Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers on Karl Rover: "Rove is riding out of Dodge city as the posse rides in. At his press conference this week he asked God to bless the president and the country, even as reports were circulating that he himself had confessed to friends his own agnosticism; he wished he could believe, but he cannot. That kind of intellectual honesty is to be admired, but you have to wonder how all those folks on the Christian right must feel discovering they were used for partisan reasons by a skeptic, a secular manipulator. On his last play of the game all Karl Rove had to offer them was a hail mary pass, while telling himself there's no one there to catch it."
Daily Show

Since I love the Daily Show with John Stewart so much I'll try to see if I can embed this video. It's a great bit he did on Bush's speech to the VFW.

What a nightmare

Here's another reason to get rid of the death penalty.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What is up

I'd really be enjoying these conservatives getting busted in bathrooms trying to get a little manmeat if it wasn't so sad. What does it say about our society that people like that shithead in Florida would rather be seen as a rascist than gay? I guess Bill Hicks was correct all those years ago when he said the more conservative you are the more skeletons you have in your closet. Whatever happened to those home movies of Jesse Helms and sheep that Mojo Nixon mentioned in a song?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fees, fees and more fees

I wholeheartedly share Troy's rage at ridiculous fees being charged by companies. As you may remember I had a lovely experience with Bank of America the other day.

I am going to Michigan on September 10th and coming back on September 21st. I found out a couple of days ago that my high school alma mater is playing a big game on the day I am returning. I decided to attempt to change my departure date to the 22nd. I went to the Northwest Airlines website and went through the whole process of changing the date. The charge? $100. A one hundred dollar fee for something I am doing my own over the internet. One hundred dollar fee for a completely automated change of day? That is a money grab right up there with ten-dollar beers at concerts. Is it really necessary to get every single penny out of your customers that you can? When did we go from being customers to being marks?

In case you were wondering, I did not change the date of my return flight. As much as I would like to see Glen Lake play Frankfort I am not going to pay Northwest $100 for that.
Save or Harvest

I am right in the middle of playing one of the more interesting video games I have played in a while. I didn't mention yet on this blog but I bought an Xbox 360 last month. Well, I didn't buy it. The credit union bought it and I am paying them at 14% interest.

The game I am playing is called Bioshock. Since you are reading this on the internet there is a good chance you have come across a reference to this game. It's a pretty big hit. In fact, it has the most active message board on the website Gamefaqs. (Gamefaqs is a great place to get a good impression of how a game actually plays. If I had been paying attention I probably would have bought the NCAA football game put out by EA Sports instead of buying Madden.) If you haven't heard about Bioshock there is a good description of the game at Wikipedia. Long story short: It's 1960 and you are trapped in an undersea dystopia. You have to augment your genetics to get through because the inhabitants of the city have all gone insane. They've gone insane because of the same genetic modifications.

If you have been following the phenomenon that is Bioshock you have probably heard about how you murder little girls in the game. The actual story is that you are given the option to free the little girls or kill them. Freeing them or killing them gives you something called ADAM. ADAM is a substance that allows you to gather more power and abilities to yourself. These increases will allow you to get through the game. I have to assume that, like most games, it gets harder or more complicated as you go on. This requires you to augment your character. Killing them gives you more ADAM than freeing them. I have had to make this choice twice and I have freed the girls each time. I am surprised someone like Drudge hasn't ran with this story. The mishandling of this aspect of the game by a right wing wacko could really have some legs as a fake story about the violence of video games. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet. By adding this choice to the game I think the designers were really trying to create a game that is more than just shooting bad guys and moving through cleverly designed maps.

The first time I came across one of the "Little Sisters," as they are called in the game, I had one of the most unique moments I've ever experienced in a video game. My character was burnishing a shot gun and this little giant eyed girl screamed in fright, crawled backwards on the ground away from me and begged me not to hurt her. How could I? I freed her, got less ADAM than I probably needed to get through the game. She thanked me effusively, crawled into a drainpipe and left the arena. One character said I did the right thing and the character that had been guiding me through the city on the radio told me I was a fool.

So far the gameplay has not been especially hard. It reminds me of the game based on the movie The Warriors. So far, like the Warriors game, it has not been particularly difficult. It's been challenging but not impossible. It's just a world that has been fun to explore.

What a world it is too. The design of this underseas city is 1960's art deco. The technology is advanced in a way that someone living in 1960 would picture advanced technology. For example, when you hack machines you don't mess with software. You open the guts of the machines and align glass tubing that allows some kind of plasma to flow through them.

I am pleased that this game is garnering a lot of attention from the gaming community. Not only is it receiving attention but it is selling well. I hope this will give more smaller developers a chance to get their games distributed. It seems to me that like most endeavors, quality does get rewarded in the video game market. The cream will rise to the top if it's given a chance.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Al Quaeda

One of the best books I have read in the last year was The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. It a fantastic history of Islamic extremism and Al Quaeda. It's a nonpartisan unbiased objective view of the causes of extremism. Something that seems rarer and rarer in these here days.

Today while making breakfast and ironing my work clothes I listened to a lecture he gave at Princeton in April. It was amazing. He reiterated many of his ideas from his book and went a little further into the culture of the Muslim world. Someone needs to sit our president in front of this video and let that dumb bastard see that the Muslim world is so much more complicated that he has been led to believe. If you have an hour to spare you can view the video here. Don't think that you have to sit and watch the video. It's a lecture by an author, the audio is all you need.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Internet love and...murder

Geez, just when you thought the internet had gotten as weird as it could possibly get this nonsense.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Holy Cow

I see now that Bush thinks that the problem with Vietnam wasn't that it was a colossal mistake but that we didn't stay there long enough. He's insane.
I Hate Banks

Not only is "I hate banks" the name of a Mojo Nixon song, today it is my mantra. Remember those halcyon days of five years ago when you could take a check cut by, let's say, a client of Bank of America and take that check to a branch of Bank of America and they would cash it for no charge even if you didn't have an account with Bank of America? Since a customer of theirs cut the check they honored that check, for no charge. Not anymore, baby. Today before work I took a refund check from an insurance company, that has an account with Bank of America, to a branch of Bank of America. I was told by the teller that she would have to charge me five American dollars because I was not a Bank of America customer. Pretty chintzy if you ask me. According to the teller (I asked her about the policy, politely. I did not want to be one of those assholes that employees talk about in the break room) Wachovia started this bullshit practice first and Bank of America followed. I tell you what, if I had a small business and found out my bank was charging my customers a fee to cash checks that I had written, even though as a customer I am paying goddamn bank fees, I would not be a customer of that bank for long. Bank of America is a multimillion dollar corporation but they are so strapped for cash that they need my five dollars? I hate banks.

The best part was when the teller asked my why I didn't have an account with a bank instead of my credit union and I answered, "because of silly fees like this." I should also state that the teller decided to wave the five dollar fee after our discussion. She said she was treating me as a customer today and then gave me an application form and then said she hoped her great customer service would entice me open an account. Not likely but I did appreciate her gesture. I'm pretty sure I didn't look hungry and homeless this morning.

On a lighter note

International Space Station as seen from the space shuttle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Michael Vick

I've always been fascinated by Michael Vick. I'm not the only one, obviously. For a while there he was a superstar. His celebrity has waned a little bit in the last few years mostly due, I think, to the realization by most that he was never going to be the great quarterback people hoped and/or wanted him to become. Speaking strictly as a Carolina Panther fan I can't help but feel a little relieved. Vick always seemed to save his best games for us. I mean, dang, one time he literally flew into the end zone from the five yard line to beat us. I'm sorry he got involved in this horrible practice and it looks like he'll do his time. I am also sorry that the career of the most exciting offensive NFL player since Barry Sanders has to potentially end this way.

If you want a good FAQ as to what is going on, check out this page on ESPN's website. It's put together well and is free of sensationalism.
A good Western?

You know, I am really looking forward to new western, 3:10 to Yuma. Check out how cool the grizzled Peter Fonda looks. You can view the trailer here . Any western that has Russell Crowe as the bad guy and is directed by the guy who brought us Cop Land has to have the chance to be really good. Don't you think? Am I getting my hopes up? I really want to see a good western on the big screen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

This guy is nuts

I swear, if Giuliani becomes president we are in for a bigger and longer war than we got right now with monkey boy. This from a guy that used his command center as a love nest.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I got made hits like I was Rod Carew

Today at lunch I was listening to Paul's Boutique and Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys. It's funny with albums like those two that when you listen to them again after a long time that you finally appreciate how incredible they are. It's not like I didn't love the albums before and play the hell out of them but when you distance yourself from a piece of music and go back to it I think you can see more the genius of it since it's not part of your everyday life anymore. You hear it again and think, "Shit, that was a great album, wasn't it."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Barry Bonds

I received an email yesterday asking me what I thought of Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron's record. I wrote him back and let him know that I thought that Barry Bonds had ruined what should be the greatest sports achievement of my adulthood. I think my attitude toward this travesty (not all Bonds' fault) is best summed up by this Onion article sent to me by an old friend.

I just don't know when utter bullshit became so accepted in our world. You got Barry Bonds lying his ass off saying the record is not tainted. A functional retard or the biggest liar in the world is the lead law enforcement official in our country. You got pundits out there that are more concerned with discrediting Al Gore than protecting the planet they live on. You got millionaires posing as liberal presidential candidates.

I'm probably over reacting. We've been lying to each other for a long time. Heck, I'm kind of a dickhead asshole myself (just ask the old friend that sent me the Onion link). If this propensity wasn't built into us the Bill Clintons and George Bushes of the world wouldn't be filthy rich and in power. I still say our only hope is that someone like this guy gets us off this planet before we hit the point of no return politically or ecologically. It has to happen because no one in power is addressing real issues. It's either escape or go down shooting.

And, yes, I am feeling OK.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Only in Japan

Lends a whole new meaning to the term love pillows.
Somebody help me

I can't stop listening to "Rage and Bone," a song on the new White Stripes album. I just can't stop. It's quickly moving up the most played list on my Ipod and I have shown no interest in slowing it down.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Make Me Clean

I know I've mentioned it before but I have to say again that I feel so unclean after handling one of Tim LaHaye's pieces of shit that he calls 'novels.' His website still has the funniest flash intro I have ever seen.
A day that will live in infamy

Remember the last Republican convention when people like Giuliani stood in front of the world and chanted "9/11" like a mantra? Well, we got a different date for these assheads to remember: 08/06/01.

War Made Easy

I saw this movie was recommended on the blog of the editor of the Nation magazine.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'll just be a minute

One of my favorite things people do when they are stressing over getting a computer with access to the internet is tell you they'll only be on for a few minutes. It usually goes like this:

User: (out of breath or too loud but generally stressed) I need an internet computer!
Me: We're pretty busy, you'll have to make a reservation.
User: I only need it for about ten minutes. (looks at you expectantly).
Me: OK, I can show you how to make a reservation at the terminal behind you.

In response to Jim's comment to my previous post: I did watch the science fiction program last night. Well, to be truthful, I caught the last half hour. When I joined in I was surprised how little of the story I had missed. Then, when the commercial breaks started coming every ten minutes (or less) I knew why. They really did stick a thirty to forty-five minute program into an hour-long slot. Unbelievable. That did almost make it unwatchable. I guess if you want to watch something on network television that is not complete ass then you have to pay with a commercial to program ration of 4:6.

To answer Jim's question the author of the original story is John Kessel. He teaches at NC State and he writes kick ass short stories. We have a few of his books of shorts stories at the Morrison library. I've made sure that we keep that book. One of my favorite stories by him is written in the style of an essay. An essay about Herman Melville if he was writing during the golden age of science fiction. Remarkable.

Instant Karma

I don't know if you've heard about Instant Karma, a two CD set of John Lennon song covers. It's purpose is to raise money and awareness for the situation in Darfur. I've heard it and some of it is amazing and some of it is pedestrian. Bono's reading of the title track is spectacular. He was born to sing that song. Also the Flaming Lips version of "(Just Like) Starting Over" is gorgeous. Green Day knocks out "Working Class Hero" with a satisfying readng and Lenny Kravitz's "Cold Turkey" is a nice restrained effort. Jakob Dylan and Dhani Harrison's version of "Gimme Some Truth" has a nice urgency to it. The album falters with songs like Avril Lavigne's "Imagine" and Christina Aguilera's "Mother." Neither song is bad but both songs pretty much ape the original.

You know what band and what song would be great to hear? I would love to hear the White Stripes cover "Woman is the Nigger of the World." Man, that would be good. I can hear it already. It's gold, Jerry. Gold.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Bridge

I'm sure everyone has seen CNN's 24 hour coverage of the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis. Did you see that President Bush visited the disaster site today? I heard that he told reporters that the bridge that collapsed did so because "it hates our freedoms."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Television Tip

This actually sounds promising. Starting this Saturday, ABC is going to air adaptions of original science fiction short stories. It's called Masters of Science Fiction. Any series that is going to attempt the filming of short stories by John Kessel, Robert Heinlein and Harlan Ellison is definately going to be worth a shot. If you are sitting on your ass near a television this Saturday at 8 pm, give the show a look.