Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank You

Thanks to all of those who paid the ultimate price for American freedom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sex & the City 2 Review

I nearly shit my pants reading this.

North Korea Spasms

A drowning person can sometimes take down the first responder with them. Let's hope the North Korean collapse can be managed. Let's hope Asia can avoid a war so the humanitarian aid the oppressed North Koreans held captive by their own government can flow quickly. Let's hope.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day Dos and Don'ts

Dos: Grill meat, drink alcohol, breathe the sweet air of freedom, eat red-white-blue jello, and most importantly, pay tribute to the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom

Don'ts: Puke at family functions, get drunk in front of your kids, skip out on visiting Arlington National Cemetery when you are the commander in chief of the US military when leading during two wars

Simple and nice bit on why this might bother average Americans. I've been to Arlington National Cemetery multiple times. The rows and rows of crosses all in line will spook you out. Beyond numbers in a history book, those crosses show you the sacrifice that has been made to preserve the constitutional rights of Americans and yes, protect freedom for others. When I was 11-ish, I even got to meet a guard of the unknown soldier by accident after a change of guard in the men's room. Shaking his hand, he seemed a giant at the time, and he was prob a 22 year old kid.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book review: The Coldest Winter

Sometimes you can read a book and consider it timely. I feel this way with "The Coldest Winter" by David Halberstam. Halberstam tackles the overlooked conflict known as the Korean War. With North Korea in a tailspin currently and lashing out at South Korea, creating tension globally, it is timely to see how it all began. Halberstam does not disappoint, and for those of you out there foreign to the Korean War, this is a great starting point.

Halberstam does his usual, wonderful job of bring many different currents together to discuss how and why something worked out the way it did. Things are never clear cut nor move in a straight line. Halberstam works in the Chinese Civil War, Truman & US politics, MacArthur's legend, the rapid US demobilization after WW2, and Korea's history to set the table. How fast America dismembered the fighting force that fought the Japanese virtually alone and was the muscle in the Western Front in Europe is startling. Halberstam gets you the reader to feel like an in.formed reader even if some of the things are new to you. He can break things down well, and he does a great job of capturing the big picture and making the subject fit into it and influence it.

Halberstam's strength is his dedication to getting interviews with people deep down in the muck. Halberstam interviewed the lowest men on the totem pole, as they do not write published books of their own on Korea. The foxhole details he gathers from these men will give you chills and makes the war easier to envision compared to just dates, big names, battle stats and campaign orders. The emotion that pours off the page is deep, and you wonder how people move on & go back to the normal world after they come home. If ever in DC, please see the Korean War Memorial. I like it far more than the WW2 or Vietnam Memorials. These tales are the glue to the book.

The big conflict between Truman and MacArthur is portrayed very evenhanded here, and with more details, it is pretty clear that Truman did what was right (but unpopular) at the time. Truman was the boss and needed to defuse a situation from going critical worldwide. MacArthur was playing his word games with big players (China and the Soviets) when nuclear weapons were on the playing board. This book clearly shows how the US had a problem moving from the isolationist, rising power to global superpower. Truman was not a foreign policy genius nor an expert when thrust into the spotlight as POTUS. He had to hit the ground running with WW2, the Berlin airlift, the Greek-Turkey civil issues and the Korean War. The US was assuming the old role of naval trade custodian that the British had held for years. Truman made a lot of far reaching moves in a short span of time.
China, the 'loss' of China, features so prominently in this book. Commie China was the true muscle in this conflict for the North Koreans, and bailed them out once the US came to South Korea's rescue. China going commie was a blow to the US psyche and would haunt us not just in Korea but in Vietnam. If China never goes commie, does Stalin give Kim the green light to press his luck on the Korean peninsula? Does Vietnam have as much material and support to fight the French and then US without big red China just to its north? Mao wanted to make a statement, despite his forces being tired from the civil war, and pushed his forces too far and too fast. Mao also was a mass murderer and hypocrite who had mansions, food and women everywhere while his people suffered, but that is another post. (gotta love how wikipedia says his policies are 'blamed' for the deaths of millions like forced famines are not responsible for mass deaths) China definitely suffered horrendous losses, but could go back to their homeland saying they, not the Soviets, helped a fellow commie (which created a client state they could use to antagonize the West), and that they battled the mighty US to a draw. It is a shame China entered the Korean War, because without them, the entire Korean peninsula is free as South Korea is today, and several hundred thousand Chinese survive.

The Korean War is often called America's Forgotten War. It is a shame because this was a battle where the US (yeah the UN force was mostly US) came to the aid of South Korea and repelled the commies of North Korea from taking over. Part of the problem might lie in the sandwiching of the ultimate good vs. evil war (WW2: Kill Nazis and avenge Pearl Harbor) and the ultimate baby boomer whine fest quagmire war (Vietnam). Looking at the development of South and North Korea, we can see why fighting for freedom is a just cause. North Korea had more resources at their disposal when the conflict ended, but the South overtook them in every measurable metric. While the Korean War was more about protecting Japan, not 'losing' another country, and standing up to communist aggression, it was also about allowing people to have the choice to live life as they wanted. South Korea was an interesting progression from UN created country to tightly controlled quasi-dictatorship to economic mini-miracle to politically advanced democratic society.

Rich White NYers Love to Exclude Each Other

If someone were to write a sequel to American Psycho and set it in 2007-2010, they would definitely create a restaurant like Prime Meats. It's Germanish, whatever that means, and does not take reservations. Oh my god even Dorsia had reservations, how can I brag about getting in??? Oh even better, no reservations so if I get in that means I had to go at an odd time and suffer and outsmart others. Do you a website, are a brownstone bohemian, or have good art at home? If you do, you'd be at this place. It is that exclusive and hip. Going to this place will cause you to evaluate the life choices you made that placed you far away from this mecca of meatery. You think you're getting in here??? Look, you better live within walking distance to get in here within an hour. How dare you drive here! THIS ARTICLE WILL JUDGE YOU FOR NOT LIVING NEARBY YOU SUBURBAN FAKE HIPSTER!!!

Wait, you want to pay with a credit card? How dare you. Go to the bodega ATM, notice the useless reference to a bodega ATM, and get cash to pay for your overpriced food bar food. Seriously, they had to say bodega ATM so you knew it was 'kewl'. Nothing says kewl and hip like a Notorious BIG reference 15 years after he died. There a whiz kids with tats cooking up drinks bitters better than rabbis know the Talmud, which means they know it well.... after all when you're a bartender, why wouldnt you want to know the fucking drinks and ingredients. The place only takes cash because dealing with credit card companies is a problem. Uhhh, yeah stupid reporter, there is this other thing: tax evasion. You keep separate books much easier when you have cash transactions. It makes reporting revenue much much easier to hide and you keep more of the profits (we'll see more of this soon). After reading this crap, you would think the review was 3 or 4 stars. Nope 2 piddly stars for such an awesome and exclusive place that people are dying to get into.

This douchebag inspired me to email him.... maybe he'll write back. What else does he have to do?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The LOST Finale

LOST is done. The finale was last night. It has generated a ton of feedback, and if the feedback is from someone outside entertainment media, it is OK feedback at best with a lot of frustration & betrayal. I keep going back to the Sopranos ending, which I reviewed and gave creator David Chase kudos for doing his way. It upset people that they didn't know if Tony lived or died. LOST managed to not answer a wide variety of mythology questions, and left a lot of character questions up for you the viewer to extrapolate. The show also ended in one of the sappiest ways possible and the most religious way a Hollywood production could be without stating a belief in God or not. I was entertained, and I was left depressed and frustrated.

Let's start with the good. The Jack/MIB story arc was great. Jack figures things out, challenges MIB, considers Desmond as a weapon, and defangs MIB long enough to kill him. He then sacrifices himself for the greater good to 'fix' things. He dies as he lived. Wonderful. The island sequences were action packed, mystical and fun. Hurley's final acceptance of the Jacob role was great, and a wonderful final touch to his character development. Ben's redemption as the teacher job offer was nice, but I feel Ben was underused in the finale. A Rose/Bernard sighting is always fun. Richard potentially aging was a nice quick detail. Still, he never told us what the island was. The glowpit turning to firepit must have messed with the magic. Seeing Claire break down and admit she can't be a mom was touching. It was the part of the show that had me choked up. Kate says to her "who ever really is ready to be a mother"? She believed in Claire and wanted to help. I can't believe I'm typing this but Kate was great to watch last night. She was ol' fugitive, street smart Kate with an edge. It would have been great to see her this way in every season. So much has been made of the Jack final sequence, and I think a cool touch was him sitting in the glowpit and feeling the water rush over him. The first episode was about Jack finding water for the survivors. Nice touch by the writers.

There was a lot of emotional moments, and I credit the actors. Conveying strong emotions in a sci-fi drama about timeshifts and different planes of reality is difficult. They key was good acting by good actors, not just hot people. Consider Locke, Ben, Juliet, and Hurley. Any of them winning beauty pageants? No. They did all carry entire episodes. Hurley didn't win awards but his depiction of the crazy lovable loser to a stronger, more confident person (at peace with his 'gift') is one of the best character progressions on any TV drama. I felt for these characters, and I was happy to see awakenings or to see Claire break it down on the beach. Jack giving MIB the "i'm going to use Desmond and kill you" line was cool, but made better by MIB Locke having a look of surprise and concern on his face. This show had cool ideas, and sometimes great writing, but the acting is what us fall in love with them.

That is about it. That is all I can say positive. Entertaining episode in a mediocre season (weakest of their 6) of one of tv's greatest show. My grief is over the blown final season. Slow moving plots, wasted episodes, and the absolute no pay off flash sideways. Yup, the flash sideways had nothing to do with the plot. It was a quasi-purgatory place for people who spent maybe as little as 50 days together (less for Charley), living in fear or confusion on a spooky, exotic island with smoke monsters, polar bears and hostile others. Plus, shitty awakenings like Boone probably smirking himself awake, Sayid and Shannon pairing up, or Penny even being at the final meet up left a bad taste in my mouth. Here's the odder thing; this means Desmond didn't just have time travel capabilities, he could also cross planes of existence of life and afterlife. The flash sideways had no impact to our plot of "why are they on the island". The tease of Desmond knowing what he had to do once he crossed that plane was useless. The odd thing is the flash sideways are a weird wrap up. The show relies on you assuming the flight made it back safely. The flight would be low on fuel, dinged up, in the middle of the Pacific, and desperate for a safe landing strip. What if they just crashed after? We don't really know they made it, but we have to assume it since it is implied Kate missed Jack for so long. How would they explain Claire coming back with them or Richard Alpert? These flash sideways all took up 1/3 or more of the final season. The flash sideways were wastes of time that could have been used to explain the mysteries of the island.

I will admit I was more of a mysteries fan than people fan. LOST was great sci-fi. It was a cross of mad science, magic, spirituality, fate vs. free choice and action that I have never seen on TV. It was like X-files with Twin Peaks with the good bits of the Matrix on an exotic island. The mysteries made LOST fascinating and so many mysteries made for good talk. LOST was an experience that took advantage of the Internet to enhance the viewer experience. It fostered the theories and speculation. It did answer why they were brought there. The candidates were there to take over in case MIB found a way to kill Jacob, like the anti-virus software for a CPU. It failed to deliver on some basic mysteries about which everyone created a theory. Here's a quick hit list:

1. Why did pregnant women die on the island?
2. Why were Walt and Aaron so special?
3. Who built the temples, statues and lighthouse?
4. Why was the island hidden? What was the source of that light? How did the island come to be? How did a wheel allow it to jump time?
5. The number references somehow leaking out to the real world?

This is where I think the creators dropped the ball with going the MIB route they did rather than doing the Aaron is MIB thing. The creators and writers chose to create new mysteries and introduce characters even in the final season rather than answer old questions. The final episode even created new questions: who put the rock in place into the source of the light? What was with the hieroglyphics on it like on the temple. It predates Jacob. These questions messed with me since they could lead to incredibly cool answers. I wanted to be wowed with those answers. I expected it because of all of the great things already on the show. Who didn't love the Richard backstory episode? We did not get big answers, and when we did sometimes they were lame (wooden boat destroying stone statue... hello??).

Here's an example of my love for the 'world' of this show. My pet theory of the island was that it was the Lost Island of Atlantis. Quickly scan the top part of that entry. Powerful nation of 9000 BC that sunk and was destroyed in a day. Maybe Atlantis was an island that would use glyphs, was influenced maybe by Egyptians, was dedicated to science, built temples, and ahem, disappeared in one day!!! That is the island. Imagine if the island was Atlantis, and the Atlanteans had discovered the source of their fortune and strength was the light in the island. They sink the island in one day because they 'move' the island with the donkey wheel. This is why they die off and only Jacob is left as he has been strengthened by the light. Others find the island through research and whatever or are brought there by Jacob. This Jacob-Island origin story could have been last season or at the beginning of this season (throw in MIB being a mad science experiment by Atlanteans for a bonus). How cool was that? A lot cooler than never being told what the island is.

I really think LOST was too scared to come out and endorse a God concept for some of their explanations. They talked about the light within everyone. There is an afterlife or next plane of existence. The stained glass window behind Christian Shephard (seriously, look at that name) had different symbols from different religions. They dance around it. The light on the island was a light in a New Age kind of way. They could have just said the 'G' word. It's OK +90% of Americans believe in a god. I blame this a bit on the Hollywood bubble. The bubble that makes fun of hick Christians and their 'simpleton' belief in the Judeo-Christian God yet will wrap a series up with the dorky 'go into the light' crap and the light of the island thing. Sometimes, it is Ok to roll with the norm and not subvert a mainstream concept. I think this was a blind spot of the show's writers (like how Mad Men's writers are making some of the greatest female characters ever because they have women writing women).

The ones we love oftentimes are the ones who hurt us the most. I loved LOST. It was a joy to watch. It hurt seeing this season unfold, knowing we would not learn everything. This is not one mystery. This is not one unresolved plot line. There are tons of unresolved issues and this feels like a tremendous relationship of amazing potential with a half hearted partner who holds the power. LOST is the partner that doesn't love the other partner as much and knows it. I'm going to miss LOST, but deep down inside, there's a part of me that is happy I won't be frustrated anymore by the absolute stupidity of the 'answers' and the never ending parent-child theme shoved down viewers throats. Sometimes we just want to see smoke monsters, mad science experiments and chases through the jungle. I applauded the Sopranos' creator endign the show on his terms, and the LOST guys did this as well, but they were very sloppy with the show. The Sopranos ended with the end of the Soprano mobsters and the dead or not Tony question. LOST ends with MIB defeated, soem leads alive, some dead, some left behind, and lots of questions. My only hope is that someone sees this show and comes up with another concept 3-7 years from now and knocks our socks off. Thank you LOST. I am glad you occupied an hour of my week for 6 years.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sports Reporters Seeking New Lows

This is not a joke. A sportswriter has tweeted that Mrs. Tiger Woods asking for $750 mil speaks to her low character. Yeah, low character. yeah, so was she the one banging hookers, porn performers, random women, Perkins waitresses and the neighbor's daughter? yeah low character. So was she the one who said time off was needed, but that time away from golf was just the offseason? Yeah low character. So she was the one who humiliated him in the tabloids for weeks and months? So she was the one who cheated during her pregnancy? You get my point.

Here's the sad part: this guy is one of the better sports writers. He will often state unpopular things or non-conventional sports stuff. He needs Tiger though. This is the problem of access journalism. The reporters need the athletes for quotes and stories. They must rally around them and defend them. Even if they take shots, they must be careful, and it must be very safe. Just apply this to political, financial and celeb reporters and repeat. This is part of why the old media is dying away. Something as small as a Twitter feed and its 140 characters can reveal an awful lot about a person.

Shame on you Whitlock. I'll still read you during football season, but this was a douchey offhand response.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More LOST Opportunities

Since LOST totally goofed on MIB/Jacob episode, I have to think the finale will get goofed as well. The creators have mentioned how the finale will be more about resolving characters' storylines than answering questions. Yeah just what we want, more Kate resolution than island answers. A couple of things I have thought were about how they might send people, and maybe more folks will stay on the Island. I'm changing my mind and flipping some things on who ends up where.

Hurley is a wanted criminal, has some resolution with his folks already, and has no one on the outside. Whenever he is in the outside world, he's in sanitariums or on the run. Hurley on the island can talk to dead friends, has friends currently on the island, is considered a candidate (could replace jack some day), and can enjoy life on a tropical island. He's going to be best buds with a guy who has power to bring people to an island. I now think Hurley stays on the island.

Sawyer could die. I'm going out on a limb and saying they will kill off Sawyer in some heroic gesture. When they were first marooned, Sawyer was fine with living on the island. He also bailed when they were trying to escape in the chopper. He really dug his life as Lafluer. He's had a determination to leave after Juliet died, but he's also antagonized Widmore and MIB. Those two could kill him with their resources and abilities. It's like he has a death wish. What does he have to go back to? The show will have to kill off some heavy hitters. They have done so already with Sun/Jin and Sayid. Sawyer is next.

The LOST creators said they learned from the Sopranos finale and won't repeat that mistake, which was just the epic cut rather than the spotty answers & slow motion malaise of this final season of LOST. I'm hopeful, but election 2008 taught us hope is a feeling, it doesn't generate results.

Book Review: Court of the Red Tsar

Looking at my blog, I cannot believe I forgot to post a book review of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. I have posted on this blog how I believe Hitler was crazy but Stalin was just an asshole. This book drives that point home. Stalin was not just a mad dictator with blood lusts and dementia. He was not a technocrat who manipulated the Party to attain full control before Lenin and Trotsky could stop him. He was a human being like you or me, just a giant asshole of a human being. Montefiore's book illustrates his human side, his hypocrisy, his odd control over a country of 200 million, and his destruction of anyone who could remotely be a threat.

The book starts with the suicide of Stalin's wife. There were rumors of Stalin shooting her. The author does not support that view, and the suicide marks the turn of Stalin from a tough dictator to a horrible despot. In reality, especially after reading other books, the infrastructure of oppression, torture and terror were established; Stalin just turned up the heat. The author takes time to showcase not just the well known periods of terror and Stalin's brutal reign, but small anecdotes from interviews and private papers that show his twisted and sometimes human side. Odd stories illuminate his character like Stalin visiting an old comrade that he had imprisoned for years terribly drunk and saying to him while chuckling "remember that time you tried to kill me?" The old friend says "yes i went to prison for it', which is a lie since it was a false charge. Maybe the small story of a simple blue checkmark sparing one old friend out of 50 on a page meant for the camps shows how involved he was. The horribly cruelty he posessed when he remarked to his trusted aide for decades "how did such an ugly man like you get such a lovely wife" and then sending her to die in the Gulag afterwards. He was an evil asshole in charge of an evil empire. He held grudges forever, and had a crazy memory for any slight. He was not a robotic technocrat, which is how he was portrayed in another book I read about him. If you made the worst person you knew autocrat of the USA, they would act much like he did at the head of his secret police state. All his flaws, insecurities and mental problems became the pain of his citizens.

The book is a wonderful collection of research on newly revealed Soviet material and extensive interviews. The author focuses on Stalin and his court of losers who became leaders of that horrible police state. This is not a book about the plight of kulaks and peasants. Yes, the author discusses the horrible measures used against them, but this is not that type of history book, it is a biography. There is a discussion of the possibility that Stalin was a double or triple agent in the pre-Revolution days. This has been mentioned elsewhere, but there is a possibility that Stalin was an agent for the Tsars police in exchange for release while he was a young Bolshevik. In the early days of the Revolution, the Tsar's police HQ files were burned and destroyed ASAP. I wonder why... The author probes into the lives of those Stalin would show favor to, cultivate, push up the ladder, and then the turn, and how Stalin would send them off the to Gulag or worse, make them confess to insanely dumb political crimes in show trials. There is one who mentions how odd it is that so many people confess to trying to kill Stalin, yet no one ever does it. Hmmm.

If one were looking for a great biography to read or had an interest in the Communist experiment, this is definitely a great option to pick up. This is 700 pages in length, but it is a swift read. You really will not want to put it down. Many people find it so easy to denounce him and his actions, and I would take it a step further and denounce those who gave him cover. Yes, there was manipulation by the Soviet leadership and state run media to fool foreigners who visited, but things did not add up. There were active cover ups by foreigners like Walter Duranty, and there were political officials and foreign service members who would turn a blind eye to the horrors of Soviet Russia. Everything that has been said about Hitler and Nazi Germany, can be said about Stalin and Soviet Russia. Sadly, the pain of the Russian people is not given as much attention. Perhaps Stalin was able to get away with it and have so many people look the other way because he was just normal enough, just charismatic enough and just too small & fatherly to be considered a murdering maniac like Hitler.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

LOST Favorite Characters

LOST is coming to an end and this week is salute LOST week. Today I countdown favorite characters. This list goes from least to most and will take detours before we get to the top 10. The last regular episode revealed the bit I noted way back that all of them were flawed people. None of them were purely good. A secret to LOST is that they introduced new characters constantly, and hit home runs most of the time. Few shows can do this. MASH and Cheers come to mind, but not many others. Let's count down my faves.

#357 - Kate Austen - LOST had a great core of 5 guys. Then the execs said "we need a female lead love interest". This was how Kate was created. Her lame love triangle with Sawyer and Jack, and her weird gravitational pull towards Sawyer after all of his terrible asshole attitude set back the women's movement. I wish they had killed her off several seasons ago.

#294 - Lennon - Solid actor but bad character. I cheered when he got iced. Douche.

#212 - Michael - A whining little bitch of a character who was always yelling "WALT!?!?!" How annoying was he? Every scene with him was painful. Shut up. Come up with a plan instead of moping around. At least he redeemed himself with his freighter work.

#195 - Ana Lucia - Stop talking with your teeth bared like Jack Nicholson in 1974. You were annoying. Worst career move ever: drinking and driving. That is why the LOST people killed you off. Same goes for Libby.

#144 - Mikhail - Awesome accent, awesome eye patch, gritty SOB. Not much screen time but he made it count. Kind of a mean evil douche though, and he is far more evil than the other Others.

#102 - Ilana - Worst muddled European accent ever. Exact opposite of Mikhail. Go to acting school. Easy on the eyes, but you sucked as an actor and blew yourself up with unstable dynamite. Dumb.

#84 - Lapidus - The name, the voice, the grey hair. Lapidus.

#56 - Sawyer - I would have shot him myself after he staged the Sun kidnapping to get back his stuff. Oh golly Sawyer it was 20 days on the island and you wanted your stuff back??? Hated his nicknames. Hated how even when dealing with a millionaire and a smoke monster he's trying to do his stupid con man trick to get away. This is bigger than you. Also, how did he make dopey eyes on Kate in 1977 when she shows up after being with Juliet for 3 years. You knew Kate for 44 days asshole?!?!?!?!!? Plus, it's Kate. At least he does good things from time to time... go fuck yourself Sawyer.

#33 Bernard and Rose - Two more regular people on the island. Great love story. Fantastic how Bernard is obsessive about getting off the island until Rose tells him she is fine. He has the courage and faith to believe her. I loved their attitude to the core characters marching through the jungle to shoot at people again.

#25 - Richard - True fact: the actor doesn't age either. Richard does everything to save his wife, who dies, then he has one wish and he wishes to live forever. Kind of weird. Great island professor or encyclopedia. I wish they had used him more during the series.

#17 - Tom - My favorite ancillary Other. Great voice. Great line to chill Kate out "Don't worry sweetheart you're not my type" as she changed in front of him. The beard was epic, yet it was a fake! He had personality and was not such a mystical douche, which is what a lot of the Others turned out to be.

#10 - Miles - Miles represents what every fan on the show would be if suddenly on the island. He asks smart questions. He challenges people's stupid assumptions. He calls out the insane magic stuff that happens. He also has a great sense of humor. On the parent/child theme, he has a great moment with his father in 1977 on the island. He learns about his dad, discovers some truths, and lets go of some of the anger and frustrations he held onto. He also has terrible facial hair.

#9 - Rousseau - Bad Ass woman who survives on a crazy island for 16 years on her own. She loses points for being crazy. The episode where she finally meets her daughter was emotional and once again drilled home the parent-child theme. When they introduced her, I thought it was a brilliant touch that there were other people who came to the island who were hoping to leave, or at least thought of the island as foreign and alien.

#8 - Eloise Hawking - She is the mysterious lady who always knows what has to happen. She has the gift of foresight, yet kills her own son. Her demeanor is one of control and intelligence. She is pretty strong and there is an air of power around her. I love her in every scene she is in, and her character has one of the most amazing stories to it. She killed her own son, but doesn't know it until he grows and starts to look just like the man she shot in the 70s. The weight of that burden must have been immense, and her scenes with adult Daniel show that.

#7 - Hugo Hurley Reyes - He has developed from the shy, depressed loser to a stronger, independent man. He has a sweet innocence, and his plight of seeing dead people and hallucinating for real makes him very easy to cheer on during the show. He was once an Eyore type character in the outside world, but on the island, he's become a bit of a leader. You want Hurley to win, get the girl, come up with a plan.

#6 - Sayid - Sayid is the great example of the theme throughout LOST of what defines good and hwat defines evil. Can people straddle the line? Sayid is a means to and end guy. Is it OK to do bad things to help people? There is something amazing how no matter what he tries to do, he always gets sucked back into killing, beating or torturing someone.... and even though he says he is not that kind of man, he always seems to enjoy it. His redemption was excellent.

#5 - Ben Linus - The most complicated character. One of the best characters to ever be on a TV drama. His run through seasons 3 and 4 is incredible, and that work was rewarded with an Emmy. Everything is about him. He can try to do good, try to be good, but he will always choose Ben's best interest first. He kills Jacob because of Jacob's rejection of him for years. His daughter dies because of his choice. As LOST is a show about parent/child relationships and free will/choice vs. fate, Ben makes the horrendous choice that kills his daughter. He blames others when his choices go bad. He also does manipulate people with superb skill and always has a plan.

#4 - Jack Shephard - This is the character most like me, and I sympathize with his little problems back in the real world. I can see myself on the island doing what Jack did: always trying to help people out, be the source of strength and get off the frickin' island. His character development has been good, but I feel the writers wasted him in the '70s. He hit rock bottom and found purpose but then in the 70s just pouted. The worst thing they had him say in 6 seasons was "i will set things back and have a chance with Kate". Seriously, he'd detonate a bomb to try to get with fugitive Kate? Terrible. Greatest thing he did: set Ben Linus up to die on the operating table if they did not let his friends go. Awesome. Besides that, I love how he has grown to feel the island. He is now the protector, and we'll see if he can find a way to solve the riddle of the MIB.

#3 Mr. Eko - My favorite flawed character died far too early. Remember when LOST killed people every other episode? The protective big bro turned mob thug turned fake priest turned spiritual guide on the island. I loved how he was a spiritual yin to Locke's yang on the island. He was forever trying to make up for his failings and his sins. The stick with carvings that he carried was a nice touch. When he built the church with Charley, it was the kind of C story arc to an episode that LOST has not done in the last 2 seasons. The actor, whom you may recall from Oz, was very deliberate with his delivery and played Eko as incredibly patient on the island. I miss Eko.

#2 - Locke - The man who believed. The gifted, chosen one who lived a horrible life. He was the smarty pants who even as a child rejected it to be a hunter man type. He always loved the island. It gave him his legs back and gave him purpose in life. He believed in destiny and believed they should stay on the island. He left his old life behind with no hesitation. The island was a getaway from the mundane world of modern society for him. It was the walkabout that offered true challenges and true enlightenment and fulfillment. I hope he comes back to us.

#1 - Desmond - He travels through time, calls people brutha and will forever love his Pen-nay. His is driven to forever prove his worth to Pen and get approval of her father. He's got a great, realistic spirit, which the show often lacks with its characters. The classic storyline of separated lovers is tough to sell in our current society as across the world flights are possible for 1st world citizens. Instantaneous contact is possible. Desmond is stuck on an island that no one can find and he can't escape from either. He has to travel through time to stay alive and to get to her. It is romantic in a world lacking romance. It is human in a show that so often is supernatural and scientific. I hope he survives the finale. I hope he gets back to Penny & Charley.

LOST Pre-finale Thoughts

I need to take a moment not thinking about the unraveling of the economy, the increase in power to the banking oligarchy, the 12.5% of Americans on food stamps, civil unrest all over the globe, the worst oil spill in US history showing no sign of slowing down as the oil company & White House have created a marriage of silence, and other calamities to discuss theories for finale of LOST. My Aaron is the MIB theory was false, but still more fun to discuss and type than what we saw on that episode. LOST has left the door wide open with what could happen. I kind of like that, but I also dislike how much fluff happened with the time travel in last season and the first half of this season. The pay off is here, and the creators have said there will be no book/movie/comic, so what could happen?

Sideways world shenanigans... This is important. Here is what I think needs to happen. They need to unlock Locke. They need Locke to be ready for the sideways world. This is why Desmond didn't just try to awaken him once but twice. I've thought Locke did know but is denying it because his life sucks so much in the original timeline. I don't think so any longer. I think it has to do with MIB. What if MIB is suppressing his memory and mind? There is something that sideways Desmond knows about Locke's importance in the other timeline, and there must be a way to get him to slide over and mess with MIB. What if there is no killing MIB, but if Desmond can get sideways Locke to realize the original timeline and slide over, could Locke's existence in the original timeline mess with MIB being in his form. Something interesting was how Desmond's consciousness switched timelines and could switch backward in time (Brutha) so that his mind was what was jumping timelines. Well John Locke's body is dead in the original timeline, but MIB uses his form. What happens if Locke jumps timelines and occupies his living form again? What if that can kill MIB since two souls cannot occupy the same body at one time? The 'concert' that the main characters are going to will have all the main folks, Farraday, Farraday's mom, who always knows shit, Widmore, and something will happen there. I think it is a mass awakening of the castaways and Locke's slide over. I think this will let Locke jump over and destroy the MIB. MIB has a soul but no form. Locke has a soul and would take over his own form, it would be an inward battle but the only way they could 'kill' a frickin smoke monster.

Original timeline... It really is wide open. I think Miles got Desmond out of the well. Jack, Sawyer, Hurley and Kate catch up with them. Ben and MIB hunt them down. MIB can't kill the candidates, but now that Jack is the new protector of the island, his focus is on Jack. This is going to leave Ben to kill them. He has a choice. He's also one of the best complicated characters in the history of tv dramas. I think Ben dies a horrible death at the hands of one of the Losties. Not before Kate and Sawyer bring up 12 yr old Ben being shot by Sayid and saved because Kate/Sawyer made it happen. MIB will still be there offering him the island, even though he told Ben he'd use Desmond to destroy it (which he won't have to if he can kill the candidates). MIB will tempt him, and original Ben has always been about power for himself. The "you're mine" rant with Juliet, stealing Alex as a baby, whatever he did to get Widmore off the island, and his treatment of Locke (shooting him, hello), and killing Jacob all point to a guy who tries to be good but is always selfish. LOST does not reward the selfish. This won't sway him and Hurley will have to eliminate him. Yes, Hurley. His character development has lead to him being more proactive, assertive and aggressive. It makes sense that he kills the guy who manipulated Michael, which killed Libby, and then threatened his friends in the finale. Yes, I think Miles says a message from Ben after Hurley kills him, like "bury me next to Alex".

This leaves MIB to deal with them himself. He then goes to plan B, use Desmond to destroy the island. MIB knows where the light is, but i think he's going to the wheel. Desmond is gonna give some "Jack, brutha, help me". Jack doesn't know about the wheel, but Richard does. Richard will explain why MIB wants to use the wheel and say what the island is. Richard will take jack to the wheel room station. He will get there as MIB has Desmond in his grip. MIB will release Desmond. Jack will run to them and yell as usual. Desmond will say to Locke "have you seen the light brutha", and Locke, now back to being Locke and not MIB will say "yes, I understand". This brings sideways Locke to our timeline and destroys the MIB. Resolving the storyline of the island.

We get a 22 min section of character wrap up. Locke will stay on the island with Jack because Locke has never wanted to leave. Locke will lead the others and whomever wants to stay on the island (Rose & Bernard are two). Sawyer, Kate, Claire, Miles, Desmond, the dog Vincent and some extras will leave the island on the plane. I have no clue how they will get off the island, but it will happen. Claire and Kate get back with Aaron. Sawyer meets his daughter. Desmond will be reunited with Penny, and they will tell Eloise Hawking that all is set right. The finale ends with Jack and Locke on the beach by the stone statue just talking, smiling and laughing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Disney Twisted Minds

J. Scott Campbell was the artistic genius behind Gen-13 which was an Image comic from the early 90s that was fantastic. It was tied together within the Jim Lee universe in Image where these were the children of the first gen hero troop (Team 7) that populated different groups in Jim Lee's universe. He drew females well, and one thing I tip my cap to him about was his realistic version of women. In the 90s, all superheroines were shaped more ridiculous than Barbie. Gen 13 had one bombshell, and then two sporty & sexy, yet more realistic, young women. He has created hypersexualized prints of the Disney princesses (as well as other famous fictional females). No realism here. This takes my tongue in cheek look at the Disney princess crew and pushes it to the extreme of imagination. The Wizard of Oz print as well as the Eve print are cool. Once again, Belle gets the win as J. Scott Campbell combined Belle with garters and stockings.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Political Campaign Song

In the event that I ever ran for public office that was state wide, I would need a campaign song. You can't just pick any song, ask Hill-dawg Clinton who picked "Captain Jack" for her 1st Senate run. It is hard to decide a party to run with since they are both pretty despicable, but I'd probably run as a small government, socially liberal republican. Getting government out of people's lives, letting individuals have the freedom to choose how to live their lives, etc etc. As a republican that would be socially liberal yet believe in traditional values, I'd always be under attack by the Huckabee type GOP candidates who try to portray themselves as Jesus' candidate. I dislike that. It disgusts me. I'd use a secret weapon, the campaign song.

Kyrie - Mr. Mister

It has a secret Christian meaning to it, so all Christian & evangelical voters would dig it. It's also got a great melody and some great lines: "down the road that I must travel", "where I go, and will you follow", and "would I have fallen down my chosen road". It's not country as well, which is huge, because in the sad state of modern music, only country can be used by the GOP. I'd end every speech with the intro starting in the background. When I'd end the speech, it'd be cranking up to the first chorus. Yeah, it's political rally gold. It's positive, feel good, a bit cheesey and not beat you over the head Christian so non-religious voters would not be afraid.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

LOST: MIB Identity Revelation

LOST revealed the identity of MIB. I like my theory of Aaron = MIB way better. The LOST creators can write entertaining episodes, but they really stink at wrapping up mysteries, pacing and explaining things. My hopes are high for the finale, but I have a strong feeling I'm going to be disappointed. It is as if the LOST creators and writers got really cute with everything. They create intriguing questions but never get around answering them. They make new questions when they answer original questions. I feel if JJ Abrams had better show runners, the show would be far far better. Instead, he has guys involved who worked on Don Johnson shows. Seriously, go look at Lindelhof's and Cuse's resumes. So much potential, come on guys.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Now I get It

MASH's finale had the most total viewers ever until this years Super Bowl. It still has the highest viewer % of the US total population ever though and will NEVER be topped. I liked it in syndicated reruns as a kid, but never got why it was such a huge finale. Looking back on the end of Cheers, Seinfeld, and now LOST, I get it. People spent over a decade watching Hawkeye, Trapper John, and Hot Lips in Korea. Viewers laughed, they cried, and they had to say goodbye to an old friend. I will miss playfully asking my wife, "you know what's on?"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Housing Market Analysis

The Dr. Housing Bubble website has a great write up on the state of our housing sector. While this worries me as a brand new homeowner, I am soothed by our down payment cushion, our mortgage payment that is the same as our old rent check, our loan terms, and the fact that our market was not a bubble market. My heart goes out there to people who were collateral damage in the wake of the housing bubble pump and dump. Good people bought in the middle of a bubble that they had no control over and fought.

Things will not bottom out until the millions of people living in their homes mortgage free get foreclosed on and have to move on. Those are the people not paying their mortgage but buying Ipads. The madness must stop. This is just another denial of reality. It is like Greeks protesting and killing over the need to retire at 65 instead of 61. It is similar to the Wall St banks enjoying record profits because of the FASB 157 rule that allows them to not realize huge loan losses. We need to look in the mirror and first admit we have a problem before any change will happen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LOST Polar Bears

The polar bear speaking with a Scottish accent would be a little too Seth MacFarlane for my taste, but this image is nice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Betty White on SNL

Betty White's SNL appearance was fantastic. I had high hopes. Seeing the first sketch, I was worried they were going to use her like they used Zach Gala..kis where they plug & play. My hopes were fading. Then they let her give a good monologue without any interruptions from their dipstick cast. I enjoyed how they used her as the focal point of a sketch and sometimes just as a little spice. They got around her being old & frail and it being midnight. My wife liked the Victorian Era Lesbian sketch. MacGruber and his Gramma was entertaining "Poocasso". My absolute favorite was CSI: Sarasota as David Caruso's gramma solving crimes. The sunglasses and then Daltrey "Yeaahh" scream is a funny Internet meme in its own right, but added to a mock serious Betty White face is hilarious. I was losing it.

As White mentioned in her monologue, she was there because of the power of Facebook. She also delivered the best ratings for SNL in 3 years. SNL should pay attention to this and find a way to exploit it. What if they started up a Facebook group, paying some random person or one of their staffrs to start a "Let's have XX person Host SNL". Start up like 5 of these. Whichever one catches fire, book them. Could we have a Pacino SNL? I bet for the right paycheck, yes. Stunt casting would be far better for ratings, and far more entertaining to enough people than the horrible, horrible performances that people like Taylor Swift or Taylor Lautner deliver on SNL.

Moment of Zen: Kittehs on a Slide

When life is hard, just watch kittehs on a slide.

LOST Theory: MIB Identity

Before tonight's episode, I'm going to theorize that Aaron grows up to be the man in black-smoke monster. Here's the set up:

1. Claire gets off the island and back to lil Aaron.
2. She's crazy, it affects Aaron and he spends life searching for this island of mysteries, miracles and magic. The island that made his mom go mad.
3. He finds the island, but it is empty. He eventually finds the gear that can shift the island in time and space (a mystery they have never explained like why time moves slower on the island).
4. He goes back in time too far and only Jacob is there.
5. Jacob figures out Aaron is angry and has a power triggered by his return to the island. He finds a way to keep him on the island without killing him. Aaron is left as a smoke monster who can take the form of dead people.

This explains why MIB never hurt Claire when she was on the island. It explains how MIB has taken care of Claire at all times. MIB forgave Claire for sneaking away from him and trying to leave him behind. Claire and Aaron were important to the Others and random people throughout the show. MIB told Kate that he had a crazy mother and it made things tough. What I find strange is that the MIB can't take another form anymore. John Locke is his last form and Ileana knew it, but how? Anyone cutting a deal with MIB should have asked this question: why would a being, who could promise me everything in the world, need an airplane to leave the island? I think in the end, the MIB-SMoke Monster is still just a man. A powerful being, but a man.

The island acts in strange ways, and what if the island was killing pregnant women because it knew a child born on the island would potentially be so evil? What if the island just didn't know the child was brought to the island late in the 3rd trimester and born there? Why would an island that can heal cancer and cure paralysis kill pregnant women? Something is wrong there. I think the island knows MIB was born on the island after a certain date and it tries to kill off that child that will grow up to be so angry and powerful. This entire show has been built on parent-child relationships, and what better way to solve a big mystery than to have the big bad smoke monster be the child most screwed up by what the island did to his or her parent.

LOST has many great mysteries that we will never learn the truth about because the creators couldn't pace the final season correctly. The MIB-Smoke Monster vs. Jacob mystery is one of the prime pillars of the show. Who or what are they and why is this all happening? I'm probably completely wrong as this is LOST, and the revelation will be way dumber. We'll see tonight, brutha.

***We'll forget all of the parentless kids created by the island like Walt, Sun-Jin's kid, potentially Desmond's boy Charlie.

Monday, May 10, 2010

'80s Pop Masterpiece

Great synth, good lyrics, wonderful melody and beat, and a super 80s video (mullet with poofy banged hair). I can't imagine the money they wasted on helicopter shots for a 4 min video.

"i can't stand this indecision paired with a lack of vision"

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Black Keys - Next Girl

Wonderful mockery of the music video art form. I love the use of the crawl at the bottom. Puppets are always a plus.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Guinness had cheeky and fun posters for their product. They were drawn with odd birds and full glasses as the focal point. Guinness focused on selling their product as a daily supplement for good living. It is true that the drink was a great source for calories and did have some nutrients, but it is not like the old apple. "Guinness is Good for You" was their slogan. This was back in the days when 4 out of 5 doctors recommended smoking Chesterfields. I highly recommend drinking it though when you grow up. Tasty and because it is so filling, you can drink one and stop. This is good for business events. You look kind of classy, it is a conversation piece, and you can get away with having just one.

While I was in England, I drank a ton of Guinness. The first week the Brits would buy me Budweisers to feel at home, but once I found out that Guinness was cheaper (yes, true) I said "Only Guinness". It got to the point where I could chug a Guinness, which I would do once I got back just for a free drink. It's a bet no one passes up, because who would be dumb enough to chug a Guinness? Guinness is also good to drink in a black and tan. Ask for it with Harp. This is half Harp & half Guinness. Everytime you drink from it, the new level of suds in the glass leaves a line behind. You can see how many tips it took for you to finish the drink. Arthur Guinness, the founder and creator of Guinness, would support as few lines as possible on the glass.

Guinness sales have actually declined in recent years in Ireland. Some argued that it was due to the economic prosperity in Ireland in the 90s that moved drinkers 'up' the drinking chain. Some argued that the 'Smirnoff Ice' style drinks siphoned younger drinkers away and set them on a path of mixed drinks and fruity tastes. It is going to sound corny, but what if the decline in Guinness sales is just like most other large institutions facing problems today: choice. There is much more selection for alcohol for the Irish now, and they have the means to afford it. Power of large institutions, whether media, consumer goods or alcohol, is slowly eroding as barriers to entry for start ups are lowered, and marketing costs drop. Viral marketing can be worth millions of old media advertising, and the internet and social networking has created an online word of mouth network. The establishment will have to adjust to survive, and I believe it will. Guinness will figure it out how to adapt globally. How to market themselves as upscale to emerging markets. Maybe they can go 'retro' and tap into the trend of nostalgia. Maybe they can bring back those old posters.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bad Day for Stocks

Looks like the computer programs forgot to talk to one another about the Wall St casino today. Never before was there a 1000 point drop in the Dow followed up by a 500 point rally in the same day. If you were doubting this stock rally during the entire fall and winter, today was like the 'emperor has no clothes' day you have been waiting for.

Yoga - A Novice's Start

I'm a big believer in always trying to improve. It might be mental, physical or emotional improvement and progress. If we are always changing in life and the idea that no one steps into the same river twice is true, then why not work towards something better and change for the better. Feeling in a bit of a rut when it came to fitness and stress management, I decided to take my wife's advice on yago. Behind all the new age spritual BS you hear from your friends who rock yoga out, it truly is good for your mind and body.

Yoga truly does work the mind and body. If practiced steadily and integrated with other stress management and non-yoga concentration and meditation, I could see it causing true emotional change and better stress management. It is far more than just posing pretty on a beach with Yanni music in the background and the wind sweeping your hair back. Seriously, I can't go to the beach anymore without seeing some jerk doing the warrior pose. The poses create static tension that will stress the muscles, toning, firming & sculpting. Even if you do a lot of ab work, you will feel sore or tired the day after in your midsection, especially the stabilizing obliques. Yoga can keep the heartrate up for the session, so it can substitute if you do a normal cardio routine. With so many positions forcing you to keep your arms above you shoulders, you burn a lot more energy doing yoga. A big bonus to yoga is the cooldown relaxation period. It is meditation and relaxation to chill the body out from the stress of a session. This must be why after classes, I feel tired but really relaxed.

My legs are weak and my balance is below average, so it causes a lot of stress on my legs. I have seen improvement in the 3 weeks of going to class. I do find that odd muscles get sore. My neck, my upper back right along the shoulder blades, my obliques, weird places get sore. It's like swimming for the first time in months. You will feel things you haven't felt in a long while. The relaxation period is great as it unwinds the tension your muscles might be holding or the stress muscles might have. It's guided meditation, and if you have a Hindu friend, they've probably done the same for you while stoned. "The flowing light while enter the chakra and heal you". Usually by the end of the meditation, i'm pretty focused on losing sensation in my limbs becoming super still.

Here are some bits of advice:
1. Fire up the Wii Fit and do yoga on it. The Wii Fit can form a nice foundation for poses and get you familiar with body positioning, names of poses, and what muscle group will be affected by what pose.
2. Don't be afraid to look like an ass. Everyone does.
3. It might help to walk or use a stationary bike prior to class to warm up the body.
4. Don't compete with other people there for flexibility. Just work on getting the poses down and listening to the instructor.
5. Wear multiple layers so you can peel them off as you get warm.
6. Be prepared to see ugly feet.
7. If something hurts, don't push it.
8. Breathe deeply and enjoy yourself.
9. If the instructor gives you the chance to take a breather with a chill pose, take it. Don't push too hard too soon.
10. Eat something good after the class for energy/protein replacement.

Only a results oriented ENTJ would write something about yoga using numbered points.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Barenaked Ladies - Blame It On Me

"You think you're so smart but i've seen you naked, and i'll probably see you naked again"

That is one of my favorite 1990s song lyrics. BNL is one of my fave bands of that era (or any era). Key to their success, two guys can sing lead and sound very different. Their sound has a completely different vibe, which makes the song sound as if from different bands. Steven's got the more nasaly voice, and Ed is a bit more grisly. Ed's best work, when not rapping, is in "wrap your arms around me". It is an emotional, vulnerable and even angry sounding song. Fantastic. My favorite Steven song is "Old Apartment". "Old Apartment" is a song that can be either the man lamenting the former relationship, lamenting an old friendship he lost or even sadly reflecting on his current relationship but missing what it was in the old apt.

Dirty secret about them is that they have amazing covers in their concert playlist. This is because early on they had few songs of their own and worked in "Material Girl", "When doves cry" and 80s rap. They ended tons of concerts with rap medleys. I saw them live for free at a patio show in Portland. This was in '96 before they got huge with "One Week". Smart smart performers. Nerds who made the right music in the right moment. Grunge was dying out as a force, and their was a vacuum. Like many bands, once they got the big breakthrough with "One Week", the radio played them out. As a tastament to their ability, I still have a tower in my garage with 3 hours of live BNL. Thank you BNL for the lasting music and memories.

This is their cover of Dean Friedman's "McDonald's Girl". Quirky song, quirky band, nice little touches to separate it from the original. "Can I getchu some fries with that"?

"she's not ashamed to be the only other virgin I know"

Monday, May 03, 2010

Being Opposed but Following Procedure

Part of my problem with discussing politics is the lack of one side to see when they have been hypocritical or only defending or saying something because their side is in power. It is as if they do not have a set of beliefs but instead just want the means of power to then do what they think is "right". As I always respond 'who says it is right'. I believe in having a set of ideas and principles, not just doing it because it feels right. Be careful of the apparatus of power you put in place because you may not always be at the controls... like using reconciliation for a health care bill opposed by a majority of America when you said reconciliation was evil when the other party was going to use it for judges. Judges are a key issue when it comes to the change in opposition over the years.

Years ago, the Senate had a custom of reviewing Supreme Court justices by their ability. Ideology was not as huge of a sticking point with the Senate confirmation. Look at the confirmation voting for Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Scalia. Rehnquist was confirmed with 68 votes when the Senate was controlled by the Democrats. Scalia was voted 98-0. Never ever would that happen today. Things changed when Ted Kennedy, in one of his least accurate but most effective speeches ever, attacked Robert Bork on ideology (false as it was) and not ability. This was early in the days of the culture wars. This started the idea that the minority party would not confirm the president's nominees with a check up on their ability and resumes, but would fight on those ideological culture war battlelines.

We live with this today. Bill Clinton was reluctant to nominate a strong liberal to the court because of the make up of the Senate while POTUS. George W. Bush had a majority and when two seats came open, the Dems cried holy hell at the idea that he would even nominate anyone. Compromises were reached, plus W nominated one of the most qualified individuals ever to the court with impeccable credentials (Chief Justice Roberts). Obama, proving once more that he is a weakling who stands up to no one (even with judges in 09), has not really fought hard for court nominess at any level. What is worse is that the ideology blocks and the shenanigans that started with borking nominees for the Supreme Court have trickled down to the lower courts out of fear people would later become Supreme Court nominees. A friend has written an article on this problem. As I said years ago with the '05 huff and puffing by Democrats, be careful what precedents you set because one day you will want your judges screened with respect.

Part of this, as well as the rise of the culture wars, stems from the Republicans not repealing the New Deal or Great Society programs, instead almost tending them until the Dems expanded them, and the Democrats moving to the right with economics as they became much friendlier with big business. The Dem-GOP line was blurred, so culture war issues and the judicial system were a couple of stark differences to exploit. Republicans were not the balanced budget party anymore, but were definitely the party of the 2nd amendment and traditional values. Democrats became buddies with Wall St and Multinational Corporations, but if you were a 'victim' you could vote for them and they'd hook up your grievance (not yet for the gays with Obama). Protect your right to get an abortion! Protect your right to bear arms! Donate now! We'll make sure you get what you want... we'll stack the courts in our favor.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Technology and the Human Brain

The Singularity. What exactly is it? I view it in the broad sense that it is when technology progresses so fast that it is almost instantaneous in change. Will there be a replacement of humans by machines, or would we make a selfish choice of uploading ourselves into the machines and not being human anymore? Could we advance robotics enough that with the circuitry and uploading, would we redefine what is human? At one point, could the human race upload into a collective consciousness and leave behind the corporeal world. Would we do it? Would we take the time to make a sound decision? Would it be right?

This is the problem I see coming. I do not see the singularity happening in my lifetime (if we don't improve medical tech enough to extend it to 150 years). Even if it did, I doubt humans would handle it well. We would probably make a bad move and become extinct. I say this because it appears that technology has moved at a rate far faster than human beings can properly handle. I am no Luddite, but simple things like the rise of Internet addiction in 15 years of the Internet support me. Turning back the clock, did we make the proper determination with the development of our metropolitan areas when automobiles and trains were vying for transportation and development dollars. With medical or edge of science tech, have we always thought 'should we do this' along with 'can we do this' and 'is there a market for this'?

While an ethics and science debate is not new, I feel that it is a debate that can we usually wins over should we. For anyone who argues that the crazy Christians have blocked stem cell research. You're wrong. Stem cell research happens everyday, it was federal funding for stem cell research that the crazy Christians blocked. I understand the profit motive for research as there needs to be a return on the initial money invested by the funding agent (our POTUS doesn't understand this). My fear is that we humans, with our hardwiring from millions of years of evolution that has had "civilization" for only a few thousand years imposed on it, have barely kept up with the technological advances of today and may have made the wrong decision with development from time to time. What will happen as the rate of change increases to a point of almost daily decisions by scientists, research teams or people in positions of power? Who will they have in mind with decisions and what interests will they represent?

An example that I find frightening but indicative of the future problems we might run into is the use or abuse of pharmaceuticals in the mental health industry. I'm not a psych expert, but the battle between biological solution psychology and old school work through your problems psychology seems like a good duel. Was the science and medicine just too easy and cheap for people than dealing with the emotions, seeking professional help and putting in the hard work to progress? Did pills become a great parental weapon for unruly, sad, hyper children instead of direct contact with their kids? Long term effects will eventually trickle out, class action lawsuits will make lawyers rich, and a sliver of the people harmed by the reliance on chemicals rather than hard efforts of therapy and contact will have permanent problems. That was a combination of the path of least resistance and science figuring out a chemical solution that mimics a natural process. Maybe I am overgeneralizing here, but it's an example of why I think we as humans will have a hard time adapting to the singularity or make poor decisions as it unfolds.

2nd blog

I decided that I post enough on female looks and feminine beauty that I could start a blog with random pics, videos, short essays on moments. I also thought I might offend my female readership of 4 with my posts on Audrina Partridge, legs, South American women and other things. Moments as well as I can remember clearly what my wife looked like when I first saw her, random people from pre-wife days, and times when everything comes together for a woman. I consider it a tribute blog.

30 for 30: "No Crossover" and "Run Ricky Run"

ESPN's 30 for 30 series recently aired documentaries on two of my favorite characters in the world of sports. "No Crossover" was directed by the director of the amazing documentary Hoop Dreams and was focused on the trial of Allen Iverson in the 90s. "Run Ricky Run" was about the odyssey of Ricky Williams in the NFL. Both are complex figures, and in a world of athlete stereotypes of fame fortune and partying, they walk to their own beat.

"No Crossover" (NC) centers around Iverson's days in Virginia and the trial he went through that sent him to jail for a fight at a bowling alley. It discusses his fame, the love for him, the racial split in the city because of the trial, and the absolute stupidity of so many people on both sides. The judge and prosecutor saw an opportunity with a well known named juvenile to make a name for themselves, and instead of sending this to juvie court (a teen fight with both sides at fault) treated Iverson and his boys as adults with felony charges. Stupid. What was also stupid was the equating of this trial with the struggles that MLK and civil rights activists went through in the 50s and 60s. Stupid. The director has a little segment in NC where he goes through every single conspiracy theory and shows how they are all wrong. That was funny. The big name lawyer asking for a trial by judge (who was already hostile) rather than getting a jury that would have had sympathetic (black) jurors. Sorry for injecting race, but the documentary is about the lines drawn in that community. As one older man said, it didn't matter the truth, once charges were drawn the entire black community circled the wagons around Iverson whether right or wrong. Fifteen years and many drug and domestic distrubances later, the defenders that Iverson didn't do anything (including his admission years later he was involved) look a bit dumb in defending him blindly.

What was so interesting in NC was hearing from youth coaches and neighbors how hard Iverson had it. Hearing how his youth coach would feed him a meal just to know he had something that day because his mom was 'out'. Shots of the coach saying how he had to get Iverson's mom involved to know the boy had potential directly followed with clips of Iverson's mom years later saying she always knew he had skills. Sickening. Knowing how crazy she got later with his success only makes these details sadder. Iverson missed 30+ days of school a year to be at home for his younger siblings because his mom was 'out'. Coaches and school administrators looked the other way. The coaches who coddled him once he was performing at an elite level sowed the seeds for his behavior later. Iverson always thought he was good enough that every coach would have to bend to his will. I loved watching Iverson play. He was my favorite player for years, but I always knew he was a bad teammate. Seeing this documentary, I understand why he relied only on himself and was so self motivated and centered on the court. NC has its touching moments as well as frustrating moments, but the frustrating moments are very illuminating.

"Run Ricky Run" is only an hour long. It flowed well, but I could watch multiple hours on Ricky Williams. Watching the doc, you see a confused, innocent, scared, shy stoner from a rough upbringing, looking for basic answers on who he is and why he is here. Sadly, this was combined with the body of an elite NFL running back. Any other physical form, and his journey through alternative medicine, marijuana and yoga would be considered strange but "that's just Ricky". Being one of the best running backs in the NFL and walking away, his behavior was seen as selfish and wrong. How dare he throw away this gift of being an NFL RB??? His behavior was held to a different standard just because he was a great RB. There is 60 mins clips shown where he asks "when would it have been OK for me to retire?" turning things around on the interviewer Mike Wallace.

Because the director started filming this even before ESPN's 30 for 30 series idea was imagined, there is scene after scene and interviews filmed in the depth of his escape from the NFL, his depression and paranoia and his search for himself. Seeing him in a darkened room under covers answering questions about himself is intimate and weird. So often athletes act even worse than we imagine. Even glimpses into their home lives or off the field vignettes are constructed reality sanitized for us to view. Not here. Here he's sipping tea and looking like a mountain man as he discusses what life is worth or the point of it all. There are incredibly candid moments where Williams admits that he does not miss his kids. Williams also shares so many ideas or thoughts that are pretty enlightened without sounding pretentious. Learning about him, it is like your favorite smart stoner friend making it in the NFL. In the doc, a journalist who isn't just a blowhard hack says that he does not fit into any mold for an athlete that we have and that is part of our problem with him. The doc does end with a positive end of Williams finding a course for his life, returning to success in the NFL, being a dad, being a husband and appearing happy. I do not think his NFL story is done. I also don't think Williams is going to have problems when he leaves the game for good. While he can love the game, he has also found meaning in his life.

Facebook Observation

It is shocking the number of high school friends who are now visibly overweight. Not obese, but noticeably overweight. Put the beer & pizza down.