Sunday, July 24, 2011

Random kitten farts

Random thought of the day
What is a podcast? It's an audio file that was replaced with identical alien invader while it slept. There here! They're among us! They look just like audio files!

Another random thought of the day
"He's having kittens," is a hilarious figure of speech. What if we actually did "have kittens" any time we became upset? How would that work? I think it'd be like cellular division. We'd sprout a little bud that would grow rapidly, gaining form and becoming more identifiable until it finally releases with a tiny "POP" and you have a tiny little kitten. We would be eyeball deep in baby cats. We'd be putting them in cargo containers and launching them into deep space.

Baby farts are the best
Long before my wife and I gave serious thought to becoming parents friends were telling me, "you would be a great dad," any time the subject came up in conversation. I suppose that I agreed with them in an abstract sense. After all, I've always been reasonably good with kids; I enjoy spending time with them and their antics, good and bad, are endlessly fascinating. All of that is very different from actually being a parent. "Wow, you're amazing with kids," is a vastly different thing from, "you're a great father." The only way you ever find out is to actually have one of your own. There are a lot of things that people will tell you about becoming a parent, but that pales in comparison to the unspoken lexicon of things no one will ever tell you. That is perhaps a subject for another post. One thing you learn right away is whether or not you will like being a parent. To this end I learned something unexpected. What surprised me wasn't that I like being a parent, I think anyone who knows me would say that's obvious like steak is delicious. The surprise was (and is) how much I like being a dad. Where my daughter is concerned, I'm the dad, and that's the best thing there is; even when's fussy, even when she farts on me, 'cause baby farts are the best.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Debt Ceiling Apple Blockade

Geek Speak - Two Comics CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!

They brought swords to a debt fight
Our nation, or at least those who even casually follow politics, are waiting with baited breath to see how the fracas over the debt ceiling shakes out. Make no mistake, were America to default on its debts it would be very bad. The thing that makes me the angriest about it, though, is knowing the people who are fight it out in Washington are among those who will be affected the least. Many of them are already wealthy, and they draw a tidy income from their work in Congress, and many of them have additional income from shrewd investments (legally sanctioned insider trading anyone?). If the debt ceiling isn't raised, if America defaults, like so many other issues over which these strutting, malignantly narcissistic mother fuckers posture and proselytize, it's the average American who gets hurt. Want to buy a car? Sky-rocketing interest rates as a result of a lack of confidence in America's economy will mean that you ultimately pay thousands more in interest than the car is ultimately worth. Same with buying a house. Want to start a business? With interest rates so high and assets devalued you don't have enough credit or equity to get a loan for the start up costs. Republicans are by far the worst actors here. Blame the president if you like, but remember; it's Congress, not the president, that decides on spending and approves budgets.  Plus, we have an obstructionist party control of Congress who's stated mission is to take an opposite position to that of the president, no matter what it's about. In this environment, where titans clash, it's the innocent villagers trampled beneath their heels who suffer.

The iPad has a funny name
This is a little dated, but I think still has some traction. When Apple announced their tablet my immediate reaction was, "Oh, boy. Here we go. What overpriced piece of junk is Jobs going to tell the brainwashed, indoctrinated masses is the new next bast thing to a bank error in their favor?" Then he pulled out an oversized iPod Touch and had the audacity to call it something new. I about bit my tongue in half at that, but what really caused my cerebellum to go all Eyjafjallajokull was when he announced the name, "iPad." Molly Wood immediately went on CNet's Buzz Out Loud and basically said exactly what I was thinking. Namely, that's a horrible name if you happen to be a woman. Which is funny in and of itself, but if you take it a step further it's new-minted comedy gold with chocolate filling.

Writer's blockade-complete with metaphorical razor wire
I would really enjoy writing more than I have been able to do of late. It's not just about being able to find time while working around the understandable demands of a new baby, it's also about finding the creative juice and the will to do it. This blog notwithstanding there are at least a couple of other projects that really need my attention. One of my lapsed projects is a novel-length effort that is sitting fallow at around 23,000 words; just shy of the halfway mark to be considered a novel. There are at least two screenwriting projects that I should be working on at the same time. One is a post-apocalyptic adventure story with a supernatural spin, the other is a cop-drama with (you guessed it) a supernatural theme.

Other than finding time I also have a problem with sitting in front of a white screen with a blinking cursor. It's like the flickering dash of literary potential is mocking me as I go glare blind from staring at the virgin word processing space. In part it's a question of knowing what I want to do and where to start. How do you begin a police-procedural that's ultimately going to take a turn for the weird? The other problem is that I don't have the proper framework on which to build something that will pass casual inspection. Police procedural dramas are some of my favorite shows, but I've never been a cop and know next to nothing about being one.

Part of me says, "just sit down and write. Anything that you have doubts about you can clean up in the second draft." Another part of me says, "Don't listen to that first part, he's been sniffing glue." To which the first part responds, "::snort:: Research is for pussies!" Then there's another part of me, a part the other two are unaware of, but one that's omnipresent and all knowing, kind of like my psyche's version of Santa Claus. That part says, "even if you decide on one, you don't have the time to dedicate to either. You're not going to get anywhere, so just tend to your responsibilities and blow off the excess steam by playing more video games."

The thing is, the best time for me to get anything done is after I get home from work. Even with the demands of a home life that includes a new baby, I could find the time to do some writing (like now). What stops me isn't time, or research, or any of that bullshit. What stops me is the fact that when I get home from work I am A: drained, defeated, and may be a touch depressed, and B: I just plain don't want to do anything that even remotely feels like work. I spend all day at a keyboard, punching keys and trying to find some kind of stimulation in the action of doing so, and by the time I'm able to pack up and go home my mind has been numbed to the point of ambivalence toward anything that I might otherwise like to do.

It's a conundrum wrapped in a nuisance, and dusted with glitter that you keep finding everywhere even weeks after you through the fucking thing in the trash.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Obstructionist Google Thought

Thought of the day
I think it's really funny when someone says, "I have to agree with..." Why do you "have" to agree? Would you ordinarily disagree? On what grounds? What makes this time different? Did someone take Oscar, your bunny-rabbit hostage? What did they tell you? "Agree, or we send you a half-dozen individually frozen servings of Oscar stew."

Another thought of the day
"Consumer confidence is drifting," is a funny turn of phrase. How did consumer confidence get in the water in the first place? Is it wearing a life preserver? At the very least I think it should be wearing water wings. Why is it drifting? Did someone forget to secure it to the dock?

Google plus what exactly? " you," just sounds too gooey. Kind of like born again propaganda recruiting for the world's largest spiritual group hug.

If you hold my feet to the bulb of a flashlight that's been on for a couple of minutes so it's moderately warm I will readily admit that I like Google+. One of my friends (great filmmaker and photographer; hire him) was nice enough to invite me to join Google's latest stab at the social media space, in effect answering my supplications to our dear and glorious leader on behalf of Google.

On its face it is very "Google." The interface is clean and uncluttered, navigation is accomplished through clear and easy-to-use icons, and the method for adding and grouping friends is both brilliant and simple. There is a lot of integration with Google services that I'm using anyway such as gmail, docs, and (obviously) Blogger.

One of the major complaints about Facebook has been their cavalier attitude about sharing the personal information of users with advertisers. They make it worse for themselves by releasing new features to user profiles and opening them to the public by default, among other, less scrupulous practices. Google has done a somewhat better job of addressing privacy considerations. Just as an example friends are organized into "circles." These circles allow you to set who can see what really easily by adding the groups with whom you would like to share your content, and leaving out those you don't. There's even a circle where you can add people you would like to block entirely. Through Data Liberation in Google+ it's easy to download all of your content (this includes photos, videos, and posts) and save them offline. 

To be fair, Google does not have the greatest track record when it comes to trying to break into realm of social media. Buzz was a good idea, but was poorly executed and publicized. Wave was a fiasco. This looks as though the powers that be learned from those heart breakers and used those lessons to deliver something with real value that will be attractive to more than just technophiles and Google fan-boys. I'm hopeful.

Minority leader of the obstructionist party
There aren't words for how much this man disgusts me, Mitch McConnell. This is the same ultra-conservative, neo-con Fascist who, when the Republicans took control of the house, announced the number one objective of the new-minted, Republican Congress was to ensure that Barack Obama does not get a second term. In the midst of two wars and a crippling economic crisis, when unemployment is at 9.2% this man has the unbelievable brass balls to say none of that is as important to the Republican party as getting Obama out of office. It's largely under his leadership and the leadership of Obstructionist of the House John Boner...uh...Boehner that debt ceiling talks are going nowhere.

I think the argument over the debt ceiling is the most contentious debate I've ever heard come out of Capitol Hill. I certainly think it's the most destructive. What's sad is how incredibly out of touch with the nation both parties seem to be. Both claim to be representing the interests of the very people who will bear the brunt of the catastrophic economic fallout should America actually default on its debts. That's the thing that pisses me off the most. The posturing buffoons who are gleefully driving our country into ruin will be largely unaffected if the economy goes completely upside down. Some of them will actually call it a triumph on behalf of the American people, and they'll say it with a straight face!

This will sound alarmist and fatalistic, but if our elected officials fail to come to a deal on the debt ceiling by this weekend I'm planning to take out some of the money I've been saving. Not all of it, but enough to cover expenses for two or three months. If the worst happens, and America defaults on its debts, global markets will lose confidence in the American economy. Many may sell off their debts to us in favor of stronger, growth economies like those in India, China, and Brazil. This could result in causing the value of the dollar to plummet, interest rates to explode, and credit cards to cost more to own and maintain than an aircraft carrier full of high-maintenance socialites.

I'd recommend anyone consider doing the same. I'm not talking about closing out accounts. God no. If enough people do that it absolutely will be the Great Depression all over again. Just take out enough in cash to cover expenses for two or three months. If the worst happens, cash is king.