Monday, July 31, 2006

Somehow I doubt that

Slow and Steady

Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy.

They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder.

It'd really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment.

They expect you to examine everything carefully from every angle and then usually decide against it.

Is it just me, or do these quiz things rarely if ever actually describe you? Of course, it could be that they capture you perfectly, but by failing to reflect the person you'd like to think you are, they disappoint. Either way, I'm pretty sure this one missed the mark.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Who are you, and what the hell are you doing here?

Way back in February of 2005, Carol left the following comment:

Your website is very interesting. You appear to be a very deep thinking person. What the heck does someone like you enjoy about a "mommy blog"?

As it happens, I'm actually just an exceedingly shallow thinking person, but the vast array of subjects I touch on provides the illusion of depth. Don't tell anyone though. In any case, it is her question rather than her appraisal that forms the basis of this post.

What the hell was I doing on your blog when I posted a comment?

Blogs fascinate me. I like to read them. There are many things in this world I will never get to experience for myself, and what's more, anything I do encounter I can only do as myself. For all the class, intelligence, style, and grace that perspective may hold, it is in the end, finite. A few clicks enlarges my range exponentially, alien snapshots conjoined into a gallery of dizzying diversity. So if you maintain a blog, thank you. It can be a lot of work, but you do more good than you know.

If you are newly come to this site, or if you have thus far engaged already in reciprical commentaries, allow me to reassure you that you needn't leave a comment just because I did. Of course, you are welcome to comment. I enjoy reading them, and it helps me find your blog again (as I just click the "Next Blog" icon on the top bar or check the most recent updated), but if you are doing so solely out of a sense of obligation, rest easy in the knowledge that I won't be offended.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

And all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; there was not a man left.

I follow world events with great apprehension, specifically speaking now of the situation in Israel and Lebanon. Some say that Hezbollah is justified, or that it may in some sense at least have legitimate grievances and that its methods are all that is open to it. Others claim that the barrage of rockets, combined with the last fifty years of difficulties, more than justifies Israel's actions, no matter how high the body count may rise. It is a difficult issue. The only certainty I have reached for myself is that anyone peddling easy answers has no idea what they're talking about.

Conservative pundits and news services have followed the rising cost of the conflict with something akin to glee. Each demolished building or broken person another portion of righteous vengeance. Begininning from the sound position that Israel has a right to defend itself, they enlarge within the notion of defense acts of questionable scope and terrible violence. For many of them, Isreal is the opportunity to live their bloody fantasies vicariously, the chance to inflict damage on terrorists without worrying about US public opinion. For some, the worst of them, the fulfilment of their ugly anti-arab, anti-islamic convictions.

I question the wisdom of Israel's actions, and also the morality. But I also realize that it is possible that they are taking the only option open to them. If this be true it is regretable, and even if necessary, does not warrant the joyful reception it has recieved in the conservative world. For my own part, I speak from a position of limited understanding. However, merely from what can be gleamed through sources available to me, I do not believe Israel is any longer in the right.

I begin my own analysis by stating my belief in Israel's certain right of self-defense. If someone attacks you, you certainly have the right to defend yourself. But the purpose of such defense is to maintain and ensure your own safety, not to punish your aggressor. The idea of proportionality has recently come under much criticsm in conservative circles, but the reality is that it may be the only responsible and (possible) solution.

Israel certainly has the means to demolish Lebanon or Syria. But the dismemberment of nation-states will not result in the destruction of Hezbollah. Additionally, in its attempt to disable certain assets of some utility to its terrorist enemies, Israel has flattened many of the utilities used by Lebanese non-combatants. If an israeli missile hits a building and kills five terrorists, that's fine. But if that same missile flattens a block and kills or wounds dozens, not only have you harmed innocents, increased the strain on Lebanon's fragile government, but you have also likely just created more terrorists than you ever killed.

The fact of the matter is that Israel has some of the best intelligence and covert operations assets in the world. Well versed through years of anti-terrorist operations, they have managed actions of far more precision than arial bombardment. Wrath of God, Spring of Youth, the capture of Adolf Eichmann, these are just a few examples of paitent, focused, and (in some cases perhaps only relatively) proportional responses. They had little collateral damage, fewer complications, and achieved greater success. Special operations, combined with paitent diplomacy provides better prospects than messy air raids.

It is the easiest thing in the world to call for blood. It is a much harder thing to inquire into necessity, to require justification, and to aspire towards a more perfect world. "Shoot them all and let God sort them out", the official motto of FOX news, is not a position of moral integrity, nor is it the words of statesmen or people living in the real world. It is a petulent notion, the first reaction of a hurt child, and we are better than that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Continued use may result in limb loss

Television is now clogged with, among other things, a dizzying array of pharmaceutical commercials. Plaavix, Logimax, Seroquel, the list of bizarre names more indicitive of Captain Kirk's little black book than anything I'd want to injest or inject. Of course, those are just the brand names. Viloxazine hydrocholoride is far less encouraging than Vivalan, and that's with the fact that the proprietary name is no great comfort.

The commercials present the drug as a savior from some crippling scourge, even if the menacing fate be no more than the use of other forms of birth control. Once you have their medicine, your life will suddenly acquire all the fulfillment, enjoyment, and beautiful people your unfortunate condition has long thwarted. Then, after having promised to solve sweaty palms with two quick and easy bimonthly treatments, somoene lists the mild side-effects.

Some paitents report blindness, loss of taste, nose bleeds, and migranes. In some rare cases, psychosis and delusions have been reported. If you experience any head, chest, or limb pain, see a doctor as these may be symptoms of a relatively rare but exceedingly fatal (and painful) disease. This medication should not be taken by human beings, dogs over the age of four, or non-placental mammals.

Of coruse, I do not mean to make light of anyone's plight. This medication, and the deregulation that allows its cavalier advertisement, are likely substantial improvements in the lives of many people. However, it always seems to me that the problem the drug offers to solve is almost never worth the risk of the side-effects.

Monday, July 24, 2006

There and back again

I have returned from Comic Con. At 100,000 attendees, it is easily the king of comic book conventions. There were many interesting displays, impressive costumes, and even a few hobbits. Space ships, Princess Leia, and Batman as far as the eye could see. It was a terrific personification of nerd fantasy.

For myself, the two main draws were J. Michael Stracyzinski and Alfonso Cuaron. Each towering figures in their respective fields, I was able to attend both of their events. Stracyzinski's was particularly interesting, a candid and colorful view of the screenwriting profession. Ringed by aspiring writers, he dispensed an hour's worth of useful advice and amusing anecdotes.

Navigating the convention was difficult at times, my fellow convention goers not always displaying proper manners, but on the whole I enjoyed myself. Pictures will follow at some point, along with a more complete write-up.

Friday, July 21, 2006

We interrupt this post to bring you a special message from the future!

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I will be gone this weekend, attending Comic Con. Actually, I'm just hitching a ride down south to hang with people. I doubt I'll get to spend hardly any time at Comic Con, which is good, because I don't have any money to spend there anyway. Going without buying stuff would just be too painful.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Comedy's Pariah

I have a very healthy sense of humor. It is, I admit, somewhat cold and (if I may say so) intellectual, but even within such limitations the extent and depth of my comedic appreciation are significant. Unfortunately, broad as it may be, apparently it is not broad enough.

I am constantly amazed by the effortless descent into complete incapacitation people can achieve based off the most shallow of stimuli. There is nothing so crass or stupid that it fails to illicit riotous laughter from a vast base of the population. The height of comedy now resides, as no doubt it has long been accustomed, in the gutter. Incoherent screaming, loud bodily noises, twisted facial contortions, and flagrant sexual displays are all somehow the epitome of the humorous arts. Will Farrel, Jack Black, and the other knuckle-dragging misfits who troll the depths of degeneracy for cheap thrills have the gull to be comedians, and to my embarrassment, society agrees.

Please understand that I do not oppose physical comedy. Slapstick is not necessary bad, and when done well offers an incomparable experience. Rather, my complaint is that comedy is empty. It doesn't mean anything. I suspect half of the reason people laugh now is because they are supposed to, because they have been properly conditioned to accept media conventions without reservation. The other half of the time, they're just idiots.

Even outside of conventional humor-related exposures, I still find my sense of humor at odds with the rest of the world. Most people seem to have this ability to laugh at anything, even when if you had actually considered what was being said, it not only failed to be amusing, but it didn't make sense. Although this tendency may result in a dubious appreciation for comedy, I find myself envious of it all the same. I think I would find life more enjoyable if I understood what everyone thought was so funny - or at least if I understood why I don't think so.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Fickle Muse

Characters on TV always have such interesting jobs, or at least their job is interesting, even if its portrayal has little to do with reality. They are police detectives, lawyers, doctors, hostage negotiators, writers, actors and so on. They lead eventful, important lives that leave them successful and generally fulfilled. When I was younger, I assumed (as no doubt did many of you) that I too would find such a worthy career. I thought that when I found what I wanted to do in life, I would be excellent at it and there would be relatively smooth sailing from then on. Now I know better.

Like many people, I have a strong interest in creative endeavors. I love to read, I enjoy writing, and I am captivated by film. I freely admit that were I to believe I could succeed financially through such endeavors then it would be my preferred lifestyle. Certainly it would rank above the practice of law, currently my most likely prospect (especially since I have but one semester before graduation). Unfortunately, I find I not only would be unlikely to succeed professionally, but I cannot even pursue these interests as a hobby.

There is this deep, abiding well of creative energy somewhere inside me. I feel the pressure as it strains against the limits imposed by my personality and capabilities. I want to let it all out, and I can still recall a time when I had believed that mere desire would be sufficient to guarantee success. But now I find that every attempt meets, sooner or later, with an obstacle of undefined but ever sufficient dimensions, and I am left frustrated and exhausted. My imagination and expectations exceed the extents of my talents or determination.

One good example of this affect is my current project. Although not even my favorite idea, it is one that at least does not require talents I don't possess to complete, but even so I find progress extremely slow going. It's a novel called The Candidate, about a reality TV show. The participants compete for the opportunity to be a political candidate. I thought the premise was promising, and began writing with enthusiasm. But here we are several weeks later and I have not one more word than I wrote that first night. There's just this wall, and I don't know how to get over it.

In any case, for anyone who is interested in reading the prologue (because that's all there is), please go here and click on the file listed The Candidate Prologue. It's only five pages long, so it should make for a quick read.

EDIT: The file is hosted by a Yahoo Groups writing club that never seems to meet or post. I joined off Craigslist, but the group (like all things from there) quickly floundered. I didn't know another way to host the file, being computer illiterate as I am. Because you have to join the group to read the file, I'll understand if nobody does.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

True love, but for Mr. Kim...

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At a party with some friends, the conversation turned (as it is known to do, on occasion) to considering the relative desireability of female celebrities. I generally abstain from crass descriptions of womanly charms, not from any puritan objections but because I think such behavior is beneath me. Plus, I have issues. Lots of issues.

Anyway, I decided to join this discussion with the observation that Grace Park, Boomer of Battlestar Galactica fame, was quite attractive. Maxim was consulted (through whom's largess I display the above photo) and all agree she had much to commend. But then came the sad refrain from one participant that he would like her more, but he had read on Wikipedia that she was married.

The reliability of Wikipedia aside (I'm no wiki basher, but some of those articles aren't worth the paper they're printed on - and they ain't printed), I thought this was a peculiar objection. Believe it or not, I wasn't on the verge of acquiring her affections, stymied only by matrimonial obligations. I don't know her. I've never met her. Never even seen her in person, and likely never will. When I expressed admiration for her visual charms, it was as an enthusiast of beauty (and, perhaps, for somewhat more base and shallow reasons), not as a potential suitor. Its not as though absent her marriage, Grace would throw herself into my arms.

I understand that fantasy is somewhat more enjoyable if it stays within the bounds of plausability. Perhaps, for my friend, marital status is enough to ruin his fancies. For my own part, it was already more likely that I'd have to fight off a Cylon attack than meet Grace Park for dinner.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Springtime for Kitler and Germany

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Cats that look like Hitler is a fine example of the truism that anything can be found on the internet. The example included above, Spooky (owned by Elaine), is apparently the fifth rated furher kitler (their combination of cat and Hitler, I suppose). If you are really bored, go see the other four rated ahead of him.

While I'm on the subject of Germany (kinda), what is it with those VW commercials? Deutschland, yo? That slogan has been raised twice before in the last century, neither time to particularly good result.

P.S. If anyone knows how I can get rid of that empty air between the title and the images, please let me know.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wagner and Schendenfreude

I abhor reality television. Or, more accurately, I find the current genre almost entirely without merit. Tacky, trite, and insipidly overblown, it is a monument to bad taste. Now, to be sure, painting with such a broad (and harsh) brush is always dangerous. Certainly there may be particular titles of value, and indeed "reality television" is a term so expansive that it may be construed to include much of legitimate interest. Thus, to be clear, I refer in the remainder of this post to the staged encounters found nightly on the major networks.

Recently I have begun to watch more and more reality TV, as part of my research for an ongoing novel-type project called The Candidate I've been kicking around. Now, although the ridiculous subjects, repulsive contestants, and repetitive challenges offend me as a television viewer (I mean, that the networks believe they can satisfy the public with such thin offerings is insulting; That they succeed is depressing) that isn't what struck me most profoundly. What gets me is the music.

If you ever stop and listen to the music they use for these reality shows, it's like they culled the score of Last of the Mohicans or something, threw in a Wagnerian opera, and added the first movement of Carmina Burana for spice. Judging by sound alone, you would think the assembled band of genetically disadvantaged misfits were trying to stop the Earth's imminent implosion or ensure the future of democracy.

The editing is likewise ridiculous. Blunt and heavy handed, episodes begin with a "review" of previous events that often bears little resemblance to what had occurred. Once you get to the broadcast itself, the show is interrupted by commercial sponsors at "dramatic" moments so often that it exceeds even the wildest limits of the cliche. Upon returning from an advertisement, what little time that remains before the next interruption is often shared by another miniature review of what happened just before the break.

Please understand that I do not object to reality television on some stodgy moral ground. I don't care if people decide to watch horse porn. Whatever (providing all participants are consenting adults). But that we have been inflicted with such a horrid parade of second-rate programming offends me as a connoisseur of television.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I have Don Julio's Band!

After a long and excessively painful period of mindles clicking, I have achieved Exalted status with the Frostwolf Clan in World of Warcraft. Now, this is a difficult and time consuming task for anyone. As I'm just a casual WoW player, it took me even longer than usual. The rewards though are quite sweet.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pointless Factoid XV

Prime numbers are never found adjacent to one another (depending on your position regarding the number two). For instance, 3 and 5 are prime, as is 7 but not 6, 11 and 13 but not 12. It's believed that this pattern continues on to infinity, but this has not been mathematically proven.

Typo caught by a clever girl.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Philistine in the Mirror

In my spare time, I like to write. Now, I claim neither aptitude nor incompetence, but rather a kind of comfortable middling; good enough to so that I don't stop, but not so good as may allow for a more complete dedication. Talented apathy, in ink as in life, seems to be my lot.

Over the course of my ofttimes half-hearted literary efforts, I have explored many different forms of writing and numerous exercises. However, something I've never really taken to is poetry. I don't write it, I don't read it, but what's more is I don't understand it. From big names to small, conventional rhyme to total chaos, profound or trite, for the most part it all just flies right past me.

When I try to read poetry, it's like I'm staring at a blurry image. I can make out the shapes and the colors, but the subject is missing. Sometimes I know what the picture is supposed to be, but still there is this insurmountable disassociation, like the glass that separates life and television.

This is troubling to me not only because I like to think of myself as the kind of person who could enjoy poems, but also I find it frustrating as I rarely fail at anything. That is not to say I succeed either. My life history is just a conjunction of half finished interests, explored only so far as it takes to learn the extent of the subject. I am, on some level, a flake extraordinaire. Still, poetry has proven annoyingly elusive, even to the shallow degree of experience I seek, and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Character Flaws

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This will only make sense to gamers. But hey, if you are one, you're used to that.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Little Miseries

What ever happened to two-litre sized bottles of Vanilla Coke? They have completely disappeared from area stores, replaced by a Cherry-Vanilla concoction of dubious gastronomical merit. Cherry fans already have Cherry Coke. Now, in order to indulge my taste for vanilla I have been reduced to adding it manually. This is an injustice of epic proportions.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Didn't quite make Craigslist

Is it just me, or is everyone on Craigslist a complete and total flake? I mean, there are some really cool ideas floating around there, and I'm sure some of the people who propose a group or an activity genuinely wants to try, but it seems like nothing ever happens. I'm lucky to even get a reply to any question I send.

Of course, I know that life conspires to rob us of what free time we can skim off the top, and that writing groups or book clubs are ultimately luxuries. Even so, you'd think by the law of averages something would come together every so often.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Decline of Western Civilization

Last week some jerk broke into my car and stole my laptop. I later saw it on ebay, or at least what I thought was it. I've since contacted both ebay and the police, but neither have been particularly helpful and I've resigned myself to its loss. To be honest, there's no one else to blame. I knew better than to leave it in there, but of course after a while you just get lazy. Sadly, of course, this will not be the first automotive drama in which I shall play the victim, statistically speaking, and indeed if it is the worst crime ever perpetrated against me I shall have been fortunate.

To the person who stole my laptop, if you can read my blog (you have to plug in the cord to use the internet, I was too cheap to spring for WiFi), know that I hope you eventually get caught and suffer the justice you rightly deserve. Until then, good luck with your various enterprises, and I hope a four year old Sony Vaio serves you well. It has a pride of its own, you know, as a computer, and it should want (if it could want) to be useful. If it could do more for someone else than it did for me, there would at least be an upside to all of this.

On a less magnanimous note, if anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area recently purchesed a used grey Sony Vaio that lacks WiFi, has a bit of a noisy fan, and a few smudges on the screen (I was not the most careful owner), I'd appreciate an email. Remember, you have to plug it in.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Standard Deviation: Now with 20% more posting regularity!

Well, I'm back. For how long isn't quite clear at this point, but I stumbled across the old blog and felt like maybe trying to post again. You'd think with most of a year off I'd have something to talk about, and I guess I probably do, but I don't feel like launching into the particulars of my life right now. It's enough for me that I've started posting again.

More to come another time.