Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's a conspiracy!

Humans are interesting. They do a lot of weird shit seemingly without rhyme or reason, but I've come to one important conclusion about people: They're consistent.

Sometimes people appear to act irrationally. "Wow, I didn't see that coming." This is probably because you're working with incomplete information, which may or may not be intentional on the part of the person in question. If someone fucks you over out of the blue, I promise you that you're not the first person they've done it to. It's even possible for a person to be consistently inconsistent, but this is rare and is a conclusion to which one ought not jump. Spend more time with a person like this, get to know more about them, and you'll see trends -- I can almost guarantee it.

Anyway, I have a buddy who, like most of my friends from the USMC, is a bit of an extremist. Whatever he does -- whether it's being a feckless layabout, being generous, violating rules, working, whatever, he does balls to the wall with generally questionable results. His biggest problem is probably because his lack of attention span or follow-through isn't safe from his overall extremist ways. He recently created a conspiracy theory website, and has enthusiastically invited me to join his cause. This blog entry is devoted to him, which he will probably read, so it may be written with kid gloves because I love this guy like a brother. But it's something I think about a lot. The topic today is:

Why I don't do conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories are fun to think about, and occur to a lot of people naturally because folks tend to be suspicious, accusatory, and like feeling victimized. The innerwebs has exacerbated the whole conspiracy craze, putting people with similar theories together and creating a lot of group cohesion vs a common enemy, whatever that may be.

That's not the real problem I have with conspiracy theories. My biggest issue (among some other smaller ones) is that they promote intellectual laziness. Here's how.

  • You can't lose

    If you end up being right about your conspiracy, you look cool, write a book, etc.. If conspiracy theories gain momentum, huge sums of money and man hours are devoted to proving them wrong. If you're completely wrong, it doesn't matter. There's no risk or accountability. Lazy.

  • Convenient Built-in Mechanisms

    By their very nature, conspiracy theories attempt to tackle issues involving "all powerful" and usually detached entities that exist above society's radar, calling them out on their shady, immoral, or manipulative activities. These entities are usually in the form of some nameless, faceless government agency, or a popularly demonized political figure. The convenient things about the idea of omniscient government agencies is that they can do whatever they want without any oversight or any restraints. This allows conspiracy theorists to say "Well, they're in on it" or "That's what they want you to believe" when their theories are categorically debunked by credible sources without entertaining the idea that there might be something to these stories. Lazy.

  • Fear-based, exploitative, and dishonest tactics

    Scaring ignorant people into believing your assertion using partial information is dishonest. Obviously conspiracy theorists aren't alone in doing this, but it's their bread and butter. This is crucial because conspiracy theorists are not there to inform, they are there to influence -- big difference. They're pushing some thing for some reason, which is annoying and insulting when it's done through half-truths or intentionally incomplete information. Just because it's not a lie doesn't mean it's not dishonest. And Lazy.

    So to recap, we have:

    a) Win-win/no accountability or responsibility for being wrong, and classic burden-of-proof shifting tactics during debates
    b) Convenient built-in mechanisms and canned responses that theorists use when faced with evidence refuting their theory which "enables" them to continue making the same assertions ad nauseum
    c) Fear-based tactics which exploit the ignorant using dishonest tactics

    Sound familiar? Maybe....Something else I "don't do"?

    wait for it.......
    waaaaaaaait for it........


    Conspiracy theories surrounding religion are brilliantly ironic. I "don't do" religion for the same reason that I don't do conspiracy theories. It hinders progress by setting up a situation impossible to disprove based on flimsy rhetoric. The burden of proof is intentionally shifted, allowing folks to make an assertions and watch the very people they are trying to convince run around and find out the truth. When faced with contrary evidence, the conspiracy theorist AND the religious zealot will cling to their beliefs -- which is what they are, beliefs -- using uncreative, canned responses which end any conversation or exploration of the truth. It's all very convenient and, I'll say again, intellectually lazy on the part of those who espouse the theories.

    And that, my frengs, is why I don't do conspiracy theories.
  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Sweeping the Nation!****

    And the world.

    Reading (and writing a stupid comment) over at my friend's blog (and the fact that I have a paper due soon and don't feel like writing it) have prompted me to come out of hiding. Two blog posts in a months time, can you stand it??

    I guess I'm technically an ex-pat. I never liked that word, because "expatriate" sounds like an "ex-patriot," which would make me a former patriot, which is not the case. I like to think that I'm still a patriot, even though that word has until recently (yesterday) had negative connotations. Many folks would have you believe that while Bush was in office, you were supposed to be ashamed of the US of A. Being an expat, and apparently a representative of the US and therefore accountable for all of Bush's policies, I have been called to the carpet many times by the locals for everything from the GWoT to subprime lending. Yes, all Japanese people are aware of subprime lending. All I can do is shrug and tell them that the situation is more complicated than the news reports, and that I lack the language facilities to explain it. This is somewhat true -- I can express what I understand, which isn't much, but it's much easier to feign ignorance because I really don't feel like engaging in such conversations. The same goes with the concept of patriotism and love for one's country. Patriotism and nationalism is strange to Japanese people, as it was illegal until 2006 to teach it in schools.

    Anyway, I like to think of patriotism in simpler terms. It's like your family. They might piss you off, but they're still family. You still love them, and even if they really fuckup, it's not cool for people outside of your family to talk shit about it and it's OK to get irritated about it. Something like that.

    Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be about patriotism -- my point is that to me, real patriotism isn't something that changes depending on who's in office. It shouldn't ebb and flow like the tide, and it shouldn't explode because of a terrorist attack or some other tragedy. It's shouldn't be a fad and it shouldn't be bandwagonable (new word).

    Living in Japan, I'm no stranger to bandwagoning. Japanese culture is probably more susceptible to bandwagoning and "group think" than other places due to how children are socialized, and I always think about how much fun and easy it must be to be a marketing executive here. I sometimes think they have a contest to see how insulting and brazen they can be, but it never fails -- they sell products and the absurdity of each "boom" is trumped by every successive "boom". I guess I never thought the USA was really so susceptible, but bandwagoning seems to have morphed into something interesting. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the:

    Bandwagon of Free Thought

    Its genius lies in its irony. Who would have thought? Now, bandwagoning on political issues is one thing -- it's sort've like the love for a sports team (which I also have trouble wrapping my mind around). Usually it's a side or a team or a movement, but free thought? Disagree? You're an automaton. You're a neocon. You're a fascist. But you're certainly not a free thinker unless you're on board. It appears that atheism is en vogue these days too, which based on some stuff I've been reading, is a little disturbing due to fervor with which people are not believing in God. Irony. And everyone knows I've been an atheist forever*.

    Watching the festivities on TV is like getting kicked in the jaw by irony over and over, as I see people putting so much "hope" in a man who has so little experience. Granted, he is an amazing orator. He inspires. He could very well turn this country in a new direction, but I'm sure most people don't really know how. They just believe he will. Believe, my friends. It's not a matter of hope, it's a matter of faith, because faith and hope are directly at odds with each other**. Faith is stronger than hope, because people with faith know without knowing that something is so. Ya dig? Historically, faith is the stuff of bandwagoning, while hope can lead to ostracism.

    So yeah, I'm hopeful. I hope for increased social welfare reform. I hope for a more liberal form of democracy. I hope for world peace. I hope for anthropomorphic garden shears dancing in butterscotch waterfalls***. But faith is never something I've been particularly good at, for which I am eternally doomed grateful. I wish the new Commander in Chief good luck, and sincerely hope for a good next few years.

    * - level 6
    ** - I got that line from Tom Robbins' "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates"
    *** - Free beer to whoever can get that reference -- no googling! (You won't find it on google anyway ;) )
    **** - This post is convoluted and pretty much sucks

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Redneck Gays

    I know I don't post a lot these days.. This academic program I'm in offers me enough of a writing outlet I guess, and by the time I'm done reading and writing I don't really feel like writing anything more. Nammean?

    That doesn't mean I don't have the same amount (or lack thereof) of shit floating around in my head as, say, youm (yes youm), but sometimes when I sit down and scratch out an idea, it's disjointed and unorganized. I'll figure it out sometime. A biproduct of being forced to write/critique organization for class and for my job makes me scoff at shit that is too here and there.

    That won't stop me from posting the following drivel though.. Assuming my 3 readers even pop by anymore...

    So I spent the new years at the inlaws' house. New years in Japanistan is kinda like Xmas in the US of A in that it's a time when you get together with the fam. Imagine my chagrin when I realized what the alternative to drinking all night and kissing strangers would be. Sacrifices, folks.

    Anyway, on the way back I was getting a little drowsy and the missez was sleeping, so I drank a redbull and busted out the ole' CD case. I have a jukebox in my car that automatically dumps CDs onto a harddrive, so I don't usually look at the CDs, but I had a good idea for keeping myself awake.

    Back when it was cool and not risky at all to download the piss out of copyrighted music, I, like any innerwebs user, did so. My friends did too. We would also make CDs and dump all our music collection on eachothers' HDs as well. So I have 6 "backup" CDs with about 200 mp3s on them a piece. My car can play mp3s off of CDs, so I started throwing the backup CDs in and cruising down memory lane.

    I don't have an iPod and refuse to buy one. I have a little mp3 player that I listen to when I'm doing boring cardio, but to be honest I haven't updated the play list in about 3 years. I love me some music but I'm not the "gotta have 10,000 songs with me at all times or I'll just DIE" type person. Six CDs with 200 songs on it a piece though, that's nothing to sneeze at. so I made my way through the CDs from the back, starting at #6, which is where I get to anticlimactic point of all this buildup, namely a song by Rage Against the Machine.

    I'm not really a fan of RATM -- their stupid lyrics are a little hard to handle. Some of their stuff is cool though, and I always liked "Renegades of Funk". Give it a listen if you haven't before, or you'd like to be reminded of it.

    Anyway, I was listening to it and I remembered what a regionally famous friend of mine (Eddie) once said, probably about 10 years ago. "You know," he said, "the first time I heard this song I thought they were saying 'We're the Redneck Gays who Fuck.'" So the song comes on about 4 hours into my drive home, giving me a serious case of the giggles thinking about it. Here are some token lyrics:

    Since the Prehistoric ages and the days of ancient Greece
    Right down through the Middle Ages
    Planet earth kept going through changes
    And then the renaissance came, the times continued to change
    Nothing stayed the same, but there were always redneck gays
    Like Chief Sitting Bull, Tom Paine
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X
    They were redneck gays of their time and age
    The mighty Redneck gays

    We're the redneck gays who fuck
    We're the redneck gays who fuck


    There was a time when our music
    Was something called a Big Street beat
    People would gather from all around
    To get down to the big sound
    You had to be a redneck gay in those days
    To take a man to the dance floor

    I dunno. I guess it seemed a lot funnier then. As I write it down, like my other stuff, it's really not that funny. You know, singing a tribute redneck gays (who fuck) having a huge impact on history with such earnestness. Or calling MLK, Malcolm X, and Sittingbull "Redneck gays". That's funny to me.

    Anywho, I was surprised at how listening to songs I hadn't heard in so long re-energized me. The drive went by really quickly, as I listened to songs I hadn't heard in forever and reminisced about where I was/what I was doing when I was "into it". Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of the other songs with you that I heard during my walk down auralmemory lane. You can tell I was on CDs 5 and 6 'cuz the names of the groups are all at the end of the alphabet. Enjoy.

    Some Ween:

    A little stinkfist ala Tool:

    Used to watch this on that show 120 Minutes on MTV as a college freshman. I kinda liked it:

    OutKast and frayunds for mah bruvvahs:

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Holy crapola...'s been a while.

    But check this out. I made an original funny today, and I know it's original because I looked on the googles and it wasn't there.

    I commented on my friend's facebook picture and referred to some people as "hummus actuals". Say it really fast. You see? It sounds like "homosexuals", but it's actually constructed of two words that are not only completely related to one another, but also completely unrelated to homosexual people and homosexuality!

    Then I thought about how awesome it would have been in the USMC if our team call sign was "Hummus Actual." I can 100% guarantiddly-dee you that no one would figure it out until it was too late. They would just think it was a strange callsign, or that there was some inside story to it and wouldn't bother to ask what it meant because people were always afraid of not being "in" on something. They'd think it was weird, but would be too worried about coming up with their own cool call signs like "stingray" or "cannibal" or "pipehitter." We'd be on a mission or something and it'd go down. We'd be talking on SATCOM so we'd have to speak. really. slowly. and. deliberately.

    "Head. Hunter. Head. Hunter. This. Is. Huh. Muh. Sac. Shu. Al. I have you spittin' nickles. How me. Ohhhhhh-ver?"

    We'd come back and people would be all pissed off, and then we could pretend like we didn't know what the big deal was. "Well, everyone on our team likes hummus for real. So like actually. Hummus actual. Why, what's up?"

    Talking on the radio was always entertaining. In the movies, you see people grabbin the handset and talking clearly and expressing themselves clearly, but nothing could be farther from reality. Most people would completely lose their minds when they picked up the handset. They'd start stammering and forget what they were gonna say. I always prided myself on being able to freestyle on the radio nice and smooth, and throw a lot of passive-aggressive zingers at whoever happened to be in the rear. Smartass comments sound more funny when they're being said really slowly and deliberately for some reason. Something like, "Be. Advised. We. Cannot. Move. That. Distance. In. The. Given. Time. Because. We. Cannot. Fly." Little Joe will vouch for my radio shenanigans. I also liked saying stuff like "Roger that, and go fuck yourself", but keying off the mic during the profanities part and watching the expression on everyones' faces.

    The whole radio snarkage thing got me in trouble once because I was reeeeaalllllyyy pushing the passive-aggressive-smartass envelope to people who I knew (and who knew that I knew) were much higher ranking than me back on the ship. It turned out that my snarkiness was being broadcasted on a speaker throughout the entire area, and I was told in no uncertain terms to "police myself". This may have contributed to me being put on shore patrol the first night we were in Guam, but I'm not sure.

    Anyway, I've been a little nostalgic lately because I went back to Okinawa for a business trip the other week and saw the young Marines being bored and not really doing a whole lot. Part of me was envious of that. When we were't going on missions and being rude over the radio, we didn't do a whole lot. We'd show up to "work" at about 8:30am, sit round till 11:30am, go to lunch, come back around 1 or 1:30, sit around all day, then go home at 4 or 4:30. Hit the gym. Get dinner. Maybe watch a movie. Maybe go to Kinville and get drunk. Rinse, wash, and repeat. It was a good temporary life, I was with guys I loved, and I was meeting a lot of really cool people.

    Unfortuantely though Kinville is a lot different these days, due to strict curfews affecting all marines on Island. Even the officers have to be back by midnight, so some of my favorite bars had closed down. It was deaderd'n shit out there. But I still love me some Kinville, and I was recognized by one of the bar owners about 5 minutes after I got there. I still have my Kinville pass, bitches.

    Other than that, busybusybusy. I'm 1/3'd done with my masters, I'm training a lot, I'm kickin' it with the old lady, and everything else. Things are good. Just thought I'd put up a little update and let everyone know what's up.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    No Stimulus Package for moi!

    That's right folks. I'm assed out of $600 and will be unable to stimulate the American economy from over here in Japan. Here's why:

    To be eligible for a stimulus payment, taxpayers must have valid Social Security numbers. Anyone who does not have a valid Social Security number, including those who file using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) or any other identification number issued by the IRS is not eligible for this payment.

    Both individuals listed on a married filing jointly return must have valid Social Security numbers to qualify for a stimulus payment.

    Oh snap! I went an married a non-American citizen last year on April 23rd, right after taxes were due.

    Then I went to the bank and tried to get her an ATM card on my account because I'm a swashbuckling breadwinner, and I was told that she needed an Individual Tax ID number (ITIN) to get it.

    Then I found out that I had to wait a year or so to get that, because in order to get it I had to file my taxes jointly (along with the application). So I did.

    ITIN received? Check.
    ATM card with wife's name on it procured? Check.
    Disqualified from receiving stimulus package? Check.

    Far be it from me to mention that, you know, I'm a tax paying citizen with a valid social security number. And I guess I can ignore the fact that I spent 5 years in the USMC and have been working overseas in federal service directly for the military for the last 3 years. And during my 6 months in Afghanistan as a contractor I cheerfully paid a total of $15,000 in taxes...

    ...and it's not a question of "deserving" it, because I personally don't believe anyone "deserves" anything. You get what you get based on what you do to get it. That's just how I feel about things.

    ...but don't I rate?

    Maybe just a little bit? Just a smidge? Just a...teensie...tiny...bit?

    Apparently not.

    The loss of $600 that I never had anyway doesn't bother me too much. My wife feels differently however. She expressed her view on the whole situation rather eloquently, and I quote: "That's bullshit."

    On the bright side, according to this articles, military folks who previously fell under what I like to call the "GoEffYourselfYouRaceTraitor Rule" are now eligible to get their dinero. Folks like me are not, and given the increasing role that civilians play in support of the military and the US government overseas, I think this is more than just a little fucked up.

    I urge you to shoot an email to your congressman. It would mean a lot to my wife's shoe collection a lot of people overseas who, in my opinion, "rate".

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    If I were in charge...

    ...But I'm not...

    ...But if I were, and by "in charge" I mean "in charge of something that would empower me to hook up what I'm about to talk about", this is what I would do. This is a long post by the way, but I think you'll like it.

    A little background first...

    I recently bought a new car, because the pimp mobile, while pimp, is also a V8, and gas is getting a little expensive. I was tired of putting $100 a month in it when I commute 5 minutes one way to work. Sure, it was comfortable, and it was like driving around in a lazyboy, but it was time to get something a little more practical.

    So I went from this:

    To this:

    (Mine's black)

    Granted, it has a "not getting laid" blast radius of about 500 meters, but I like the idea of having a station wagon sized car with slidey rear doors. And it can seat 7 if you put the back seat up. The best part though are the options. Two cameras (one for backing, one on the side) for parking, with lines that move when you move the steering wheel to show where your car is heading. It has a "music box" which automatically downloads onto a harddrive and labels any CD you put into it, and the navigation system is badass. The top view or 3D views are creepily accurate, and it will even tell you where traffic jams are, how far ahead they go, and will reroute you.

    Every time I use it to get from point A to point B, I think about this cool idea, which I'm about to tell you about. Then I go to work and rant about it until my co-workers begin to make light of my brilliant idea, causing me to sit there and stew. I'd like to caveat this entire thing by saying that I'm sure someone has already thought of it and it's probably in the works. But here goes.

    The navigation system is guided by GPS, and some (not sure if mine is) are (I believe) assisted by cell technology (towers). GPS receivers are just that -- receivers -- but imagine if they were transceivers? What if this tranceiver received GPS signals and transmitted its location to the nearest cell tower, which sent your constantly updated position, direction, speed, and destination to a computer, which would put your car on a map along with everyone else's car, and guide traffic? What if everyone had it, so every car's location, speed, direction, and destination were available to this computer, which could, like some Queen Mother Alien Thing, tell drivers which roads to take and which lanes to travel to create the most efficient traffic flows possible? What if this computer were also connected to traffic signals, further guiding traffic?

    Ground Rules -- the Overlord Computer

    For the sake of this idea, let's assume that the Overlord Computer, or OLC for short, is a cubic acre uber-super-computer in a bomb-proof, earfquake-proof basement with super-redundancy backups. Let's assume that the OLC's algorithyms and formulas and whatever voodoo magic that makes computers work would take into account all kinds of traffic patterns and variations, because I'm sure there are PhDs out there in traffic flow stuffy. Basically, do exactly what I hate about a lot of movies -- let's explain a lot of stuff by using the mystical computer.

    Still, a computer with complex traffic flow algorythems isn't that crazy a concept and using computers to map traffic flow patterns and create models has been done since computers came to be. Still with me? Great.

    Why / How it Could Work

    Any red-blooded American knows that this would never fly in America, mainly due to Americans being convinced that "big brother" is watching them, intense privacy issues, and a general disdain of being told what to do. Any red-blooded American would cut the wires on the transmitter part of the unit. Any red-blooded American would look at where the navigation system was telling them to go, roll down the window, extend his or her middle finger, proclaim that all other motorists were "sheep", and go their own, "better" way. All motorists would do this at the same time. Chaos would ensue, and the project would be a bust.

    But this is Japan, baby!

    In Japan, though, where there are a lot of roads but it's still ridiculously congested, I think this could work. One thing a lot of people notice when they visit Japan is that there are no "piece of shit cars" on the road. This is because each car must go through a very strict inspection every few years, and fixing problems is so prohibitively expensive that most people just opt for a newer car. Also, Japanese people like buying new stuff and don't like being seen with older models of goods. Because of this, in a few years, almost every car will be equipped with some manner of navigation system. Further, the GPS tranceiver system could be a part of the inspection process, so even if a car doesn't have an up-to-date navigation system, the OLC would at least know and account for the car's location, direction, and speed.

    One way that social change is enacted in Japan is by social pressure or shame. You see it all the time. On TV, there has been a recent campaign for "smoking manners" and to use "portable ashtrays".

    People carry these around and ash in them. It's become shiek. Recycling is another example of this sort of marketing. Japanese people are insane about recycling, more so than Americans, but if you ask any one of them what happens to their garbage, why it's sorted the way it is, etc, they have no idea, but they all do it. The launching of this OLC traffic system would be preceded by a huge PR campaign. YOU can help solve Japan's congestion problem. Follow your navigation system like everyone else. Everyone wins.

    Another thing Japanese people love (again, more than Americans) are "point cards." Every where you go, you get a point card, which result in discounts later on. One way to make this system work (because people aren't that giving) is to give points based on how much you actually follow the OLC's guidance. These points can be redeemed at, say, toll ways (Japanese highways are not free), trains, convenience stores, etc.. It's amazing how fast a population's sense of Civic Duty will increase when you start throwing in free shit.

    Possible Problems



    Another problem would be hackers. What's to keep some 14 year old in Romania from diverting all traffic into Tokyo bay? Good question. Possibly a secondary failsafe system that would activate in such a case. Another benefit would be that in order to hack the system, one would have to hack the Japanese cell infrastructure. I think it'd be tough. I'm probably wrong though. But making transmissions cell-based might complicate things. Also, if the system's infrastructure were also cell-based, individual cells could be shut down or rerouted to other cells. Uber redundancy, given Japan's cell coverage. Even if the system shit the bed, cars' internal navigation systems would still get people where they need to go until the problem is solved.

    Again, I'm probably wrong, but it sounds good.

    Here's why it Needs to Happen

    For the sake of Japan's traffic, that's why. It's freakin congested here. Japan could serve as a model to other countries. If it works, and it will, it will sell itself. One thing people hate is sitting in traffic. If listening to the OLC's commands allowed you to roll more, even at a slightly slower rate, people would love it.

    The biggest reason though is that sometime in the future, cars are going to be automated. You know it's going to happen. Japan already has cars that parallel park themselves. There are contests every year where students and virgins submit autonomous cars in a distance race. Results have been shakey at best, but it's going to happen. with no OLC-like system firmly in place, these automated cars will be automated bumper cars. The already established OLC infrastructure will eventually serve as a guidance system for future driver-less cars. I don't think that we will ever have flying cars -- gravity is as unforgiving as it is a factor in everything in the universe -- but I think automated cars are a possibility, and they'll need a mother brain.

    So that's my idea. Or rather an old idea that is most likely google-able, but I don't want to google it because I prefer to maintain the illusion (read: delusion) that I thought it up first.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Flame out!!!

    This is inspired by a post after at my freng's blog, where he posed the question:

    Is it just me, or is anyone else delighted at the fiasco that the Chinese Olympic flame torch run has become?

    Yes, Vance, I. Am. What's also delightful is the notion that granting a country the olympics will somehow cajole them into getting their shit together.

    But I won't stop there.

    You know what's even better? Seeing this retarded version of modern diplomacy fall flat on its face. You all know what I'm referring to. It's this cowardly brand of international relations that somehow hopes to gain acquiesence through granting prestigious rewards and privileges given before, yes, before seeing results, and without clearly stating the desired outcome.

    Here's how we used to do it:

    If you don't knock off [whatever], [undesirable outcome] will happen.

    Here's how it's done now:

    Here, take this prestigious opportunity -- welcome to the international community! Now that you're one of us, act like one of us! We insist!

    It's kind've like paying it forward, but with really important stuff. Like peace prizes, territory, or the Olympics.

    It blows my mind that anyone in either the internatinal community or on the Olympic community thought that giving China the olympics would be a good idea. I also think it's funny that everyone bought the idea that China had some sort of committment to cleaning their shit up in time for the games. "Hey, congrats guys. You have 7 years to clean up your environment, labor practices, relationship with Tibet, and unfuck 5,000 or so years of backwardsness. Welcome to the international community!! Now if you could go ahead and refrain from not freeing Tibet, that'd be superduper!"

    Then after making such a politically based decision, they expect everyone to be a-political and let it go. I love the olympics and what it represents, but folks don't want to let it be what it is. And haven't for a while. It's pretty freakin' ridiculous when the torch runners are doing route recons, SDRs, and rate a PSD.

    My suspicions are confirmed over at AoSHQ, where he mentions the IOC President discussing China's "moral engagement" to improve human rights. The idea of China engaging in some sort of "moral engagement" is like expecting North Korea to take part in the 21st century.:

    [The IOC President] also told a news conference that China -- under fire over a crackdown in Tibet and a host of other issues -- had promised that winning the right to host the Games would lead to an improvement in human rights.

    "We definitely ask China to respect this moral engagement," he added.

    Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters that Rogge's view of a "crisis" might have been exaggerated, and made it clear China would not engage in a discussion on its human rights performance.

    That's how China tells you to go fuck yourself. With Jiang Yu. Neither she, nor her coiffure, messes about. Or discusses Human Rights, apparently.

    I'm often dumbstruck by the fundamental lack understanding that so called intellectual elites have when it comes to dealing with fellow human beings. I remember in college (as an anthropology major), lower-classmen would get jumped on all the time by professors for not embracing cultures or countries they weren't used to. Being ethnocentric was as good as being a racist. That's why I get such a kick out of this sort of stuff. Moral Engagement??? Its ethnocentricity is eclipsed only by the sweet, sweet irony that accompanies it -- that the Chinese were somehow expected to adopt our views, be them environmental, economic, or humanitarian -- in return for being granted the opportunity to host an international athletic event. Or the idea that they would, given their histroy, comply or do what they said they'd do. Chinese and Judeo-Christian Europeans do not share the same value systems. There's nothing wrong with that, but to expect otherwise is silly, and, if I may be so bold, ethnofuckingcentric.

    The best part still goes back to this form of diplomacy and why it's so cowardly. I bet they have a team of blond/grey-haired-blue-eyed IKEA-sittin round-glasses-wearin british-english-speakin really-hard-to-get-into-name-school-graduatin funny-facial-expression-havin people coming up with this stuff. I bet they're easily outraged over stupid shit and enjoy engaging in "intellectual" conversations about moral relativism. They enjoy disagreeing with things and see it as a very important contribution of their essential existence. They like this kind of passive-aggressive diplomacy because if it blows up in their face, they're not responsible for anything really happening (cuz they didnt do shit), but if it works out they can all sit there and congratulate themselves and sing themselves praises in academic journals about the success of their new diplomatic paradigm. And they'll definitely use the word "paradigm". They'll give it a name that begins with neo- or post- and ends in -al or -ism, likely containing the word "classic" or "modern", depending on how they spin their "theory". They're all jockying to see who can do the most by doing the least and by being the biggest pussy.

    This whole situation reminds me of getting drunk. It's really funny at first but too much of it makes me throw up and scream at loved ones.

    Thursday, March 06, 2008


    I'm gonna do an emo blog post.

    It's gonna consist of my "thoughts". Let's kick it off.

    Mood: Torrid


    Rome hit the Japanese video stores recently, so I rented the crap out of it. It took a while to get into it, and to be honest, I don't really give a shit about all the intrigue and betrayal, especially with the womenfolk.

    The biggest problem I had with the series though...was that there was a cockatoo in several scenes.

    Cockatoos are from Australia, and only Australia.

    Some of you probably think this isn't a big deal, but this kind of shit makes go nanners and will often make me dislike a movie or a TV show.

    Sulpher. Crested. Fucking. Cockatoo.

    In Rome.

    Are you for serious?


    The missez and I got this CD with a bunch of "grammy" songs on it. Most of the songs on the CD, as well as a lot of contemporary music, sounds like it's just trying to imitate 80s music. Or pre-80s music. Don't get me wrong -- a lot of Bob Dylan lyrics are absurd -- but it just doesn't sound the same when someone born circa 1980 sings similar horseshit. Those guys my dad listen to? They were on the cusp. Makin history. They were there. Doin' it. These guys? Sheeit. It's like listening to a poorly delivered punchline set to a catchy mandolin jingle.

    --Intermission part douche--

    Japanese houseware stores all play house music. Ten minutes in one of those places makes me want to find the nearest piece of eurotrash in a muscle shirt and fuzzy kangol hat and punch him right in the snotbox.

    --Birds part Douche--

    I got a bird.

    This should really come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I've had a long history with our little feathered friends.

    I got my first bird when I was 10 or so, named Blinkey. We bought him a friend soon after named Gelsey, named after Gelsey Kirkland, pronounced like G, not J, and not K. Not Kelsey Grammar. Gelsey Kirkland. Blinkey suffered a fall and lost the use of his legs, but managed to live for an additional two years. I gave that little sonofabitch physical therapy. He'd roll around on the bottom of his cage and I'd grab him and work his little legs back and forth so they wouldn't atrophe, just like the kid on my block when I was younger who had cerebral palsey. That's no-shit where I got it from. And it worked. He eventually could stagger around and sit around on his ass. Gelsey lived until I was at bootcamp. That's 11 years. She died when I was at bootcamp. I asked my dad how the birds were doing the day of my graduation. We were having a beer on Coronado Island. He said she fell off her perch. He was in the other room and heard the crash and knew exactly what happened.

    Then he said he didn't tell me about it while I was at bootcamp because he didn't want me to become "distraught". That's the word he used. "Distraught". Later that day we saw Saving Private Ryan in the theater. The day I graduated bootcamp. That made me feel a little distraught too.

    The most distraught I got at bootcamp was when I had to euthanize an injured hummingbird and hide it underneath a rock. I saw him on the ground and I didn't want him to suffer any more. I was with this fatbody in our platoon named Jordan. I was trying to be somber about it but he kept rushing me because he didn't want to get in trouble. No respect for the dead.

    I've had to euthanize a few birds; it never gets easier. Like the time I euthanized about 12 pheasants with a shotgun. That definitely wasn't fun. Not at all. Nor were they yummy.

    The best part about that bloodbath trip was that afterwards, my friend said, "You know, I wasn't sure how you would be able to handle this, what with you loving birds and all. But you really didn't have much compunction at all about blowing them out of the sky. Like at all."

    I dubbed that day "Pheasant Holocaust 2004."

    Truth be told I didn't know how I'd handle it. It's kinda like when you punch a man in the face for the first time. You just can't get enough of it. Until someone punches you back. Fortunately for us, pheasants do not have access to nor the capability of using shotguns. Thank the lord for that.

    All of these stories are true, and the magazine "Bird Talk" is an actual magazine that I subscribed to throughout junior high and high school. I had a breeding pair of finches and a few parakeets and that magazine is fucking awesome for bird owners.

    But check this out, I went ahead and bought a little parrot. A lovebird to be exact. I had one that lived with me in the barracks in Hawaii, and I've always been a fan. They're good little pets but require a lot of attention and are codedependent.


    They're also pretty bright. They learn how to escape from their cages pretty quick, as seen here. They really don't like being inside their cages -- you can see him trying to get out when I close the cage door.


    Goin to DC tomorrow. Bettuh axe summody.

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    Saturday, February 09, 2008

    What's new?

    What's new indeed.

    Been a busy year.

    Had the wedding ceremony. It was great -- the hotel we did it at did an awesome job. If you'd like to see a buttload of pictures, shoot me an email or give me your email address. One of the highlights of the day, for me, was when we were waiting to go back into the reception and there was a lady and two tiny kids in the lobby. The mommy gathered the kids together and said, "Look! Look at the Princess." I thought that was cute for some reason.

    She looked great, and there were a lot of cool little things that happened at the wedding and reception that made it a really unique experience.

    I decided to start workin on my masters. It's gettin' about time, and I don't really have an excuse not to have one anymore. At some point my career is going to take me back to the states, and it'll be nice to have something to show for it other than dead brain cells and fucked up ligaments. Either way, the amount of time it takes to compose a post can be better spent working on those classes. I'll definitely see what I can do though, and maybe stick to posts making fun of media stories. Those are always fun and emotionally cathartic. Those are always gems. I've never done online courses before, but it's a little bit like crack. I can't relax until the assignment is done, and even when it is done, there's "class participation" via the discussion board which weighs heavily on the grades, and sometimes it's hard to come up with something that sounds intelligent. So in the meantime, you might have to be content with me vandalizing your blog (if you have one) while I try not to neglect mine.

    In other news, I'm now "management". I've been "management" since Sept, but only "filling in" until the position got filled. I guess I can't fake the funk anymore and should probably figure out what my job is and what I'm supposed to be doing at work. I've spent the last 3 years tricking everyone into thinking that I'm doing anything at work, so this should be a challenge. A full time job, if you will.

    So yeah. Stay tuned for updates. You know where to find me...


    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Good Training, Gents

    I haven't been posting regularly -- things are nutty. But I did do something cool this weekend I guess.

    I saw I am Legend this weekend and I really enjoyed it. It was really nice to be able to go and see a movie without having seen a single trailer, and as a result I spent the first good part of the movie trying to figure out just what the crap was going on.

    --- Spoiler Alert ---

    The movie had some really good scary elements in it, but the thing I liked the most about it is how they portrayed the main character dealing with being the only person on Manhattan Island (or as he thought the rest of the world). How did he do this? Routine. He had weird little routines that I can guarant-freaking-tee you would do too. I think the average movie goer would dismiss this stuff as weird and as a sign that he was going crazy, but I thought it made perfect sense. Dressing up mannequins, talking to them, renting DVDs and pretending like it's all normal, watching recorded news on the TV as he eats his breakfast. There was no normalcy in his life, so he manufactured it.

    And when the Brazilian chick shows up and he freaks out because she eats his bacon that he was "saving"? You'd freak out too. And how even though he hasn't seen a soul for 3 years, he doesn't seem particularly happy to see her. Why? She fucked up his routine. He had stuff all how he liked it and she started throwing monkey wrenches in the mix. (As it turns out, big time..)

    When I was in Afghanistan, North Korea, and on ship, I spent a lot of time being bored. Not 3 years by any stretch, but if I were to put you in a confined area with nothing to do for a while, you'll be bored and get stir crazy too. Try it sometime -- just sit in your room all day and do nothing. The one thing that kept us sane during the boring times was routine, and breaks in routine were incredibly irritating. Routine is an excellent remedy to boredom -- it gives you a purpose, even if it's pointless, and if gives you a reason to wake up. The main character had his projects (like, you know, curing the weird virus), but he still had his daily routine that he did. He wasn't nuts -- quite the opposite -- he was maintaining his sanity, and I found it to be way more insightful than it appeared on the surface.

    I've loved the post-apocalyptic getup ever since I read "The Stand". That book really freaked me out and made me, a highschool freshman, think pretty hard about what I'd do in a similar situation (assuming the Cap'm Trips didn't get me.) One thing people will do if everyone except for a small population dies is arm themselves to the teeth, mainly to protect themselves from other people who are armed to the teeth and taking advantage of a consequence-free bonanza. Just think of it. People would be living off of 7-11 food, unless they knew how to skin a deer or met someone who could skin a deer that didn't murder you. Otherwise it'd be beef jerky and ramen. A man alone on Manhattan could live a really long time by siphoning gasoline and eating cheeze-its and canned corn. I could at least. If you were in the midwest or somewhere that isn't an island you could probably survive as an individual almost indefinitely, barring any animal attacks, disease, injuries, weather/acts of nature, and everything else that can go wrong when you have no social infrastructure. One thing I really liked in The Stand that it was really good about showcasing people dying for really stupid reasons following the breakdown of society, which would totally happen. You'd try riding a motorcycle for the first time, fall off, and die a slow agonizing death wishing you hadn't been so stupid.

    I think a lot can be learned from this movie and movies like it, especially when the zombie/vampire-like-zombie virus either arrives via meteor or is created by the government. And it will. While this isn't a zombie movie per-se, a lot can be learned from it in case of post-apocalyptic-humanoid-buffoonery.

  • Don't hunt deer with an M4

    This guy was an army officer and he would have had an arsenal at his disposal, no doubt including high-power rifles with scopes. A .556 isn't gonna stop a deer, but an elephant gun with a x50 scope would. Or some other ridiculous rifle that he'd no doubt be able to find in the NYC. If I were in his shoes, a high-powered rifle would definitely be organic to my up-armored SUV.

  • Don't hunt post-apocalypse humanoid creatures with an M4

    Again, if an M4 can't stop a skinny all hopped up on khat, you know it's not gonna stop these guys. Semi-automatic shotgun all the way! As I mentioned before, you'll be armed to the teeth, and will have plenty of time on your hands for weapons training.

  • Procure more than one dog

    This movie showed how invaluable dogs are. Man's best friend for chrissakes. If I were alive in this situation, I would have a pack of dogs. Not just one. I'd be the consummate alpha dog, and my loyal hunden would protect me and the rest of the pack from whatever was out there.

  • He was prepared...pretty well... Make sure you're more than pretty prepared.

    I figured he'd be more prepared. It's like he was, but he wasn't. No panic room. No backup IR lighting. No redundant fail-safes just incase they found out where he lived, which they likely would anyway. Once they breached the house he was pretty much fucked. My house would be a giant IR lamp encrusted steel death trap -- just incase -- if the humanoids were indeed vampiric. I would tailor it to whatever their achilles heal was.

    I think any zombie apocalypto would agree with me on these points, and I haven't really put a lot of thought into it. Still, it's good that we make movies like this, because when the zombie virus comes, we can't predict the exact nature of its effects. Now we have some tools in our toolbox, just in case the zombies are suspiciously vampire-like and can only come out at night.

    With that, I leave you with this.

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