Monday, December 29, 2008

Notes from Left Behind

The movie opens with Kirk Cameron interviewing some Jewish dude about miracle crops when suddenly, thousands of jets swoop across the sky and then explode. Then Kirk Cameron, who goes by "Buck Williams," finds a rambling old guy, who I presume is the Wandering Jew from "A Canticle for Lebowitz." Anyway, he then flies home and the Rapture happens while he's on a plane. And then there's a bunch of soul searching among those left behind. Anyway, here are my random observations:
-When the Rapture occurs, there are a lot of traffic accidents from people ascending. Wouldn't a loving God wait until bedtime to cause the disappearance of the world's true believers?
-An airline pilot returns home to find his whole family has disappeared. In a rage, he throws a bible at a mirror. After the mirror shatters, he picks up the bible and realizes it holds the key to recent events.
-According to this movie, the UN is very powerful, and controlling it is key to bringing about the end of the world. I'm pretty sure that this doesn't fit in with most critiques of the U.N.
-The Antichrist is a Romanian who could be mistaken for a very bad bond villain. He plans to divide the world into ten kingdoms, and, um, rule the world in peace from them. Truly, the work of Satan.
-Walker's sidekick, James Trivette, is a preacher who didn't believe hard enough. Walker, presumably, ascended to heaven. I can only hope that in the sequel, there is more kicking.
-The Antichrist announces that the cause of the disappearances is radiataion from generations of nuclear weapons, so he announces the abolition of such weapons. Again, damn you, Satan!
-The movie ends with an awesome religious synth rock song.
-I wish I had more to say, but I was pretty left behind by a six pack of Alaskan IPAs.

Notes from the Digital Age

My household has now made the switch to digital television, a full month and a half before we would have been reduced to staring at a blank screen in utter confusion, dim memories of commercials warning us to switch leaving the back of our minds. As an early adopter of this new technology, it is my privelege, nay, duty, to report back to the rest of you analog simpletons with tales from the digital age.

In 2005, Congress passed the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005. This act mandated that all analog broadcasts stop on February 17, 2009. I'm not sure why this was done, possibilities include a desire to free up a radio spectrum from other uses, pressure from the digital converter box lobby, or a desire to see NBC's hit "Chuck" in higher definition. Warren Hatch fucking loves that show. In any event, all televisons in the United States will stop working in February, except those who have cable, or satellite, or those who "read" for entertainment.

By purchasing a digital converter box, you can continue to enjoy the fruits of network television after the switch. In addition, you'll have access to extra channells, as multiple stations can be broadcast at once through digital magic. You can get a coupon for these converter boxes, or you can rely on your parents to bail you out of your sloth. I'll leave you to guess which option I took. Setting up the box involves plugging your antenna into the converter, and the converter into your television. It's a very simple process. Needless to say, millions of elderly Americans are going to be staring at their TVs in stunned horror when Murder, She Wrote fails to come on.

What's Different?
-First off, channels do seem to come in much clearer. After the change, I can finally read the clues on Jeopardy, and see what the ravages of time have done to Vanna White.
-Where once there was one, now there are many. A single channel can be split into several channels digitally. Before, there was just PBS. Now, there are four PBS stations available, though none of them are solely devoted to John McLaughlin.
-Each major station now has an alternative weather station. Great. Now I can tell that it's going to be overcast and rainy all day long.
-There are now three remotes to control the operation of the tv. This is a 50% increase in remotes. Awesome!
-There are now approximately 10 religous stations that come in. This enabled me to finally watch the Left Behind movie, and learn about how I'm going to hell.
-Instead of coming in fuzzy, channels that aren't tuned now come in blocky, or not at all. I'm not sure if this is an improvement, as it gives me the horrifying feeling that I'm about to be transported into the Tron mainframe.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Perspective on Michael Phelps

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past couple weeks, a cave outside of China at that, you've probably heard that Michael Phelps has set the Olympic record for most gold medals with 8. Now, that's a lot of gold medals. He could probably melt three of them down and buy, um, a jet-ski or something, and still have a fairly impressive mantel. Commentators have called this the most impressive Olympic event, and I'm pretty sure I heard someone call it the most impressive event in the history of sport. I think it was Strawman McHyperbole, who's a color commentator on MSNBC. I'm not an authority on swimming (or anything), but I think these are questionable assertions.
Michael Phelps is unquestionably the most amazing swimmer in Olympic history. He is doubtlessly far ahead of the competition, which includes such lauded heros as, Mark Spitz, um, that Australian guy with big feet, or the French guy who thought his relay team was going to win. Sorry, swimming is just not one of those thing I pay attention to when the Olympics are not going on. And even then, an American has to be kicking ass for me to care. I don't want you to get the impression that I'm knocking Phelp's stellar achievement; if Aquaman were to go rogue he's the first person I'd call.
My problem is that swimming, as something I'm bad at, just doesn't impress me. Let's look at Phelp's record breaking time in the 200m freestyle: 1:42:96. Now, I'm sure I couldn't swim 200m in anything under an hour and a half, but on land, I could beat that hopping on one leg. It's just hard for me to put swimming achivements in perspective. Usain Bolt's chicken nugget fueled rampage through the 100m and 200m sprints is just easier to contextualize.
Sorry, Michael Phelps, you chose to excel in a sport I don't care about. Your loss, buddy.

Bonus: Other Olympic Thoughts
-Why isn't there a biathlon in the summer olympics? Just combine a steeplechase with machine pistols and you've got yourself something twice as bad-ass as badminton
-Badminton is pretty bad-ass. But when they say that the shuttlecock is going 206 mph, they're full of shit. Sure, it's going that fast when it leaves the racket, but the thing is a tiny parachute. Those things are still going damned fast, they're just not going to kill the opponent if they miss.
-It's good to see USA basketball asserting themselves on a world stage. Vince Carter's dunk over Frederic Weis is still the gold standard for U.S. dominance, but this year's had a few moments that've gotten into the same ballpark.
-I wonder how London will top the Beijing games. They'll probably have to raze an orphanage to make way for an artificial lake.
-In a similar vein, I wonder what wars will break out during the next Olympics. My bet is Canada vs. New Detroit.
-Having events tape delayed for the west coast sucks. I'll get up at 4:30 to watch Chris Bosh stick it to Germany 7 days a week and twice on Sunday.
-Rowing events would be considerably more fun to watch if you could ram opponents boats.
-Why do they have baseball in the olympics? Does anyone outside of Cuba and Japan care about this?
-Having 16 year old (or however old they are) gymnasts competing is ridiculous. Any sport where you peak pre-puberty is not one I can fully support. I'm not even sure if raising the age would help, since you're still training kids well before they have much of a say in the matter. And I'm sure this happens in tennis and a host of other sports, but it just seems a little sick. Then again, I'll probably force my kids to play frisbee and halo until their tear ducts malfunction, so who am I to complain?
-I was really disappointed to find out that the hammer throw does not involve throwing a hammer. My training in this event is now for naught.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Topics I've half written about but trust me, are not even fit for a blog no one reads

So, I haven't written anything interesting in quite a while. I haven't really written anything un-interesting either, hence the lack of activity on here. But, in fairness to my girlfriend, who might check this thing when she's really, really bored, here are a few of the things I've started writing in my drunk-notebook:*
-A treatise on the delectability of tater tots
-Children's books that should be updated to our modern times
-A ranking of diet sodas
-Superpowers that would be really inconvenient for day-to-day life
-Flamethrower vs. Grenade Launcher
- Requisites for an awesome detective
-The ungodly sadness of Girl's Gone Wild

Now, any one of these could be made interesting, but in their current form, they are spiteful reminders of my inability to follow through on any thoughts I have.

*The drunk-notebook is a pad of paper that I keep near my bedside table in the hope that I'll have some idea worth remembering in the middle of the night. Invariably, I end up writing down a bunch of giberish about how much I want a cheeseburger every time I get baked. I'll bet all the greats start this way. Umm, yeah, that's it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hot, Hot Stimulus or Fiscal Inanity

The rational part of my brain knows that the economic stimulus isn't a terribly good idea. It probably won't jump-start the economy; and at a time of record deficits it isn't really fiscally prudent. As a younger American who isn't even paying that much in taxes now, this payment is just setting me up for trouble down the road. On the other hand, the other 97% of my brain knows, "Free Money!"

I haven't received my check yet, but as soon as I do, you can bet certain segments of the American economy are going to get a big boost. Namely, the anchovy pizza industry and beer brewers in the Northwest. Just for fun, I've included charts of federal spending and my proposed stimulus spending.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cyclone: Mission of Burma('s Destruction)

News that a cyclone had killed <50,000 people in Burma (or Myanmar, if you believe the junta) struck me as unbelievable. Being a Midwesterner by birth, I'd been raised to believe that a cyclone, while a powerful destructive force, is mostly limited to devastating small towns. Unless Yangon (or Rangoon) was composed of an extremely narrow band of trailer parks, I didn't see how one storm could kill so many people. Thanks to the magic of the internets*, I now know that cyclone is short for a tropical cyclone. Which is the same thing as a typhoon. Which is called a hurricane if you happen to live on the Atlantic seaboard. Cyclone is also a colloquial name for tornados, as well as the name of the Iowa State University athletic teams. Anyway, this makes it somewhat easier to grapple with the scale of the disaster in Burma.

Just for a hell of it, I also checked out where this tragedy ranks on the natural disaster scale. Here're some of the other contenders from the last 100 years or so:
-1931 Yellow River Flood (China) - 2.5-3.7 million
-1887 Yellow River Flood (China) - 0.9-2 million
-1970 Bhola Cyclone (Bangladesh) - 500,000
-2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami - 280,000+
-1976 Tangshan Earthquake (China) - 242,000

Damn, Planet Earth hates China. Also, who was the asshole in charge of the engineering corps on the Yellow River in 20th century China? Oh and here's a couple random, somewhat smaller natural disasters:
-1989 Saturia-Manikganj Sadar Tornado (Bangladesh) - 1,300 (woah, I guess they could have made Twister much more suspenseful.)
-2005 Hurricane Katrina - 1,800
-1966 Belmond, IA Twister - 6

And I'd be remiss if I didn't list my favorite disaster, natural or otherwise:
-1919 Boston Molasses Explosion - 21

*It's safe to assume that any "fact" I put up here comes from wikipedia. I'll probably try to cite references at some point in time, but currently no one reads this and I'm still rebelling from college.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Ravages of Time

If you know me (and if you're reading this, you either do or you are desperate to kill time at work), you've probably gotten the impression that I hate cats. Yes, I shout, "Scat you bitches!" whenever one of my houses cats crosses my path, and yes, I have on occasion looked for a large bucket when awoken by incessant mewling, but I like cats. Really. It's just that their short life span offers an accelerated glimpse of my own inevitable slide into responsibility.

This is one of the cats on my family's farm:

Here you see a young Olive, youthful and vigorous; eagerly awaiting each new day and the dangling bits of string it may bring.

This is the same cat, one year later:

Sweet Jesus. There's nothing left to look forward to for Olive now. The pressures of having to go out and find meaningful work, maintain a civil relationship with her girlfriend, and not get caught outside of the garage when the temperature drops below freezing have sucked the fun and exuberance right out of this cat. Not to mention that the cat just can't eat chicken nuggets dipped in mayonnaise anymore and expect to fit into a box. Yes, in just a short span of time, this dumb animal has gone from a wild and care-free spirit to a depressing lout, who would like nothing better after a long day of sitting still than to stare mindlessly at the television. Which may or may not look like fuzz, I can't really remember if cats can decipher those images. But whatever the case may be, rest assured that the salad years have passed poor Olive by. Olive is done shaking the world, or at least the bits of string that are attached to it.

So no, I do not hate cats. I hate only to be reminded of how far they have fallen from their idyllic youth; forced by time and biology to become layabouts as the world passes them by.

Next week: Is the rabbit an alcoholic?

caveat lector

I am not a writer. A writer has something interesting to say. Over time I hope to nail down some general idea of why I'm wasting precious bytes, but in the meantime think of this as an exercise in dicking around.