origin story of Keep Calm and Carry On. I wish we’d had this on 12 September 2001…

How awesome would it be if Iran and Israel only spoke to one another using this site?

As are we all, Luthor, as are we all:

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I’m ok, you’re ok, China is huge

China is big. Very big. To say that it has 1 billion people is to underestimate it’s true population by a value larger than the entire population of America. Not only is China a huge country, but its population has been immiserated for centuries. They’re finally digging their way out.

All of this means that America will not be Earth’s predominant nation for much longer. We Americans need to get used to this fact. We need to prepare for it, and shift our minds to encompass what it might mean to be #2, #3, or even #4. Our national identity needs to become far less wrapped up in being the best, and more about defining the good life.

What is the American dream? What is the American Identity? Is it really so important to have a huge standing Army (as distinct from a large and capable Navy?

China will eventually overtake America as the world’s preeminent nation; America will not necessarily become impoverished. The world is not zero sum. Much as the 20th century saw England falling from it’s perch into a comfortable lifestyle*. America can- must!- manage the same lofty descent.

Unless we can get China and India into a nuclear war. That would be good for America.

*I’d love to adjust these numbers by Gini Coefficient .

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Sunday Morning Reading Material First Sunday in March 2012- Older than Christ Edition


This is a real commercial. It is not a parody.

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for getting up way too soon after you’ve invited many of your closest friends for a Saturday evening, and going to work. Sundays are for being with family. Sundays are for catching up.

This week: hell claimed one of its own as the man who lied ACORN out of existence dropped dead of natural causes. This week: After a hotly contested primary campaign, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum split the Michigan delegates evenly. This week Microsoft showed consumers a beta of its next operating system. And this week Maryland became merry by allowing gay people to marry.

Also this week: Obama is a bad ass. Seriously: does the theme from Shaft get piped into every room he walks into?

Archie Comics is… weird. Instead of superheros, or whatever sort of bizarre dada the Japanese are into, it is instead a comic version of a PG highschool RomCom. The fact that such an inoffensive and banal comic is featuring a wedding between a returning soldier and his (male) partner probably marks a significant turning point in the march towards legalizing gay marriage. Gay marriage is now considered PG. Inoffensive. Banal. And naturally that scares the hell out of people who wish it were controversial.

Back in my Catholic school days, I was taught that sex ought to have consequences. The older I’ve gotten, the more I tend to agree. I think that sex ought to (at least) have the consequence of a rousing orgasm for all parties involved. Preferably, it would have the consequence of reinforcing an emotional bond between the parties involved. Sadly, there are a lot of killjoys running around (like my old Catholic school teachers) who think that sex ought to carry with it more negative risks, like pregnancy and disease. To create these consequences, these assholes fuddy duddies are doing their best to remove access to the things that make sex safe, legal, and plentiful: condoms, birth control pills, and abortions.

Some lawmakers are more accepting than others.

In America, it is possible to “steal education”, from public schools, for your child. This means that it is possible to buy education, from public schools, for your child. This means that in America, we do not have equality of opportunity. This means that the American dream has been betrayed.

So: you know how people are trying desperately to refinance their houses at lower rates, but banks won’t let them? Of course you do, it’s been all over the news: we have a responsible media that reports on important stories. So banks don’t want to let homeowners refinance their homes because they’ve already claimed earnings from future (expected) interest as money now. If people refinanced their homes, banks would take huge losses. Anyway. a huge bank owner is complaining about the 5 homeowners who managed to beat the odds by refinancing, but still got foreclosed on.

Why would a mega capitalist complain about not being able to screw everybody, all the time? new study suggests that the rich are simply bigger assholes than you or me.

Spacial voting theory is pretty straightforward. In a system such as ours, only 2 parties will ever exist for very long. When there are more than one conservative parties, they tend to split the vote and accidentally allow a liberal to get elected. Obviously liberals do the same thing: that’s how 2000 saw the election of President Bush. I think the reason we see this repeated non-strategic candidate-picking behavior is twofold. First: people get into an echo chamber and stop thinking about how far left/right they really are (compared to their politically apathetic neighbors). Second: people have a very hard time believing in spacial voting theory.

I do love cloud products. My Kindle, my Steam account, hell, even this blog. The cloud is compact. It removes a lot of clutter from my life. Unfortunately, you don’t own any of the content on the cloud. Possession is 9/10ths the law. This is another major reason why piracy continues to exist. Developers and consumers are often at odds about continuing services, and piracy is a method for retaining control of a product after a developer had abandoned it. I do wish Congress understood things from a consumer point of view. Perhaps these fights could be headed off.

For instance: you don’t own pictures once you’ve uploaded them to Facebook.

It is distressing that Americans look at Obama and see a black man, and then ask him for guarantees that he won’t serve the interests of just black men. And it is distressing that Americans looked at JFK and made him promise that he wouldn’t actually turn America over to the Catholic Pope. What’s terrifying, though, is that there’s a Republican candidate for president who listened to JFK’s speech about America not being a theocracy, and it “made me want to throw up”. So there you have it. 2012. American theocracy. The issue is distinctly drawn.

The older I get, the more I realize that “Politically Correct” means not being an asshole. The fact that the term (PC) is almost always used as a slur should tell us a lot. The fact that our culture has a set of norms for (eventually) shouting down assholes tells us that we’re growing as a society.

When you start paying attention to your own assholish behavior, it begins to get easier to to refrain from doing it. Kudos to Mr. Jacques.

Identity is weird. One of my sisters shares the same pair of biological parents as I do– but she considers herself “Italian” in a way that I just don’t. She will root for ITL over the USA during soccer matches– I think this is a bit crazy. I’m not a basketball fan. In fact, the Golden State Warriors are such a bad team that I’m actively repelled by the sport. Even so, I’ve heard of this Jeremy Lin dude. What’s awesome about him is the way he’s become a cipher, letting project from him whatever sort of stereotypes they wish to see. He isn’t those things, of course, he’s a human being. The fact that he’s an Asian-American human excelling in a sport which demands qualities that American society tells Asian-Americans they don’t possess is making Asian-Americans feel all kinds of good. Reading this article, I learned that Lin is from the Bay Area. This makes me feel all kinds of good. Because Bay Arean is how I ethnically identify.

If you only click one link:

It’s your relationship. Fight fair.

This week’s theme has been: My Birthday!!! Well. Perhaps that hasn’t been evident in the actual content of the post. But Oh yeah. I turn 34 on Monday.

Get off the internet, kids.

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Sunday Morning Reading Material Fourth Sunday in February 2012- Middle class livelihood Edition

It’s Sunday Morning. Sundays are for loving the one you’re with. Sundays are for nerding out and watching video games on TV. Sundays are for working your Monday-Friday job. Sundays are for waiting patiently for the IRS to give you some money for a change.

This week, a judge ruled that former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi hid his corruption long enough that he wouldn’t have to face punishment for it. This week, Playstation released a new piece of hardware. This week the IMF told the world that the global economy is really not in the best of shape right now. And this week Iran begged the world to stop attacking them.

The internet is fantastic. It has allowed more people access to more data than ever before seen in human history. A device that fits in my pocket can answer and factual question that humankind has discovered. Not everyone has access to the internet. Access requires a skill set that must be learned. And in this age of austerity, American society is removing the tools which can help people learn those skills. This is how austerity creates poverty.

Because it needs saying, saying again, and repeating: Obama (and the Democratic party) saved the US economy. Had Republicans not enacted austerity measures, the economy would probably be doing even better by now.

It has now been long enough since Loving Vs. Virginia that those first (legal) interracial couples can have great grand children. So naturally in Austin Texas, the police get called out when a white man is talking a walk with his black granddaughter. And naturally, in 2012, the police respond to every situation with overwhelming force. These two things together point out how American racism is upheld and reinforced by the society which would like very much to destroy it. It’s ugly, pernicious, and needs to change.

The other day my dad was asking me how many readers I’d need in order to make money from this blog. Some quick math tells me that if I had a readership of 100,000 people, and could get $1 a year from about a third of them, I’d be doing ok. I don’t have nearly that level of readership, though I know some people do. One way to monetize readership is to sell ads. Another way is to sell Tshirts. A third is though pledge drives. I’m not sure how future-media will pay for itself. I’m fairly sure that this blog won’t ever get big enough to worry about it.

It is certainly true that a bad attitude doesn’t help solve major problems. It is much more true that being able to buy a new pair of legs requires money. And since disabilities tend to be concentrated among the least-well off, society creates a circular problem– and then tells the disabled that it’s their own fault. Helen Keller recognized this. That’s why she spent her life working for the communist party.

How the fuck do fashion designers have enough clout to tell Hollywood women they’re too fat?! Relatedly: how can fashion designers believe that Hollywood women are too fat, yet not be institutionalized as being too crazy to function in the real world?

this is adorably terrifying.

This winter, California weather has been frighteningly perfect. I mean that literally: I have been frightened at our lack of rain, lack of cold weather, lack of everything that our ecosystem depends on to reset itself. This summer will probably not be very pleasant at all. Global Climate Change. If Earth truly is becoming more like Venus, might it be worth the collapse of civilization in order to save our species? Or maybe we ought to let Iran build nukes- if they promise to stop exporting oil. Or maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe.

Or maybe the sky will fall and save us all.

My goal for 2012 is to become self sufficient once more. I’ve said before that January 2011 saw me at the very bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, looking up at everything. It’s a terrifying place to be. I think this terror helps answer C.S. Lewis’ question about debt: Debt undermines every part of the hierarchy. A person in debt literally cannot use their own resources to take care of all their needs, and thus must begin to decide which of the fundamental things they must give up on, or which of several needs they must cut back on.

Sleep is weird. If we humans don’t get enough of it, we will literally go mad. Too much will leave us feeling sluggish and stupid. Is it possible that we modern people sleep wrong? It would make some evolutionary sense for us to have a two hour nighttime wake-period– the better to keep an eye out for predators. And perhaps that’s why hot-weather cultures are able to have siesta– they’re shifting their sleep from night to day. And perhaps it’s all BS.

At the very least, read the first few paragraphs of this review of the game Oil Rush. I’m not really sure how game designers can create a game around 4th generation warfare, but it’s useful to have a conversation around it’s existence.

I’ve never been sure why Reagan was neither tried for treason nor impeached. It would be awesome for Republicans to realize they’ve been making a huge mistake about him.

The business model of Intellectual Property rental depends on artificial scarcity. IP owners are terrified about piracy because it creates extra product outside their control. The obvious solution would seem to be allowing consumers easy and free access to IP within a framework controlled by the IP owners. instead they’re making it difficult for consumers to become a customers.

Side note to the previous: when you buy an Mp3, the music industry likes to pretend that you’re merely licensing it from them. When they pay royalties to the people who made that music, they pretend that they sold it to you. The music industry is full of lying scumbags. This is what happens when the side the has the money also controls the information.

The author of the No Child Left in Ballsack Act is Yasmin Neal, a Democrat from Riverdale.

Setting aside special parking spaces for people who have physical difficulty walking is one of those nice things that society does. Which is exactly why we must shame, condemn, and punish people who abuse that system. The sense of entitlement people have about “perfect” parking is sort of outrageous. This is just one of many social ills that would be solved with better mass transit.

There is something awesome about watching a competition between people who have mastered their craft. Whether that’s football, cooking, or Street Fighter. Watch the one minute video, read the description, then watch it again.

Price might be the single biggest barrier to entry for entertainment. I think this sort of thing will come to define the future of games, movies, and books. There are enough entry points to- and price points within- the ecosystem they’ve set up that it becomes up to the consumer if they’re willing to spend more. Since the product is well designed, the consumer never feels like they’ve been ripped off.

If you click just one link:

Tip your server.

I love you, Hollywood style.

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Sunday Morning Reading Material Third Sunday in February 2012- Canadian Astronaut Edition


Scarves!

It’s Sunday… sometime. Sundays are for crockpots. Sundays are for road trips to Grandma’s. Sundays are for Sleeping. Sundays are for working, and visiting one’s partner’s family. And of course, Sundays are for dressing you up like a little gnome and have you, like, live in my garden.

This week: Iran moved a pair of Warships into the mediterranian, a show of force intended to push Israel into ceasing their attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists. This week the US Presidential primary showed a massive swing towards the candidate who’s name is so vile that googling it cannot be done from most work places. Also this week: scientists discovered that goats can form accents.

I’m almost positive that the Virginia State legislature didn’t intend to write a law that would demand doctors rape roughly 1/3 of Virginian women. But they did. Perhaps the most awful part of the bill is suspicion that it was written in the most-inflammatory way possible– specifically to overturn one of the most important legal decisions in American history.

Speaking of treating women very badly: the congressional panel about contraceptives and insurance that didn’t include a single woman. That’s not what Darrell Issa wanted the panel to be about, of course. He wanted a congressional inquiry about how Religion would no longer be as free to discriminate against women. So he invited a bunch of religious people to talk about it would curtail their freedom. Naturally he didn’t want to learn about how curtailing religious freedom enhanced the freedom of women. Also, for the record: when women get free contraceptives, men are much happier.

The practice of buying and selling sex is, of course, unsavory. I honestly can’t imagine what would cause someone to, say, get a lap dance. The idea of paying for penetration is utterly foreign to me. Maybe it’s just that desire is my own personal kink. Who knows. But just because I don’t like something, and just because I don’t understand why someone would buy something, doesn’t mean that it ought to be illegal. Nor does it mean that the police should incentivize unsafe workplaces. By doing so, they’re not only directly harming workers and clients, they’re also causing a danger to the public at large.

I had no idea that post birth was this uncomfortable for women. American society really ought to get on making this better.

Also this week? The world was OUTRAGED by the case of the government forcing a child to take free milk she didn’t know she had access to. I understand how parental embarrassment/fear at being unable to provide for their child can masquerade as outrage that someone else would do so. The fact that she was encouraged to feel that outrage is sickening. What sorts of moral monsters object to the richest country on Earth collectively offering to feed 4 year olds?

I do love me some West Wing. It’s got great dialog, fun characters, and a real sense of the pacing that government officials operate under. The problem is that the fictional president they portray isn’t very good. The problem is that not only did the writers on that show not know what liberalism should be, they didn’t understand why liberals believe what we do. As a result, Barlet was a sort of feckless weather vane: constantly reacting to crises, never setting the agenda. That was before the last half of the series. At that point, the writers started making a Democratic president make all the same decisions that the real Republican president was making.

Sometimes you just need a shitstorm.

There was a great line in Pump up the Volume: “all the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks“. I won’t actually throw a party the day the last Baby Boomer dies- my father is part of that generation. It is, however, certainly the case that the Baby Boomers cashed out the promise and equity of America, and left behind only a burned husk of what might have been. As a generation they are loathsome.

Fun fact: we had ever increasing wages until the Boomers began voting in large numbers. Labor rights were rolled back, and we find ourselves in the mess we are today.

I’m sorry if my anti-Boomer musings have brought you down alot.

I earned just over $13,000 in 2011. As a result, I owed the US government roughly $300. Facebook earned roughly $1 billion. As a result, they will owe no taxes at all. This seems fair to me. Wait. Wait. No.

I hadn’t realized that Portugal decriminalized drugs a decade ago. One never hears about drug tourists flocking to the country hoping for a high. This may say some very negative things about the rest of what Portugal has to offer. Interesting thing about drug use after that decade: It’s gone down.

I played Angry Birds once. It led me to joining Al Queada.

Despite the headline, this is first paining ever made by humans. Rather, it is the oldest one we have record of. Either way: fucking cool.

When content owners won’t let their audience get product, it increases the likelihood that people will turn to other means to get their goods. I think if IP owners understood their problem with piracy, they’d have a better handle on fighting it. Instead, they flail like children, reacting against change.

The point of copyright law is to provide a (monetary) incentive for people to produce art and science. It’s hard to see how Whitney Huston could be induced to create more music by a posthumous price hike. Instead, the profit goes to the immortal corporation. Make your own vampire joke.

If I were suddenly making $200,000 a year, I’d like to think that my basic personality wouldn’t change much. After all, the things I enjoy doing wouldn’t change. And I’d guess that my free time to engage in those things would actually diminish. I can’t say that I’m actually all that different from this group of whiners, though.

So yeah. I think I’m going to play this game about slavery. Why don’t you?

If you click just one link:

Labor is discontent..

Crowdsourcing a celebrity.

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Sunday Morning Reading Material Second Sunday in February 2012- Cold fueled haze Edition


Fuck the Spartans.

It’s Sunday morning. Sundays are for waking up in a NyQuil-hangover daze and wondering if your face is still attached. Sundays are for furiously making Valentines day plans. Sundays are for sleeping in. Sundays are for doing Tea for Two. Sundays are for kitties.

This week US Bishops got into a huff about being asked to treat their employees the way every other employer is mandated to treat theirs. This week the Republican Presidential Primary got interesting as Rick Santorum won three states. And this week a major video game producer was able to raise over a million dollars just by asking their fans.

The super power I most want is flight. I know that telekinesis, teleportation, or tele-rude-people-off would be more valuable, but I am utterly fascinating by the ability to defy gravity. It is fascinating to me that nature came up with a method for creating flight that was easy enough to have been independently evolved dozens of times– but that humanity came up with an entirely different method for our own mechanical attempts. Yet here we are, with over a century of flight experience, and decades of space travel, without a firm grasp of what birds and insects do by pure instinct.

I showed this article to my boss. He confirmed that it was his experience in reading a menu. One obvious point he mentioned: no matter how people read the menu, they’re much more likely to actually order something if it has a picture of the food item.

Planned Parenthood. The very name has been demonized by religious zealots. I remember in Catholic school (oh yes, I was a Catholic school boy), I was taught that there ought to be “consequences” for our actions. This, I was told, is why abortion was a moral wrong. The older I get, the more I realize that consequence free fucking is something that we humans really ought to strive for. Rather than a moral wrong, this would be an incredible moral victory. The focus on one medical procedure also serves to obscure all the other good work that Planned Parenthood engages in. The short version: any medical care that a woman needs can be obtained at low- or no- cost at one of their clinics. Perhaps that’s the part that actually scares the patriarchy.

Speaking of my education: Target. When I was at Davis, I used to drive all over hell and gone to get the basic home furnishings: Toilet paper, kitty litter, sponges, etc. For about a year of my stay there, the city debated allowing the opening of a new Target a short walk from my apartment. This would have saved me more gas money than I care to think about. And brought the city always-needed sales tax revenue. I’m glad to see the NIMBYs finally relented.

I bet if we look hard enough, we can find someone who exactly caricatures the right-wing view of lefties, the way this quote does for the opposite.

In a very real sense, the Civil Rights struggle was a second American Revolution. It transformed the way the government and society treated citizens. I think the Occupy movement would like to be a third revolution, and in some sense fulfill the promise of the Civil Rights movement. If they are truly refusing to engage with the legal aspects of society, if they really do not wish to effect a change in the laws of America, then they have no chance at all of accomplishing anything lasting. If that’s the case, then they really are what the media has painted them as: a bunch of privileged kids whining about mom and dad.

Barack Obama rose from nothing to become the most powerful man in the world. And he is still human enough to take delight in the small things. Love it.

Sunday morning Comics.

In America, in the year 2012, it seems bizarre(!), strange(!), impossible,(!) that a human being could own(!) another human being in the same sense that a human can own a house or horse. In America, up until the year 1864, it was not only possible, but in many areas socially and economically mandatory. In some places, it wasn’t mandatory. In some places, it was social death, and a legal impossibility. A lot of that owes to one man convincing his coreligionists to give up that evil practice , at great economic harm to themselves. I know I’ve linked to that article before, but it does seem worth mentioning again that one person can make a difference. Also: remember that in 2012, in America, there are about 1 million enslaved human beings.

Despite the best efforts of the Republican Party, there is still no evidence of wide spread voter fraud. Lack of evidence will not deter voter-suppressing laws from being passed.

I don’t trust Facebook. It isn’t that I don’t trust the amount of information they collect. It isn’t even the way they advertise or roll out new features. It’s the ethos of the company. Facebook was started by a man represents the very worst parts of American capitalism. Before day 1, he had a plan to sabotage his competition. Since then, his company has consistently broken privacy promises and violated user expectations. As a result, I’m not using facebook. Also: feel free to put up a link to this post on facebook. I’m not picky about where traffic comes from.

A new book on the FBI is set to be released on Valentines Day. I don’t think it’s more than an amusing coincidence. The book itself seems like a great, but terrifying, read. Our intelligence agencies (both internal and external) really do think that they are the only people who see the ever-looming threat to the American way of life. As a result, they’re more paranoid than they ought to be. This paranoia makes them willing to lie to elected officials, and grants them an unhealthy contempt for the democratic process. So the security state stumbles ever onward, turning America into something unrecognizable fearful, mean, and small.

In the US, the years between 2001 and 2010 were not very good. They were characterized by wars, economic stagnation, and- eventually- the Lesser Depression. They were, however, some of the best years so far to be a human being. It may not be as dramatic or flashy as warfare, but it is awesome.

An interesting Slate article about the rise of Chipotle. It’s the last three sentences that I find the most interesting. Certain things just take a certain amount of time to do. If we continue to have long commutes, and continue to need 6-8hrs of sleep every day, and we continue to want to spend time with friends and family, then something will have to give. Our society had decided that we’d prefer to have someone else cook for us than to spend the time cooking for ourselves. This actually makes a lot of sense. Cooking can be a leisure activity, or a hobby, but having to do it every day quickly turns it into a chore. I wonder if there’s a commensurate rise in high-end cookware: as people cook less often, they’d want to use better tools when they do.

Valentines day is Tuesday. I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, but I do know who I’m spending the evening with. Modern romance, though, can be so confusing. Text messages, instant messages, jumbotrons, etc. What we really need is to get back to basics. We need to flirt like the Victorians. I’ll be wearing my best cravat…

I love Tiny Hippo.

This does set a pretty high bar for proposals. And makes me ache for the long-promised Android port of that card game.

This week’s theme has been revolution and love. In the comments section, leave a note about your over-the-top ultimate bad-ass Valentines day plans are.

By the by: Some weeks I post on days that aren’t Sunday. For instance: this week I did a small post on Republican chances in 2012, and what makes a good review. Last week, I posted about The limits of marketing.

My Valentine wanted me to share this with you:

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The world will end in 2248

Republicans are screaming that this ad is basically an Obama campaign commercial. If that’s true then Obama basically owns the mindshare for:

Clint Eastwood
America
Halftime
Togetherness
Being awesome in the face of adversity
Big cars that go vroom

If it’s truly the case that watching this ad made a lot of people think of Obama, then the Republican party in 2012 is fucked.

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Quis Reviewiet Ipsos Reviewes

Most of the time games reviews and previews strike me as being of the same level of honesty as the average politician. Both groups are happy to tell bland truths about their subject matters, and shade their unpopular opinions just enough that their core audiences won’t be too unhappy. Some, like Newt Gingrich and Yahtzee enjoy trolling the world with a pseudo-intellectual grinding that sounds clever for a moment, and then dissipates. Sadly, they’re both better in their fields than I’ll ever be.

That’s not to say that all games journalist (or politicians!) are bland, bad, or on the take. I can think of a couple of sites, and a few freelancers who do a very good job at telling me what I need to know about a game before I buy it.

And then there’s Tom Chick. He’s the best there is. I read his review of review of Final Fantasy 13-2 and knew what the game was. I understood it’s philosophy, knew what traditions it held to, and what made it tick. When I read his review, I realized that the things that made him hate the game were the very things that will make my girlfriend love it.

Now the question is: do I want to show her the review, and run the risk of not seeing her again for 1200 hours?

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