Saturday, January 29, 2011

American Indians and Religion

At the Tucson memorial service, there was a Native American speaker there to do that super spiritual American Indian one with nature and the spirit in the sky talk. This blogger wrote up a post showing how much of a sham it is to perpetuate that idea that Native Americans would be best represented by the 'great spirit' type talk. Four percent, 4.1% of Native Americans identify as practicing an indigenous religion (the general social survey was the source of data). I find it interesting that nearly 75% of American Indians are some type of Christian.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Photographic Timeline Displaying Islam's Influence on Eroding Women's Rights

Very interesting to witness the change in the norms regarding women over 50 years in Cairo (link).

Too bad American feminists are too busy bitching about the Patriarchy in Western countries to care.


The Egyptians are protesting due to food inflation and raw material cost inflation. Yes, this comes back to the FED printing money and devaluing the currency, boosting all commodities. The Egyptians are not taking it (like the Tunisians earlier this month), and the food riots of 2008 and back and far stronger. The government has shut down the Internet (as has Syria) and rolled out the tanks. Let's hope that if the pro-democracy protests do overturn the dictatorship, that it creates a representative government like in Iraq and is not hijacked by the Islamic forces similar to what happened in Iran in 1979. My prayers will be with them.

Somehow my gut says Obama and the administration will back the wrong horse.

UPDATE: I realize it sounds petty to blame the FED but follow me through here. The FED prints money and holds interest rates low. This pumps money into the big banks hands and also funds the federal deficit makign the dollar worth less than in 2009. The big banks then pile money into asset classes, including stocks, bonds and even commodities. This happened in 2008 which caused $147 Oil. It's a crack up boom made by cheap money. This makes food pricey. Poor countries get squeezed much harder. Hungry people get angry. This is probably just the beginning as the FED has no intention of raising rates anytime soon despite all the "progress" and "recovery" talk by the POTUS.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

White Dog: The Movie

In 1981, Hollywood made a movie about a white dog that attacked and killed only black people. Of course, the black trainer can cure him, but not before Burl Ives wishes him dead. Movies like this were how Kristy McNichol's career went nowhere despite her cute girl next door charisma. How did this ever get financial backing?

*Yes, I found this trying to find a worse Hollywood race switching than Lavender Brown from HP.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Text Face

Ever notice that face everyone makes when they get a text and read it. They keep the phone down, look with only their eyes down and open their mouth slightly? We never raise the phone to our eye level, we just glance down and drop our jaw a bit. Phone zombies.

Wrapping Up Harry Potter

I finally finished the Harry Potter (HP) series. I read the last 3 books in the last week. I had read the first 4 books years ago, and really enjoyed where JK Rowling had left me hanging. I also saw the 5th movie and remembered that every book is significantly better than its movie adaptation. Fortunately, my mother in law books my wife and I the complete series for our child to read when he grows up. Where to begin....

- First, this is one of if not the greatest youth series I have ever read. Comparable to the Ender books, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, John Carter of Mars, and even my personal fave: the Johnny Dixon series. I am biased against Tolkien's Rings books as the trilogy, not the awesome Hobbit, put me to sleep. They are written better, but are not as good of a series for entertainment as HP. The books progress in complexity with the reader as if that reader will age with the next book and the next after it. This is a great device to appeal to a growing child, but the early books simplicity take away from it compared to other series. Brilliant.

- As I finished this series, I cursed George Lucas for screwing up the prequels as JK Rowling wrote a multigenerational tale with enough consistency to make me realize how fucking stupid and lucky Lucas was. I also felt jealous that someone could craft something so intricate yet flexible. There are enough details to whet the appetite but not enough to trap her into shoehorning anything.

- Joseph Campbell would gladly approve of this hero quest. Hidden powers and origin, older guide that dies leaving Harry to finish the quest, denying the quest but finally accepting the duties.

-A poor child on the outside of Britain's old caste system grows up and writes a series of books based on a magic school which is a parallel of the British public school (their private schools) system. She makes it full of mystery and status/blood is significant. Go figure.

- She also writes about a government indifferent to the needs of people, that covers up problems, and is ineffective against the backdrop of living on public assistance and seeing the Brit elites who are even more out of touch than American elites run the show. Go figure.

- The constant themes of love and death in the series are overpowering. She kills off big characters. Love and relationships are constant concerns for people or signs of good or bad. Her mom died and she had just gone through a divorce as she wrote these books. Go figure.

- Lily Potter chooses the jerk big shot on campus (James) over the beta who adores her (Snape). Bellatrix adores Voldemorte who is a psychopath over her husband, who is evil but not such a self centered bastard. Snape the chump never gets over her, and then watches over Harry because James couldn't TCB. Go figure.

- This is a book read by Gen X and Y, but is a total Gen X book. The problems are created by the older generation (boomers), they constantly screw things up more, they never reveal all data, face the truth or fully help the younger folks who are in charge of cleaning up after the screw ups of their elders. Hell, they don't even tell harry all about his family. Hey, Ministry if you have a whole shelf of time turners, select one wizard to go back in time and kill-alter-exile-mindswipe child Tom Riddle so that he never grows up to be Voldemorte, saving thousands. Afterwards, the wizard would have to live in exile until he'd be needed to remind them to go back in time and do it again to prevent a time paradox loop. Back to my point, this is a Gen X author writing a frustrated Gen X tale.

- Rowling has an odd relationship with the media. She doesn't need them and doesn't much like them. She lives in the UK so this is no surprise, and she ahem, dislikes modern Brits with her Daily Prophet and Dursley bits. I also find it interesting how domestic the women are with their knowledge of domestic spells, even though they do the same other jobs as men, and how young the wizards are as they marry and have kids. Do the math in the epilogue, she has Harry-Rom-Ginny-Hermione all getting married and having kids much much younger than the modern white Brit. They are 35-36 with young teens and tweens. I guess some traditional bits couldn't help but slip in.

- Her belief in the power of love, friendship, and independent private groups and how these forces can create solutions to problems rather than centralized government reactions is interesting considering her personal politics. It's also interesting how she writes of a corruptive government than can easily be coopted by evil, yet personally gives to big government Labour in the UK. Friendship and good deeds towards others are rewarded. I talk about love often and believe it is the greatest thing we can experience. The love many characters share and their relationships are so powerful on the pages. This is something that I think a female author could write in a richer manner than a man using male characters. There are true friendships between male characters that I have not seen in other fantasy or sci-if books and movies. The friendships between the Marauders and how they carry on for years through prison, betrayal and spill into other generations is realistic.

- I personally loved how Hermione's lame attempts at clothing elves and helping them achieve freedom by doing it for them pales in comparison to Harry's handling of Kreacher. Harry inherits Kreacher, treats him poorly, but then realizes what Kreacher went through for the locket with Regulus and how much he mattered to him. His gift of compassion shows that he understood what Kreacher truly valued and Harry was rewarded for it. I love that Harry's solitary and well reasoned act received a better response than Hermione's lame knitting and organization thing. I had college flashbacks thinking of this.

- What a body count! Rowling ices so many big name characters. She pulls no punches as no character is safe. That takes guts. She also iced the beyond redemption Bellatrix, but allowed for the Malfoys to live and possibly reform for real unlike Lucius' fake reform after the 1st Wizarding War.

- The action sequences throughout the series and especially in Death Hallows (DH) are tremendous and allow a reader to imagine fantastic scenes while still using enough adjectives to guide the reader's imagination. The Gringotts robbery was fantastic in my mind's eye, and I hope the film does it justice. The 2nd half of DH is a non-stop action movie in book form.

- Voldemorte is a one dimensional power hungry pure evil bastard, yet she writes him as a fascinating character. Tom Riddle is a wonderfully charming and manipulative young man. He does everything well at school to cover for his true desires. Half Blood Prince is my favorite book as it really goes into Voldemorte's back story. He isn't just an evil psycho and he isn't 'made' evil by society as so many books, movies and TV shows love as a cause for being a jerk. He was born this way. He was an evil child. He was a worse adult. He has no concern for others, only his quest for power and immortality. Everyone is disposable. He even manipulates the pure bloods not once but twice into following him despite not being a pureblood. Brilliant. I'd place him up there with Hannibal Lector & Darth Vader on the Mt Rushmore of bad guys.

- I disliked how she made the Death Eaters and their ministry antics a copy of Nazis (seriously, reading DH was like reading how the agencies in Nazi Germany went after Jews/'others'/undesirables). Easy out. There could have been something wonderful in making this a magic civil war based on how magic should be approached, taught, used, not just based on blood (Nazis were obsessed with pure blood and family trees). Seemed a bit lazy.

- There is a payoff for reading every book. Rowling left Chekov's Guns in every novel. There is value in reading every book even if each book is a good story in its own right. She also develops Harry and Ron very well. In each book, they learn things that help in books 6-7. Ron gains confidence throughout the series. Harry goes from noob (which is just a blank canvas early on for us to sympathize with as we enter this universe) to intelligent, capable and strong leader by Deathly Hallows. Hermione is the only character I see as unchanging through the books, and I don't know if it's because Rowling made her such a caricature of the annoying know it all. She's lived 7 years in the world of magic and still questions the validity of legends, stories, history etc. Hermione, how many f-ing times does Harry get involved in something that has rarely or never happened? Every single school year. After 7 years, she should be more open minded.

- I really got annoyed with Hagrid by book 7. At the end of DH, he's still running to protect the giant spiders who are attacking Hogwarts' defenders. Give up that character trait Rowling, or maybe make him grow and realize his views of magical creatures might be different and therefore he needs to help his friends not the 'pets' he has kept. I was kind of hoping Hagrid would bite it just to be rid of his "'Arry, 'ow are yeh doo-een'" BS.

- Rowling writing foreign dialects: hysterical. I longed for a supplement of just Fleur talking to Krum. I also couldn't help thinking the goblins, their behavior, their specialty in banking & ancient relics that can be claimed by multiple religions, sorry, I mean magical groups, their interaction with wizards, and their characterization reminded me of another group of people that the Brits don't feel too fondly about. Two scoops of stereotypes please.

- I like that Dumbledore is a bit 'grey' at times and has muddled motivations. I like that good guys can use dark magic, but it doesn't make them bad. It is their choice, as is the choice to become good again. It is interesting how Harry becomes obsessed with the same stuff Voldemorte becomes obsessed with (Horcruxes and Hallows).

- Great bit of mythology to have murder be something that tears the soul and how a horcrux can allow for immortality but at the cost of splitting your soul. There are trade offs in life, and a horcrux is a huge choice. It also involves the double crime of murder and then splitting your soul.

- While discussing choice, she always gives characters a choice. They can run and hide or stand and fight. They can help or not. They can kill or forgive. They can choose remorse and pain or not recognize the damage they created.

- One criticsm I have is with the rush of destroying horcruxes and finding Hallows in the 7th book. Pacing wise, I would have liked a bit more of horcrux hunting in the 6th book.

- Tremendous series, and I doubt this is the end of the Potterverse. Too much money is out there for Rowling, and there are many rich stories she could write. 1. The Grindelwald-Dumbledore WW2 era wizard world, 2. The 1st Wizarding War, 3. Harry series with him as an auror, 4. Harry series as he returns to Hogwarts as Defense against the Dark Arts professor (this was where I predicted HP would end up after book 4). If I had to predict a timeline for this, my guess is she writes these stories starting in 2015 and releases them starting in 2020. Just enough time for the HP readers to grow up, get nostalgic and have kids who will be old enough to start reading them or go a darker route and write for HP fans who have grown into adults. She'll still have the Trekkie style HP fans around as a base for readers.

- The epilogue was a waste. It was touching for me now as in 5 years I face the reality of sending off to school a child named after a man who loved me immensely, spent my childhood with me, taught me what it was to be a man, and I never wanted to disappoint. It got a bit dusty in my house at that point.

- I think I found one hole: the Elder Wand. So Harry is the true master as he defeated Draco who defeated Dumbledore who defeated Grindelwald? Ahem, didn't Grindewald steal the wand? Wouldn't the true master still be Gregorovitch who was killed by Voldemorte? I was a bit confused knowing the Wand only changed allegiance through defeats, how Grindewald stole it and how Grindewald kept saying it never gave him the power/he never really had it. I thought the payoff would be that since the chain had been broken it was just another wand, and the quest for a superweapon wand was useless.

****Side note about the movies as Hollywood revealed its two sided racism with one character: Lavender Brown. Lavender's description is never given. The UK is over 90% white with a 5% segment of Asians (Indian, Paki, Chinese) and 2% black. In early movies, Hollywood makes Lavender a token, background minority (like how every ski movie now has one black friend), and then when she becomes Ron's love interest, they turn her into a cute blonde girl. Can't have a black girl kissing Ron I guess. One character gets the token insertion and then the white wash within one movie series. Does anyone know another example of this? I hate Hollywood, but thank god JK Rowling did not let Spielberg adapt these movies.

Russian Terror Response

Short blurb about how the Russians have such a stiff upper lip to terrorism in light of the recent bombing. "Dead Souls" is a reference to an excellent Gogel novel. Russians have been through decades of terror from the late Czars to the Commies and back again to the Putin Oligarch era. It is hard to shock them.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Note for myself

1. night moves
2. fire and rain
3. i'll follow the sun
4. ps i love you
5. drive my car
6. Norwegian Wood
7. paperback writer
8. hard day's night
9. Train in Vain
10. Easy Lover
11. wish you were here
12. us and them
13. space oddity
14. drops of jupiter
15. silvio
16. tangled up in blue
17. hurricane
18. satellite
19. crash
20. crush
21. because i love you - DC5
22. summer song - chad and jeremy
23. yesterday's gone - chad and jeremy
24. lie in our graves
25. all along the watchtower
26. in my life
27. betterman
28. corduroy
29. tin man
30. how deep is your love
31. one
32. overjoyed
32. heat of the moment
33. how much i feel
34. so far away
35. everybody loves me baby (what's the matter with you?)
36. moondance
37. band on the run
38. turn the page
39. big shot
40. accompany me
41. thunder road
42. still havent found what i'm looking for
43. addicted to love
44. another one bites the dust
45. everything she wants
46. tiny dancer
47. black balloon
48. slide
49. broadway
50. name
51. tonight i'm going to break away
52. hail hail
53. who you are
54. smile (PJ)
55. mankind
56. around the bend
57. everybody wants to rule the world
58. minute by minute
59. whenever i see your smiling face
60. forever young (dylan)
61. tequila sunrise
62. dreams (fleetwood mac)
63. so far away (nickelback)
64. your song
65. traveling man
66. beautiful loser
67. i dont want your freedom
68. blue sky - allman bros
69. pumped up kicks
70. sail
71. born to run
72. badlands
73. rosalita
74. around here
75. omaha
76. mr. jones
77. rain king
78. witchy woman
79. tequila sunrise
80. take it easy
81. one of these nights
82. best of my love - eagles

Why no Organ Donor Market?

The Brits are reviewing and possibly removing limits on the amount a female can be paid for her eggs. I am a supporter fo this. I recall seeing ads in my college's newspaper obviously from rich couples for egg donations or surrogate pregnancies with a list of desired characteristics and a high price tag (usually 10K but this was 10 years ago). Sperm donation can get you a small paycheck, and my question is: why is it illegal to sell your organs?

Why do we allow people to sell their genetic material and women their limited ovum, but not allow people to put a pricetag on a kidney while living or other organs when nearing death? I get that this somehow falls under the government's "you can't sell yourself" concept, but why? If near death from an accident with a healthy liver, why not sell it to a person way down on the donor list? I have a strong feeling the libs are scared that this would lead to a scary world of poor people having to sell kidneys to evil rich people looking to live forever. I also bet the christian conservatives would find some biblical reason to oppose it. I call BS. We buy and sell everything else, and too many people die on donor waiting lists for me to worry about the ethical choices of the sellers in this market. If you want to take that risk or make that monetary exchange for your family or yourself, it is your right.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Cosign This Article

Here's an article about the backlash in society against the new social media that is meant to make us more connected actually isolates us.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sirius Black is my HP Spirit Character

To expand upon my idea of my spirit character in the Harry Potter universe being Sirius Black, I thought I’d wrap it up into a bow and then throw in another theory for an informed source, and then my back up character. This is written as I am into the Deathly Hallows, having finished the Half Blood Prince which I will forever refer to as “The 'Empire’ of the HP Series”. Part of the identification is his personality, his past as the handsome, golden boy in school, his odd family, his flight from his family, his maverick and recklessness despite being a good guy.

Another part is how I view HP is my cousins in the HP-Hermione-Ron generation, and how I am like a bridge between the original generation of the Order of the Phoenix-the Marauders and the newbies. I have knowledge of Harry’s dad (my actual uncle) from before Harry’s time. The Order itself is involved. Sirius is a member of the Order of the Phoenix. The Order was formed prior to Harry/Hermione’s generation existing and had different members of the HP universe good guy side in it. The Order in our real universe would be the users of the past. This would include my uncle, my parents, myself and other illustrious friends seeking enlightenment. It is an attempt to expand the mind and seek order amongst the chaos and strangeness that is life. The Order does have to operate in secret as the government does not support the Order. The Order must use code words, and sometimes Order members must keep secrets even from other members about the goods. The Order definitely uses magic and mental powers.

Our Order would only be revived in 2010 when called upon during a weekend of mortal danger for an original member of the Order (a member’s hospital trip). You two were active in stuff, but had not contacted me to be involved. The newest members and Sirius knew that the Order must be revived, as I recall we stood in the hospital wide eyed saying, “We gotta ——- tonight”. Sirius’ main goal is to guide the new members to higher states, push them and develop their powers. Our Order would be augmented by a new weapon: the maxx. The Order’s new generation members are in the Order at the same time as Sirius (our activity together), and Sirius’ existence in the Order as an original member (my in utero spring of ‘79 existence and if it counts, as an ova inside my mom all through the 70s). The Order in the HP universe must stay underground. The Order must stay underground, because like the 1970s, we still face persecution (and prosecution) for our efforts. Sirius’ house is used for base operations for the Order, just like we can only feel safest when we are doing magic when at my house. My house if you will oblige, is a refuge like Grimmauld Place.

Secondary theory for Sirius: Sirius (me) - Andromeda (my female cousin) - Blacks (our fam) thing - Yeah, it is more accurate and less involved, as my cousin and I discussed, there are many reasons why that would be the case: we are the two breaking away to do something good amongst the dysfunction being first and foremost. The idea of the Blacks as a whole fits all too well with our family: deranged mofos. Even more coincidental is that Black is a Scottish surname and that is the side that we are related. A problem being that she has a brother that I care about just as much.

Secondary Character: Tom Riddle

I make a point to say Tom Riddle as that is younger Voldemort before he chose to be totally evil. It’s also more of me when I was in school. The large differences though are that I had true friends, had a defined sense of right & wrong, could love and had a soul.

1. Incredibly talented and gifted student/child prodigy
2. Handsome, tall, and dark British looking guy
3. Highly manipulative and cunning - can tailor a scheme to different audiences
4. Magnetic quality as a natural leader that attracts people
5. Incredibly confident and a touch arrogant as he felt apart from most if not all his peers at school
6. Long term thinker, usually steps ahead of everyone else.
7. Not a good relationship with his dad. Gets his “gifts” from his mom.
8. In high school, didn’t get too close to women out of fear they’d ruin his future.
9. Kind of had a temper (really?), held grudges forever and had a well developed taste for revenge (really?).
10. Went to a school with a headmaster who kept an eye on him and did not trust him.
11. Head boy, best student in years at Hogwarts = valedictorian, highest GPA at HS since they started new scaling in the early ’80s.
12. Held teachers in contempt.
13. Could plan for things 10+ years out before others even considered them (see no. 6)
14. Had a stalker who obsessed over them with wild dark hair (for me it was rachel m. who was not hot)
15. Amazing capacity for work that allowed him to do “other things” on the side.
16. Older women could not resist our charms.
17. Slight mental problems.
18. Considered the long term implications of behavior and ways to extend life.
19. Sought and enjoyed power over others.
20. Dominant in social situations.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Harry Potter Spirit Character

After some discussion with a wunderkind and Harry Potter expert, I've figured my HP universe spirit character is Sirius Black. With time, I'd love to expand on this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Relax, Barely Anything in Your Life is Truly Earth Shattering

Sometimes I worry that I repeat myself. Sometimes I worry that I act or think too much like my grandparents. I shake this off by considering the repetition of ideas as having a core set of beliefs that I hold, and acting like my grandparents comes from actually listening to them when I was younger and finding that they were kind of savvy about the world. I have typed before about my disgust with the Internet 2.0 Me Me Me stuff. That is not the illness but a symptom. The illness is that we blow everything out of proportion and create conflict and confrontation where none is necessary.

Francis Fukuyama wrote an optimistic book on the possibility that the end of history was upon us as the fall of communism made the world realize that liberal democracy with capitalism guiding the way was the final product of the development of civilization. This thought process had a huge blind spot: non-Western Democracies. Heck, even the end of communism has not removed totalitarianism from Russia. This did leave Western democracies without an external problem or opponent to strive against, to reach for the stars in order to outpace, to let out stress, to work us up against a known entity. We had a reason to try to be the best and take pride in being the best (except for super lib academics who used moral equivalence to say totalitarian communist states were no worse than us & we should understand them, funny how they always side with our enemies). The American Dream was the household version for individuals Americans to buy into. With the fall of communism, we stumbled a bit as the hyperpower or 'last superpower'.

We searched for lame causes to fill this void. Environmentalism went beserk after the fall of communism. We made clean air and water acts which did go after bad gases that truly caused harm, heck in Cleveland a lake of water burned. Things shifted though as scientists aided by the media made us fearful of tangible but faraway things (the rainforests that would disappear by 2010) then the intangible but definitely there (holes in the ozone layer that would be gone by 2010) and then onto carbon dioxide a colorless, odorless gas (which you exhale involuntarily) that is not a pollutant at all but might be related to global warming. Nuclear power was the devil in the late 70s and 80s, but now enviros are rethinking it because it doesn't emit CO2. Seriously, the same people who protested nukes in the '80s will now be the ones pushing for them. Environmentalism is just one example, but you can rotate in whatever you want.

The greatest example of this is ourselves. The Internet has been a fantastic handmaiden to our obsession with ourselves. I do not want to denigrate people who do put in the effort to improve the world for altruistic reasons. They exist today in America. I'm envisioning that Joe American who will slave away at work for the latest status purchase. Jane American who disparages women who choose a stable marriage and family over a big time career, which they mention non-stop in conversation, and then regrets it at age 50 when she is sad and alone. These are the people who cry uncontrollably at Michael Jackson's death or compare the 'struggle' for gay marriage to the work of Gandhi and MLK. Part of this probably comes from the idea that everyone is special being beaten into kids heads.

Facebook has figured out how to take advantage of this the best. You have a portal for all of your memories, your likes, your family, your friends, your social calendar, and of course, a small 100 character outlet for self expression to attract attention. Every single thing of your life gets a spotlight and showcase. Every emotion can be shared, all anger can be vented, all conflict can be blown up to the greatest challenge in the history of the world. The thing that is odd is it's normally not the great, introspective moments that are fleshed out but simple dumb shit.

If the obsession with ourselves was with the pursuit of happiness, realizing our full potential or self discovery, I could applaud this. We'd have a nation full of Tim Learys, not full of 1985 Madonnas. I don't get why people have felt the need to blow everything up in their lives. What I find truly troubling is the fact that people know or feel something is wrong but they do not address the core issue. Why address the problem when I can just argue with everyone over the littlest things, fill my empty physical life up with my virtual life trinkets, and then fill the emotional and spiritual emptiness of my physical life with baubles? This is a very Fight Club way of looking at the world, but without the nihilism. We're only going to fix society at large when we first want to and strive to fix ourselves. We're going to have to confront our family members over bad things we've put each other through, not simple arguments over politics, the environment and entertainment media. It is easy to procrastinate. It is easy with the Internet to get lost in a fantasy world or become eternally distracted. It is not healthy.

The pet political thing you get fired up over today and rant all over your Internet outlets will be your "2 minute hate". Ferociously remembered until the next thing to flame war over pops up. I'm going to give you a hint: it doesn't matter. The universe is pretty indifferent to your petty outbursts. A friend of mine recently did old school hard work to fight against the system trying to force smart meters on the population. It was hard work. Far harder than the 40 character Facebook ejaculation on countless friends pages about "gotta be green" and other dumbass slogans that act as the cover for GE and countless big corps to get you to go green and roll over for their smart meter shakedown. Who wins? Most likely the big corps with their money, connections and the sheeplike bleating from the Facebook-idiots and Twittards. Pick fights with family over the dumbest things you have no control over. They should have learned after the election of Obama that the circus stays the same only the clowns change.

Ultimately, few things you do will have a real impact on the world. Where you can have an impact is with your family, friends, and people you come in contact daily. Live your life to your fullest in the external world. Cherish what you can feel and do. Be mindful of each moment in life. Figure out when conflict and confrontation are needed and where they are frivolous. Remove the BS, identify the BS and do not contribute to the BS (some would argue this entire post is BS). Unplug. Release. Let go. It's a lot easier.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dream Theory: Multiverse

Exactly what are dreams? What is the nature of existence? These are fun questions to ponder. Tackling the subject is a fun, engaging routine for the mind. Scientists explanations for the start of the universe always seem odd. A big bang that came from nothing? Our universe starting from a previous universe? I'm of the mindset that the universe is way too big and unlimited for our comprehension. I support research into the building blocks of time, space and matter. It's not going to answer why or how it all started, but we can tell what it is made up of and possibly bend it to our whim or needs.

This ties into dreams because dreams might be our mind's way of jumping universes (multiverse idea). In our dreams, we are still ourselves. In our dreams, we have sense like we do in our awakened state. Our mind makes matter real. Without our brain processing the inputs, the matter would not matter. It would exist, but not in our mindspace. The observer and observed combine to make it real. That happens in our dreams. Does our mind not make it real there? I believe it does.

I also believe that the connection to other universes is through our mind. That 3 lb universe is an even bigger mystery to scientists than outer space. Maybe dreams are the brain connecting us to another universe. The brain is the pathway and our dream state is our time in that specific universe. This could be an explanation for how we sometimes fall back into a dream or have the same dream (or a similar dream) twice or thrice. This could also be why we have different rules for the physical world in different dreams. We've all had that dream we could fly, barely see, have increased strength or move quicker. I do not see science answering questions about dreams anytime soon, and wild speculation should be encouraged. Multiverse theory feels right in this instance.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Prediction: Fall of Facebook

I predict Facebook will peak (value, growth, societal presence) in 2011. They will have an IPO, watch the stock rise in price and then fade. Facebook can only grow so big, and honestly, has anyone ever bought anything because of one of their ads? They will become a simple part of the Net, and the human interaction with the internet will just chug along.

The Arizona Mass Murder

The mass murder shooting spree is horrible to read about with more details of those who died trickling out. My heart goes out to the family members left behind to mourn. I'm also disgusted how fast one half the punditocracy jumped to conclusions to paint the killer in one manner (look at evil tea partier!) only to discover he is a true blue insane individual.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bad Girls Club

How come NOW has not protested the show "Bad Girls Club"? It displays women in the worst possible light. I thought Jersey Shore was human zoo TV, but it is nothing compared to episodes of Bad Girls Club. Italian American groups tried to stop Jersey Shore, the NAACP constantly goes after certain stereotypes (yet turns a blind eye to other horrendous representations), so where are women's groups to yell about this show?

Here's the BGC oath:

A Bad Girl knows what she wants and how to get it; like having sex, or any
sexual activity. She makes her own way, makes her own rules and she makes no
apologies. A Bad Girl blazes her own trail and removes obstacles from her path.
A Bad Girl fights and forces her way to the top with style and beauty. A Bad
Girl believes in jumping first and looking later. People will love you. People
will hate you. Others will secretly wish to be you. A Bad Girl is you

There are countless things wrong with this oath, and it is a shame that this show exists. I do like how they split having sex from any sexual activity. Pretty funny. Besides that, "make your own rules", "fights and forces her way to the top with style and beauty", "jumping first, looking later", hello? This is why we have problems now in America. Too many people jumping first without thinking of consequences. Making your own rules, sorry that is not how life works. It's a shame that they use fight and force rather than 'work hard' to get to the top. It is also a shame that in the end, these bad girls still have to use their 'looks' (the style and beauty) to get to the top. This reaffirms the idea that a woman only has value through her looks..... and this show is on Oxygen which is programming for women.

Sad. Maybe Bad Girls Club needs to reveal they have a Republican producer, then NOW will get involved.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Book Review: The Difference Engine

Steampunk appeals to me. It plays to my alternative history, 'what if' side. It plays to my sci-fi tech side. It also just seems fun with steam and coal based future tech in the Victorian era. I used to watch "Wild Wild West" blocks on TNT as a kid on weekends. Miguelito Loveless was a steampunk type character, inventing things far ahead of his time, but with 1880s technology. I recently purchased "The Difference Engine" as it is one of the foundation stone books of the genre. I trust Gibson's writing (the other author I did not know), and the reviews were pretty good on various websites. The book does not disappoint.

This novel sets up an interesting universe. What if Charles Babbage had created his analytical/difference engine in the early 1800s? How would the world be different with the computer age arriving a century early? Gibson has a Crichton like touch where he can write technical enough to sound very tech savvy, but also make it understandable and something you could envision in reality. The sociopolitical landscape is very different around the world and in Britain itself. Society has been turned upside down by the rise of the technocrats. The jump in tech with computers (engines) available is a bit odd with the still stumbling advances in the physical and biological sciences. I enjoyed the world they created. I spent two summers at a factory that still used a couple 1970s machines that used punch cards. Reading about punch cards in a 19th century was kind of humorous. I could imagine Victorian era people being ornate with their punch cards. It seemed dangerous and fun, like NYC in the late '70s.

As far as a story and plot, I was a bit miffed. The story has multiple characters that are sort of connected, but the main connection is a set of punch cards that no one truly understands the value of yet seek at all costs. The book felt more like a tour through this universe rather than a concrete story with multiple acts and a really connected story. One could argue that the story is the danger of technology being handed to the wrong people, as the savants and eladers constantly expand the tech capabilities without regard for the human impact. The government itself also uses it to track citizens more and more and occasionally pluck them out of existence. Feels rather important to read in today's world.

I would only recommend this book if you do like sci-fi or have an affinity for things of the Victorian era. The Victorian era values still permeate the book, with people constantly invoking discretion or honor. A modern teen might say, "dis-what, what is that? I can't even spell that". The book was 400+ pages but went by quickly. The Ed Mallory section is especially brisk and action packed during the "Stink". If you are interested in getting into Steampunk, I'd start with this book and pick up other cheap paperbacks of more recent works (Boneshaker and Peshawar Lancers come to mind). This is a fun read, and if you're looking for a beach book in a couple months, try this out.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Rule For Top 25 Colleges

If you got to a US News and World Report top 25 undergraduate school, you will face a new penalty if after 5 years:

1. You are a ski bum/instructor/patrol person
2. You do not work as you married someone from that school (the MRS degree)

The penalty is that you must pay one year's worth of tuition at the price 5 years out. This money will be collected into a pool for all other from your class, and 50% distributed to the incoming freshman who qualify for financial aid and 50% distributed to whomever wrote the checks to send you there.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Movie Idea: WW2 Treasures of Art Movie

It's been a while since I had a movie idea. After seeing the previews for terrible films at the recent showings I screened, the crazy ideas I come up with for movies would be superior to the schlock that studios are producing now. I'm kind of pulling an Ang Lee method with my movie ideas; I jump genre to genre. I've typed up counterterrorism, rom-com, Westerns, Steampunk and now a WW2 flick.

Flight Through France (I am accepting title suggestions)

This film is set in France in WW2 right after the initial outbreak in the fall of 1939. The movie would open with the a large presentation by some head honcho at the Louvre. The talk will be of evacuating pieces of art and preventign the wonders of Western Civ from falling into Nazi hands. During the presentation we'd be introduced to two men and one woman (one Brit, one American and a French woman). There's your core. We'd need a scene of packing and loading up, which would allow for these three to introduce their characters, begin the love triangle, and set up the 'what's in the box mystery'. Brit is young, very playful and cheeky with Frenchie. Yank is an older man (maybe 5 years) who left US in Great Depression for Europe after college. Frenchie is art lover, Paris girl, deeply in love with her country and art. This team of 3 would take their light truckload and be given a signal for when to scram if the Germans attack, and they also receive where they need to go (country-house in northwestern France).

Germans attack and steamroll the French, and when Paris is in disorder, the trio flees. Nice scene of them fighting to get together and then they flee. They stop at a safehouse in the country. Here bad news and hunker down. French surrender fast. They are warned the Nazis know of the Louvre's secret teams because of a traitor on the inside pre-war, and are looking for them. They also receive a warning that an insider has been placed in the Nazi program at the Louvre that the Germans don't know can read and speak German and will send information when she can. Following scene has main Nazi talking to his pre-war source. They know of the teams sent out with the treasures. Lead Nazi already talks of nabbing one team. He sends out Nazis to quietly look for them, keep physical confrontation to a minimum and be careful of the art. We'd cut to a scene of an older woman walking into work at the Louvre. We'd not see her face until she sat down and started thumbing through files. She'd snap something up, and the camera would reveal her face to show the Allies insider.

Chase scene from the first safehouse. I want a map like this on the screen with the red line showing them move. At safehouse Nazi motorcyclists come with civilian Nazi in sidecar. The American would have to drive. Nazis on motorcycles would stop them. One would flank, the other in front. Civilian Nazi steps out and does the "Get out zee caaaar, Dr. Smith" bit, and explains how he knows what they have. The Yank would gun it to destroy one bike and Nazi. It makes the civilian jump in the sidecar of the other cycle. The Trio dodge bullets, which the smart German stops the other from shooting for fear of destroying artwork in the truck. The Yank realizes this and knocks the Nazi scum off the road killing them. The Trio stop and look over the dead. The Yank grabs the guns, "Better off being prepared". Maybe "we need to fight fire with fire" or "I once ran rum over the Canadian border (chk-chk)".

The 2nd safehouse is a bit deeper into France. They phone a friend in Paris. Wait for word. Switch back to show the Allies' insider getting information and knowing the Nazis are on their trail. Recommends going north then west. Insider switches a report for the trio which sends Nazi squads looking south. Back to Trio in safehouse. Eat, drink wine, cute talk of art and their pasts. Quiet fireside stuff. Brit goes to bed. Yank and Frenchie stay up. Frenchie asks about responding to unwanted attraction. Yank explains he knows all about it, but you don't know until you go for it. Yank explains how Brit guy showed him Paris when he first arrived, they became friends, and Brit made pass at him (yeah this love triangle goes there). Yank did not reciprocate. Frenchie inquires about America (will it stay neutral), American women, home, etc. Yank has the nostalgia, homesick talk, and his fondness for France, food, art and its beauty, which leads to some fireside fireworks. Scene of them waking up and setting up camp with this farmhouse crew through winter. Need a montage of some art trios delivering their items to final destinations, and others of Nazis recovering some hidden artwork.

Scene at Nazi HQ some spring weekend night formal thing. Lead Nazi gloats over recovered items to some mucky muck like Goering (everyone loves casting a fat Goering in his blue uniform). Lead Nazi had been old art critic in Berlin before Nazi takeover. He is the everyday man who turns to evil. After tour, Lead Nazi notices how trails for squads leave certain paths completely open. Bad guys can be smart, and this one is. He sends secondary (soldier only) teams to empty valleys. Kill all they find, recover art. Allies' insider reads this the following Monday. Nazis have a 24 hour headstart. The information gets to lead trio through couriers/phonecalls/messangers.

The Trio strategize. Yank wants to blaze out, Frenchie discusses splitting up and separating art, and the Brit stops them with his idea. He likes Frenchie's idea, but wants to take it further. Split and deceive. Yank takes off with scarecrow in wig beside him. Brit assures him it's better than a threeway split, and the Yanks French isn't as good as his for the final leg. Frenchie kisses him goodbye, Yank slips Frenchie letter in her pocket. It kills him to say goodbye but eve moreso to never know what they protected. Brit and Frenchie wave him off. Brit asks her how was he.

Brit and Frenchie set up horsedrawn wagon with art boxes covered in manure and straw. They are going offroad to final destination. Yank is a big diversion. Yank has chase with Nazis. Some road runoffs, some shots cause gas spill, some Nazis die. The goon squad chases him to cliffs of France (use this as shot location). Gerries ask him to surrender. He thinks about it, then drives off the cliff, jumping from truck before it hits the water. Last scene is Brit and Frenchie making it to old country estate off roads, unpacking art. Frenchie reads letter with Yank voice over. It doesn't matter if he did not know what they saved nor if they see each other again because what they risked, loved and fought for was the idea that in the face of tyrants and aggressors there is beauty in this world. Need a final shot of Yank swimming up on beach, trudging up towards some fisherman (setting up potential sequel/other tie ins).

Brit - Outgoing English sort, handsome but more foppish looking than the footballer type. Worldy beyond his young age and appearance. You could cast any thin English young actor (early-mid 20s). Seriously, pluck one off of BBC programming or Brit films.
Frenchie - Elodie Bouchez - She was in one of the last seasons of Alias. I'd even go for a relative unknown French or French Canadian actress. Smart, serious, feminine. She's the lead contact for the team when they get news.
Yank - Smart, aggressive and approaches life with a slight melancholy. Grew up in Depression. Left US for opportunity in Europe. Older than the others, but more the risk taker. Sawyer from LOST would be a great fit for what I envision.
Allies' Insider - Stoneface who can be stern and meld into a file clerking environment. Someone we can imagine being gutsy enough to sneak into the lions den and fiddle with things. Older female. I'd love to cast an Emma Thompson or Kristin Scott Thomas, but this film wouldn't support their salaries.
Lead Nazi - Let's mess with the Internets here and cast the teh guy who plays Hitler in Downfall. No stache needed, just need that wonderful scheming German Nazi stern look he shows in Downfall.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year, Mindfulness

Hard to believe that it is 2011, and we only have 4 years until it is 2015 with the flying cars and hoverboards from Back to the Future 2. This coming year will be a especially exciting year for my wife and I as we expect our first kid early this year. I view parenthood a lot like marriage: you can read and hear all you want about it but you do not know anything until the process begins. We're very excited and anxious for the little guy to arrive.

Preparing for the giant shock that will happen to our daily routine and the taxation on our mental, physical and emotional energy, I've been reading more on Buddhism & meditation. I've been doing meditation routines late at night. I'm going to expand to a daytime moment for meditation to help practice. One of my tried and true routines is to meditate until I can feel my heart beating, until I can feel the actual muscle move inside my chest and keep my mind still while feeling it. My major focus is mindfulness. If I cannot actively meditate, I will keep an active and fully engaged mind with everything I do. Not just being in the moment but fully feeling the moment. Too many people sleepwalk through life. I do not my best not to be one of them.