Friday, August 31, 2007
I plan on leaving at 4:30 instead of 5:30 this week, however. I've got some stuff I need to get done elsewhere. In fact, I'm thinking about changing the end time to 4:30 for good since four hours of writing is still pretty substantial.
Incidentally, we've got NaNoWriMo coming up in just two months. I know what novel I'll be writing in November, do you?
Never heard of NaNoWriMo? Check out NaNoWriMo.org to learn more about it!
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 12:13PM: I'm going to be 30 minutes late to TheSaturdaily. I'm just now catching my bus. :(
Please let me know what you think I can do differently to make ThePeteCast more enjoyable. It will never be super high-end or anything, but I can make some improvements :)
So, if you want a nice, no-nonsense web interface for recording your own webcam-based vidcasts, check out BlogTV.com. Very cool site. You can even broadcast live. Too bad they don't let us download videos. However, they say that's a future feature. The sooner, the better, I say!
(If anyone can download this video locally, please let me know how you did it! Thanks!)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Natuba.com - The coolest so far--they're a one stop shop for all of your various online content streams. Check mine out at Natuba.Com/thepete and you'll see that I've got content from Flickr, my main blog, LiveJournal.com, Blogger.com, and a WHOLE lot more. The only thing they're missing is ads. I can't make money off of them and I'm not sure how they'll make money off of me. Though, they're still in beta and not open to the public. UPDATE 20070831: I've been in touch with Cory Wright, one of the developers of Natuba and he sent along a link to a Chron.com article about Natuba and its development. Check it out here: http://urltea.com/1dfv
GrandCentral.Com - Just acquired by Google (yes, we should start calling them the Borggle), GC is about providing a single phone number to reach you at all of your various phone-like devices. For me, I have a mobile, a handheld web phone, Skype and a voicemail for ThePete.Com so it makes sense to have one unifying number. They're also in beta still, so don't get too excited. Like Natuba, it's still invite-only. I've been trying it for about a week and while I'm generally happy with it, I think it's got a bit more to go. I'm also hoping they'll provide a single place for Instant Messaging and email, too.
Pownce.com - This is another social networking/community site that specializes in you and your friends passing notes and files between each other. I'm not sure how the notes are interesting, but the files-idea is good, I think. However, Box.net is open to the public and I'm pretty happy with them.
Box.net - I signed up for these guys last year, I think, and was so unimpressed with them I kind of forgot that I even had an account. Then, the other day, I got an email that they had some new features. I checked them out and was very impressed. They're like Pownce on steroids and they're open to everyone right now. Pownce has a cool-factor that Box.net doesn't, but Box has the superior features in my mind. They even have a flash-based interface for sharing your uploaded files. Check out the bottom of ThePete.Com to test it out.
InviteShare.Com - This site is for people looking to give and get invites to sites that are only accessible via invitation--like GrandCentral, Natuba and Pownce. In fact, it's through this site that I got invited to every invite-only site I'm registered at right now.
Ning.com - This site is the new godfather of social networking/community sites--it lets you create your own with things like forums, groups, blogs, photo slideshows, videos and a LOT more. Check out ThePete.Community at ThePeteCom.Ning.Com and feel free to join! Feel free to post, too!
There are STACKS more of these new service-sites I've been exploring. I plan on writing reviews of them in the coming weeks, money-allowing. So if you feel like giving me some encouragement Paypal me a buck or two at thepetecomATgmailDOTcom, OK? :)
Or just stick around ThePete.Com in the hopes I'll have the time to write 'em.
Still, it seems like the Internet is heading toward a bit of a renaissance with services that just might be capable of changing your world.
Who'd have thunk it?
Check out the facts as presented in an August 28, 2007 article (here: http://urltea.com/1d10) :
Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) Latest News about Yahoo is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a human rights organization that claims the Internet portal's cooperation with the Chinese government resulted in the torture and 10-year jail term of Wang Xiaoning.
Xiaoning had used a Yahoo account to anonymously post to the Web materials relating to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yahoo turned over identifying details for the account at the request of the Chinese government, which subsequently arrested Xiaoning.
Ironically, Yahoo isn't censoring it's own coverage of this story as you can see in a Reuters article (here: http://urltea.com/1d13) that reports:
Attorneys for Yahoo and its Hong Kong unit argued in a motion filed on Monday that U.S. laws governing issues such as privacy rights, torture and false imprisonment do not apply to Chinese citizens for actions by that occurred in China.
That's fine, Yahoo! Those laws don't apply to people in the US, either!
But seriously. Isn't it funny that they're not arguing against the accusation that they indirectly helped torture Wang Xiaoning? Now, I'm all for being honest and not trying to fight the obvious truth, but with accepting said truth comes the acceptance of the consequences. Yahoo is just trying to completely dodge the responsibility they have for causing this man to be tortured. They could fess-up and tell the Chinese government to fuck off, but they won't do that. Why? Because they're interested in money which is clearly more important to corporations than human rights are.
I know, I know, more hate-hate from ThePete. Well, what else can I do but complain? There is no solution. I can't just bail on all Yahoo-owned services and, say, go to Google since they do business in China, as well. There's basically no escaping corporate blood on consumer hands in today's world. No matter what you do you're helping support some sort of unfair exploitation in some sense, in some way, even if you're not aware of it.
So, what else do we do, but bitch about it all? Our lawmakers have made sure that we are all powerless to do anything. A group of activists and lawyers tried to get the state of California to revoke Unocal's corporate charter because of it's environmental damage and it's political machinations in the oil-rich countries it does business in (specifically, I believe they were helping fund terrorism against locals--but don't quote me on that). The state of California obviously did not revoke the corporate charter for one of the biggest oil companies in the state (if not the biggest). There's just too much money in it for the state and for politicians.
So, where do we go from here?
Beats me, man. The only solutions I see are illegal and life threatening and I'm too much a coward to even think about encouraging those options.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
an undercover police officer who was there as part of a sting operation to curtail lewd behavior in public bathrooms.
Yep, you read it right. There was a sting "operation" to catch guys coming onto guys in bathrooms.
Yeah, blah-blah-blah, glad we're going after the real threats to America, blah-blah-blah, forget Osama just so long as we get illegal TV show distributors (http://urltea.com/1ct8) and poor, self-loathing saps who are so oppressed by their culture they lack the strength to admit who and what they really are.
There's the towtruck man rolling my scooter up onto his flatbed, about to take my (no longer) trusty 1989 Honda Elite 88cc scooter off to be recycled for parts! Special thanks for Tom's Towing in Moreno Valley and JunkYourCar.Com for providing this free service!
OH and I am no officially a bus-only Angeleno. o_O
FYI, I named my scooter "Godphoenix" after a ship used by Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in the classic anime series of the same name. I never did get around to putting the logo on the front :( Ah well.
AWWWW, YEEEAH! You see that Kanye West? Bush DOES care about black people!
What's the emoticon for shaking one's head?
See, this is just sad. Like anything this idiot says means anything at all at this point?
I mean, he says "he understands" but the article Google News linked to (from ABCNews.com, here: http://urltea.com/1cpa) never quotes him as saying what he understands. In this situation saying you understand is like saying nothing at all. I mean, why didn't he just stay in DC and send New Orleans a GIANT get well card?
Here's another Bush quote from the article:
"This town's coming back," he said after visiting with educators and students at the school in the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward. "This town is better today than it was yesterday and it's going to be better tomorrow than it is today."
Another pithy greeting card-esque statement. THANKS, ASS!
So, after the huge number of things Bush has TOTALLY SCREWED, he "understands."
I'm sure the people of New Orleans are relieved to hear that. Of course, they probably don't understand how Bush's administration can justify spending $1 trillion on killing people on foreign soil, while keeping people alive on New Orleans soil gets only around $115 billion.
I mean, that's what I don't understand.
One other thing from the article is something I noticed on page 2 of it. Check out this paragraph:
In fact, there is some good news here. The city's population is rebounding, and a few neighborhoods thrive. New Orleans has recovered much of its economic base and sales tax revenues are approaching normal. The French Quarter survived Katrina, and the music and restaurant scenes are recovering.
Oh, wow. That sounds pretty positive, doesn't it? "Much" of New Orleans "economic base" has recovered and sales taxes are being collected again!
Buuuuuut, check out the very next paragraph in the article:
But much of New Orleans still looks like a wasteland, with businesses shuttered and houses abandoned. Basic services like schools, libraries, public transportation and childcare are at half their original levels and only two-thirds of the region's licensed hospitals are open. Rental properties are in severely short supply, driving rents for those that are available way up. Crime is rampant and police operate out of trailers.
OHHHH, WELL! SORRY, NEW ORLEANS! While economic indicators suggest you're rising from the ashes, civil indicators suggest George W. Bush, in fact, does not care about black people.
I think we all understand that.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I bought a handful of blank, DIY toys from them and was looking forward to the big Summer Of Munny design contest. I was going to enter twice. The folks behind the site haven't been very upfront about what's going on behind the scenes. I know that one of them (or at least a very close friend) died, but I have no idea if that had anything to do with this message I found on their site today:
That's so sad. It's just another example of how positive things have no right to exist in America today. You still have to be profitable, even if you provide society with fun, creative art.
Fakture.com, RIB (Rest In Bankruptcy). May you sever ties with your debtors quickly and cleanly.
Wow. There's a sad truth about it? I thought thought dog fighting was nothing but happy smiles and rainbow sugar!!
Which is worse though, more people dying in Iraq every day or that dogs are treated like, well, dogs?
It's not like we treat our fellow man much better:
This is what I get for reading the news when I say I shouldn't bother anymore--assaulted with "horrible" stories about how mean this man was to puppies. Puh-lease. That's nothing (sadly).
Monday, August 27, 2007
The National Association for Business Economics survey, released today, found that 51% of those responding had little or no familiarity with the "structure, activities and risks" associated with collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs. CDOs are securities backed by pools of bonds, loans or other assets that are sliced into "tranches" (French for "slice") with varying maturity dates and differing degrees of risk.
A smaller 45% didn't have a good grasp of hedge funds â€” investment vehicles that are privately run, overseen by investment managers, and not widely available to the public. They use a wide array of investment strategies.
And 68% didn't have a handle on credit default swaps â€” which investment giant Pimco explains in a bond basics primer as: "In its most basic terms, a credit default swap is similar to an insurance contract, providing the buyer with protection against specific risks."
"There was a joke going around: 'What do you get when you cross a CDO salesman with a Mafia don? You get an offer that you don't understand,' " says Carl Tannenbaum, NABE president and chief economist at LaSalle Bank/ABN-AMRO in Chicago.
Ok, now please think about this for a moment: experts don't understand how credit works these days!!
Let's take a quick closer look at what 51% of what "the pros" understood: "the 'structure, activities and risks' associated with collateralized debt obligations".
Now, I just swung by the page for "collateralized debt obligations" at Wikipedia.org (here: http://urltea.com/1c4r ) and read their definition:
In financial markets, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) are a type of asset-backed security and structured credit product. CDOs gain exposure to the credit of a portfolio of fixed income assets and divide the credit risk among different tranches: senior tranches (rated AAA), mezzanine tranches (AA to BB), and equity tranches (unrated). Losses are applied in reverse order of seniority and so junior tranches offer higher coupons (interest rates) to compensate for the added risk. CDOs serve as an important funding vehicle for portfolio investments in credit-risky fixed income assets.
The best my feeble brain can make of that is that CDOs are debt based on stuff you own. In other words, you default and they get your stuff. So, if you refinance your house or something like that this is an example of a CDO. Now, based on that premise, how screwed is it that more than half of these guys don't even know how it all works?
Sometimes the clamshells they use on the Flintsones don't seem like such a bad idea... in fact, most of the time....
UPDATE: OK, scratch the refinance stuff--basically loans taken out for homes are the only major types of CDOs. Still that's not a small amount of loans in the US today. So, again, it's kind of scary when supposed experts don't understand how all of this works.
Special thanks to my buddy John, owner and operator of Boba Loca in Westwood, California, for explaining all of this to me.
And I've got to say I'm a little surprised at this. Resigning isn't JUST like admitting you are guilty, it's like admitting you're trying to hide from criminal prosecution--remember how Nixon resigned?
And in typical bad-media-fashion, check out this screengrab I just took of part of the CNN.com main page:
"The start of a mass exodus"??
What was Karl Rove resigning? The prequel?
Regardless, the big question I have is this: Will the system let these resigning men get away with all they've done?
I tell ya, more and more these days, if you want to be a criminal, go into politics where you are more likely to get away with it.
I and a few other people in the audience laughed out loud at this. Sure, the character is a civil servant, so it makes sense that he has faith in the system, even though it's let him down thus far. But my reaction wasn't about what had happened in the film so far. My reaction was more instinctive. I've been trained by my experiences to no longer trust figures of authorities to do the right thing (or to even know what that is).
I remember as a young teenager I'd see a cop car driving down the street and say out loud "there goes my friend."
My friends would look at me, shrug and then agree.
A couple years later, one of those friends and I stumbled upon a grass fire near a local strip mall. We were about to go call the cops (had to find a pay phone back then) when a cop car rolled up and detained us for simply being there. He had no reason to suspect us of starting the fire, but he held us for a half-hour in the back seat of his car. Two more black-and-whites and a fire engine showed up to take care of a five-foot-wide grass fire and two 13-year-olds.
Eventually, they let us go because they had no evidence that we did anything.
And of course, we didn't.
A few years later, I was driving my car through the mountains ten minutes from my house in suburban New Jersey. I hit a turn too fast (and hit a puddle) and spun out into the woods, straddling my car on a previously-knocked over log. I didn't hurt anyone, only rand down one street sign but my car was stuck on the log. "Luckily" a cop drove by within a half-hour or so and asked me what had happened. Stupidly, I told the truth. "I was driving too fast, clearly!"
I was so mad at myself for losing control. I knew better. So, I got a huge ticket and the cop called a tow truck. My car was drivable, it just needed to be dragged off the log. The cop insisted the tow truck pull it up onto it's flatbed. However, the tow truck guy didn't both to notice a piece of the fender was hanging underneath the car--as he pulled the car onto the flatbed, this piece got caught underneath the wheel and pulled the left fender (which had not been damaged at all in the accident) downward. I pointed this out as it happened to the cop who just shrugged it off. As my parents came out to greet me as they saw the tow truck arrive, I told them immediately what happened.
"Is this true?" My step-dad asked the cop.
I was an officer in Jr. ROTC--if I got caught lying, I'd get in a LOT of trouble.
"You're lying!" I said to the cop.
"Who do you think the judge is going to believe, kid? You or a New Jersey police officer?"
Then, just last year, I was sued by a law firm for a back debt they claimed I owed. I didn't know what I was doing and didn't have money for a decent lawyer, so I didn't know I actually wouldn't have my day in court to defend myself. The court ruled a summary judgment against me. Basically, the system is set up so that if someone accuses you of something if you don't defend yourself against it, the law assumes it's true. No "innocent until proven guilty" crap, here.
When I finally did borrow the money from my dad for a super-cheap lawyer he asked the judge to reconsider the case since I now had a lawyer and the judge said "If I did that, I'd be punishing the plaintiff for having a lawyer."
Thanks to the stupid protocol of the court I couldn't just say "but the plaintiff IS a lawyer!" After that, my lawyer said he was going to fight it but we ended up missing the deadline for appeal. So, despite the fact that the debt has not been proven AND the fact that if it had been the statute of limitations on debt collections would have kicked in, according to the law, I owe these assholes a bunch of money. Of course, I don't really and they'll have a hard time getting it out of me considering how little I make. :)
The point is my lawyer let me down, my judge lied and let me down and, worst of all, the system itself let me down.
And then we've got the mess in Iraq, 911, Katrina, the mess in Afghanistan, buckets of corruption in DC, etc.
Sure, society still functions, but how much of that is the average citizen, you and me, just agreeing to not be shitty to one another? How much of society really benefits from these supposed "authority" figures? I'm not saying we need to get rid of all of them, but I do think we need to start holding these morons accountable.
Now... how to do that???
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Ah, the beloved newbev!
If you can't tell by now, I highly recommend this place like crazy. While it's not the best theater in the world, it does run a great variety of movies with something for everyone. They do need to turn on the AC for the more packed houses, though. That said, what theater do YOU know that runs double features like the above pictured one and charge just $7 to get in?
So, if you're in LA, check out NewBevCinema.Com and spend some time at the New Bev and remember what a real movie-going experience is like. I'm there doing exactly that almost every weekend. (If I had a stable income I'd be there absolutely every weekend.)
Wow--it's way too entertaining to mess around with an app that makes you look all freaky...
...for about 30 seconds or so.
I've had my MacBook (and Photo Booth) since April and have used Photo Booth all of one time.
Just came across this and one other pic I took with it today. Thought maybe my wackiness might lighten your Sunday afternoon/Monday morning :)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Skype Unlimited Calling in US and Canada: Special Terms and Conditions
For a fixed fee, you get 12 months of SkypeOut calling within the 50 US states and Canada. The offer is reserved to residents of the US and Canada.
Oh, damn--so if I move to Japan before my 12 months are up I can't use it? Where's the logic in that? The calls are still going to America...
SkypeOut calls made as a result of using the â€œcall forwardingâ€ feature are excluded from the plan and will have to be paid separately.
Once again, what's the difference between a call I make and a call someone trying to reach me makes? It's still a phone call to me. Incoming calls are free and thanks to signing up for "SU", so are outgoing calls.
This offer is valid for limited period of time and Skype reserves the right to end the offer, extend it or change it at any time and at its sole discretion.
OK, Mr. Control-Freak, reserve your right to refuse service! SHEESH!
For the first three days after you sign-up, your communications will be limited to seven hours a day.
"Once we decide we like you, talk all you want!"
Seriously--what's this about? 7 hours a day? Who talks that much anyway?
After this three day activation period, your communications within the US and Canada will be unlimited.
Thank you, Lord Vader...
However, Skype asks that you use the VoIP service fairly and sensibly,
This is AMERICA, bub! We don't know what "fairly" and "sensibly" means! (Just look at Iraq and Afghanistan if you don't believe me!)
for your regular communication purposes, and that you donâ€™t abuse the offer in any way.
This calling plan sounds more like "Skype Kinda Limited" to me...
Skype reminds you that your Skype account is for personal use only, and without limiting the foregoing,
"Without limiting the foregoing"?? WTH does that mean?? Maybe it means that without cutting back on the fact that it's for personal use...
you must not allow anybody else to use your account to make calls.
That's absurd! I paid for unlimited calls!! This is NOT unlimited calls, folks.
Also you are not allowed to resell SkypeOut or other types of VoIP service.
DAMN! There goes my plan of building a pay phone with a Linux PC inside that I'd then install Skype on. I'D HAVE BEEN RICH!!
If Skype does see excessive use or systematic or intentional misuse, it reserves the right to terminate your access to your account immediately, and you will not be entitled to get a refund.
Does that mean I can't use it as a can opener?
DAMN! This deal gets more rotten all the time!
Without limiting the foregoing,
There's that phrase again!!! WTH!!!
Skype will permanently suspend your account if somebody else uses your account to make SkypeOut calls.
How will they know? Will they monitor the calls? Tap my webcam? Does this mean I'll need to make sure everyone in the room is perfectly silent when I make a call? Or is my wife allowed to yell "hello!" at any friend or family member I call?
If youâ€™re using any service, proxy or other devices preventing us from locating you (for example by allocating you an anonymous IP address), Skype reserves the right to charge your calls to US and Canadian mobile and landline telephone numbers at the normal rates, regardless of your real location.
How precisely do you "locate" us, Mr. Skype? Or should I call you... Big Brother?
If the plan you purchased includes free minutes of SkypeOut credits to make international calls, the value credited to your Skype account will be based on the Skype global rates of USD 2.1 US cents or 2.4 CAN cents per minute to most popular destinations. Minute value obtained will vary in relation to other destinations and to mobile phones, for which other rates may apply. For more information about SkypeOut rates please visit http://www.skype.com/products/skypeout/rates/.
Wow--it sounds like this ToS isn't completely sure what calling plan it's for. LOVELY.
If the plan you purchased includes hardware coupons, the redemption and use of these coupons are subject to our partnersâ€™ terms and conditions, including any applicable expiry date. Please check these conditions and make sure you redeem the coupons before they expire.
Yeah, what is this? This Terms of Service keeps referring to things this plan doesn't come with? What gives??
Your use of SkypeOut services under this offer is still subject to Skypeâ€™s Terms of Service
Wait... this isn't the ToS?? These are the "Special Terms and Conditions". Ahhhh, CRAP. I HATE reading these damn things!
YOU WIN, SKYPE! TAKE MY FIRST BORN! SEIZE MY CAR! JUST GIVE ME THE DAMN SERVICE YA PROMISED!!
Of course, the joke is on you since I don't have any kids nor do I own a car.
HA! I WIN SKYPE!!
Sightings by marine scientists of dolphins in the north Atlantic's Bay of Biscay have dropped off by 80 percent compared to the same period in 2006, a wildlife conservation group said Wednesday.
The alarming drop in numbers of the Bay's three most common species of dolphin -- the striped, bottlenose and common -- can be attributed to one or both of two causes, Clive Martin, senior wildlife officer for the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme, told AFP.
"We know for a fact that by-catch is killing thousands of dolphins every year," he said, referring to commercial fishing operations in the bay, which is formed by the northern coast of Spain and the eastern French seaboard up to the tip of Brittany.
But killing them off isn't the only thing they think is causing the lack of dolphins:
The second -- and probably more important -- reason that dolphins have disappeared is that there is simply very little left for them to eat.
"Anchovy fishing in the Bay of Biscay has progressively failed, and this year there is a complete ban by Spain, France and the United Kingdom on the fishing of anchovies," a principal food source for dolphins, Clive said.
He speculated that the roving sea mammals -- which swim in pods numbering in the dozens for bottlenose dolphins, and sometimes in the thousands for the common dolphin -- had moved west toward the mid-Atlantic looking for food.
Either way, dolphins are disappearing.
Just more fodder for the folks who understand that humans can and do have an effect on the planet Earth, herself.
But I'll definitely be there! So, if you're thinking about it, stop on by and write with me! HUZZAH!
For more on The Saturdaily, join up here: http://urltea.com/1995 or just stop by ThePete.Community here: http://thepetecom.ning.com/ and learn more about it.
Remember how that changed, with the threat becoming WMD?
Remember how, when the WMD didn't show up, WMD morphed back into Saddam being a madman (no more torture! no more rape rooms!)?
Remember how, when no one gave a crap about Saddam's rape rooms, the excuse for Iraq became to bring them democracy? Sure, the operation from the beginning was called "Operation Iraqi Freedom," but the Bush Admin only pushed the freedom/democracy stuff when the every other (better) excuse failed. Well, now it looks like even democracy is no longer a reason for us to be in Iraq! Wahoo! It's come full circle! According to an August 22, 2007 article at CNN.com (check it here: http://urltea.com/1ai6) the USG is giving up on the whole democracy thing in favor of something, anything stable.
Wow, too bad we couldn't just install some Middle Eastern strongman who could ultimately do our bidding in exchange for us promising to buy plenty of Iraq's oil...
Where could we find someone like that?
Perhaps the patch of cemetery where we buried Saddam?
Special thanks to TheWife for pointing me at the above-linked article.
I have one of those faces. You know, the kind of face that says to people "walk up to me and say hello, I'm your friend."
The thing about that is that I don't have one of those personalities. When people do walk up to me and say hello, I usually pretend I can't hear them over the noise of my earbuds, despite the fact that I never blast my music like some people I see on the bus on my commute every morning. The reason I mention the part about my face is because one guy who didn't seem to give a shit about my earbuds was this old homeless guy I'd see at one of my bus stops. It was a hub stop, so I never knew where the guy was from. A hub stop is where a lot of buses stop, so I could never be sure where Lorenzo would come from or where he went. But I could always depend on him to be chatty as hell on the mornings when I just didn't want to deal with the world--it was like some twisted clockwork.
When he first started talking to me, he was convinced that I was some sort of nephew of his. He asked me why I hadn't come to see him. I just tried to ignore him. After a few moments, he worked out that I wasn't his nephew and I guess I felt bad for the guy and took out one of my earbuds. That was all it took. He would tell me all sorts of stuff about his life. A lot of it was pretty boring, so I imagine it was true. The rest of it was bizarre and clearly full of crap. Something about reading minds and how tin foil really does work to stop them from getting inside your head.
"Really? I'll have to remember that," I would say. He would, after all, tell his stories several times over to me. I don't know why I humored him. I guess, in a way, I wondered if he was, one day long ago, like me. That's the thing--he'd never talk about his childhood or what made him homeless. One time I tried to ask him how he ended up on the street and he just scratched his balding head with one hand and ran his fingers through his crazy-man beard. It was like he was trying to do that thing where you pat your own head with one hand while making a circle on your stomach with the other. Invariably, whenever I asked him a question that he didn't end up answering, he would take up this pose before he'd tell me he couldn't answer my question. Sometimes he'd say it was because he couldn't remember, other times, he'd smile and say it was top secret.
Then one day he asked me something strange. "Did I ever tell you you look a lot like my nephew?"
"Uh, no, no Lorenzo. You haven't," I said. I still wonder why I humored him as much as I did.
"Yeah, sorry about that. You know, you do look like my nephew," he insisted. I smiled and nodded and moved to put my earbud back in when he asked me a question. "Do you see them?"
Click here for the rest of the story.
Every Friday stop by for another bit of fiction. Either a sequel to this or perhaps another story all together. This weekâ€™s short story will be available ONLY FOR A WEEK, so donâ€™t hesitate if youâ€™re thinking about reading it! Itâ€™ll be gone from this site as of Friday morning next week!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Researchers have figured out how to give an entire community a drug test using just a teaspoon of wastewater from a city's sewer plant.
The test wouldn't be used to finger any single person as a drug user. But it would help federal law enforcement and other agencies track the spread of dangerous drugs, like methamphetamines, across the country.
Oregon State University scientists tested 10 unnamed American cities for remnants of drugs, both legal and illegal, from wastewater streams. They were able to show that they could get a good snapshot of what people are taking.
"It's a community urinalysis," said Caleb Banta-Green, a University of Washington drug abuse researcher who was part of the Oregon State team. The scientists presented their results Tuesday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.
This is pretty ingenious, actually. The only thing that would worry me is if they manage to work out a way to track you down based on the stuff in your fecal-matter or urine. You know, the way someone can go to a garbage dump, dig around and find your credit card receipts and know what you spent money on? What if genetic material ends up in your crap somehow? Hm... this is all very interesting to me. I might have the beginnings of a scifi story here! ^_^
An August 23, 2007 article (http://urltea.com/1atp) at Axcessnews.com reports:
A new intelligence report expected to be released today says that the Iraqi government is incapable of governing itself, though if Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki were removed, the results could be disastrous. Brig. Gen. Richard Sherlock revealed separately the outlook of the U.S. military in advance of next month's report to Congress by Gen. Petraeus and may give insight into how the overall report will read.
I love how everyone keeps saying that if we changed things, that would make them worse. So, how much worse are we going to let them get before we get the hell out?
I don't feel like cleaning up the Iraq mess is my responsibility in the least. I have been against this war since before Day One. I say we impeach the entire Bush Admin and then send them over to govern Iraq.
If only it were that easy.
I'd settle for Bush to be impeached. Yes, I'd be happier with Cheney in charge for the next 17 months just because I know Cheney has NEVER wanted the top spot and watching him squirm under the spotlight would be brilliant. But I digress...
The ultimate point here is: Big surprise morons!! Tell us something we haven't known for months--years even!
I wonder when we'll invade Iran!
OK, so those aren't the lyrics, but you get the point. Bush is now comparing Iraq to Vietnam, but not in a way that makes any frakking sense at all. Check out a cutting from an August 23, 2007 article (http://urltea.com/1at2) at TheStar.Com that explains it all (sort of):
"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms, like `boat people,' `re-education camps' and `killing fields,'" Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Mo.
Bush used Vietnam as a cautionary tale for American involvement in Iraq less than three weeks before Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander there, returns to Washington to provide a much-anticipated assessment of the surge strategy to Congress on Sept. 11.
Wow, my knowledge of Vietnam trumps Mr. Bush's.
DUDE. NEWSFLASH: SAIGON FELL--WE HAD TO LEAVE.
You fucking moron.
What Bushface is essentially saying is that he'd prefer we never left Vietnam, too--which is hilarious, since we were totally losing, had lost an absurd number of American soldiers and had the word "quagmire" officially entered into the lexicon of popular culture thanks to Vietnam. Now, we're reliving all of this and guess what.
OUR CONGRESS WON'T IMPEACH THIS FUCKER.
The man is clearly a sociopathic megalomaniac. He's screwed EVERYthing up and cost over 3000 American lives and COUNTLESS Iraqi lives and is showing no signs of getting anything right at all EVER.
It's only going to get worse. You watch.
Two-thirds of US adults admit to being in the dark about political issues outside the United States, and only a third are well-versed in US politics, the results of a poll published Tuesday showed.
Is anyone surprised at this?
These are the folks that brought us a second four-years of Bush in the White House (or was it those pesky electronic ballot boxes?). The other sad thing about this study is that it confirms my theory that generally, the "ugly American" stereotype is an accurate one. We're just a bunch of selfish, self-centered assholes who couldn't care less about the world outside our borders (unless we think they're trying to kill us).
The article has more:
Global political knowledge was miniscule, with just three percent of women and 14 percent of men saying they are extremely knowledgeable on world politics.
One reason for the knowledge gap is lack of interest, according to the poll.
"Well over half (57 percent) say they do not like learning about political issues in other countries," and 32 percent expressed a lack of interest for homespun politics, the Harris Poll group said.
This kind of thing really pisses me off since I do my best to follow what's going on in the rest of the world. You know what? It's actually pretty damn interesting.
I remember back in elementary and high school history seemed so boring. It seemed mind numbingly impossible to follow. Yet, about ten years ago, I started reading about history and found it incredibly fascinating. I was stunned at how boring my teachers had made it seem. A bunch of white guys speaking like Shakespearean actors about grand concepts and ideas. They made it seem like history had already happened--like it was all over--something that hadn't been updated in a century.
Well, guess what? History is a living, breathing, ongoing adventure. It's happening right now, around us in this country and around the world--and you know what? It's absolutely fucking fascinating. If you're not paying attention to the world around you, you're missing the most incredible time to be alive since the last world war.
In school history seemed immutable. But present history is something we can become participants in. It's something we can change--a story we can help write.
To me it seems like schools and even our culture is designed to breed a lack of movement and involvement in us. I think this poll is evidence of that.
Fight the power. Think for yourself. Turn off the TV and have a look around you to see what you can do to make your life, your town, your city, your state, your country and even your world a better place. It's totally doable and it's a grand fucking adventure.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Here's the deal. I came to Hollywood to write good movies and/or good TV. I got here and discovered after years of working in the entertainment industry that people here pretty much only want to make broad, safe, risk-free programming for as many people as they can convince to watch. In other words, no one wants to be challenged or take any chances that an unproven product might bomb. Sadly, taking risks is how mankind moves forward. As a result, I've decided that this city is kind of a joke. The world of media is changing around them and they are not changing with it.
It's not that Hollywood ate me up--it's that it's kind of toothless. Imagine trying to convince the smart kids to let you into chess club only, when you watch them play through the keyhole in the chess clubhouse door you see that they aren't very good at the game of chess and aren't really even sure how it's played. This is my impression of Hollywood. Sure, there are some exceptions, but generally this place is just not the industry I want to struggle for years to break into.
Sure, if all of the sudden I meet George Lucas' agent at the Ralph's on the corner of La Brea and Fountain and he offers to buy my script, then, yeah, I'll stick around.
If one of my friends still in the industry manage to hook me up with a publisher for one of my novels, sure--I'll definitely hang around to collect a check.
However, there's a big, big world out there and I'd like to see it. LA is a fun city to live in, but I've been here long enough and the world is waiting. TheWife feels similarly. If any of you have seen her perform live, you know she doesn't belong on the LA stage, but on the Broadway stage. So, here's the plan, starting, well, a couple months ago, we start saving to move from LA. I'll save up enough to get us both to NYC and then I'll go on to Japan for a couple years. Yes, she'll stay in NYC and we're staying together--we'll just be apart chasing our dreams.
What am I going to do in Japan? Well, for starters learn the damn language the right way. Next, I plan on continuing to write and self-publish my own stuff. Since I'm in Japan I'll try to hack my way into the animation industry over there which produces some of the most amazing stuff I've ever seen.
So, that's the plan.
Now, if I can just get some sort of income in the meantime, we hope to be out of LA by January or February of 2008. Want to help? Click the red support links you see at the bottom of each post or just click on any Google ad you see floating around (every bit helps!).
And, of course, I'll keep ThePete.Com going through all of this.
See, I'm using FeedBurner.com for tracking purposes. The thing is, I've been using them for years but never thought about how there's a link at the bottom of my blog to the standard WordPress-produced feed link. Whoops!
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There were 99 Army suicides last year - nearly half of them soldiers who hadn't reached their 25th birthdays, about a third of them serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
That comes from an August 16, 2007 article at Forbes.com (http://urltea.com/1af1). Now, what's interesting is how the likely cause of said suicides is framed. Check this out:
Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, told a Pentagon press conference that the primary reason for suicide is "failed intimate relationships, failed marriages."
She said that although the military is worried about the stress caused by repeat deployments and tours of duty that have been stretched to 15 months, it has not found a direct relationship between suicides and combat or deployments.
"However, we do know that frequent deployments put a real strain on relationships, especially on marriages. So we believe that part of the increase is related to the increased stress in relationships," she said.
Sheesh. So, what's the frakkin' difference? The soldier is depressed and directly or indirectly it's because of war. It seems disingenuous to go and say "Well, the war had nothing to do with it, but the war might have something to do with what did have something to do with the soldier taking his own life."
Ultimately, the point I'm trying to make here is that war can have unintended consequences even among the "winners." Men and women come back from war pretty much mentally scarred in many cases and in some cases they come back and simply can't deal with life. Prices like these are not usually included when you tally the cost of the war. If they were, perhaps we'd have more hesitation before going into war. Not only will lives be lost in battle, but lives will be ruined back home. The soldier comes back, takes his/her own life and the rest of their family must go on knowing they lost a family member to suicide and not the war. One death is heroic the other just tragic.
One other quick point: this is one of the many negative things we Americans don't want to face about our way of life--that to protect it we must cause death, destruction, and tear people's lives apart--even the lives of American citizens.
Technically any good? About the only FX I had trouble buying were the elephants in the cage at the beginning. I've seen more realistic miniature elephants in a Burt I. Gordon film. However, everything else I pretty much bought. Acting-wise, I think Michelle Pfeiffer can just stop being in things now. Hers was the least interesting performance of the movie. Everyone else was pretty solid--even De Niro's flying pirate character. The script had quite a few holes in it, but the over all spirit of the film allows me to come pretty close to forgiving every last one of them. However, that doesn't mean they're not there. The music could have been a bit less obnoxious. I got that this was supposed to be a score to a sweeping epic, but in three instances the music seemed to be trying desperately and unsuccessfully to make up for a distinct lack of sweepingness.
How did it leave me feeling? While about on the level of the best SciFi Channel movie I've ever seen, I'd definitely say I felt good after watching it. This film ended up being much better than I expected it to be. I should clarify--I haven't seen a movie on SciFi Channel that was better than this film. However, I have seen TV shows that are MUCH better than this movie.
Final Rating? SIYL - See If You Like - It's definitely a fun, safe bet for enjoyment if you're looking for something (anything) to see. I bet you won't be let down.
1) I just checked XE.com and as of today, August 22, 2007 at 12:12pm, 1 US dollar is equal to 1.06 Canadian dollars. The USD is still weaker than the CAD. That's bad. Of course, "authorities" will say a weak USD will encourage foreign investment in America, but that ignores the part where it discourages our own investment in other countries AND the fact that it will discourage other countries from selling to us since they'd have to price their products so low as for us to be able to afford it. Of course, we're so stupid here, we think prices haven't gone up very much--but they've gone up a lot if you consider how much weaker the dollar is compared to even a couple years ago.
2) AP.org reported, in an August 22, 2007 article at Biz.Yahoo.com (http://urltea.com/1ag0), that:
Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. plans to shut down most of its business to survive the troubles in the home lending industry, the company said Wednesday.
Accredited Home Lenders said it will cut its work force to 1,000 people -- from 2,600 at the end of June -- and close 65 branches. The company will immediately stop accepting applications for home loans in the U.S., though it will honor the loans it has already committed to finance.
Maybe it's just this one company that is suffering, or maybe it's just this one company that is a symptom of an ailing economy.
And remember just two more things:
1) Just because unemployment is down doesn't mean that employment is up. It just means that people's unemployment benefits have run out and they've stopped claiming them.
2) Just because job growth is up, doesn't mean they're good jobs or well-paying jobs.
See, because Wikipedia.org is an online encyclopedia that is written by anyone who visits the site who wants to help out. This trusts everyone to add the most truthful content. The catch is, you can't trust anyone these days. Check out a cutting from an August 15, 2007 article at http://guardian.co.uk (http://urltea.com/1aed) to learn more about it:
The Wikipedia Scanner, which trawls the backwaters of the popular online encyclopaedia, has unearthed a catalogue of organisations massaging entries, including the CIA and the Labour party.
Workers operating on CIA computers have been spotted editing entries including the biography of former presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, while unnamed individuals inside the Vatican have worked on entries about Catholic saints - and Sinn FÃ©in leader Gerry Adams.
Meanwhile, an anonymous surfer from Labour's Millbank headquarters excised a section about Labour Students which referred to "careerist MPs" and criticisms that the party's student movement was no longer seen as radical.
And somebody from a computer traced to Democrat HQ edited a page on conservative American radio host Rush Limbaugh, calling him "idiotic", "ridiculous" and labelling his 20 million listeners as "legally retarded".
But the biggest culprit that the Scanner claims to have discovered is Diebold, a supplier of voting machines, which it says has made huge alterations to entries about its involvement in the controversial "hanging chad" election in the US in 2000. The company was criticised in the wake of the disputed results, but edits made by its employees on Wikipedia have included the removal of 15 paragraphs detailing the allegations.
The article goes on. The thing is, companies who owned privately maintained encyclopedias would still tweak entries if it suited them financially. The book The Plot to Get Bill Gates talks about how Microsoft bought Funk and Wagnals (sp?) encyclopedia, digitized it and called it "Encarta" but along the way jazzed up the encyclopedia's entry on Bill Gates. If memory serves, they added a bit that talks about how big a philanthropist Gates was. Back when Encarta came out, Gates was best known for donating free software and then claiming to have donated millions in cash because that's how much the software would cost if you bought it in stores.
Ultimately, there are two points to note, here. First, everyone has an agenda and most people seem to be unaware (or simply don't care) that everything they do goes to serve that agenda whether they mean it to or not. Second, Wikipedia is still a useful tool, despite the fact that it is easily propagandized. This is because it's not that hard to find out who is making these changes. Also, it's on the Internet and it always pays to confirm just about any story you read on the 'net before you take it as the truth.
Special thanks to TheJen for turning me on to this story.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
YEP, it's true--a drunk driver is more likely to kill you than a terrorist. In 2006 alone, over 13,000 Americans died in alcohol-related car crashes. And, as I stated above, the odds of you dying in this kind of crash are going up. Here's a cutting from an August 20, 2007 article that will tell you more about it:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data showing there were 13,470 deaths in 2006 involving drivers and motorcycle operators with blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher, which is the legal limit for adults throughout the country. The number was down slightly from 2005, when 13,582 people died in crashes involving legally drunk drivers.
The overall number of deaths involving drivers and motorcycle operators with any amount of alcohol in their blood was 17,602 last year. That was up from 17,590 in 2005, according to spokeswoman Heather Ann Hopkins.
"The number of people who died on the nation's roads actually fell last year," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said at a news conference in this Washington suburb. "However the trend did not extend to alcohol-related crashes."
Transportation officials announced the new figures as they unveiled a $11 million nationwide advertising campaign as part of a Labor Day weekend campaign "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest."
AH YES! What a BRILLIANT campaign, sirs! Surely the threat of arrest is the worst possible thing connected with drunk driving!!
Killing other people? Robbing parents of their children and children of their parents? PAH!
CLEARLY, spending time in jail is WAY worse than anything else that could happen while driving drunk!!
My best friend from college had a father who was on the wagon--quit drinking and just shortly after was killed by a drunk driver.
Needless to say, my then-best-friend's life was changed for ever.
As for these numbers going up? My guess is people are getting drunk more often because life is sucking more for all of us. In short, expect to see these numbers go up for 2007.
See that really tall guy in the middle? That's my step-dad, Don. He's where I get a good chunk of my personality from. As I type this he is lying in an operating room so they can cut out a part of him that was cancerous. Any positive thoughts or prayers anyone wants to throw his way would be much appreciated.
Hey, I'm an atheist, but he believes in God, and I know there's always a possibility I could be wrong. So, if you've got a God, pass him a note to ask him to make sure my step-dad can resume his normal life after today.
If you're like me and don't believe God exists, then throw some positive vibes toward South Carolina.
Either way, after all he's been through in his life he deserves a happy, long life.
Hey, instead of conjuring $1 trillion from nothing and spending it on terrorist "threats" wouldn't it have been great if George W. Bush had conjured even a fraction of that money and put it toward a cure for cancer?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that George W. Bush is the shittiest leader this country has had for putting a war on something that kills a few thousand people around the world every year in front of something that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans a year (and even more people around the world).
UPDATE: Well, Don survived the surgery, but his life is changed forever, sadly. They couldn't find the tumor, so they took out his whole damn rectum. Yeah, that makes sense. Holy Christ, I think my step-dad has the Bush Administration for doctors. Anyone feel like donating to the American Cancer Society can do so here: http://urltea.com/19tc
It sure would be nice if we didn't have to give to anyone--it sure would be nice if the USG could go after the real threats to American life.
$1 trillion could help a lot of people...
But thank God we're safe from terrorism.
Monday, August 20, 2007
...Klein describes how he stumbled across "secret NSA rooms" being installed at an AT&T switching center in San Francisco and later heard of similar rooms in at least six other cities, including Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Jose and Seattle.
"You needed an ordinary key and the code to punch into a key pad on the door, and the only person who had both of those things was the one guy cleared by the NSA," Klein says of the "secret room" at the AT&T center in San Francisco.
Klein says he collected 120 pages of technical documents left around the San Francisco office showing how the NSA was installing "splitters" that would allow it to copy both domestic and international Internet traffic moving through AT&T connections with 16 other trunk lines.
"It's gobs and gobs of information going across the Internet," Klein says.
What's wrong with this?
The USG is collecting soooo much data, it would be impossible for a human (even several humans) to sift through it all. That means the NSA employs an algorithm, a sort of computer program, to sift through all the information. The only problem with this is that this algorithm is programmed by a human. Humans are flawed--we make mistakes all of the time. Especially, the humans who run the Bush Administration. I think we can all agree that they mess up all the time (either that or they're truly corrupt, amoral people--but that's a post for another time).
So, what if you're on the Internet, looking up some information on "bomb making" because you're writing a book about it, or perhaps you're just curious how easy it is for terrorists to build those IEDs in Iraq.
Well, you could easily be targeted by the NSA as a possible domestic terror threat. You could get arrested and detained indefinitely as an enemy combatant. That would make "being curious" about something like "explosives" a pretty dangerous thing to be curious about, wouldn't it? You being arrested would discourage other folks for being curious about things and, essentially, it would mean certain types of knowledge are effectively outlawed.
Think about that for a moment--certain knowledge is outlawed.
But what if you had a much better reason to look information like that up? What if you caught your kid making a chlorine bomb in your back yard one day? You don't want him to make another, so you clear out everything in the house that he could use to make another one. But how do you know what ingredients he used? Surely it takes more than chlorine to make a bomb, so you start googling. You find a whole mess of "chlorine bomb" videos on the YouTube. You also find, in these videos, instructions on how to make said "chlorine bombs". But, thanks to these rooms at ISPs around the country, the USG now knows you're researching both "bomb making" and "chlorine bombs."
GOSHES, it's like a bad Jeff Foxworthy sketch!
"If you google for both 'bomb making' AND 'chlorine bombs', you might be a domestic terrorist!"
On the other hand, you might not be.
In fact, statistics show that the majority of humans on the planet are NOT terrorists--even ones that look up information on "bomb making"!
However, thanks to this absurd paranoia that terrorism is a threat to the American way of life (it really isn't), we have equipment and software at offices of Internet providers around the nation that are watching our every Internet move. The bad news is that thanks to those new powers the Bush Administration got from Congress the other day (http://thepete.com/did-i-mention-that-bush-is-legally-lawless/), all of this is legal.
In fact, after all the uses of bomb-related keywords in this here post, the government DEFINITELY knows you're reading this blog.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Meh... it turns out iTunes can't see the mp3 track above when it tries to pull it down as a podcast. Lame. Looks like my quest for a phone-blogging solution continues!
I've signed up at gcast.com, but they admit up front that their site only works with a flash player and doesn't link to a specific mp3 file. The problem with this is that I want to have one feed for all the media on my site. Not one for my phone blog and another for any pre-recorded audcasts I do as well. Damn, audioblogger.com was so cool! :( And Odeo.com doesn't take calls from phones anymore, nor does it's onboard, web-based recorder work worth a damn (at least in Firefox for Mac). Hm...
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The news coming from the Southern Nevada Water Authority Thursday about the valley's future water supply is worrisome. Unless we act quickly, there will be no water for hundreds of thousands of Las Vegas Valley residents in just three years.
SNWA data shows drought conditions getting worse, not better forcing the general manager of the water authority to ask the board to spend more than $45 million to upgrade water pumps at Lake Mead.
Those pumps would be attached to the second drinking water intake at the lake and double its capacity to pump drinking water. At the current rate, the water level will drop below the first intake in less than three years drastically cutting the supply of drinking water to Las Vegas.
Weee! Are you glad we're spending so much money on catching people who would probably have never harmed any of us? Not to sound isolationist, but this story is proof that we have more important things to worry about than the "threat" of terror.
Friday, August 17, 2007
However, not too long ago, he got his cronies in the legislative branch of their government to give him the power to decree--as in create a law just by saying it. He needed it, Chavez said, because of the nationalization of oil--it couldn't be done slowly thanks to the oil companies protesting. It had to be a literal over-night thing. This makes sense to a certain degree--what doesn't is that his powers to decree last something like 18 months. Seems a long time for something that had to happen over night. Now, I haven't had the time to research this to find out if he turned that power back over, but just the fact that he had it at all is worrisome to someone like me.
Now we see another push for power on Chavez' part. In an article from August 15, 2007 (found here: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/08/15/ap4024566.html), Forbes.com reports that Chavez is trying to change the Venezuelan constitution to remove term limits. This means that he can get elected over and over and never have to step down from power. Sure, this isn't that big a deal if they have honest elections. But they use electronic machines down there for voting.
Now you see the problem? Instant Sadam Hussein. Just add, er, take away term limits and hacked elections and you might as well call him King Hugo. He and our good King Bush can hang out.
The point is, I'm not blind to a power hungry despot who used to be a populist (and cool) president. When I support the wrong people I admit it.
Sadly, power tends to corrupt and it sure seems to be doing so in Chavez' case.
I'd say don't buy your gas from Citgo anymore since it's a chain owned by Venezuela, but you'll just be supporting corporate assholes instead of a fascist one.
There's just no winning these days.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Some times I think of my life as a cage. I move through life just doing what I'm told, more or less, and somehow I don't get anywhere. Sure, I make my mistakes, but how many do you have to make before life throws you a bone?
I mean, seriously. My life is a mess and it seems to only get worse. Well--tonight--it's gone from worse to weird. To downright messed up. It's one of those things that just doesn't seem real. Like how people felt on 911, or maybe Pearl Harbor or something. You hear about bad things, I mean REALLY bad things, happening to other people, but aside from the odd family member with cancer nothing THAT extraordinary happens to you. Or, in this case, me.
See, I'm alone in my life. I've got a crap-job. The hours are crap, the pay is crap and the work is, well, it's not such bad work. The thing is, I work swing at this job. What do I do? It's a crap job. You've had one, imagine your own. It doesn't matter what mine is. So, I'm done with work tonight, but I don't have anyone to go home to, so I'm not exactly rushing to my bus stop. There's an 11 o'clock bus that picks me up and it's an express and it takes me almost exactly to my apartment.
There isn't another bus for a friggin' hour after that and it's slow as hell--takes me through a crap area of town and stops at every damn stop thanks to the abundance of weirdoes in this town.
These creatures that are up, taking the bus in the middle of the night. I mean, what kind of person rides the midnight bus down 66th Street?
Click here for the rest of the story.
Every Friday stop by for another bit of fiction. Either a sequel to this or perhaps another story all together. This week's short story will be available ONLY FOR A WEEK, so don't hesitate if you're thinking about reading it! It'll be gone from this site as of Friday morning next week!
So, I'm checking out my feeds on Google Reader the other day and I found a sort of chain of blogs or a blogchain that led me to an interesting post at WiseGeek.com. Here's how the blogchain went:
1) google.com/reader (I start many blogchains here)
2) "Geeky" section: Lifehacker.com (great site)
3) http://lifehacker.com/software/health/the-200-calorie-gallery-226444.php (the actual post which referenced the original post below)
That WiseGeek.Com post is really cool--it features more than twenty photographs of foods arranged in 200-calorie piles. This is great because, if you're like me, you have a hard time equating what abstract measurements equate to in reality. So, what the hell does 200 calories of peanut butter look like? Well, now you've got a reference. According to the WiseGeek post, the US Government says we should consume between 2000 and 2500 calories a day and knowing what that actually looks like means overeating will be much harder to do.
Pretty cool, huh? .
Technically any good? According to IMDB.com, this movie was made as a student film with an according budget and it shows. An alien is a beach ball with lizardy gloves (though creatively done) and the sets look like they're made of foam core in most scenes. The acting is fairly bad, but that makes it more enjoyable, to be honest. The story is pretty cool and the fixes that the crew get into are pretty clever. It's no wonder this was an inspiration for the brilliant British scifi sitcom, Red Dwarf.
How did it leave me feeling? Very satisfied and pleased that I could be so entertained by such a low budget film. I forgot how nice it is to just be told a story and not "blown away" by the "FX". While not a full-on crowd pleaser, I do think this film is worth checking out, even if only on a lark. It's a weird movie, but not weird in a 2001: A Space Odyssey way, but in a funny-ha-ha way. On a side note, the film seems to reference the screenwriter's later film Alien, so I'm not sure IMDB's release date of 1974 is accurate since Alien, also according to IMDB, came out in 1979.
Final Rating? SIYL - See If You Like - This is a movie for scifi fans. Definitely, but scifi fans who enjoy more colorful (and more realistic) characters.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
In a nutshell, shit gets crazy down there, man.
Here's a bit from the above mentioned article to explain what I mean:
Since experiments keep proving quantum ideas right, physicists are forced to take them seriously. It isn't easy. They have to admit that a particle can be in two places at once. They have to accept that subatomic systems can become so "entangled" that measuring one affects the other even if the two are light-years apart, which Einstein called "spooky action at a distance." But even as quantum weirdness provides fodder for such drivel as the best-selling book "The Secret," it also fuels debate on subjects as lofty as the nature of reality. Last week a conference at Oxford University explored the idea that every time a subatomic system reaches a decision pointâ€”to undergo radioactive decay or not, sayâ€”it chooses both possibilities: in this world the particle decays, while in a parallel world it does not. Some physicists buy this "many worlds" interpretation because the alternative is even more unpalatable: that quantum systems choose one possibility or another only when an observer looks. Einstein loathed the idea that reality is created by observers.
That last part is just what more and more people are thinking.
Personally, I believe that the universe doesn't know our definition of "positive" and "negative". As in, "good" and "evil." All it knows are the laws the universe lives by--the Infinite Commandments--the Physical Laws of the Universe. The obvious ones are gravity, the speed of light, and other such yawn-inducing concepts. However, on a quantum level, things get crazy, as mentioned above. This is where the new-age types come in.
The power of Positive Thinking is being applauded as the way to change your life and they point to quantum physics for evidence. Remember the above mentioned stuff about reality being created by its observers? Well, these folks think that thinking positive while, uh, observing, I guess, will allow the universe to move in a positive way, as opposed to a negative one.
It's a nice idea, and I wish I could agree with it, but I see too many things that lean toward the common concept of negative to believe that positive thinking helps. Every time I walk into a supermarket I think to myself "I'm going to bump into Steven Spielberg!"
And I never do.
So much for positive thinking!
But seriously, these and other amazingly mind-bending theories are all being debated in the world of quantum physics.
Quantum physics. Think about it, won't you?
Check out [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19875410/site/newsweek/|that Newsweek article] I mentioned for more... .
Yet what do we spend a trillion dollars on? Fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. What's really sad is that just a fraction of that trillion dollars would go a long way towards finding a cure for cancer--an even longer way now that the cure may have just gotten a lot closer. TheGlobeAndMail.Com is reporting (http://urltea.com/189n) that Canadian doctors have found a gene that turns off cancer cell production. Seriously.
Here's, well, the whole article (it's very short):
A unique gene that can stop cancerous cells from multiplying into tumours has been discovered by a team of scientists at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver.
The team, led by Dr. Poul Sorensen, says the gene has the power to suppress the growth of human tumours in multiple cancers, including breast, lung and liver.
The gene, HACE 1, helps cells fight off stress that, left unchecked, opens the door to formation of multiple tumours.
Dr. Sorensen's team found cancerous cells form tumours when HACE 1 is inactive, but when additional stress such as radiation is added, tumour growth is rampant.
Kick-starting HACE 1 prevented those cells from forming tumours.
The study appears in the advance online publication of Nature Medicine.
I just hope this can be implemented into a cure fast because people die of cancer every day. Of course, the way the world seems to work, it won't get turned into a cure at all because it's more profitable to have us suffer and die than it is to cure us.