I'm sure it takes longer to plant your rice fields this way but just imagine if all farmers did this; you could take a drive across the country on a tour of growing canvases. From Yamagata Prefecture on Honshu Island, Japan.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Individual urine tests are old school; now the government is testing your crap for illegal drugs:
Environmental scientists are beginning to use an unsavory new tool -- raw sewage -- to paint an accurate portrait of drug abuse in communities. Like one big, citywide urinalysis, tests at municipal sewage plants in many areas of the United States and Europe, including Los Angeles County, have detected illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana.Just one more intrusion into our lives to support the war on drugs; for those new readers, I've made my views on this issue known here before. Ostensibly the reasoning behind this program is to give the authorities a better idea of what they're dealing with and to help them shape their anti-drug advertising. I don't know about you but lately I've felt that the drug war has seemed a bit too impersonal; it'll be nice to have some tailor-made propaganda that's been created with my immediate community in mind. Your tax dollars hard at work.
Law enforcement officials have long sought a way to come up with reliable and verifiable calculations of narcotics use, to identify new trends and formulate policies. Surveys, the backbone of drug-use estimates, are only as reliable as the people who answer them. But sewage does not lie.
Since people excrete chemicals in urine and flush it down toilets, measuring raw sewage for street drugs can provide quick, fairly precise snapshots of drug use in communities, even on a particular day.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
For someone who's easily bored by the game, I sure do seem to post a lot of videos of it; I guess if there's one part I dig it's the highlight goals, but this is certainly something I've never witnessed before:
kayak across the Pacific OceanNaturally. And is it just me or does it seem like a waste of kayaking energy to row to Washington first and not straight to Los Angeles? My arms feel tired just reading this.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
When you get past the annoying voices and Seussian rhyming, this little video actually does a fairly good job at dissecting the modern Republican party. Moderate Republican is my boy, but we all know how that story turns out:
If any of you find a comparable video on Democrats, send it to me; those guys annoy me too, just not as much.
Friday, June 27, 2008
In three lines or less; an example:
WINSTON: Don't tell the Party, but sex is way better than totalitarianism.
EVERYONE: Surprise! We're the Party.
WINSTON: Oh, rats.
I wouldn't say that you get the full impact of the message of the works but it is much faster than reading the CliffsNotes.
This song always reminds me of an 80+ degree late night in Barcelona, when I, in the guise of a competent bartender, mixed up copious amounts of Tanqueray and grapefruit juice in some used 2 liter water bottles, sans ice, for the enjoyment of the crew I wound up drinking with that night. Good times; good, sweaty times.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I've always known that John McCain was an old man but this is the first I've heard that he doesn't know how to use a computer. Really? I mean, I realize he's a US Senator with a staff doing most of his work for him but, really? From Matt Yglesias, in reaction to the fact that while McCain doesn't use a computer, he's still (apparently) aware of them and the Internet too, for that matter:
I dunno. Do you have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country? I think you might. If we had a president who didn't know how to drive a car, that would probably strike us as pretty odd. But I think you could plausibly claim that you don't necessarily have to have a driver's license in order to understand how automobiles shape the country. But that's because we assume that even someone who doesn't have a license has still been in cars sees highways, onramps and offramps, parking lots, quiet winding roads, overpasses, bridges, etc. If you hadn't done any of that stuff, then I think it really would be difficult to understand the implications of the technology.Look, my mom (a very smart lady) barely knows how to use a computer, or the Internet, for that matter; I love her to death but I don't think she should be the president of the United States. Per Matt's argument, I highly doubt that McCain has been spending much time looking over the shoulders of young staffers to get even an idea of how computers have shaped our country over the past several decades. This is just the latest of the many generational differences this election has highlighted between the two candidates, but on a much larger scale: it's the 21st century; do you want a leader who is so intellectually incurious and disconnected from everyday life that he has never even used a personal computer? The mind staggers...
Let me know if I start to exhibit these warning signs:
There are two general signs that a blog is heading toward extinction. The first is a declining frequency of posting, and the second is a proportional rise in the number of posts about the blog itself. These two don’t always go hand-in-hand; sometimes it’s just one or the other, sometimes you don’t get either warning sign. But when either of the two is spotted it’s reasonable to begin wondering how long that curious internet publication will continue to be updated.This particular blogger also claims that the average lifespan of a blog is somewhere between 3-6 months. An online publication from 2003 (a bit outdated I know, but it is still one of the definitive studies of blog lifespans) called the Perseus Report (which can no longer be found through any working links for citation) said that 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within one month and that the average lifespan of the remaining sites is just over 4 months.
I felt a little sense of accomplishment (or maybe just a decrease in boredom; sometimes they feel the same) after completing my first month of continuous blogging but as Brain Rage has just now entered month five I find myself in the eye of this supposed quitting storm. I'm sure that I have the stamina for 6 months but completion of a full year is my current goal; I should probably stock up on some more Red Bull.
On the heels of the Dubai announcement a few days ago, I dug up this rather pretentious video about the latest leap in modern architecture; this is just the kind of thing the future has been promising us for years:
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This might be sad if it had happened to a nicer person; you gotta love the photo:
NEW YORK—According to witnesses, former New York City mayor and one-time favorite for the Republican presidential nomination Rudolph Giuliani was seen slumped over and asleep on the Coney Island-bound F train late Tuesday night, as well as on the return Queens-bound F train early Wednesday morning.
Giuliani, once a beloved New York figure who earned the nickname "America's Mayor," was wearing a faded New York Yankees jacket and a dirty FDNY cap pulled down over his eyes...."He seemed to jolt awake when a homeless guy started ranting about 9/11, but then he just sighed and went back to sleep." Giuliani was last spotted shaving in a New York Public Library bathroom.
"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?" -Ralph Nader, to the Rocky Mountain News
Obama has been quite clear on how he plans to address these problems in the inner cities; a detailed listing and explanation of his stands on these issues can be found here at his website. The current talking point on the right is that he's an unknown and that we don't know anything about his policies but all you have to do is visit his site and you'll find reams (said ironically) of information about where he stands on just about every issue in this campaign. And unfortunately many Americans prefer their ignorance to reality.
As far as "talking white", it looks to me like Ralph Nader was starting to jones for some TV time; as I've said before, I have great respect for his past accomplishments but he has now obviously turned into an attention addict and he's saying things merely for the attention the shock of his words will provide him. What Nader has become is rather sad. I don't see him being much of a factor for Obama this year; in fact, I think John McCain has much more to fear from the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr.
Admittedly, I have never really gotten into the whole MySpace experience; I just don't care about being popular by making "friends" with strangers and I waste way too much time online as it is. That said, I still found this video about the impending decline of the site pretty funny; mainly because of the comments from the other sites. And the card at the end is the best:
You just never see it coming, do you?
You may remember my presidential campaign commercial from the Can I Count On Your Vote? post; that was free online and just a fun little joke. This video however takes a serious look at the newest phenomenon to emerge from the intersection of the Internet and politics:
"Terrifying and ingenious" just about says it all.
I don't believe in a directed fate or universal karma or anything like that but sometimes you just have to pay attention to the signs. Literally. Let's just hope that it wasn't your sky-high cell phone bill that sent you over the edge in the first place.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A few weeks back I read some pretty remarkable claims about Dolph Lundgren in another site's comment section: apparently, despite his playing a big, dumb jarhead in some pretty crappy movies (with the exception of Rocky IV, naturally) the guy is some kind of kickass genius in real life. I found this interesting and rather surprising so I decided to write about it; I was in the midst of researching his accomplishments when I came across this list and just guess who was number one. That's right, Drago himself:
The man reportedly has an IQ of 160. He graduated from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, got his master's in chemical engineering, then was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. After just two weeks of that, his superhuman intellect allowed him to calculate that a life spent inventing life-saving chemicals would mathematically contain less awesome than one movie spent playing He-Man.Is that impressive as hell or what? This is the kind of guy who goes to all of his high school reunions. And I didn't think it was possible for Asia Carrera to get any sexier but apparently I was way wrong; smart porn stars are hot, dude.
Hey, did we mention that he speaks five languages (French, Swedish, German, English and Italian)? Or, that he's a Pentathlon Team Leader and a former Ranger? And a third-degree black belt?
Where we'll all be living when the waters rise:
There are very few urban design solutions that address housing the inevitable tide of displaced people that could arise as oceans swell under global warming. Certainly none are as spectacular as this one. The Lilypad, by Vincent Callebaut, is a concept for a completely self-sufficient floating city intended to provide shelter for future climate change refugees. The intent of the concept itself is laudable, but it is Callebaut’s phenomenal design that has captured our imagination.
Biomimicry was clearly the inspiration behind the design. The Lilypad, which was designed to look like a waterlily, is intended to be a zero emission city afloat in the ocean. Through a number of technologies (solar, wind, tidal, biomass), it is envisioned that the project would be able to not only produce it’s own energy, but be able to process CO2 in the atmosphere and absorb it into its titanium dioxide skin.
Monday, June 23, 2008
"I don’t know about you, but I’m embarrassed when the president of the US, allegedly the most “can-do” nation in the world, repeatedly goes to the Saudis and begs for increases in oil production to sustain our ridiculous habit. Just as futile, drilling in and around the US for oil is nothing more than searching the couches for loose change, and the analogy holds when you consider just exactly what you can buy with loose change- almost nothing. Telling Americans that off and on-shore drilling in the US is a potential solution to our oil problem is either sheer ignorance, or an attempt to exploit citizens to the benefit of the oil industry. I’ll not cast the first straw, but I will say this, our oil problem is here to stay as long as Americans stay complacent." -Ben, at 2 Dinar
Counter-culture comedian George Carlin died yesterday of massive heart failure at the age of 71. He was known for various characters and bits from his stand up act, including the Hippie-Dippie Weatherman and the Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television, which got him arrested and led to a landmark indecency case before the Supreme Court. In November he was slated to receive the 2008 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, given by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As I get older I'm starting to realize that I'll be doing a lot of posts like this:
"The median case suggests the effect on gasoline prices in 2025 will be a mere $0.02 a gallon. The immediate effect will be zero as we’ll have to wait a decade to see any oil from ANWR. If this is Bush’s and McCain’s answer to today’s high gasoline prices, it is no answer at all." -PGL, at economics blog Angry Bear
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Finally! It's been a decade since The Big Lebowski was released and now the toy industry has only just recently caught up with this modern classic:
Don't miss The Dude-- Unemployed! You'll flip for our Comic-Con Exclusive Action Figure of The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Dressed in his bathrobe and slippers, he stands 8-inches tall and comes with loads of hilarious accessories: sunglasses, robe, White Russian, milk carton, ID card, and genuine cloth rug! Achieve your desires by buying this character today!Check out the Walter Sobchak Urban Achiever figure in the Also Bought section; it looks like Mrs. Sobchak fathered a child with The Thing from the Fantastic Four.
Eww. From Time:
Besides his glowing complexion, Shigeo Tokuda looks like any other 74-year-old man in Japan. Despite suffering a heart attack three years ago, the lifelong salaryman now feels healthier, and lives happily with his wife and a daughter in downtown Tokyo. He is, of course, more physically active than most retirees, but that's because he's kept his part-time job — as a porn star.As a Libertarian, I'm all for people doing or watching whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else but I'm sorry: elder porn is just gross. How gross? Imagine your Grandma giving your Grandpa a blumpkin. Yeah, I went there.
Shigeo Tokuda is, in fact, his screen name. He prefers not to disclose his real name because, he insists, his wife and daughter have no idea that he has appeared in about 350 films over the past 14 years. And in his double life, Tokuda arguably embodies the contemporary state of Japan's sexuality: in surveys conducted by organizations ranging from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the condom-maker Durex, Japan is repeatedly found to be one of the most sexless societies in the industrialized world. A WHO report released in March found that 1 in 4 married couples in Japan had not made love in the previous year, while 38% of couples in their 50s no longer have sex at all. Those figures were attributed to the stresses of Japanese working life. Yet at the same time, the country has seen a surge in demand for pornography that has turned adult videos into a billion-dollar industry, with "elder porn" one of its fastest-growing genres.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
If you've been reading this blog for a while now, you might remember the Get To The Choppuh! post from a while back in which I described going to a gun range with some buddies and how I had reassesed my negative views concerning firearms. Well, my opinion on guns hasn't changed since that day; I'm now fairly OK with guns and gun ownership as long as we take every precaution in keeping them out of the hands of reckless idiots, with one notable exception: the idiot is standing in front of a camera and it's really funny to watch them fuck themselves up. Hence, this video:
Have I mentioned how much I would also love to visit Brazil?
Low-riding blue jeans are a fashion trend that seems to have long legs - pun definitely intended. The only question is, how low can they go? Sanna's Brazil Fashion seems to have given us the answer with their new line of bikini pants that combine ultra low-cut blue jeans with an integrated string bikini bottom. The effect is stunning... super sexy yet extremely flattering, and without showing more skin than a normal bikini displays.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Now you can easily get pissed in the streets, New Orleans style:
Just because you are stuck at work doesn't mean you can't get boozed up! Thanks to these canoflauge vinyl can wraps, you can discreetly hide your alcohol problem behind an "inconspicuous" soft drink facade. So the next time someone asks what you are drinking, you can say "why, I am enjoying a harmless thirst-quenching can of skunkpiss thank you." Other covers include: Risk, Peski and Mt. Spew. The full set will set you back $5.89.
I just saw this and wanted to post it. Obama was in Chicago this morning to discuss economic matters with some Democratic governors and his podium bore a new campaign logo:
It is emblazoned with a fierce-looking eagle clutching an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other and is deliberately reminiscent of the official seal of the president of the United States. Around the top border are the words “Obama for America;” across the bottom is the campaign’s Web address. It also contains the logo of the Obama campaign, variously interpreted as a sunrise or a view down an open road.
Just above the eagle’s head are the words “Vero Possumus,” roughly translated “Yes we can.” Not exactly E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), the motto on the presidential seal and the dollar bill. Then again, Mr. Obama is not the president.
Not yet. Obvious? Yes. Pretentious? Sure. Clever? Definitely. The presidential race has become about marketing a product, as much as I hate it and Obama and his people are very good at this. So much so that individual viral campaigns waged by everyday people have been the norm this election cycle, facilitated by the Internet and other do-it-yourself technologies, and are very much desired and encouraged by the candidates as free, non-corporate marketing. The campaign comes up with memes and symbols to make him look more presidential and then just puts them out there, letting the volunteers do their work; I expect to see this logo in a viral video ad in the very near future. Smart, and effective. Isn't this guy supposed to be naive?
A map plotting the usage of these words across America, represented by yellow, red or blue, respectively. I say coke myself but I grew up in the South; and it's all soda out here in California, so I guess this map is pretty acurate. If you live in the US, is your area of the country correctly mapped?
What do you get when you mix tech geeks and trendy coffee drinks? A machine that adds a delicately rendered corporate logo to your lattes foam while at the same time adding an additional two minutes to the wait time for your damn coffee:
I didn't plan this but apparently this is the first of a beverage-centric theme day. Salut.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
A cool, rotating panoramic image of Barack Obama's recent rally in Detroit. I've been to one of these and I can tell you: it's quite the experience. How many other politicians could inspire this kind of turnout and enthusiasm?
I've always been a fan of fictional so-called "alternate history", wherein certain pivotal, historic events are reimagined to produce a different future; the Nazi's and the Southern states winning World War II and the American Civil War, respectively, are two of the more famous examples of this. It is along these lines that a fellow named Matthew White has reimagined the North American continent:
North America must have the lowest nation/surface ratio in the world. The huge subcontinent is made up of only two sovereign states: Canada and the US (*). This is not to say that this was a ‘Manifest Destiny’: many regionalist revolts were crushed to form these two monoliths.An interesting take (click the image to enlarge); of course, out here on the West coast we pretty much consider California to be it's own country anyway (hell, I'd bet that a lot of the other hater states would be just fine with that interpretation as well). I can also definitely say that there are more than a few Texans who would have loved for that state to stay it's own republic, not to mention the legions of Southerners who practically cream in their pants thinking about how cool it would have been if the Confederacy had remained a sovereign nation. The United States, indeed.
Which raises the question, at least in Matthew White’s mind: “What is the most fragmented that North America could have been?” White’s website (from the mid-nineties, but still online) serves up several ‘alternate history’ maps, that use a POD (point of divergence) somewhere in the past to construct a present slightly (or wildly) different from ours. White’s Balkanised North America, with 1787 as the POD, is by far the most interesting exercise.
“In this alternate reality, the westward expansion of the Anglo-American people proceeded pretty much as it did in our reality,” White writes, “but the United States government just couldn’t keep up. Every national identity crisis resolved itself in favor of the separatists instead.”
If you think that the Smurfs were living in a gay commune as part of some homosexual conspiracy to indoctrinate children into supporting the rights of gays and lesbians well, you're probably right because the Smurfs were super gay. Apparently, they weren't the only cartoon characters in the 80's with those inclinations; they were just a lot less self-conscious about their outfits:
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Japan Tobacco (JT), like most cigarette companies today, is concerned about the image of smokers and smoking in modern society. In an effort to improve said image (but NOT discourage smoking, of course), the company commissioned a series of over 70 public service announcement style ads. All of the ads were rendered in the same green-on-white, simply drawn format. It's the messages they seek to send that are so intriguing... and so reflective of the Japanese psyche.Ostensibly, the ads became necessary because of the incredibly crowded and cramped conditions in many Japanese cities today; the Japanese are all about politeness and respect, and jabbing someone in their bare arm with your lit cigarette isn't really a good way of exhibiting those traits. Check out some of the other ads and commentary here.
Paul "Moose" Curtis is an urban artist who practices what he calls reverse graffiti, wherein he partially cleans buildings and structures to express himself and get his message out to the public. This video features some of his work in the Broadway Tunnel in San Francisco:
"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography." -Ambrose Bierce
After my decision to change the obscure and grammatically questionable latin title I'd been using for quote posts it was brought to my attention that "Quote for the Day" is a fairly generic title (I agree), and since I always associate the word "generic" with "boring" I decided to go with something more honest and in the spirit of why I actually post these sayings in the first place.
The audacity of fear! Heard any good rumors about Barack Obama lately? No? Well then, you probably just don't watch the news. Or open your email. Or discuss politics with anyone, anywhere, ever. With folks like yourself in mind, Jon Stewart recaps some of the better ones out there, by focusing on some of the worst "journalists" in the media:
At the Republican state convention, a booth hosted by Republicanmarket was selling a pin Saturday that says: If Obama is President will we still call it the White House.I'm still taking a break from watching too much news but stuff like this is all over the Internets; I have to say something about it.
There were other pins that weren't necessarily conveying the positive, inclusive, united front that has been portrayed during the convention. One said, "Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Deportation" and another, "I will hold my nose when I vote for McCain"
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I have had it with these motherfuckin' arachnids, on this motherfuckin' plane! (if you haven't seen Snakes On A Plane, don't ask; and don't bother, it sucked snake ass):
(hat tip: Anonymous (PK), newly Californio2kX)
This still frame was snapped just after midnight this morning, depicting the locations of the last 500 hits to this blog. Green dots indicate the last 10 locales while the red dot is the most recent visitor, which last night was Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 8056 miles away. I've reset the settings on my Sitemeter account to allow anyone to access the info about this site and it's visitors; just click on the green counter in the right hand column of this page. When I look at this map, I feel like a god lording over my digital dominion; that's sad, isn't it?
Some of you may not know this about me but I'm a fairly liberal guy who has a bit of a distaste for many of the policies espoused and instituted by the modern Republican party. Oh, wait...That's right, everyone knows that about me because I never shut up about politics, especially with a cocktail in my hand; and today is no different (about the politics and the cocktail). I don't exactly agree with everything said in this video and yes, I do realize that the Republican party doesn't represent everyone in America with conservative values and viewpoints.
In fact, I don't think that the modern incarnation of the Republican party is even that conservative anymore; swelling the size of government and the national debt whilst telling other people how they should live their lives are definitely not values that true conservatives embrace. With that in mind, watch as the party of Lincoln makes their best case for your vote:
"Honey, I need the government to tell me." Point: cat.
[Note: this post was created before I decided to take a break from politics.]
A legend in the effects industry quietly passes from this world:
Stan Winston, the renowned makeup, creature- and visual-effects wizard whose memorable work on "Aliens," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Jurassic Park" earned him four Academy Awards, has died. He was 62.As an avid sci-fi movie fan growing up, I've probably seen more of Winston's work on screen than I could possibly recall, but the real genius of his art was the stuff you didn't see: special effects that were so beautiful and seemless that you couldn't discern where the fantasy ended and reality began. I remember seeing and hearing that T-Rex bellow when I first watched Jurassic Park in the theatre; I still get goose bumps and a ringing in my ear when I think about it. The special effects industry in Hollywood now stands on the thin shoulders of this groundbreaking innovator.
Winston died of complications from multiple myeloma Sunday at his home in Malibu, said his son, actor Matt Winston...
Winston, as the New Yorker magazine described several years ago, was known for "almost single-handedly elevating the craft of creature making from the somewhat comic man-in-a-rubber-suit monsters of the 1950s and '60s to animatronics -- electronically animated, part-robot, part-puppet creatures that have terrified millions of moviegoers."
Indeed, among the creations to come out of the Stan Winston Studio: the menacing, 14-foot-tall Alien Queen in "Aliens," the extraterrestrial jungle creature in "Predator," the futuristic cyborg assassins in the "Terminator" movies, and the life-size dinosaurs in the " Jurassic Park" movies, which included a frightening life-size Tyrannosaurus rex.
Monday, June 16, 2008
The Supreme Court upholds the basic premise of habeas corpus for unconvicted Guantanamo Bay detainees, one of the fundamental differences of human rights between ourselves and the savages we face in a global war on terror. Most importantly:
Three of the five Justices in the majority -- John Paul Stevens (age 88), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 75) and David Souter (age 68) -- are widely expected by court observers to retire or otherwise leave the Court in the first term of the next President. By contrast, the four judges who dissented -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Sam Alito -- are expected to stay right where they are for many years to come.It's obvious what kind of justices John McCain wants to install to direct the future of this nation. Does this course of action agree with your core values?
John McCain has identified Roberts and Alito as ideal justices of the type he would nominate, while Barack Obama has identified Stephen Breyer, David Souter and Ginsberg (all in the majority today). It's not hyperbole to say that, from Supreme Court appointments alone, our core constitutional protections could easily depend upon the outcome of the 2008 election.
[Note: this post was created prior to my decision to take a break from politics.]
If you're not familiar with former Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray, please take a few minutes to educate yourself about this now deceased legend of baseball. Done? Ok, now you're ready to appreciate the genius of Will Ferrell in this classic sketch:
North and South Korea have been separated by the 38th parallel since the Korean War in the early 1950's. While the south has become relatively prosperous under an elected government and a free-market system, the people in the north have suffered many hardships and near starvation under an oppressive, brutal dictatorship trying to run a closed economy. These stark contrasts are extremely evident when comparing the availability of working electricity as seen in a night-time illumination photo of the peninsula:
The metropolitan area of Seoul, the South’s capital, holds 23 million people and is the second-largest conurbation on the planet (after Tokyo). Its huge lit-up area, close to the border with the North, is clearly visible from space. Other Southern cities, while quite a lot smaller than Seoul, are also clearly distinguishable on this satellite map, for example Gunsan on the western coast, directly below it the inland city of Gwangju, the cities of Masan and Busan on the southern coast, and several other cities, much smaller still.It's truly unfortunate that so many people are forced to suffer and live like this in the 21st century, and I'm sure that it doesn't help that their leader is so bat-shit crazy either. But yeah, I'll bet the sky is one of the more beautiful things they get to see every day. Sad.
By contrast (quite literally, even), the only speck of light north of the DMZ is the North’s capital of Pyonyang, a single, neat pinprick of white punched through an otherwise completely black canvas. The minimal lighting belies the fact that Pyongyang is home to an estimated 3 million people. Gunsan, in the South, has under 300.000 inhabitants.
There is only one bright side to this darkness that I can think of: North Korea must be a fantastic place for stargazing…
Many of you may not know this about me but I've been secretly conducting a viral Internet campaign to get myself on the 2008 presidential ballot, and now it's finally starting to gain some traction in the mainstream media. Check out this local news story about my unlikely, and admittedly, longshot candidacy:
Get your own tramp stamp now before they become too obviously mainstream and played out.
[Note: this post was created prior to my decision to take a break from politics, despite my wildly successful, and completely unprecedented, presidential run. Webb in '08!]
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I can't believe I'd never seen this existential football match until last night; I was literally rolling with laughter as I listened to the commentary:
Nietzsche with the foul, Karl Marx warming up in the waning moments, Archimedes shouting "Eureka!" before instituting the drive; an old/now new classic.
(Hat tip: Matthew)
Look, I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next guy, and I pride myself on not conforming to the over-arching, liberal standards of political-correctness that have infiltrated parts of the American left in this country. But if you lack the historical perspective and cultural awareness to know why this doll is so offensive to so many people on so many levels, then I feel sorry for you and those around you. And if you do understand the cultural and societal repercussions of creating a doll such as this, and yet you still choose to do it anyway, well then I have no respect for you or your views on the world. And everything that you say or do subsequent to these actions are no longer of any relevance to an open debate of ideas in a free-minded, civilized society. Word.
[Note: this post was created prior to my decision to take a break from politics.]
The soon to be released film is already winning awards at Sundance:
Victor Mancini is a medical-school dropout who has devised an ingenious scam to pay elder care for his Alzheimer's-afflicted mother: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be "saved" by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor's life, go on to send checks to support him. When he's not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park.For those of you who don't know, I'm a big Chuck Palahniuk fan. Admittedly, Choke is not one of my absolute favorites but it was still a pretty good read, and Sam Rockwell looks to be well cast in the roll of Victor. Here's the trailer:
Saturday, June 14, 2008
If you love steak as much as I do, you'll love comedian Patton Oswalt's railings against the intimidation of the Black Angus restaurant chain in this Youtube clip:
"Your name is Peaches." Watch him rant against KFC's Famous Bowls here.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Now that the Democratic primary is finally over, I've decided to take a week or two off from commenting on the presidential candidates and the race in general; frankly, I'm just sick of hearing about it at this point. After Obama has taken some time to get up to speed in the general and he and McCain are talking about substantive issues (not the petty sniping that's been going back and forth the past week), I'll turn my dial back to MSNBC. Until then, I'll just get my coverage from Stewart and Colbert; plus, my DVR is getting really full. Stay tuned.
The airline industry is not doing so well lately; even with the multi-billion dollar tax-payer funded government bailout after the events of 9/11, practically every airline company seems incapable of even turning a profit. And one of the main reasons for this is the incredibly high cost of jet fuel right now. So naturally, one of the ideas being bandied around the blogosphere at the moment is whether the airlines should start charging passengers by their respective weights.
Perhaps this isn't such a radical idea. Many airline companies are already charging extra for checked baggage and if you want to ship a package of any considerable weight it costs you more per pound; it's simple economics: weight vs. fuel costs. In addition to charging extra for baggage of a higher weight, passengers who are already too large to fit within a single seat are forced to pay for an additional space to contain their considerable girth.
Now I have several friends who are larger than average individuals who will undoubtably argue that this is discrimination based upon body size but I have to disagree with that assertion. When you frequent a local bar or restaurant, everyone is charged the same amount of money for the same amount of alcohol or food, regardless of their size. If you are 6'4" and weigh 280 pounds, a single hamburger probably isn't going to satiate you; by the same token, you probably won't get the same buzz from a vodka martini as a person weighing 100 pounds, yet we don't dispute these basic facts of physiology.
Why should the airline industry have to operate by different standards? If it costs more to haul your big ass across the country at 10,000 feet than everyone else, why shouldn't you be paying more for the service? Now of course, I'm not suggesting that a 200 pound person should pay twice as much to fly as someone weighing 100 pounds; there should be a baseline price for flying agreed upon using statistics such as fuel prices, operating costs and industry norms. I'm just suggesting that those individuals who exceed an agreed upon threshold of weight should have to pay a bit extra per pound (on a graduated scale, of course) to fly for any particular distance.
Is this obviously brilliant idea going to catch on nation-, and perhaps world-, wide? Most likely not; the legions of politically correct citizens out there who are already crusading against the litany of fat jokes running rampant within our national culture will undoubtably oppose it on some ideological and quasi-legal grounds. And perhaps they're right; maybe it is inherently wrong to discriminate against a subset of people based solely on their weight. But on the outside chance that this idea seems to make good sense financially, just make sure that I get the credit when we finally institutionalize it across the industry.
"You make your own dream. That's the Beatles' story, isn't it? That's Yoko's story. That's what I'm saying now. Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It's quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don't expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself. That's what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There's nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can't wake you up. You can wake you up. I can't cure you. You can cure you." -John Lennon
On a side note, I've had numerous inquiries as to what "Laudo Pro Dies" means, as well as complaints that nobody knows how to pronounce it. Coupled with the fact that I'm not even sure if I'm using proper Latin grammar, I've decided to retire this unwieldy, and some might say pretentious (you know who you are), appellation. Keeping it real here at Brain Rage.
Science-fiction is replete with stories set in a technological future featuring massive, global-spanning cities; Trantor from Asimov's Foundation trilogy and Corissant from the Star Wars prequels are but two examples. But what is seldom addressed with any specificity is how a society feeds a planet-sized city while lacking any arable land on which to farm and raise animals. Several authors posit that we will eventually establish a system for importing these important foodstuffs from other planets, but that infrastructure may take a bit of time to set up.
So as our cities continue to expand at ever faster rates and we move closer to transforming into this seemingly unavoidable urban sphere, one must ask the question: what will happen to biodiversity when the world becomes a giant city? Fortunately, there are some extremely intelligent people who are already working on it:
A new study outlines the uncomfortable question of what happens to the planet’s biodiversity when cities take over the world. Cities are growing, and they’re growing fast. It is projected that urban growth will create an additional 350,000 square miles of cities roads, buildings and parking lots—covering a combined area the size of Texas—by 2030. Every week humans create the equivalent of a city the size of Vancouver. What will this staggering growth mean for both nature and people? According to the study, co-authored by Conservancy scientists Robert McDonald and Peter Kareiva McDonald, it means significant species loss and a further decline of natural resources like fresh water. They say we need to prepare—now.The gist of the article seems to be that the more we consider this problem and plan ahead for it, the better off we'll be. Unfortunately, we're a species that doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to planning for the future, especially on important matters that concern our very survival. Of course, you and I will be long dead by the time this really becomes a problem for the rest of humanity but I'm still concerned for the future of our planet.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Like most people who enjoy traveling, I have quite a list of things and places around the globe that I would like to see someday. Unfortunately, I also have another more depressing list of things and places that I'll probably never get to see because of politics and/or safety issues; here are five more that just made the latter.
It always did seem like a pretty dangerous place to live:
Since the surge in crime, which began on April 28 at midnight, more than 830,000 civilians have been murdered—nearly one-tenth of Liberty City's total population. In addition, 35,000 vehicles have been reported stolen, many of which were then driven illegally over sidewalks and pedestrian walkways before plunging into the nearby Humboldt River. And according to startling figures released by local community action group Citizens for a Safer City, drug trafficking has become rampant and prostitution has increased by 800 percent.Apparently some folks have been toying with the idea of moving to Raccoon City, citing enhanced security and Midwest values but I have a bad feeling about that place.
"I was shot 14 times on my way to work today, including twice by police," said one Algonquin-area resident. "That is unacceptable."