Friday, July 31, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #78: Three Kinds of Successful Tweets

Tweets that are (1) useful or (2) funny will likely be re-tweeted by other users, and therefore are successful messages in the midst of a lot of trivial self-centeredness on Twitter. Some or all of the previous sentence will be auto-tweeted via Twitterfeed, and, appropriately enough, the first sentence is neither useful nor funny. Therefore, it will likely not be re-tweeted by any non-DeRamos Group entity on Twitter. My post title said there are three kinds of successful tweets: (3) Tweets that are direct @ messages might also illicit a response by the receiving party, unless they are a Twitter-celebrity with hundreds of thousands of followers and no time to respond to every @ reply or mention.

Useful tweets usually have a link to a webpage with more than 140 characters' worth of information. The warning, however, is to be careful with all the TinyURL,,, etc., shortened URLs - you might end up on a site riddled with malware, or worse, a live hacker looking for open doors. @teksquisite almost always tweets useful tweets (usually advice against malware), with the occasional quasi-useful/entertaining tech-related, gadget tweet.

Funny/entertaining tweets are hit or miss. Even the most seasoned of real-world comedians on Twitter can shoot out a bunch of unfunny-but-trying-to-be-funny, 140-character maximum statements. I have been fortunate enough to be re-tweeted on a few occasions by total strangers for some random one-liner that somehow connected with another user. And when I happen upon a funny one-liner (usually from people I follow, or from tweeters who chase daily trends), I'll gladly re-tweet.

@ replies and RT @ mentions (because giving credit where credit is due is good) are, again, the third category of successful tweets. Actually corresponding with another user builds a sense of community, of sorts. At the very least, Twitter ceases to become an endless string of self-hype and self-promotion that goes to no one if you direct your message to at least someone.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with mundane tweets, that only you and possibly your stalker(s) would enjoy to read. (If it's the case of a stalker, then anything you tweet will be a useful or funny tweet. If they get creepy, remember that you can block them.) In any case, the less Twitter becomes a bastion of text narcissism (where Facebook is a bastion of multimedia narcissism), and more a place of utility, then it might reach that next level (and the service itself might even turn that elusive profit!).

Anyhow, this is the end of this incoherent rant based on a bunch of duh! common sense principles. By the way, the same can be said for blog posts, too: This particular one being neither useful (it's duh!, remember?) nor funny (scatterbrained, yes, but not funny), and neither is this post addressed to anyone. Hmm...I don't know why I even typed out this rant, other than forcing myself to write something more-or-less substantial on a daily basis. I'd better tag this post as "filler" to show my disdain for my own writing for today.

All that aside...have a happy end of July today, and have a happy first day of August tomorrow!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Woke up @ 1984...

It's gonna be a long 25 years.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Waiting for 2010 #77: More News (Mini) Rants

I've been time traveling a bit as of late, and I just might photo-Post (as in Posterous) my asynchronous adventures sometime soon. In any case, I can't really think of a good solid rant to write, so I'll just rely on what's current in the news:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation Takes Issue With Apple's Claims About Jailbroken iPhones

On a friend's Facebook link concerning Apple's and/or AT&T's rejection of the Google Voice app (blogged here yesterday), a commenter (a friend of a friend) wrote: "Per Apple, if you jailbreak your iPhone, the terrorists have won."

I was going to write (well, I did...eventually) something to top that in pun-filled facetiousness: "Every time you jailbreak, Jobs kills a kitten." @maczydeco on Twitter beat me to that satirical proverb: "Every time you jailbreak, steve jobs [sic] kills a kitten:"

Re: Gates-gate: Is Obama Snubbing 911 Caller?

Professor Gates may have overreacted when the police didn't believe that he was in his own home; Sgt. Crowley may have overreacted when arresting a man in his own home for complicated homeowner's rights reasons; President Obama may have overreached when calling parts of the aforementioned sequence of events as stupid. And so it was, the trio previously engaged in a series of miscommunication and misunderstanding will communicate and understand over a few beers. Unfortunately, the Prez didn't invite the one ultimately responsible for the situation - Ms. Whalen the concerned neighbor - to the party.

Dudes, you gotta invite one or more ladies to a drinkin' party. It's good manners.

Bryce Dallas Howard in, Rachelle Lefevre out in third 'Twilight' film

I've never read the novels, nor have I seen the first movie. It's probably because my lot in life, being the opposite of a teenage girl in the 2000s, seems not to point me in that direction. Don't be mistaken: I think vampires are cool. In any case, I don't like when movie roles are recast during the same series, and in the same period of time. It's okay, I guess, if the character ages dramatically between installments (i.e., Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels). It's unavoidable when the original actor dies (i.e., Richard Harris in the Harry Potter movies). Other than that, it really is a disservice to the audience when the producers change cast members midstream, as it were. It feels like a soap opera; from time to time, a booming voice over would introduce a new actor playing a current character.

In any case, at least it's not Ron Howard wearing a wig playing a female vampire, if that's any consolation.

And that's your tech, political, and entertainment news for Thursday, July 30, 2009. It's back to time traveling for me. ::whoosh!::

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #76: Will the Real Evil Empire Please Stand Up?

Here's the rundown on some recent computing/tech news on this decidedly non-tech (yet tech-interested and invested) blog:

Will the real technological Evil Empire of today please stand up?

How about Microsoft? The giants of the 1990s, Microsoft and Yahoo!, have apparently come to an agreement on their potential forthcoming partnership. While both were big in the '90s, and Microsoft being the one of ill repute (which lasts to this day), this partnership could solidify the number two positions in search data and Internet advertising, behind of course Google. According to the details of the partnership, Microsoft gets the upper hand over Yahoo!, which is good news for me, as I own some M$FT but none of ¥HOO. Disclosure aside, in any case, contrary to popular belief, Microsoft isn't as evil as the old Windows 95/98/ME days.

How about Apple? Its computer division is great, with the Mac OS X platform holding its own at an estimated 10% of the PC market. Unfortunately, Apple's iTrinket division (iTunes, iPod, and iPhone) has a dominant market share in the realms of mp3 stores, mp3 players, and smart phones. Furthermore, the iTrinket division (or iGadget, to sound less inflammatory) has made some news by barring Google Voice from its iPhone platform, among other questionable actions as of late. The iTrinket division is therefore sullying the reputation of the old Apple Computer wing of the corporation, so I'd say that a significant slice of Apple can potentially be an evil empire in and of itself. This is bad news if the actions of iTrinkets bring anti-trust investigations that could affect the iTunes/iPod unity, the iPhone/App Store unity, and the Mac/OS X unity. As a proud owner of AAP£, spinning off iTrinkets from the corporation could be a good idea, if all goes wrong.

How about Google? The above to sections refer to Microsoft/Yahoo versus Google's search and ad capabilities, as well as Apple (and AT&T, perhaps) barring Google's latest technology from the iPhone. Far removed from its roots as the cutesy, don't be evil search engine start-up, Google is THE GIANT of the InterWebs age. The Cloud that is Chrome OS that looms over the horizon bodes ill for Microsoft's Windows platform, with Apple's OS X not too far off, if the storm brews successfully. Google Voice - with free text messaging, usually free connection-assisted phone calls, telephone number consolidation, and mp3 recorded/transcribed voicemail - will revolutionize the world of telephones.

Heck, give me a call (it will go to my voicemail):

(I might post whatever voicemail you may leave, either on this blog and/or elsewhere, so be warned...and have fun!)

Now, what's evil about this Google Voice business, among other parts of the Big G's domain, is that Google may use the data, calls, and voicemails for their various marketing and strategizing purposes. In other words, Google may listen in on your calls. Then again, your government - wherever you may live - probably does that to your calls, anyhow. If there is no alternative or opt-out in this matter, which entity would you rather have eavesdrop: Google, which will use the info to send some strange ads to your webpages, or the government, which will use the info to send some unmarked helicopters to your doorstep?

As a shareholder in ₢OO₢ (that's the ticker symbol for Googl€, with a Brazilian cruzeiro symbol for the Gs) - I, for one, welcome our new not evil overlords.

(Possible evil empire honorable mention goes to, which recently pulled a 1984 on its Kindle users by promptly taking back the 1984 eBook from their Kindles, due to a copyright issue with the publisher.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #75: Wii Sports Resort Review

Yesterday, my pre-ordered copy of Wii Sports Resort, plus an additional Wii MotionPlus, arrived in the mail. The Wii, after all, is better suited as a communal gaming experience and not for single players. (And if you find yourself as a single player for much of your Wii playing experience, that is fine, too. Just make sure your system is full of Mii-derivatives of friendly faces, and play lots of Mii-enabled games like Sports, Play, Fit, Music, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, etc.)

Sports Resort contains 12 sports, with some variations for many of those sports. Having only played three hours of this title, I haven't played all the variations of each sport, nor have I unlocked everything there is to unlock, but here's my review anyway:

The MotionPlus accessory improves game play, hands down. The only problem is figuring out what to do with all the extra silicone sleeves that are now rendered useless by the now-longer controller (that's what she said!). Anyhow...

Swordplay is awesome. It is more enjoyable than its apparent Sports predecessor, boxing (whose true successor would be the Punch-Out!! Wii version). The speed slice game is also fun as a competitive mini-game. I have yet to play the single-player showdown mode.

Wakeboarding is decent. I can almost anticipate a Wii Balance Board + MotionPlus sequel to this sport in a future Wii title, like in the next Wii Fit. That would be awesome.

Frisbee with the Mii dog is also pretty decent. I hope it will grow on me as a go-to game to play. I have yet to play Frisbee golf, which will hopefully use the same golf course as golf.

Archery is freakin' awesome! It is a fun competitive sport, and all three difficulty modes are good. It is nearly perfect, except that all Miis shoot right-handed on screen. I'm usually left-handed, so there is a bit of discrepancy between my actions and my Mii's actions, but it really isn't much of a problem. I'm guessing that this is a space-saving measure within the Sports Resort game disc.

Basketball is also awesome! The three-point shooting contest - which gives you the option of handedness, thankfully - felt really good. I actually got some sort of rhythm going and made a few virtual baskets from downtown. The three-on-three game is also fun.

Table tennis is a vast improvement on its predecessor from Wii Play. I have yet to play the second variation of this sport - the return challenge.

Golf has been expanded to 18 holes: Nine new ones and the nine from Wii Sports. MotionPlus really shines here. You get more motion-based options when driving or using an iron. The real improvement, however, is for chip shots and putting. You actually feel like you're swing a club, rather than just flicking your wrists to control your "swing," as is the case with Wii Sports.

Bowling, however, feels like the other side of the MotionPlus coin. Due to the added controls and motion sensitivity, gone is the feeling of invincibility that came with Wii Sports. Previously strikes (and turkeys!) and spares were no problem, but in this sequel, methinks you'll have to earn the big points (like in real life). I have yet to play the two additional varieties to this sport.

Power Cruising, or jetskiing, is decent. The points-based slalom mini-game was kind of like Wii Fit's skiing, but for lazier people. I have yet to play the versus mode of this sport.

Canoeing is quite challenging. The cooperative speed challenge takes a lot of, well, cooperation to go anywhere. I have yet to play the competitive versus mode of this sport.

Cycling is as challenging as canoeing. Your Mii is given a finite amount of endurance, and coupled with tandem bicycling requires a lot of strategizing and coordination. I have yet to play the competitive versus mode of this sport, but I'm sure the Mii endurance factor plays a similar role.

Airsports is actually three discrete sports, lumped into the same location; that is, the skies above Sports Resort Island. I have yet to play skydiving, but I suspect that it is similar to (if not the same as) the introductory skydive when you first load the game on the Wii. I have to play "island flyover" as well; I suspect that it is hang gliding or something similar. The dogfight mode is awesome.

Overall, Wii Sports Resort is a worthy sequel to not only Wii Sports but also Wii Play. In any case, I wonder if Sports Resort Island is the same location as Fit Island, or if they are just similarly-structured neighboring islands. Anyway, I recommend having at least two MotionPlus accessories from the start. One MotionPlus comes with the game, so the other one will have to be purchased separately - either on its own for $20 or bundled with the latest Tiger Woods golf game ($50+). While Sports Resort's price is around $50, be prepared to spend at least $70. The game would be quite lacking as single-player only, or without access to simultaneous-player sports. For Wii owners with four controllers, be prepared to pay about $110 for the game plus three additional MotionPlus accessories. Also, you might want to max out on nunchuk accessories ($20 each), which are required peripherals for archery, jetskiing, and cycling.

In any case, have fun!

(Full disclosure: I own some NTDOY, but my enthusiasm for Nintendo products is a lot older than any direct stake in the company itself. That said, it's always nice to hope for some sort of longterm profit-driven payoff.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #74: Shaking up Arts and Entertainment Industries

The accessibility of both the Internet and of personal computing has essentially cut many established industries into two main pieces: (1) The dying, but well-connected (and funded), dinosaurs and (2) the up-and-coming innovators, whose content results may vary.

The music industry has been affected very severely, if not the most, by the rise of the World Wide Web. Currently, there are two main tiers: (1) Commercial recording artists (etc.) of most genres, under contract and signed by record labels and/or 360-deal conglomerates; and (2) independent recording artists of all genres who use social networking, local gigs, and grassroots marketing to spread their music. It's basically mass-distributed CD artists (from major label or feeder-pseudo-indie record labels) in one separate industry (Music Industry 1.0), and potentially mass-distributed MP3 artists (from indie record labels but mostly D.I.Y. musicians) in another entirely different music industry (Music Industry 2.0).

Of course there is overlap: Big commercial music acts have their albums on iTunes and AmazonMP3, and independent musicians burn CD-Rs for sale at shows, and some well-known bands have recently rejected record label contracts. However, the modes of production, distribution, and marketing between both music industries are usually different.

The film industry has suffered from the exponential amount of bootleg distribution on the Web. Because of the InterWebs, movies (and other forms of audiovisual entertainment) are also separating into two diverging industries: (1) Big budget blockbuster movies, which vary from good press (Up) to bad press (Transformers 2); and (2) YouTube videos, which have their own set of quality issues (trite videos become viral then forgotten, criticism comes in the form of cowardly Web trolls, etc.).

If the YouTube pseudo-movie industry (let's call it Video Industry 0.9 Beta) can come up with quality productions that actually go viral, then it will have an optimistic future as Music Industry 2.0. Maybe some titans from Film Industry 1.0 could seriously venture into the realm of the Video Industry 0.9 Beta (analogous to Music Industry 1.0 bands pioneering successfully in Music Industry 2.0), and not just dabble to be cute or trite.

That's easier said than done, I suppose, because for the well-connected, Film Industry 1.0 throws around large contracts and funding, money lacking in Video Industry 0.9 Beta. True innovators and an audience paradigm shift can make both Film Industry 2.0 and a commercially-viable Video Industry 1.0 realities.

There's not much to write about TV anymore. It's fully of reality shows (arguably that could be Television Industry 2.0), and a lot of televised content is ported over to the Internet. Current TV's SuperNews! animated show satrized this situation quite well:

With the advent of's Kindle and competing eBook readers, book publishing can potentially break into two: (1) Paper-consuming printing publishers who only produce and promote already-established writers (especially those with bestselling series), autobiographies by famous people, and other commercially-viable topics; and (2) a greener, PDF-based (or equivalent) publishing industry. Right now, paper book publishers are cautious of this new mode of consumption, but hopefully they won't make the same mistakes as Music Industry 1.0 (rather, the Recording Industry) during the emergence of the MP3. If the big publishing houses can successfuly integrate eBooks in their repertoire, then maybe Book Industry 1.0 can upgrade to Book Industry 2.0, with little to no parallel competition between paper books and eBooks.

In any case, the lack of open standards (other than for free PDFs) between the Kindle format and competing eBooks also may stifle the growth of Book Industry 2.0. Right now, the realm of Book Industry 2.0 is ironically the proliferation of public domain works (i.e., very old books) at Project Gutenberg, Google Books, LibriVox (for audiobooks), and other intrepid places on the Web.

To bring this rant to a close, I will make some biased predictions (that is, predictions that show my biased hope for the future of these industries): Music 1.0 will ultimately fail due to its stupidity and lame pseudo-innovation (360-deals and the Ticketmaster/LiveNation monopoly are not innovations); Music 2.0 will succeed (but there's always room for vinyl for artists who can afford this medium); Film Industry 1.0 will have a summer blockbuster season for many years to come, with varying results (as always); Video Industry 0.9 Beta will eventually have a release candidate; TV will still be good for sports and not much else; Book Industry 1.0 will figure it out better than Music Industry 1.0 did, so that paper books and eBooks (and free eBooks!) can co-exist in a brave Book Industry 2.0 world.

After all, libraries existed before the modern publishing industry emerged, and they've existed relatively peaceably for quite a long time. In any case, as long as more people read - and I don't mean hurriedly-written blog posts like here - then the Book Industry (commercial and public domain) will upgrade with few to no bugs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #73: Shaking up Health Care

All sides in a debate need to agree upon the terms they're using. Otherwise, it's all spin and no progress. Let's get this rant started:

President Obama wants to shake up the current American health care system by instituting a government-run alternative to the existing health insurance and health care companies. By adding a new force in the marketplace, the argument goes, costs could become fairer. More importantly, uninsured people could afford some form of coverage and receive treatment if/when necessary. From what I hear in the news and press conferences, the President promotes his plan as such: It is an additional option to join the field of existing providers.

The opposition to this plan is opposed to the notion of universal health care, socialized medicine, and government-run health care (and whatever else it is called) in the United States. The loudest of the opposition (mainly from the Republican Party) identifies the President's plan as such. I suspect that a slippery slope form of logic was applied to the President's argument for a government-run option. I can't get into the collective heads of the opposition, but let me try to understand the rationale for their spin: If the Federal government provides this option, the market would shift in favor of going to the government for health care/insurance/whatever. Private health care companies, in turn, cannot compete with the government's prices and can no longer profit (as is the function of for-profit entities). With no profit, shareholders have no more motivation to invest in these companies, and along with other factors, these companies would have to fold. In this market vacuum, the government-run option becomes the only option, and thus is born universal health care. Is that the Republican rationale against Obama's plan?

For this debate to rise to the next level, everyone (as many as possible) needs to get their terms straight. Is this current debate (1) about universal health care, which isn't being pushed by the Administration, or (2) about the costs and benefits, the pros and cons, of a government-run option?

If it is the former, then the debate will go nowhere. Fiscal conservatives decry universal/socialized/government-run health care, but fiscal liberals deny that that's even the issue. Many conservatives believe that the government-run option would eventually descend into a government-run monopoly. Many liberals (or at least those who support Obama's plan) would counter that the argument is nothing but a slippery slope fallacy and paranoid sensationalism. Strangely enough, the liberals who don't (totally) support Obama's plan would say that the President's option-goal doesn't go far enough, and that they actually want a true nationalized, socialized, universal health care system. In all these cases, the "debate" would be full of spin and go nowhere.

If it is the latter, then the debate may go somewhere. All sides should agree to not jump the gun, to not slide down a slippery slope, but instead consider the immediate plans proposed by the President. Especially in this still-down (but optimstic?) economy, all sides should weigh the immediate effects a bit more than the long-term consequences of the Obama option plan. The debate should be centered on practical matters: Whether the government can actually shift its budget to accommodate these plans, whether taxes are involved and who pays them, and if the pros (positive effects on American livelihood and society) outweigh the cons (mostly all the money issues involved). Buzzwords, hype, and fear-mongering need not be a part of this important debate.

The demagogues who insist on distracting from the true issues of the debate are politely asked to behave themselves while the adults speak. Even the noisy spin has its own spin: Canada is often used as a point of comparison when it comes to debate analogies. However, is Canada's universal health care system good (as various Web-identified Canadians say) or bad (as various other Web-identified Canadians say)? And are these Canadians actually Canadians?

As for me, I think the health care system in America is unwieldy at best, broken at worst, and definitely needs some sort of industry-wide shake up. Whether or not Health Care 2.0 (ooh, I'm ironically getting buzzwordy) involves direct action from the Federal government is, of course, up for debate.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #72: "When First I Came Here" by Edward Thomas #LibriVox

When First I Came Here - Read By Rd by Edward Thomas  
Download now or listen on posterous
whenfirsticamehere_thomas_rd.mp3 (1456 KB)

Today's special blog entry has been redundantly posted at both Posterous and Blogger, as well as ridiculously linked to at both Facebook and Twitter.

I'd like to dedicate this poem, which is in the public domain, to my friends who recently gave birth or are expecting to do so in the near future.  The poem is "When First I Came Here" by Edward Thomas, read for by yours truly:

When first I came here I had hope,
Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat
My heart at the sight of the tall slope
Or grass and yews, as if my feet

Only by scaling its steps of chalk
Would see something no other hill
Ever disclosed. And now I walk
Down it the last time. Never will

My heart beat so again at sight
Of any hill although as fair
And loftier. For infinite
The change, late unperceived, this year,

The twelfth, suddenly, shows me plain.
Hope now,--not health nor cheerfulness,
Since they can come and go again,
As often one brief hour witnesses,--

Just hope has gone forever. Perhaps
I may love other hills yet more
Than this: the future and the maps
Hide something I was waiting for.

One thing I know, that love with chance
And use and time and necessity
Will grow, and louder the heart's dance
At parting than at meeting be.

When interpreting the written word, especially poetry, I either over-think or under-think the author's intended meaning and usually create my own (inaccurate) interpretation.  That's art for you.  The content of the poem probably deals with life issues, but I doubt it has to do with the joy of welcoming life (even though - earlier in this post - I dedicated my reading to my friends who are new or expecting parents).  Some (most [all]) of the lines are pretty heavy.  In any case, I just felt that the first line "When first I came here..." was somewhat relevant.

My recording of the poem is also in the public domain.  It will be a part of this week's LibriVox Weekly Poetry, where several volunteer readers read the same poem, and this collection will be "published" together (hosted) at and catalogued at LibriVox.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Friday, July 24, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #71: Too Much Spin, Too Much Spin Everywhere

While figuring out whom to blame may be a valid issue, determining how to make things right is more important.

With all the linguistic spin and partisan noise in the World Wide Web, I don't think anyone knows the true story of the incident between Sgt. Crowley and Prof. Gates. Even the gentlemen involved are confined within the realm of their own perception to know whether or not their respective actions were justified. If there is a more objective (however imperfect) witness to these events, please speak up. This specific case may not ultimately be a case of racism against the professor, but is it a case of unprofessional use of authority by the police officer? After all, this was Gates' residence, and yet he was arrested for reasons currently unclear - because of all this commentary, spin, and my-ideology-first mentality.

And if this case isn't one of racial profiling, it doesn't excuse ones that are. If this officer isn't racist (notice the only link puts the arresting officer in a more-or-less positive light), this doesn't excuse those who are. If this officer didn't abuse his power by arresting a homeowner/rightful resident, this doesn't excuse those in authority who abuse their power just because they have that option.

Again, I say that while figuring out who is responsible for what in this situation is of reasonable importance - it pales in comparison to a more urgent issue of not only doing things right, but making things right.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #70: 27 Outs

Congratulations to Mark Buehrle of Chicago White Sox for pitching the 18th perfect game in MLB history! MLB's website has a montage of all his outs at this link:

That's it for today!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #69: Tech Commentary and Comments Done Right

Well, I've finally found a tech-related article on the InterWebs that essentially silenced the fanboy and anti-fanboy trolls, and actually inspired some great debate. On Twitter, Bev Robb of Teksquisite tweeted a link to a Tech Crunch article snippet, which led me to the full article at Crunch Gear: "On the Apparent Apple Suicide."

If you do not want to read the very thoughtful article linked above, here's the gist of it: At the Foxconn factory in China, one prototype next generation Apple iPhone went missing. After Foxconn security investigated and interrogated an employee, that employee committed suicide.

It is definitely a heavy news story, and the commentary of the article itself may lead one to examine his/her own consumer habits.

What's surprising, however, is the comments section below the article: So far (knock on wood), it is full of even-keeled debate, with minimal fanboyism and/or trolling. The serious commenters range from introspective (are these gadgets even worth buying, knowing the human cost?) to economically analytical (it is a tragic event, but this situation is a part of industrialization) to historically philosophical (post-industrial nation shouldn't allow currently industrializing nations to repeat past mistakes). Blame for this situation is spread relatively evenly and up for debate: Is this the accused factory worker's fault? Foxconn's allegedly inhumane policies, compounded by China's human rights record? Apple's contract of secrecy, fostered by American/Western corporate culture? The tech blogs' tabloid-like drive for the latest rumors? Consumers' trivial desire for the latest electronic trinket?

This debate may never be resolved, but I am glad to have read a civil debate session on the Web. It kind of confirms my hypothesis of "me-first" content versus "others-first" content, and its relation to trolling and flame wars. When it's about a cool gadget or some hype, that sort of "me-first" content brings out the worst and most trite of comments. But if the topic is ultimately about a world outside of ourselves and our want for stuff, then there's the opportunity (but no guarantee) for an "others-first" civil debate (at the very least) or maybe even a caring virtual community (at its best).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #68: "The Fixer" Quasi-Review

I recently received a resurgence of hits due to the recent radio release of Pearl Jam's "The Fixer." This is likely due to erroneously identifying their performance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien as "The Fixer" and not "Got Some" on a previous entry.

This widget plays a sample of the song. The Ten Club website's home page streams the entire song:

Like "Got Some" before it, I'm going to let this optimistic uptempo rocker grow on me. I pre-ordered the vinyl 45 of this song; I had better grow to love it (and I like it increasingly on every stream). Of course, this isn't another "World Wide Suicide" because after almost 20 years of rallying "there ain't gonna be any middle anymore" ("Porch"), it's a good time for Ed, Stone, Jeff, Mike, and Matt (with Boom?) to try to be optimistic.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Having Fun, Mr. Blow Off?

Best. Mascot. Ever.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Waiting for 2010 #67: YouTube Culture

Embedded above is a segment from the summertime television series America's Got Talent, in which a nine year old boy plays a bluesy guitar solo on an electric guitar. He's a very good guitar player right now. By the looks of things, time is on his side, and he's becoming a better musician every day.

As much as I admire the kid's talent, this rant isn't about him. It should be, but it's not. If you go to this video's YouTube page, and scroll to the comments, you'll notice all the anonymous haters (in varying degrees) insulting the nine year old kid's talent. You can almost see these anonymous trolls seething with jealousy and likely a good dose of self-hatred in the comments against a talented little kid. When I read through the comments (trolls are as entertaining as they are disappointments), the hater comments were given higher ratings, and some of the positive, encouraging comments were given negative ratings.

Anyhow, that's the culture of YouTube. It's where anonymous cowards can vent their hatred, and feel some degree of power online (which is not to judge their respective situations offline). Forums tend to get overrun with spam bots, and YouTube is overrun with haters. If that's the way it's going to continue, then c'est la vie.

There is, however, one possible way to create a subcultural paradigm shift in YouTube. If this doesn't happen in YouTube, then maybe another user-submitted, content-driven social network can try this (if they haven't already): Only active users may comment on other active users' content.

A lot of YouTube's current haters don't produce their own content. Back to the guitar kid, as an example, some of the commenters jealously say they're better than the kid at guitar but they provide no such tangible proof supporting their claim. They don't even have a video uploaded to their account (and favorited videos don't count!).

Now, if said hater(s) have their own content, and only content-producers may comment on others' content, then it would be a truer society of peers critiquing one another. They can spew hatred or give praise or submit thoughtful critiques, but they wouldn't be completely anonymous anymore. Being tethered to their own content, would they still have the false-courage to troll?

I realize that the uploader of the America's Got Talent video is probably infringing on NBC's (et al.) copyright and does not own the aforementioned video, but my point remains valid. In any case, maybe a prerequisite to uploading content would be to prove your identity. In order to post their own music, musicians on Facebook must provide a scan of valid identification (with sensitive numbers and non-name/non-photo data blacked out).

This might be the solution to get rid of anonymous trolls in several me-first* type websites: (1) Only allow producers of content to comment on other users' content, and (2) require proof of authorship (or at the very least, existence) in order to upload your content. If only people remember good manners over political correctness**, then maybe both the online and offline worlds (which are increasingly becoming one and the same) would be better places.

*Me-first websites encourage self-centeredness in the comments/forums, whether political ideology (liberals vs. conservatives), computer platform preference (Third-party PC w/ Microsoft Windows users vs. Apple Macintosh w/ OS X users), fans of music/musicians, and look-at-me-I'm-on-YouTube. In other words, me-first has one main opinion: "I'm right."

websites don't rely on divisive dichotomies to foster a community and tend to drive away trolls pretty effectively. Few in number, others-first communities have a range of possible driving forces, from a "Be nice" prime directive to a "How can we make things right/bigger/better?" cooperative mission. You do not need to lose your individuality to be cooperative, and you do not have to be self-centered to be an individual in your own right.

Finally, a relatively obscure blog like this one gets few comments and therefore is neither/nor.

**Keep in mind that saying "I hate political correctness" is politically correct to that specific ideology.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #66: Aliens Win?

Is that a tentacle growing from that flower? Wikipedia says that this is an example of inflorescence, but who trusts Wikipedia these days?

Photograph by Noodle snacks (

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #65: "Hold That Lion!"

Sometimes it's good to not feel the need to rant about anything. This is the case right now, so here's "Hold That Lion!" starring the Three Stooges: Moe, Larry, and Shemp:

If you go to about 0:58 in the second video, Curly (with hair) will be there, too. It's one of the few epic times in history when 4 = 3.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #64: Troll Cuisine

Whether political blogs, tech blogs, band forums, or YouTube - the InterWebs are a pretty negative place. It must be the false feeling of anonymity that comes with screen names that inspires all this arrogant pseudo-courage. It also comes with the territory of various discussion sites. If the website's theme easily lends itself to a "me first" kind of attitude, then the trolls will come.

Political blog comments: "My ideology is on the side of good, and you are a traitor." Trolls win.

Tech blog comments: "My PC platform/smart phone model/electronic trinket is better than your PC platform/smart phone model/electronic trinket because I am better than you." Trolls win.

Band forums: "I am a true fan, and you are not, OR the band/artist has jumped the shark, and all loyal fans are mindless sheep." Trolls win.

YouTube: There's a whole lot of racist, sexist, homophobic, religion-baiting, and non-sensical mudslinging going on there. Trolls FTW.

Honorable mention: Twitter has a growing troll population, who are offshoots of the political, technological, and music fanatical variety. Trent Reznor had his fill with stalkerish, hypercritical quasi-fans who pry into his personal life, and that discouraged him from participating further in Tweetville. Jake Tapper (of ABC News) has to deal with a bunch of partisans (mostly of the far-right GOP variety) at 140 maximum characters per tweet.

Here: Well, I get very, very, very few comments, and the vast majority of those are generally from friendly peers who also blog. Sometimes there might be a ditto-head partisan or a copy-and-paste spammy politico who stumbles onto a relevant entry, but they are easily disarmed with a "Thanks for the comment!" reply (if they even care to return to their comment).

By contrast, if the website lends itself to an "others first" kind of attitude, then the trolls may come infrequently, but they are usually disarmed with friendliness, warmth, and kindness. LibriVox (where I sometimes volunteer my time) is such a place that trolls fear to tread (knock on wood). Its goal is to have volunteers produce public domain audiobooks. We essentially donate our time, talent, computer resources, and potential intellectual property (any new recording of a public domain book is, by default, a new copyrightable work) for the preservation of the written word (in spoken form), for our global neighbors and for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

LibriVox accepts any reader, as long as objective technical standards are followed (i.e., mp3 bitrate, loudness levels, etc.). The quality of voice talent (i.e., regional accent, liveliness, etc.) is subjective and in the ears of whoever may be listening, and reactions will vary. Trolls with a "me first" attitude arrive on the forums from time to time to complain about how their free listening experience is somehow ruined by an "others first" volunteer reader. These trolls are eventually disarmed whenever the kind volunteers reiterate the purpose of the LibriVox project, as well as the positive vibe of the forum itself, as encapsulated by its golden rule: Be nice.

The usual advice is to not feed the trolls, but let's raise it up a notch and feed them with what's good for them - kindness and positivity and good humor. Give them a chance to see a Web without cowardly arrogance. If they keep trying to stir trouble, ignore them and continue the ongoing dialogue with dignity. After feeding the trolls with icky good stuff (icky for them), let us raise a glass to selflessness, or at the very least, civility and decent manners. Cheers!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #63: The Cloud and Personal Computer Stratification

As I type this on my netbook, I am excited about the future of small, Web-ready, personal computers. In other words, I am optimistic that Google Chrome OS can shake up the personal computer platform market. If Google can succeed, then this might be the end of one-box multitasking PCs and the beginning of some sort of user stratification:

1. Cloud/Web-ready portable computers. This seems to be the most democratizing class in a potential redefined personal computer market. From uber-smart phones to netbooks to efficient laptops, this type of computer is for people constantly on the go and must have constant connections. Email, social networking, spreadsheet/word processing, and light A/V entertainment (YouTube video authoring, too) would be covered by these lightweight PCs - and not much else. If Google Chrome OS does well, it will dominate this market. (Of course there is room for the iPhone OS here, too.)

2. Gaming desktop computers. If Google Chrome OS destroys Windows as the geek-pundits hype-fully anticipate, then Microsoft's OS would be relegated to the PC gaming niche (along with choice titles also ported to Apple OS X). This arrangement of installed games will last until it is reasonable, fashionable, and more profitable to have games in the cloud, too. Heavy multimedia PCs (media center computers) probably belong in this category, too.

3. Educational notebook computers. For decades, Apple has been providing good deals on its hardware when it comes to PCs for educational use. The uniform standardization of hardware and software with Apple products will continue to be a mainstay in classroom education, and the cloud will slowly get there - I anticipate. And when school's out, students will probably treat these moderately-spec'd Macs as Web computers.

4. Mostly offline, workstation-class, desktop computers. This final, pricey class of computers are for people who need a lot of computing power to get stuff done - whether it is the Adobe Creative Suite on a multi-core Mac Pro or an Avid editing bay on a HP Workstation or a supercomputer that will contact aliens. It would be a waste to use this sort of resource just to Facebook or to play an MMORPG. Desktops are not en vogue right now, since they tether users to a singular location. Fortunately, a lot of users on the go will be able to remotely communicate with their workstations using a smart phone PC or a netbook, to get some work done.

Anyhow, that's how I feel the PC landscape will look like if Google's OS succeeds. (And yes, I might have just described how computer users vary today.) It seems to be a win-win situation for many to not be burdened with a portable multitasker (heavy-spec laptop) that holds all their proverbial eggs in one basket. It might be a safer option to have a beast of a machine in a main office and possibly a lightweight machine that can access and harness the centralized beast.

In any case, that's my plan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #62: Physics

Trying to figure out what to write/rant/hyperbole (if that third one is even a verb) today, I happpened upon this CNET article. Apparently Bill Gates has spent some of his own money to acquire the rights to some interesting physics lectures by Dr. Richard Feynman and creating Project Tuva. In an interview highlighted in the aforementioned article, Gates was pretty low key and c'est la vie when it came to the topic of Google Chrome OS. That's good for Gates. While Microsoft has never been able to shake its evil reputation, due to its massive proliferation, Gates has gone from a nerdy dude who ran an evil corp. to a nerdy dude who's trying to help the world, at least in public perception.

The topic of public perception brings into question of why Steve Ballmer was Gates' chosen successor at the helm. Gates is nerdy dude; Ballmer is just angry. Microsoft was already the evil empire with nerdy, low-key Gates in charge last century. Being an ever-crumbling empire with an angry dude as captain doesn't really help, especially when it comes to consumer perception and them relating product with persona.

By contrast, Apple's Steve Jobs is a fair balance of nerdy and angry. Then again, if Apple wants to soften its stereotype of its most dedicated users being wound-up fanboys (tech blog comments are as troll/flame-filled as political ones), they would need to go full-nerd (albeit low-key nerdy) and let co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak be the spokesperson. But that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Cutthroat competition needs angry guys, I suppose. Case in point: The Palm Pre can no longer sync with Apple iTunes. (If Palm makes a big stink out of this, there might be murmurs of anti-trust investigations in the small electronics [iPod, iPhone] realm that could potentially snowball in the personal computer [i.e., Mac] realm, and where OS X+ can be installed. And then they'll get Woz to do the keynote addresses!)

With all this geeky intrigue afoot, when will Google lose its reputation of "don't be evil"? Has it already lost this reputation? If Google has lost its not-evil status, and is presumably on its way to being the next evil empire, do we care? I still like Google's Blogger and Google's YouTube. I love Google's Gmail, and the Google Voice addition is fantastic! (I'm sorry to make those awaiting invites jealous.)

In any case, the mantra of any corporation - tech or otherwise - shouldn't be a negative ("don't be evil") but a positive: "Be good." And good doesn't have to be defined in opposition to evil (but a little philanthropy would be nice). As long as it is good is in opposition to crap - consumers, employees, and shareholders will all be happy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #61: Happy Bastille Day

Today I am Monsieur des Rameaux. Too bad my local library's NetLibrary account dropped all of its Pimsleur titles (a dispute with the publisher, perhaps?), and I cannot learn to ask "What would you like to drink?" in French (for free, that is).

However, we can all enjoy (if you choose to enjoy) "Bastille Day" by the Canadian rock band Rush:

You gotta love a rock trio made of three virtuoso instrumentalists who checked their egos at the door, a polarizing vocalist, and a drummer who writes the lyrics. It's a bizarre combo, and it is awesome.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #60: Posting Amusing Videos

If you want some recently current news with an Auto-Tuned melody:

Hat tip: Warming Glow.

If you want to see the next generation of productivity software in a self-parody:

"OMG! They killed Clippy!"

"You bastards!"

Hat tip: Edible Apple and @ozzzie.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #59: More Baseball

I am happy both the Dodgers and the Angels dominated their weekend series before the All-Star Break. If I'm not mistaken, they're both first place in their respective divisions, and the Dodgers are the best of the Big Leagues currently. I've said this here before, but I'll say it again: I want a Freeway World Series this season! For one thing, a Dodgers versus Angels World Series will definitely resurrect the economy of not only the City of Los Angeles, and not only the County of Los Angeles, but also that of the LA Metro Region of Southern California - Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties - will have a needed economic shot in the arm(s).

I really don't care who wins the All-Star Game (even if it counts, in terms of league home field advantage for the World Series), as long as both my teams make it to the big show. When that happens, while I am a bit in more favor for the Blue (the Dodgers last won in 1988, and the Angeles in 2002), I really don't care who ultimately wins. It will be a win-win in my book, and an undisputed win for all of Southern California!

New York City had their Subway Series a few years ago (few is a relative term to all you youngsters on the InterWebs), and all I can say.

That's all for today. I finally ate my fish from Independence Weekend, and they were exquisite! They did not tie in vain, and various parts of them (their nutrients) will be happy as human cells...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #58: Many Freepers Filled with Stereotypical Racist Hate

On Twitter, ABC's @JakeTapper tweeted a link to a Vancouver Sun article concerning members of the conservative news site Free Republic. Many Freepers directed racial slurs against 11-year old Obama daughter Malia. Reportedly, in 100 comments, only one or two Freepers stood up against the racism of their peers. I don't know if that's any accurate. If so, I feel sad for the current state of political discourse.

You can read various reactions from the liberal news site Daily Kos (here and here).

It sickens me that the loudest of the loud in the conservative movement still can't shake the spectre of past injustice and stereotypical racism that's usually associated with conservatives. (The rationale being: Many conservatives, especially social conservatives, tend to idealize about a happy "past America" for some. By the same token, that same "past America" was full of injustice for many.) It sickens me more that these attacks are directed toward young children. I look forward to the day (if it ever comes) that economic conservatives, economic moderates, social moderates, social liberals, and economic liberals can debate and disagree well. I'm not sure that social conservatives (in the way that term that is understood by many) can participate civilly. (The rationale being: If self-professed social conservatives agree to debate with good manners toward those who disagree with them, then they are probably relabeled as social moderates.)

The obvious and current retort to this sickening story is that various people from the left lobbed similar attacks toward the youngest of Sarah Palin's children. That sickens me, too. This is beyond politics; racists and those who insult children are truly bad people, no matter their ideological affiliation.

While I can agree that certain Internet trolls have written bad things about Palin's children, I am not sure it is to the degree that reportedly happened in Free Republic - 100 bad people and only two good people offended by the bad people. Then again, the Internet is a big place and full of negativity. All I can say is that if you want to be on the side of good (no matter your ideology), then be good to each other.

And don't let the bastards grind you down.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #57: GE Locomotive Commercial

Here I was, not knowing what to blog about on July the 10th, when a commercial for General Electric's locomotives aired on the NBC network (NBC Universal being a subsidiary of GE):

If you didn't watch the above embedded video, it's supposed to be male GE factory workers singing Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." It's humorous, indeed. It would be even funnier if the backstory was that the parent company GE ordered Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin's 30 Rock character) to turn around the locomotive department with a snappy ad campaign, and somehow this was the best Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) could write. Hilarity would have ensued.

And that's my blog for today. Sad, I know, but not as sad as the current California budget woes (which I should've blogged about).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #56: Speculating Google Chrome OS

About a couple of days ago Google (which hosts this blog via its Blogger subsidiary and of which I am a mostly happy shareholder) announced that it would develop a fully-fledged, next-generation operating system called Chrome OS. It is meant to be a web-connected OS, with web-based apps. Chrome OS will begin shipping in netbooks, and will presumably expand its reach to larger, stronger computers soon after.

The obvious ramification is the direct assault on Microsoft Windows (of which I am partially happy as a shareholder). Good money says that Google has the pull to smash the Microsoft windowpane (obvious pun and further play on words). Where Ubuntu/other Linux perpetually cannot and where Apple (of which I am currently a happy shareholder) is continuing its gradual ascent, Google can potentially do this exponentially fast. To win entry-level and casual computer users from Windows, Chrome OS must be faster, more stable, and its productivity software must replace all of Microsoft's equivalents.

The reports of Chrome's relative lightweightedness indicates relative speed over the modern Windows version (Vista and possibly 7). Add the entire line of Google Apps, and Chrome OS can defeat Windows. If that is the case, the only thing going for Windows is game compatibility, which would merely relegate Windows PCs to be as niche as Microsoft's other child the Xbox, Sony's PlayStation line, and Nintendo's family of consoles (i.e., the Wii).

Once Microsoft has to - at the very least - split its platform marketshare with Chrome OS, or lose its dominance altogether, Google's Web-dependent OS might be able to further its potential destruction of offline OSes. If industry-standard 3rd party developers jump on board the Chrome-train, then Apple OS X's (and the Mac's) rising popularity may revert to OS Classic levels. Adobe would have to port its entire Creative Suite - as fully featured as possible - as Web apps compatible with Chrome OS. Similarly, Avid's video editing platform and Avid/Digidesign's Pro Tools digital audio workstation would also need to be compatible. If these industry titans (of their respective industries) can find a way to make money as Chrome Web apps (subscription-based, perhaps), then Chrome OS has a definite shot at taking down both Windows and OS X. Alternatively, as a longshot, various open-source equivalents (Gimp for Photoshop, Audacity for Pro Tools, etc.) would have to beef up their specs and become new industry standards (small chance, though).

It's no wonder Fake Steve Jobs recently wrote a satirical blog rant that quasi-revealed some pseudo-concern over the potential rise of Google Chrome OS. Time will tell what both Redmond (MSFT) and Cupertino (AAPL) really think about Mountain View's (GOOG) potential PC platform conquest.

Complete and utter Googopoly, anyone? (Hopefully they continue to try to not be evil, or - at the very least - not overtly evil.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #55: Memorial Service Videos That Expire at Noon

Since I missed the earlier parts of Michael Jackson's public memorial service, and the news media has only aired selected big moments on a seemingly endless loop, I have embedded these videos for my benefit. Since I can't seem to make the videos at ABC 7's website full-screen, these embedded videos from ABC 7 will ironically become full-screen when embedded in a blog. Strange.

I will hopefully be back later today to post/tweet/blog some more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Now Playing Rumours

Have I ever told you about the time Stevie Nicks...

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Listening to Thriller and other Vinyl

Viva la vinyl!

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Waiting for 2010 #54: Selected Michael Jackson Memorial Performances

From @abc7's Twitter, my local ABC affiliate is hosting some of the performances and speakers(possibly all, eventually)from Michael Jackson's public memorial service, courtesy of AEG Live. The videos will be removed tomorrow at noon:

There was not a dry eye virtually anywhere when Paris Jackson spoke.

Fun fact: I graduated from high school at the same place where Michael Jackson's private funeral was held - Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Yes, that was a weird place to graduate, but in hindsight, the boneyard was a badass place for it. Similarly, MJ might have seemed a bit weird at moments of his life, but in hindsight, he was badass all along.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #53: Ghost in the Hall, Ghost in the Machine

Tomorrow, Michael Jackson will be laid to rest; several channels will broadcast a free memorial concert; then the now-digital airwaves can finally move on as far as the news goes. Anyhow, here are a couple of slightly insensitive videos (but not as ill-mannered as Rep. King's official - as in, being in the capacity of a government office and not a stand-up comedian - comments) that deal with apparitions and illusions:

A ghost in the halls of Neverland?

An electronic manifestation of a shade (wearing shades)?

I'll stop when the news media stops. R.I.P., Michael Jackson.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #52: Short Poetry Collection 080 from LibriVox

The short poetry compilation that includes my first LibriVox contribution has been released! You can download the entire .zip file of 31 poems, or just my recording of "She Was a Beauty" by Henry Cuyler Bunner.

The exciting part (amongst all the excitement) is that I have my own LibriVox profile, which I hope to expand soon. Since I read a short poem first, I might record a short story next, followed by a few chapters of a group project, and then eventually reading an entire book solo. Or maybe I should keep at the short poetry for now.

In any case, I want you to check out LibriVox to enjoy free audiobooks in the public domain, and maybe you will want to volunteer, too.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #51: Happy Fourth of July!

I want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July, which may or may not be a holiday wherever you are. If it isn't a holiday, what's the matter? Every day is a holiday (a holy day, even though you are not allowed a day off)! Live it up, my friends! Make sure all of your experiences are neither that of despair nor of boredom, and you will have a pretty interesting time! Guaranteed.

Today's big tragic news is the death of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair. It was a violent death, and its circumstances were either a double homicide or a murder-suicide. It is tragic news indeed.

Anyhow, I must continue the journey to the Altar of American Independence (which coincidentally is also the Altar of the Gods of Paternity on Father's Day) as I continue to imbibe the fermented drinks from various American regions (Missouri, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, etc.) and from various countries of origin (Netherlands, Mexico, Scotland, etc.) whose emigrants became contributors to our great American nation.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #50: Went Fishin'

For more information, please refer to my previous tweets, posts, and blogs from today. When tomorrow comes, I wish a Happy Independence Day to us U.S. Americans, and a Happy 4th of July (or equivalent) to everyone who recording the passing of days, weeks, and months on a calendar!

I Hope This Dude's Not Poisonous!

"I'm Crazy Worm Moustache Fish...give me some candy!"

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Smart Fish

Some of them peel their shrimp bait, avoiding the hook.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Me Hunter!

He offered me three wishes for his freedom. I will look up catfish recipes.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Gone Fishin'

More good times.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #49: Natural Causes

This blog is quickly becoming an obituary column with quasi-amusing quips by yours truly. Anyhow, the great actor Karl Malden passed away yesterday of natural causes at the age of 97. I assume you the reader know his work, or at least the scope of his work. Chances are, you are also aware of his epic marriage. So I'm not going to parrot what the news outlets have already said, and I'll let the quipping begin:

Now natural causes usually means that a person lives to ripe old age and succumbs to a some sort of illness. Dying before the average life expectancy or violent deaths are usually not natural causes. Anyhow, I'd like to think Malden's natural cause was like the description of the Golden Age from James Baldwin's (1841-1925) adaptation of Greco-Roman mythology:

When these happy people had lived long enough they fell asleep, and their bodies were seen no more. They flitted away through the air, and over the mountains, and across the sea, to a flowery land in the distant west.
Or maybe like Bilbo Baggins' party trick, except the disappearance wouldn't be a trick but permanent:

On your feet, making a grand speech, and dissolving into thin air - to the sound of applause - now that's a way to go. That's what natural causes should be.

Well, I should change the mood of this entry a bit with a scene from Mr. Malden's Streets of San Francisco, except without the man of the hour. This scene features a guest star who's currently trying to sort out a state budget up in Sacramento:

Arnold's victim in the above video is an example of death by unnatural causes. Don't worry; Malden and young Michael Douglas eventually caught the future Governator by the end of the episode.

R.I.P., Karl Malden. (And good luck, Governor Schwarzenegger.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #48: Senator Al Franken

Al Franken was funny in Saturday Night Live. With his opponent, Norm Coleman, conceding November's election, Al Franken brings the total number of Senate Democrats (including Democrat-leaning Independents) to a fillibuster-breaking 60.

David Espo of the Associated Press notes that the 60 votes only happens when this assumed voting bloc is united.

If this Democratic Senate is indeed united for many issues, they - along with the Democrat-majority House of Representatives and President Obama's Democratic Adminsitration - have until November 2010 to try their solutions to our current problems. Then the voters in the respective states of each member of Congress will have their say. If there is a positive turnaround (especially economically), then there will be a two-year extension of this majority, until November 2012. And so on, and so forth, until the cycle begins again for the other party (or hopefully parties, in the future).

If the current situation gets worse, then we'll see more (likely) Republicans (but hopefully a variety from other parties) replacing Democratic Senators and Representatives in 2010. At this point, something called compromise will determine possible solutions at the Federal level.

I wish the 60-majority (and the 40-opposition, et al.) good luck, knowing whatever happen will happen. There's no use wishing anyone failure, when that pretty much detracts from fashioning your own success.

By the way, Happy Canada Day! Our (America's) birthday is around the corner...