Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Don't Have Bionic Eyes Yet, Save Yours

Its been a long while since I've posted anything of real, practical value. Sure railing against the corporations and illuminating the futility of choice through determinism are fun. But how does that help you? Right now? Well actually they both help you but you just haven't ascended to that plane of intellectualism to understand their usefulness yet. So here is something easy that even you can do.

Like many of you I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen. And a lot of the time its very straining on my eyes. But I didn't really realizes just how much unnecessary stress I was putting on my eyes until I started darkening certain things. So here is a list of things you can do to relieve the stress on your eyes.

Dark wallpaper. This one is the easiest. Just go download a darkish wallpaper and even though you may not spend that much time staring at your desktop, its must less jarring to see when you close your active programs.

Custom FireFox Extensions: This one I highly recommend. If you use FireFox (and you should), go and install the "Stylish" extension (link below). Now go the other link posted below and search for the sites you visit regularly. People have submitted a lot of custom templates that modify specific sites that change the background color, font, and other things. Take a look through them, find one you like, and install it. I recommend the dark versions of Wikipedia and Google.

Word Background: I'm really surprised I didn't figure this out sooner. Just open Word, go to Format and then Background. After a few seconds of staring at the default white background, switch to black. I don't know about you but as soon as I do that I feel like all this tension is listed off of me. I feels so much better to look at a dark screen.

Get Stylish

Customize Web Sites

My Browser is very eye friendly

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stop and Think

In the last two weeks or so you've all probably heard me talking about the online film Zeitgeist Addendum. Its a long documentary with a lot of radical ideas, so here is my rundown.

I've watched ZA twice now. The first time I just sat back and let it play. When it was finished I wasn't sure what to make of it. My first impression was that it was very persuading, but like all second hand reports I didn't think it was the whole truth. So I started asking around to see if anyone could verify some of the claims that it made. This was pretty hard because it makes a lot of claims and I don't have the time or know-how to check all their facts. But my research did yield some fruit. The last quarts of the film is about The Venus Project, a proposed new "Resource Based" economy by this guy Jaques Fresko. The film is pretty much a big ad for the project but even without the proposed new economy, the message of the film is still important on its own.

So I decided to watch it again but this time take notes on their main points so I could compile it all and check from there. Thats when I realized that it wasn't the facts that I needed to focus, it was the ideas and concepts. Even if someone says that unemployment in the US is 10% when its actually 8% doesn't change the fact that the unemployment rate is out of control (I just made up those numbers for the argument). So its counter productive to focus on each precise statistic than to the look at the main point.

The entire argument of the film is that our growth as a people is being held back from meaningful progress by long held institutions that are not longer relevant, and the point is to just get you to stop and think about the way things work. We could be so much more than we are now if we were not slowed down by the desire to keep things the way they are. The biggest institutions targeted in the film are the monetary system, capitalism, government, and religion.

I don't want to go into each one individually because I don't think I could explain them accurately the way the film does. However there are few overarching things I'd like to point out.

1: Capitalism values profit well above human welfare. The only reason most companies hire employees is because that job hasn't been automated yet. If I have a factory and can function at a fraction of the cost by using machines, why would I hire employees?

2: The only reason we don't usually have to pay for water and air is because its so abundant. Charging for it would be useless.

3: Our monetary system cannot keep up with technological advances. What happens when the population starts to really outweigh the number of jobs? The global population is rising every year and more jobs are being automated every year.

4: As I said in my last post, we have the technology to make clean, efficient transportation and energy but the oil and energy companies (and the government) stand in the way. Why? Because efficiency does not mean profit. The longer we use inefficient cars and energy, the longer they
will stay in business and maintain control. Its no secret that the oil companies hold electric car patents that prevent mass distribution.

There are more issued addressed in the film but, again, I don't want to screw up the message by the explaining it poorly. Take two hours, watch the film, and then look around and ask yourself "is this really the best we can do?"


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gas Prices Too High or Not High Enough?

Alright I'm going to try to make this short since I need to be in the hot tub soon. In the last couple of years, gas prices have gone way up. And like the whores and addicts that we are, we bitch and complain but we still crawl back to the pump for our sweet sweet liquid crack. I know because I do it too. I really like having the freedom that comes with owning my own car and being able to drive any where I want any time I want. But isn't it about time we retired the combustion engine engine and adopted a new energy with modern functionality? Automobiles really haven't changed all that much since Henry Ford's Model T which began production ONE HUNDRED years ago. We ARE STILL using the same basic technology that powered those cars. In over a hundred we haven't come up with a better and more efficient engine than that? Well we have actually, but they've been stopped from entering mainstream production. The problem is that the oil companies make way too much money the way things are now to let that happen without a serious fight. The automobile industry as it is now is built around having to constantly pay to use a car. Even after you own a car you still have to pay for gas, tires that wear out, and tune ups and oil changes every couple of months. So you can see why the oil companies are doing everything they can to stop cars that don't need as much energy and don't need tune ups and oil changes. Now, our problem is that gas prices are just enough that people will be still use it and not make drastic changes in their lifestyles or demand new technology. If suddenly gas was $10 a gallon, I would bet there would be rioting in the streets for a new engine independent of gasoline. We need higher gas prices. Not just a few dollars though, I mean WAY higher. The higher the better. Its time to shape up and get with the fucking 21st century. We DO have the technology for clean and efficient engines. Its about time we got to use it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Quick WTF - Sample Ballot

When xtian first added me to this blog he said I should come up with segment titles for repeated themes. I think this will be the first post in a series I am going to refer to as "A Quick WTF".

For those of you who are voters out there (better be ALL OF YOU!!!!), you should have received your sample ballot today. Did anyone else notice the order in which the presidential candidates are listed? Anyone else worried? With the 2000 election Florida fiasco in mind, I immediately noticed an oddity to the order in which they are listed. It puts McCain at the top so you would think Obama would be right there under him, but no. He is the second to last candidate listed. This might not be a problem if they were listed in alphabetical order, either by name or party, but they are not. Why are they ordered that way? I fear that people are going to look at the list of candidates, see McCain first, and say to themselves, "I recognize that name", and then they will vote for him without even seeing Obama as a choice (yes people can be that stupid). I mean think about it, if college professors want to trick you on exams, they will put the answer that is closest to correct as the first answer in a multiple choice question with hopes that you will see it and not even look at other answers. This ballot is the same thing. It is a conspiracy for the white man dammit! That is the only explanation. Whitey is going to do anything possible to win this election and playing these sick psychological games is only one example of how low he will stoop.

Here is a picture of my ballot. It is crappy, but you can clearly see McCain at the top and Obama second to last with a bunch of no name, minor parties in between. I say WTF!!!! Anyone else?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm going to do it! It can't be put off. As much as I hate it, it is time to talk about the economy.

Well well, another debate down, another night of unanswered questions and concerns. But, how realistic is it to expect that some of these questions are going to be answered in the first place? As much as I hate mudslinging and these idiotic commercials talking about absolutely nothing, I am actually going to defend our candidates.

What is every one's main concern right now? Let me guess, the economy. While we should be concerned, I am sick of pundits and the public bitching and moaning about how this person doesn't have a plan, or that person is just babbling out buzz words and catch phrases. GET REAL AMERICA! Does anyone honestly think either of our candidates are going to disclose the full details of their economic plans (assuming they have them which I am assuming they do). There is no way in hell any one is going to get a definitive answer about how we are going to fix the economy. It would be campaign suicide if either candidate said what they we really have in mind.

Our economy is in such a crappy state, that there is no quick fix that for some reason people are expecting the candidates to have. The truth of it is, that in order for the U.S. to bounce back we are all going to have to sacrifice for a little while for the greater good. But no one wants to hear that, and God forbid one of the candidates says that. If either one of them explains that the only way to get out of debt is for some people to lose out, they are going to lose so much support they will probably lose the election. Of course if one of them does say the truth, the other one will immediately lie and make a false promise about how no one loses in their plan and sadly people will be duped, and said lying candidate will win.

There was one question in the debate last night that I liked a lot and it demonstrates that the American people are not just a bunch of idiots. An elderly person, who grew up during the Great Depression, blatantly asked what sacrifice we would be making in order to bounce back like they did back then. Good job for asking that, unfortunately guess what...neither Obama or McCain directly answered it, but I think it's time to stop expecting them to.

I generally like debates, as they are usually entertaining and a lot of the time we are able to really hear what these candidates say when they have to think on their feet. I especially like how I can view the debates, even the VP debates, on like 6 High Definition channels. Unfortunately the debates this year are, while stupid at times, being overshadowed by this misguided theory that they should be talking in detail about economic plans. Get over it, it will not happen because no one really wants to hear the truth of the matter. If you want some insight on how these candidate's economic plans might carry out, do some research and look back at congressional committees they have served on in the senate, and bills that they have authored or been major supporters of. That is probably the best way to get a realistic view of how these politicians will carry out business once they are in the white house.

And to make matters a little more biased and interesting, take notice that McCain has voted on about 90% of Bush favored legislature, legislature that has gotten us to where we are today. For shame McCain, for shame...

(pssst...Obama '08)

Comment on!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

'Whose Line' Noir

So I decided its about time I started posting some of my creative writings. This one is essentially a scripted Whose Line Is It Anyway Noir scene between Colin and Ryan. I haven't refined this at all. This is just first draft and took about twenty or thirty minutes to write. I plan to expand on it and polish it up later.

I was desperate. My whole operation was going down the drain and I knew there was only one man I could turn to. One man who could get the job that I needed done right. I swore I would never speak to him again, but fate has a funny way of choking you with your own words.

“Its been a long time… Shoe Face.”

-I knew Flat Top would be back. Me and him have a long history. We knew everything about each other. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you used to be physically attached to someone. That’s right, we were conjoined twins. But I decided to play dumb, feel out the situation.

“You’ll have to forgive me, I… don’t speak English.”

-At that point I started to wonder if I had walked into the wrong brothel. But then I saw the enormous disfiguring scar on his head. There was no doubt about it, that used to be me. I knew he was playing dumb, so I tried to call his bluff.

“Could you hold this for a minute?”

-I had no idea why he just handed me a half eaten sandwich. But I could tell he was desperate. I figured I might as well come clean. He looked like he needed my help, and I did owe him one.

“Alright, Top. What’s your game? Has some red robin picked your basket for the last time? Have all your pawns jumped ship and made a suicide run for the muffin man? Spill it, buster.”

-I always hated his elaborate metaphors.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

None of What You See... Online

I firmly believe that the internet is one of, if not the, most important inventions by mankind. Right up there with the telephone, automobile, Gutenburg's printing press (thank you, Mr. Feeny), and porn. The internet is freedom. Suddenly people from all over the world can communicate and share ideas so easily. Information about everything and anything is just seconds away. And just about every episode from every television show or movie is available for viewing. The world is a much smaller place thanks to the internet.
However, the freedom of the internet is also it's biggest problem. Anyone can post anything they want online. Not only is it an incredibly good thing, its also something to be extremely wary of. There is a lot of good online, but there's also a lot of false information. Often times its hard to distinguish what is true or false. Ben Franklin famously said, "Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see". I would like to amend that statement but I don't think we can believe less than none.
I take everything I see or read online as simple a rumor. I like to see evidence and and proof of assertions. But its hard sometimes. I recently watched the documentary "Zeitgeist Addendum". It makes a lot of claims about how inflation works, that our monetary system is inherently flawed and unethical, and how our major corporations have locked us into a kind a slavery. A lot of it is very compelling and season pretty logical. But then there are a lot of people that say most of it is lies and made up. And then filmmakers have their own rebuttals saying otherwise. So who do you believe? The only way is to fact check for yourself. Thats the problem. There is simply too much to check. Its way too much to have to go and verify every single assertion or claim that the film or anyone makes. Even if someone makes a film countering every point the first film made, how can you be sure the second film is honest and factual? I don't know what to do anymore. There's a lot of stuff I want to believe but I can't just blindly take statements about important issues at face value.