Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #139: Getting Ready for New-vember; Plus Zombies

I am happy that the original Night of the Living Dead (1968) is in the public domain, at least in the United States. Naturally, the de facto creator of the zombie film genre, George A. Romero, is not happy about this legal slip-up (the distributor forgot to include a copyright notice for the film made between 1923 and 1977).  In any case, this screenshot from the film:

...inspired me to create the following design, used in pretty diverse merchandise (please pardon the shameless self-promotion):

Political (satirically critical of the #iamthemob hashtaggers on Twitter):

Seasonal, since we about a month away from Halloween:

And finally, educational (because a "brainnn..." is a terrible thing to waste):

This blog will probably be on some sort of filler auto-pilot until New-vember at the latest, but hopefully we can move the schedule up to mid-October.  Stay tuned!

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #138: Getting Ready for Auto-ber

'Auto-ber'? Don't I mean October? Yes, both. I don't want to go on a blogging hiatus like I did in 2008 (twice). I like writing here. As of late, however, I haven't been consuming much information on the InterWebs to which I can react on this blog.

Sometimes, I'll stumble onto something infuriating, like the douche with the treasonous Facebook poll, asking if President Obama should be assassinated. Ironic that between the years 2001 and 2008, a douche like that would likely have been pro-Administration and accuse that Administration's opponents with treason (and other defamatory, divisive remarks)...and he/she would call French fries treasonous, too.  (And yes, the Bush-getting-assassinated movie was divisively lame, too.)

Unfortunately, I can't give myself the time to blog more about douchebaggery, asshattery, and fearmongering.  I think I've blogged like a broken record on those topics already, with many foreseeable reruns in the future.

Speaking of records, I received my vinyl copy of Backspacer yesterday.  It's a fun listen, but owning both the CD version and the vinyl version made me realize that my turntable is not calibrated.  Tempos are slightly faster, and pitches are slightly higher.  And yes, I've set the speed to the correct record type. I think I'll have to buy a new one in the near future, one with an SD card digitizing option.

Speaking of tech goodies, it would be cool to get an iPod Touch just to play an app called Dungeon Hunter (link will open iTunes App Store).  I ain't getting an iPhone, since I don't need nor want an AT&T contract. Anyhow, Dungeon Hunter is a 3D-isometric p.o.v., hack 'n slash, role playing, dungeon crawler. In other words, it's a Diablo clone. Dungeon Hunter

And we all will probably have to wait until 2011 for Diablo III, unfortunately.  I don't want to preface my 2010 blog posts as "Waiting for 2011: ..." either.

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #137: A Snapshot of Humanity

I am happy that it is already Halloween season for two reasons: Kit-Kat and Twix candy bars. I think I skipped on the sugar-fest last year. Like a typical episode of The Simpsons, this blog post will plot drift from holiday chocolate to the realm of technology, and finish with a grandiose indictment on the history of humanity. Wait for it...

As this society is preparing for tricking and treating at the end of next month, this latest bit of tech news seems like a treat for those interested:  Apple is expected to announce a price drop for their lower-end MacBook models.  As an Apple shareholder (amongst other investments), I am optimistic that increasing the customer base will be good for the corporation's profits, and ultimately be good for my portfolio.  Like almost every tech article on the Web, the comments section of the above-linked article is basically a flame war between fanboys/fangirls of commercially-constructed opposing sides (i.e., PC vs. Mac is but an help my portfolio).  This shareholder should be content that both Apple and Microsoft fanboys/fangirls, who are usually consumers and rarely investors, fervently evangelize the products they purchase.  To be clear, Mac-using fanatics have the reputation of pro-active evangelizing; Windows-using fanatics tend to be reactionary to any perceived defamation; and Linux users (both fanatic and low-key) are generally misunderstood.

On the other hand, this human being is disheartened by the underlying behavior of computer platform fanboy-ism.  It is eerily similar to, if not the same as, the sort of divisiveness of political partisan hackery, jingoistic sports team loyalty, violently religious zealotry, and obtuse racist chauvinism.  The amount of vitriol involved is the difference between a friendly sports rivalry and outright violent hooliganism.  The underlying cause a malevolent "spirit" (for lack of a better term) of me-first one-upmanship, of ignorant elitism, and of competition WITHOUT fair play. Competition is good, as it is meant to increase standards and push society forward, but douchebaggery (like collusion, sabotage, defamation, etc.) is unnecessary.

As human beings, it is really simple:  Hunt and gather (or purchase and cook) food regularly, find shelter and safety for the long night, and make sure there is another generation of humans to do the same.  All the rest is icing on the cake.  I'd rather have that icing taste like respect, love, trust, and chocolate - and DEFINITELY NOT have that icing taste like douchebaggery, asshattery, and - basically - sh*t.

Be good to each other, humans.

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #136: Copy and Paste Platititudes and Proverbs

I am apparently suffering from ranter's silence, but not writer's block, as evidenced by me typing out letters, words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and at least one paragraph with little problem (but little content, unfortunately).  Since none of the current news has inspired me to look up more, and read more, and feel more, and type more about it, I will just copy and paste some public domain (?) platitudes and proverbs that could make sense together:

A Japanese proverb says, "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." Thomas Edison is attributed to have said, "What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration." Using Wikiquote and ThinkExist's search engine, we can follow this thread of inspiration. Stephen Kaggwa is credited to have said, "Try and fail, but don't fail to try." (I have no idea who Mr. Kaggwa is.) On the other hand, Yoda (but really George Lucas, Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan) said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."  Then again, Tom Krause (who's a motivational speaker, and apparently these guys make a living selling books and seminars full of platitudes and proverbs) said, "If you only do what you know you can do- you never do very much."  And that brings us to Gandhi, who said, "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

In any case, the above quotations are meant to inspire, and to learn, try, and do things beyond your own perceived limitations, but to paraphrase what Edison said above: Inspiration ain't nothing without actually doin' stuff.

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #135: Ad Lib Blog

Adding "French vanilla" flavor to coffee gets old, really fast.

Now that my tweetable intro has been written, here's the content of this blog entry, which is to say, there really isn't any planned content. Instead of giving in to "writer's block" or using precious time surfing the Web, hoping that some inspiration to rant to hit me in the face, I'm just going to type, in a sort of stream of consciousness flow, with minimal editing, and maximal use of commas to separate the dependent clauses.

Of course, there's always some bad news to rally against. the formal rule is to never end a sentence with a preposition, so let me rewrite the previous sentence: Of course, there's always some bad news against which to rally. OK, that sounds awkward. Anyhow, did you read about the census worker, who was likely murdered by some seemingly anti-Federal Government bad person or people?

That kind of stuff gets my blood boiling.  This is not to be confused with things that get my blood a-boilin', because writing in some regional/generational/cultural slang adds an element of humor that's inappropriate for serious news.

OK, where was I?  Maybe I should move on to the next topic of this mostly ad-libbed blog entry.  Well, my usual entries have some degree of winging it, since there's no real editorial process to blogging.  This might change in the future; who knows?

SoundSoap Pro 2 has just been released.  (Yesterday, I wrote about the "virtues" of SoundSoap Pro for audio production.)  Bias, Inc., is currently offering a decent price to upgrade the plug-in.  I currently like (1) SoundSoap Pro version one and (2) not spending any more money that I absolutely need to, especially when it comes to business expenses (which includes production software).  I think I'll hold off on upgrading this plug-in until I hit a brick wall with SoundSoap Pro and need a slightly more advanced solution.  Hopefully that upgrade price (or an even lower price!) will still be there if/when I need to upgrade SoundSoap Pro.

I skipped a day learnin' German with Pimsleur.  The moment I publish this entry, I will definitely get back into learning new things.  (To paraphrase Bob Dylan:  He not busy learnin' is busy forgettin'.  I think I wrote that here before.)  Currently, my previous Pimsleur education in Dutch kind of interferes with the new things I'm learning in German.  The Germanic language family element must be why I get my frau's mixed with my mevrouw's, and my danke's with my dank je's.  On the flip side to this, knowing English (another Germanic language) made it easy to learn Nederlands, and should have made German just as easy, were it not for Dutch being in the way of Deutsch.

Now I know how the Pennsylvania Dutch must feel.  I really don't, but I do love me some awkward, historical, pun-like misnomers!

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #134: Audio Plug-ins (and a Stand-Alone App) That Are Awesome for Audiobooks and Podcasting

Yesterday (and right now), I've been productive in the non-salt mine salt mines, so I don't really know what's going on in global affairs. I'm going to talk about some cool audio plug-ins that could be useful to someone who finds this blog through a Google search:

SoundSoap Pro. I bought SoundSoap 2 in 2006 (I think I still had a teacher's discount then), and several months later (mid-2007), BIAS sent me an offer I couldn't refuse to cross-upgrade to SoundSoap Pro. Usually retailing at $500 (but the "list price" usually high-balled at $600), I think I was able to buy the Pro version for less than half the price.  Recently, I had some electric fan noise while recording a chapter for LibriVox, and I tried to clean that broadband noise with SoundSoap 2.  Unfortunately, whatever I did, SoundSoap 2 made the problem worse by creating some unnecessary reverb, when the recording really needed to be as dry and clean as possible.  It occurred to me to use the Pro plug-in, and with one click (maybe like three mouse clicks and a play-button press), the results were dry and very clean.  I might have gotten even better results by tweaking Sound Soap Pro a bit, but it was seriously good already.

Additionally, I used Digidesign's Expander/Gate, the one that comes with Pro Tools, to further attenuate the room tone during the non-speaking in-betweens, without creating disturbing dead silences.

The Levelator.  I first learned about this drag-and-drop, one-step mastering app from Daniel Royer's blog. Additionally, other LibriVox volunteers have tweeted about this program on Twitter.  It's essential for mono, spoken word files.  After mixing down my LibriVox chapter to a WAV file, I put it through this app, and saved hours of time.  Without The Levelator, I could have fiddled for days on end with compressors, limiters, and automating volume levels with my mixer.  Oh yeah, and unlike the pricey BIAS SoundSoap family, The Levelator is a FREE DOWNLOAD.

I hope any of this information helps.

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #133: News Links: 60 in the Senate; Beck's Background; Bombshell beyond the Electra Complex

I have no time to rant tonight because I must get to the second lesson of my current Pimsleur course (out of ten, I believe) as soon as possible, and then fire up the FireWire interface for some audiobook production.  Instead, here are some links to yesterday's news:

An emergency declaration to announce the late Ted Kennedy's replacement will likely give the Democrats their 60 in the Senate again.  Now if they can all get on the same page regarding health care reform, maybe things will get done, with little distraction from the solution-less noisemakers.

Salon looks into the background of the new leader of the noisemakers, Glenn Beck.  The article highlights some contradictions in Beck's own autobiographical anecdotes, as well as the Top 40 D.J. techniques used by the ringleader of the "9/12" angry conservative, yet ironically collectivist, mob.

It's safe to say that we were all a bit creeped out today by Mackenzie Phillips' allegation of incest against her late Papa John (of the Mamas and the Papas).  It's a sad, strange story.

Well, I must continue some self-education and D.I.Y. production.  Until tomorrow...

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #132: On Being a Pseudo-Polyglot

I #brag: I can *pretend* to speak seven different languages, including English. ;-)

As a pseudo-polyglot, I think I can speak well enough for a lower-level spy (undercover as an annoying tourist) or an annoying tourist. In any case, I'm thankful that the Pimsleur audiobook language program exists.  I haven't tried the Rosetta Stone software, since it's pretty pricey.  (The comprehensive Pimsleur courses are also pricey, by the way.)  Besides, I was introduced to Pimsleur when I signed up for NetLibrary earlier this year.  The publisher, Simon & Schuster, has since pulled their Pimsleur titles from the free library service, probably to try to make money.

Since free was no longer an option, I went to, Barnes & Noble's website, and eBay to find new (or well-preserved used) Pimsleur titles at deep discounts.  This actually has a silver lining because I no longer have to deal with the heavily DRM-protected, lower-fidelity NetLibrary Windows Media Audio files (with 21-day licenses).

Pimsleur titles are audiobook-only, though some titles are rumored to have some supplemental documentation, so I am illiterate in the languages I've quasi-learned.  (Facetiously, of course, my illiteracy also includes English.)  The following are the languages I've learned through Pimsleur (and perhaps had some earlier learning previously).  This doesn't include English, nor does it include Classical Latin, which I learned - somewhat - in college.  Only the Others (from LOST) seem to use Classical Latin as a conversational language.  Okay, here's the list in order of Pimsleur use, where (1) is English:

2. Nederlands (Dutch)
3. Hrvatski (Croatian)
4. Gaelainn (Irish Gaelic, Munster dialect)
5. Castellano (Castillian Spanish, or just plain Spanish [with a lisp])
6. Hindi
7. Tagalog

And so I begin (pretending to learn) language number eight:  German, with languages nine and ten to follow.  Wish me luck!  Cheers...and would you like something to drink?

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #131: Net Neutrality Makes the Internet a Free AND FAIR Marketplace

The very future of the Internet is at a crux. The preservation of Net Neutrality is essential for a healthy free local, national, and global Internet market. We cannot have historically- and allegedly-colluded entities become the gatekeepers of information, giving preference to the highest bidders (likely other alleged colluded entities with monopolistic tendencies), thus thwarting innovation from - for lack of a better phrase - the little guy.

Innovation happens with freedom.  Competition is better when there are more players.  Unfortunately, it seems that Republican lawmakers are against the FCC's involvement in keeping the Internet free and fair.  Now, it really looks like the GOP is in the tank for major corporate interests (the telecoms, in this case), while under the guise of "supporting the free market."  It is not the free market when the likely consequences for preventing net neutrality are the following:  More collusion; more censorship, and ironically-but-not-really, the death of the aforementioned free market due to monopolistic practices and corporate oligarchies.  The only ones to benefit from a lack of net neutrality are the major Internet service providers, resource-wealthy multimedia conglomerates, and the politicians who try to fool themselves and others...all the way to the bank.

The Internet - with its innovations and trivialities, its meaningful content and spammers, its social networking friends and forum trolls, and all other for-better-or-for-worse contradictions - needs to remain as free and as fair as reasonably possible.  ISPs can make their money, and they continue to do so, but they must remember that their customers should come first - and not cooperative corporate conspirators.  In an ideal free economy, if the ISPs don't treat their customers right, they lose their customers and eventually fail.  Unfortunately, sometimes one ISP has seemingly monopolistic control over some regions, in that they are the only choice for Internet access (other than AOL dial-up).  Keeping most - if not all - data on the Internet on an equal playing field should keep regional ISP monopolies decently honest.

While the Internet is definitely the new television (and radio), it shouldn't fall into the same ownership and censorship pitfalls of television (and radio).  This time around, the FCC has the opportunity to do some good (with hopefully the lightest touch, of course).  I think - I think - they were somewhat responsible for the sorry state of American broadcast media.

We need - nay, we deserve! - more competitors and less conglomerates on this new media playing field, rewarding innovation over imperialism, where social media does not mean socialism (despite the fearmongrels' assertions).  Welcome to Capitalism 2.0, ...

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #130: Keep Your Electronics Cool; Prevent the Flu

Here's some obvious advice:  Keep your electronics cool.

If you are fortunate enough to live in a cooler region of the world, or you don't mind spending extra on a climate-controlled interior (i.e., the air conditioner), then you're good to go.  Internal parts tend not to burn out quickly at cooler temperatures.

Otherwise: Point an electric fan at any external hard drives in use. Use a USB-powered cooling pad under your laptop (notebook-sized or netbook), even though these electric fan gadgets tend to deteriorate quickly over time.  For my netbook, I lay a portable box fan on the ground, so that the air flows upward.  When I'm not using my netbook (which usually involves the netbook laying over my belly), I place it on the fan.  The fan is much stronger than a USB-powered pad, and it really minimizes the risk of computer failure due to overheating.  On the other hand, I hope the box fan doesn't load up my netbook full of bad dust, from all the air flow.

Many fan-less gadgets tout their ability to redirect heat without the need for an internal fan.  It is a feature of little use when both the room and the gadget have high temperatures.  We can carry the analogy to people, hot temperatures, and fever due to illness.  In that case, remember to get your flu shot(s) to minimize the effect of flu season on yourselves:

Flu shot happens.

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #129: Solutions for Health Care Reform, Silver Bullets for Werewolves

Kudos to the following entities for this opinion piece on health care reformThe Los Angeles Times opinion section for asking prominent conservatives to offer feasible health care reform solutions, the interviewed individuals for obliging and keeping weasel words at a minimum, and Google News for letting me find the article in the first place.  I don't agree with some of their conclusions, but those conclusions are a hell of a lot better than the loudmouth, fringe dittoheads who get more press.

In other news, check out our latest werewolf design, from the "Sick Happens" line.  First, the wolf either ate or made out with a human; then he got the stomach flu or drank too much booze; now he's in bullet time:

Shot happens.

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #128: For a Free AND FAIR Market Economy

For many things, balance is the key.

According to The Associated Press, the FCC will propose rules to ensure Net Neutrality, that is to say, the free flow of information over the InterWebs and InterTubes.  In spite of all this quasi-libertarian (far right-wing Republican, perhaps?) paranoia against the Federal Government, a light touch by our public servants can ensure a good capitalistic market.  In other words, our market economy must strike a balance between free and fair.

Without the FCC trying to ensure Net Neutrality, the big telecommunications companies, especially the ones that charge us monthly for Internet access, would deem themselves the gatekeepers of information.  A totally anarchistic free market would likely (and quickly) devolve into a warlord-dictatorship situation, where the strongest few (especially those with the financial head-start) have control over the market.  With monopolies, collusion, and price-fixing, the once theoretically-free market becomes no longer free at all.  Information, access, and opportunity now belong to the highest bidder.

Your federal, state, and local governments should not be allowed to infringe upon First Amendment rights in a public forum.  The Internet, in broad strokes, looks like a globally public forum.  Well, technically and more specifically, the World Wide Web is full of private forums, and the owner(s) of each respective site get to determine content and the censorship thereof.  Your ISP should not be a part of this decision, for they do not own any sites other than their own domains and servers.  (They might have a case for some censorship for blogs or websites on their servers.)  If the largest of corporations are allowed to censor the Internet, then where is the liberty and freedom?  Granted, the Bill of Rights does not protect the American people from AT&T, Verizon, et al., but that is beside the point.  We elect government officials, and pay taxes to cover the cost of government, so government can work for us.  When there is a problem undefined by the Constitution, that's when our government can chime in to protect its citizens.  In other words:  A strong, but nuanced, touch by the federal government can prevent the telecoms from being Internet-censoring douchebags.

Keeping the market fair will ensure that it remains freer, longer.  Ensuring real choice tends to keep competitors as ethical as possible, if not honest (hahaha!).  Now if we apply the same "balanced capitalism" thinking to the health insurance market...

Comments are closed, but you can reach the author on Twitter:  @DeRamos (please follow!).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #127: Feelgood Schwarzenegger News That Does Not Involve Groping

Today's feelgood story involves Gov. @Schwarzenegger successfully terminating some bad news in Monrovia, California. Yesterday, the Governor tweeted this after reading a Los Angeles Times story involving the impending eviction of physically- and developmentally-disabled persons (who aren't senior citizens) from a Monrovia apartment complex:

Read this absurd story in LA Times: My mother-in-law [the recently-late Eunice Kennedy Shriver] fought so that people like Lily Hixon could live independently.
Two hours later, something happened that made the Governor tweet an update:
Thanks for your concern [about] my last tweet. Just spoke to Star Holdings property [management] and they will be letting the disabled residents stay.
I don't know what Arnold did, but it seems like a happy ending for all parties involved...for now. Anyhow, I'm glad I had the opportunity to blog about a positive outcome and not one of the many negative quandaries of our zeitgeist.

Good job, Governator! To celebrate, here are a couple of Arnold's feelgood greatest hits:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #126: Racism, or Douchebaggery?

On Facebook, @ngallaher shared this video. Since the first line of my blogs are Twitterfeed-fed into Twitter, it actually helps to start off with Twitter syntax or a snappy first line. Anyhow, Nathan Gallaher posted a link to this YouTube video on Facebook:

Although not depicted above, I must remind all civil debaters that there are several opponents of President Obama who are thinking people with very cogent, non-racist points of view. That said, there are a lot of vocal, non-thinking opponents who are - for lack of a better term - racist. The latter group gets all the press, unfortunately. The non-racist opponents seriously need to get their act together to throw the racists and other extremists - who profess to be on their side! - under the proverbial bus. Throw 'em under the bus!

Last weekend, Maureen Dowd wrote a cutting commentary regarding racism as the underlying cause of Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst, as well as in the hearts and minds of much of the opposition. It is an interesting read, and the comments are interesting, too.

The most vocal opposition (the loudest of the loud) on broadcast media (FOX News included) and the World Wide Web seem to take an extremely hateful, if not racist, tone. Funnily enough, they can't agree on what to call President Obama: Socialist or fascist? Nazi or communist? Muslim or atheist? Kenyan or Arab? So maybe an underlying undercurrent of racism unites the fearmongrels after all, since their weasel words do not match.

Of course, the "I'm not a racist" fearmongering crowd would likely say that the Left acted similarly toward President Bush. Well, yes, that is true. "Hitler" is the cliche epithet to use against foes: reductio ad Hitlerum. However, if I remember correctly, the Right continually accused the Left of non-patriotism at the very least, or even treason, for being against the Administration of the time. Today, these same Fright-wingers continue to wave the "I'm a patriot" flag, while accusing the current Administration and its supporters as treasonous. So maybe the Left (and to a lesser degree, the Center) shouldn't accuse the Fear-right of being racist. Maybe we should accuse them of being unpatriotic (at the very least) to treasonous. What would happen then?

In any case, maybe the accusation of "racism" has lost its effectiveness. And "treason" is the kind of defamation only the fearmongrels can sling with a clear conscience (if any). So maybe we should just call 'em douchebags, and call it a day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #125: Jackasses and Werewolves

This is what I tweeted sometime yesterday:

When people say, "It takes one to know one," RE: [President] Obama calling Kanye [West] a "jackass," I hope they realize they're calling themselves one, too.
Now, it's been years and years since I took that general education-level college course on logic and reasoning, but here's my (quasi-)"proof" that expands upon my tweet:

1. A rude person is a "jackass."
2. If you assert that it takes a jackass to know a jackass, and
3. You also think that Kanye West is a "jackass" for his recent (and recurrent) rude behavior, then
4. You are a jackass.

Therefore, you just called yourself a jackass, too.

Alternatively, and this is a bit of a stretch,
1. A rude person is a "jackass."
2. If you assert that it takes a jackass to know a jackass, and
3. You don't think that Kanye West is a "jackass" for his recent (and recurrent) rude behavior, and
4. An ignorant person is also a "jackass," then
5. You are an ignorant person for not recognizing that a rude person is a jackass, and
6. You are also a jackass.

Therefore, you just called yourself a jackass, too. QED, beeyotch.

OK, that was fun, skewering the fearmongrels who are so anti-Obama, that they even pick on him for the most trivial of things. Realistically, the vast majority of Americans believe that Kanye's outburst was a douchey thing to do, so the chances are good that the fright-wingers and the President agree on this non-issue issue. However, various members of the fear-right who used the "It takes one to know one" insult are so blinded by their own fear/hate/anger, that they attempt "humor" to make an otherwise agreeable situation (not for Kanye West, though) a point of partisan contention. Rant over.

Do you know what's more fun? Me trying to peddle some of our latest wares on this blog, of course! This time, in addition of stick persons, we have werewolves and stuff:

"Wolf happens." This is either bizarrely romantic or horrifically gruesome. In any case, the Werewolf is giving the situation a thumbs up!

"Sick wolf happens." If the above design was gruesome, then the Werewolf is surely paying it for in the above drawing.

That's all for today, which has been a pretty productive day. Oh yes, and will soon receive a much-needed facelift. This blog has looked this way since '07, so it is definitely time for a change!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #124: The Second Part of an Apology Is to Make Things Right, and other Current Events

With all these verbal apologies, and calls for repeated public apologies - people must realize that, like the old SAT, verbal is just one-half of an apology, or rather, of repentance. The second, oft-ignored part is the action of making things right, or even better than before. If the act of offense - in current events, an inappropriate outburst - brings the situation one step back, then verbally apologizing likely makes up for the offense halfway. A positive action will bring things back to zero, at the very least, or even push the situation forward. Forward is good. Positive is good. Making things better is great.

Otherwise, what good will a half-assed apology do, in the long run? (Nothing.)

In the first episode of Jay Leno's primetime show, Kanye West said, "I've really never taken the time off. It's been music after music and tour after tour. And I'm just ashamed my hurt caused someone else hurt." Well, there you go. West should take some time off, disappear from the public eye, and take some positive steps to remove this me-first mentality before re-emerging publicly.

In other inappropriate outburst news, Serena Williams issued a formal apology for her incident. To the line judge, Williams offered this course of action: "I'd like to give her a big ol' hug and put it all behind us like I have." After threatening to shove a tennis ball down the line judge's throat, the two of them should have lunch together, where they can shove spherical food down their throats...but in a nice way. They could eat meatballs and donut holes. They could drink bubble tea. Then they could be the best of friends afterward.

Yesterday's hyperbolic solutions aside, I don't know how Representative Joe Wilson could go beyond the verbal apology and make things right. Sure, Wilson and Obama could end up as good friends, but there are so many fearmongrels who believe that Wilson's outburst was the right thing to do, encouraging them to use rudeness and ugliness to get their non-point point across.

All right, I think I am done ranting about the outbursts of the above three. Well, I have a few short statements to say about yesterday's news:

1. As I tweeted earlier: Congrats to [Juan Martin] del Potro for winning US Open over [Roger] Federer. He should form a club with Y.E. Yang (who beat Tiger Woods). To expand upon my tweet: The next basketball player to steal the ball from, then dunk on, Kobe Bryant could also join this underdog winners club. In last season's playoffs, one player stole the ball from Bryant, but could not go all the way to dunk it. I can't remember his name.

2. R.I.P. Patrick Swayze.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #123: Inappropriate Outburst(s)

There's a whole lot of prominent rudeness going on as of late, whether a curt accusation during the President's speech or a meltdown that ends a tennis match or an opinionated interruption during an acceptance speech in an awards show. To celebrate (or mock...your choice) the verbosity of certain politicians, talk radio hosts, teabaggers, professional athletes, and recording artists, we present this hurriedly recompiled design:

This design is on all sorts of merchandise, in several sizes and colors - for men, women, children, babies, and pets. We've also lowered all our prices in our "Sick Happens" section!

Now that the shameless self-promotion is done, let me suggest some snarky solutions for Rep. Wilson, Ms. Williams, and Mr. West. We're apparently helping out W surnames today, so sorry, Mr. Beck; you won't get a solution to cure your chronic asshattery today.

Anyhow, the outbursters, in chronological order:

Joe Wilson, you really need to use your spotlight to nudge the debate over to something that resembles civility and not teabaggery. If you continue to encourage the fearmongrels, then hopefully you'll be asked to apologize on every possible ocassion for the foreseeable future. Now ask yourself: Can you do any real good as the "You lie!" rude guy?

Serena Williams, hopefully you won't get suspended from continuing your doubles matches with your sister. Venus should not be punished for your McEnroe-esque meltdown. After the Williams sisters' probable U.S. Open doubles win, and if the governing body of professional tennis doesn't suspend you, please feel free to go on a voluntary year-long exile from tennis. Call it a sabbatical. Do some really goodwill ambassador stuff during this time. (By the way, congratulations to Kim Clijsters for being the first unranked, unseeded Grand Slam champion, and the first mother in 29 years to do so.)

Kanye West, it might be time to scale back on being a self-important superstar and migrate back into the world of behind-the-scenes production. You're good at programming beats, fiddling with Autotune, and writing lyrics, so there's no reason why you should stop doing those productive things. You should definitely write and produce for some better adjusted (albeit less talented) artists who can't write or produce for themselves. Otherwise:

(In any case, kudos to Beyonce for rectifying the damage, and letting Taylor Swift finish her acceptance speech, even though Beyonce was not responsible for Kanye's actions. However, this happy ending could have been a quick orchestration by the MTV VMA producers to save face, but Beyonce gets the credit for being classy.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #122: Judeo-Christian Mythology and the TV Series "Supernatural"

If we simplify the nomenclature (but not the word nomenclature), then the difference between theology and mythology is clear: The former is the basis for religion, and the latter is the basis for some interesting storytelling. In a society where Judeo-Christian theology is the basis for several religions, denominations and sects, it is a tricky thing to present Judeo-Christian mythology without treading on things deemed "holy." As Greco-Roman theology (i.e., outright Zeus worship) is underrepresented in the United States of America, its mythology is fair game to adapt, remix, and mutilate for pop cultural consumption.

Judeo-Christian mythology really doesn't have that option, at the risk of angry fundies conflating their dogma with creative storytelling. It's been done for mainstream audiences, to little controversy: Various retellings of Arthurian Grail legend, the odd-numbered Indiana Jones adventures, and Santa Claus. The devout pitchfork mob assembles against the rest, from The Da Vinci Code to horror movies (the religious backlash for the horror genre is not so much now as it was 10, 20, 30... years ago) to heavy metal music (same with metal, evidently).

I've started to watch a show called Supernatural, which takes Judeo-Christian mythology (heavy on the Christian) to primetime network TV. Prior to the fifth season premiere last week, I've watched only two episodes, and not the whole way through: (1) The one where the elder brother travels back in time to learn that whatever happened, happened, and (2) the one where the younger brother frees Lucifer from hell (the fourth season finale). I skimmed through Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. Since Diablo III won't come out until 2011 (at the earliest, so be on the lookout for "Waiting for 2011" blog titles next year), I think I'll get my dark fantasy fix with this show, albeit in a modern setting. (Swords are more badass than guns, in my opinion.)

Oh yeah, the show gets bonus points for having Jacob from LOST play the role of a human voluntarily possessed by Lucifer (and therefore acting as Lucifer himself).

I am all for creative storytelling that separates the mythology from the theology. Doing this gives the storyteller the freedom to weave some freakin' cool stories. In the universe of Supernatural, demons were human souls transformed in hell, angels aren't that good either, and God is nowhere to be found. At some point, with all this Christian symbolism, the show will have to determine how Jesus fits into the story.

For those who aren't aware of this pop cultural trope, in Western storytelling especially, placing Jesus in an extra-biblical setting is instant, irreverent comedy:

Jesus, imprisoned in the Vatican, saves the Easter Bunny in South Park.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter involves a shave, a haircut, and a fight against atheists.

This landmine for comedy is sidestepped whenever Jesus is repackaged as a talking lion that eats White Witches (that intentional double entendre might be a mortal sin), or as an action hero who sacrifices himself for humanity in some sort of metaphorical allegory. It helps drive the point home when the aforementioned action hero has the initials "J.C."

The chances are good that the one "good angel" in Supernatural, an Angel of Thursday Castiel, is really Jesus. (I hope that someone Googling "Castiel is Jesus" or "Jesus is Castiel" will find this blog entry.) Like the dude, playing the dude, disguised as another dude, Castiel could be Jesus disguised as an angel, possessing a willing human being. If you think about it, a zen-like angel who does kung fu knife-fighting on angels and demons is pretty badass. Jesus, a relevant deity of modern society, doing the same thing is pretty silly (see the above embedded videos). However, if the writers go in this direction, and ease the reveal, then it could work...who knows?

In other words, you're all going to hell for reading this rant. (But that's okay, since Castiel will pull you out!)

The show, while separating the mythology from the theology, probably has an overarching sentiment regarding God, angels, and demons. The fifth season has yet to unfold, but the chances are also good that the God in Supernatural is (or will ultimately be) on the side of human beings - not Michael and his angels, and definitely not Lucifer and his demons.

And that makes a good theological sentiment, too.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #121: Making the in-Progress Apple Tablet Hypothetically Better

From this lazy person's point of view, a Tablet Personal Computer, regardless of manufacturer, does not do enough. My anecdotal benchmark standard for this is how I'm using a netbook right now. (Yes, netbooks might be oranges to a tablet's apples, but they are both small, portable fruit for this silly tech discussion.) Right now, I am blogging while lying down on a sofa. My netbook is resting on my belly. Other than typing, this is a completely hands-free operation. The size and weight of a netbook is ideal for laying it on one's belly; a full-sized notebook computer would be ridiculously unwieldy for many users.

This brings me to Sticky Issue #1 concerning a Tablet Personal Computer: You have to hold the damn thing, at all times...when lying on your back. As evidenced by my more impassioned rants about current political issues, I delight in viable solutions: A Tablet Personal Computer needs a compatible add-on base, so it can rest stably on a user's belly. When the occasion arises, I also like imagining positive, yet currently impossible, solutions: An add-on base isn't the most elegant of solutions, but levitation technology is. Therefore, the ideal Tablet Personal Computer will be able to hover near the user, for complete comfort and non-holding while using the touchscreen.

If someone's going to develop hover-over levitation technology, please remember to add "Ryan DeRamos" to the list of inventors when you file for relevant patent(s). And you're welcome.

Sticky Issue #2: A LED screen Tablet Personal Computer will not be better than an eInk eBook reader when it comes to reading eBooks, Google Books PDFs, and Project Gutenberg text documents for long periods of time. Let's face it: Looking at a computer screen for a long period of time results in some degree of eye fatigue, at least for us old-school human beings. Perhaps several of you have mutated your eye cells so that you can read off a monitor like ink on a sheet of papers. Perhaps you've given birth to an evolved generation whose eyes don't burn out against bright lights. If so, then good for you. However this silly rant is about me, my lazy portable computing ways, and old-school human beings, apparently.

My proposed solution isn't immediately feasible (as far as my knowledge of current technology), but it might be more realistic than inventing anti-gravitational floatation devices. I propose that someone with the resources, funding, and know-how develop a hybrid LED/eInk screen. For bright computer needs, the LED pixels can fire up. For low-light, battery-saving, book-reading needs, the eInk pixels can fire up instead.

If someone's going to develop hybrid-screen technology, please remember to add "Ryan DeRamos" to the list of inventors when you file for relevant patent(s). And you're welcome.

Finally, Sticky Issue #3 demands that a Tablet Personal Computer be a fully-operational personal computer. For all intents and purposes, my netbook is a fully-operational personal computer. My netbook can run Pro Tools 7.4, at the very least. My netbook can interact with a photo scanner. My netbook can access a USB external hard drive. In lieu of a DVD drive, my netbook can read ISOs from CDs and DVDs. My netbook can use a Wacom tablet and run open-source GIMP, so I can draw things. (Granted, the tiny screen prevents me from comfortably doing a lot of creative things on a netbook, and I usually produce such "art" on a desktop.)

While the above content speaks of Tablet Personal Computers in vague terms, I'm really talking about the anticipated Apple Tablet, currently in development. It needs to be a MacTablet running OS X What's New Pussycat? (and be able to boot Windows and/or Linux, if desired) and definitely not an AppTablet (AppBook?) running iPhone OS 3.x. Like any full-fledged personal computer, you need to have the freedom to install buggy, incompatible software for this Tablet Personal Computer. An extremely closed, nanny/big brother system like the App Store won't cut it for a Tablet Personal Computer.

On a Tablet Personal Computer, you should be able to install Avid/Digidesign, Adobe, and Microsoft products, as well as their open-source equivalents. By the same token, you should be free to be frustated if and when there are periods of incompatibility whenever a new software version or new operating system is released. In fact, it is philosophically better to be frustrated by (hopefully temporary) software incompatibility than it is to be frustrated by the lack of viable choice. Additionally, you should be able to purchase digital music not only from iTunes, but also from AmazonMP3 and other stores - a freedom currently not available with the iPhone OS.

And I should be able to play touchscreen Diablo III while lying down in a hammock. In any case, we'll have to wait and see how this new Tablet Personal Computer technology pans out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #120: 9/11/2009

As many of us have already done the simple math, September 11, 2001, was eight years ago today. In many ways, our behavior toward each other, especially those who are ideologically different in some way, has not changed at all these past eight years. Rep. Wilson's "You lie!" outburst supports this opinion. However, let us not dwell on the negatives for too long, lest we are transformed into that which we despise.

Instead, let us go off on a positive tangent. Eight years ago, I used a PC from 1997 that cost probably $2000 but was barely stable running Windows 98 and logging on to AOL via dialup. MP3 playback on WinAmp was pretty choppy, too. I wrote rant-like public journals on HTML pages, and manually uploaded those files to an account hosted by Tripod.

Today, I am lounging in bed, with a $300 netbook resting on my belly, swiftly and stably running Windows XP SP3, and surfing the Web with a broadband connection. I am blogging this entry, while iTunes easily blasts some tunes in the background. TuneUp transmits my current playlists by auto-tweeting at the @DeRamosMusic Twitter account.

There are even better gadgets available than what I have right now. Technologically, at least, we've progressed much in eight short years. I can go on and on how we've come far in several fields of study, like medicine and other science, but I should write something relevant to this 9/11 Anniversary:

Eight years ago, a shocked majority of Americans came together, in spite of ideology, and looked to the Bush Administration to administer justice (and comeuppance) toward those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Needless to say, without getting into much partisan bias, mistakes and missteps were made in this quest for justice.

Now, we look to the new Obama Administration to continue our quest for justice. Events in Afghanistan are once again headline news, and it was a shame that it wasn't for so long. While the shock eight years ago came from violence, the shock of today comes from economic woes. As the majority came together, despite our differences, to optimistically hope for justice eight years ago, it would be great if the majority came together again, despite our differences, to positively work toward prosperity today. Yes, I am implying various economic issues, such as unemployment and health care reform. There must be some way for Americans can positively come together on these issues, since after all, we're ultimately on the same team; we have the same play book; we just need to agree on similar plays to help us score.

In any case, our soldiers have been working hard to serve justice on those who wronged us eight years ago, despite the missteps and mistakes from those entrusted with the power to decide and command. We can only hope that the decision-makers have learned from their (or their predecessors') mistakes, and that justice can finally be had for those who lost their lives and loves eight years ago.

The Roman Republic was still growing and prospering when it was a republic; its downfall happened centuries after it became a bloated empire. By the same token, this America is still a Republic and is still committed to the principles of democracy. As long as we hold to these ideals, prosperity and liberty remain available for you, for me, and for this nation.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #119: More on Morons: Man Errs Manners

It's a shame that people actually condone last night's ill-mannered outburst by South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson during President Obama's very nuanced and centrist speech on health care reform. Not surprisingly, the people who have been inspired by Joe's rudeness are the same fright-wing fearmongrels I've been ranting against for many a-blog entry, as of late. Of course, it would be silly to expect otherwise: They've been loud, irrational, and rude all summer. Why would they change now?

Of course, I feel the need to temper my anger against the fearmongering Republicans by recognizing members of the opposition who have contributed to the President's proposals (those mentioned in his speech, like Senator John McCain and others), as well as the Republican lawmakers who were waving their potential solutions throughout the speech. Good for you guys! It's a shame that the fear-right wing of your party stole the spotlight from your alternative solutions with their fear, anger, and hatred!

In any case, I won't let the fearmongrels grind me down. Besides, there is much to celebrate! A couple of great friends gave birth to their first child today (or yesterday?)! Congratulations to the growing family. May they be happy in their blue heaven.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #118: Less on Morons, More on Lessons

Less on morons, more on lessons. In other words, I think I'm done (for now) ranting against the fright-wing fringe of this country. I'm glad the President encouraged American students to focus on school, and hopefully, many students were inspired to work, study, and learn a million times harder and succeed. With a hunger for education, quenched with knowledge and the wisdom to apply these skills well, they'll be able to form their own conclusions, especially when it comes to politics. Some might come to liberal conclusions and vote Democrat, or other left-of-center party. Some might come to conservative conclusions and rebuild or form an even-handed opposition party. In both cases, the fringe elements on all sides, which thrive on the ignorant and the naive, will fade away as background noise and a footnote in history.

We can only dream, anyhow.

Today is 09-09-09. A friend is expected to give birth today. The Beatles are expected to save both the music industry (with their remastered albums) and the video game industry (with The Beatles: Rock Band game) today. Apple Inc. (not to be confused with The Beatles' Apple Corps) is expected to announce new technological innovations today, especially concerning the latest permutation of the iPod. There's an off chance that Apple Corps (well, EMI, actually) will release John, Paul, George, and Ringo's recordings digitally through Apple Inc.'s iTunes music store, but that feels like a long shot. In any case, I wish they'd announce an Apple Tablet that can levitate; that would be better than lying down with a netbook laying on my abs (which is not too shabby). Whatever may happen, I'll have to wait until the sun rises on this Day of Nines.

I will start to dream, right now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #117: Work One Million Times Harder

If you work one million times harder than your peers and predecessors, you'll likely succeed.

Today, the President encouraged students to do well in school. As expected by reasonable Americans of varying ideological beliefs, the President did not go off on a political tangent, and the sentiments expressed were non-divisive (to rational people). Once again, the fear-right wing was wrong. I am sure their leaders and media noisemakers knew they were wrong all along, but they wanted to create panic and hysteria; what good is a far-fright wing without chaos?

Even-handed members of the opposition know the score. Kudos to "independent conservative" Joe Hicks for essentially throwing the hysterical hicks under the proverbial bus. It's a shame that I have to take the time to find examples of opponents willing to debate civilly, but here we are in this era of Internet trolls.

Speaking of Internet trolls, one commenter called "Adam Smith" on yesterday's news about President Obama's education speech lamented on Affirmative Action, and I quote:

There is not [sic] equal opportunity for young white kids. They listen to revisionist & selective history about their country & how their race is responsible for all ills in the world. Then they are discriminated against in college entrace [sic] qualifications & acceptance. Then they get hardcore racist & leftist garbage from wacky left professors. Then they face Affirmative Action policies that are insane in this day and age of promoting incompetence if the melanin content of one skin is high enough.

There is no more equal opportunity in Amercia [sic]. Ask any white male cop or fighter (from experience).
Here's the deal, my likely pseudonymous "friend": President Obama was fated to have a strange-sounding name to middle America, darker skin, and an upbringing that doesn't involve silver spoons. And yet, he worked a million times harder (a hyperbolic and metaphoric figure, of course) than his peers. He seized some key opportunities, as we all are given various opportunities, and he is currently doing well in his chosen career path. I write that Barack Obama "is currently doing well in his chosen career path" as an indicator of success and not "is the President" as an indicator because not everyone can be the President of the United States (or any specific title) in this lifetime or this Universe. However, one can work hard to find success in what they do, and in who they are.

The same is true for virtually everyone who has earned success in spite of having any combination of different-colored skin, a funny-sounding name, a modest (or lower) socio-economic upbringing, female genitalia, non-mainstream sexual orientation, a scapegoated/misunderstood religion (or lack thereof), differently-abled bodies, and other perceived obstacles in life. The successful ones work a million times harder than their peers and predecessors. They seized every opportunity by the horns and held on to the wild ride, and every opportunity thereafter.

Now, "Adam Smith," if Affirmative Action is a perceived obstacle to non-ethnic white, male, Evangelical Christian, heterosexual, upper-middle class (or higher), healthy, suburban Americans (of all hair and eye colors!) - then they will have to work a million times harder than their peers to succeed, just like any other American en route to the American Dream of prosperity. Again, here's my self-help guru platitude: If you work one million times harder than your peers and predecessors, you'll likely succeed. I hope this sentiment is a valid possibility for all the world's peoples as well, and not just my country.

In other words: Welcome to the realized Meritocracy...bitch.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #116: The Ballad of Van Jones

The United States political-economic-media circus is pretty ridiculous. If we're not careful, this discourse will get less civil than the Taiwan Legislature brawl from a few years ago:

In recent news, Glenn Beck, as a metaphorical Bolshevik, has brought it on himself to take down the Czars of the Federal government. That's right: I just called Beck a Bolshevik, to fit in with the Czar analogy. Yadda, yadda, yadda...Van Jones resigned his post because of all the noise leveled against him. From the Chicago Tribune:
White House officials said Sunday that the presidential environmental adviser Van Jones resigned this weekend of his own accord after a furor over his fiery remarks about Republicans and his signature on a petition questioning whether the U.S. government had any role in planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Jones may have overreached with his blanket condemnation of Republicans as "assholes." Yesterday, I indicted only a certain segment of Republicans as certifiable A-holes: Fearmongrels, consisting of dumbass dittoheads and demonic demagogues. Thinking, educated, and ethical people who are registered as Republicans (wherever they may be...?) don't deserve the insult. TV, radio, and popular parts of the Web would be better places if those who represented the "conservative point of view" in economic debate(s) were legitimate economists and not crony capitalists.

Am I not a gracious blogger? I am a gracious blogger, and you're welcome. If my statements against fearmongrels will bite me in the ass in the future (if I am ever foolhardy to run for political office), that just means that political fearmongering will still exist. Or worse, ill-mannered fearmongering will once again be a dominant force in the social landscape in the future, and we will have all failed in erradicating the A-hole element in public discourse. Remember, being anti-totalitarian, I approve of smart opponents, who argue cogently and use fact and accepted theory to back up their opinions. By the same token, I approve of people on my side of an issue who use ethical means to debate as well. Fearmongrels of all ideologies be damned!

Okay, back to Van Jones: He was insinuated as a 9/11 truther, and that is a no-no in the Democratic Party. On the other hand, it seems that in fearmongrel-Republican circles, it is a badge of honor to be a birther, a deather, and/or a teabagger. Obviously, I put the last one there for comedic effect. In any case, I thought that the truther movement was more related to the Ron Paul (real) conservative-libertarian movement than any liberal-progressive ideology, so this might be a moot point.

To quote ABC's Jake Tapper (via Twitter):
Rep Pence said no place for Jones' "extremist views and coarse rhetoric" in public debate. GOP leaders -- is that now the bar?
I can only hope that the far-daft wing of the opposition party implodes. We'll deal with the far-daft wings of other parties later. Civil debate now!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #115: More Ranting Against the Fearmongerer-er-er-er-...-ers

For me, it seems that plain ol' correct fearmonger doesn't have the same oomph as warmonger, and hence I add an additional -er suffix to make fearmongerer gives the word more, for lack of a better term, impact. That said, I will probably add more -er suffixes whenever this opposition party of fear become more ridiculous (not to be confused with the now-eerily quiet, thinking fiscal conservatives I've known in the past...or maybe they were figments of my imagination?).

They were fearmongers before the election.

They became fearmongerers a little past the first few teabag parties, when the birther saga came to a climax. (That's what she said, by the way.)

With the deathers and the loud townhallers, I think that deserves another suffix: fearmongererers.

Their apparent hatred of education and the fear that a sitting president could inspire their children to learn and not grow up to become dittohead suckers gives them another suffix: fearmongerererers. A thinking conservative parent - heck, any decent parent regardless of ideology - would also watch the President's upcoming webcast and discuss the content of it with their children at dinnertime. Unfortunately, these fearmongerererers advocate pulling their child from school the whole day, with little to no discussion about the importance of education. That is apparently how the fearmongerererers will replenish their numbers for the future - to have voter base filled with a bunch of easily angered, easily frightened, very obedient to a certain fear-based ideology, undereducated group of people.

Right-wing hate radio super-personalities aside, when the fearmongerererers in broadcast media make some illogical points, that deserves another suffix: fearmongererererers. Earlier this year, actor Craig T. Nelson remarked, "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No." You tell 'em Coach! Since you are 65 years old, tell the government to stay the hell away from your Medicare, too!

Speaking of Medicare, CNBC (which is apparently NBC Universal's right wing, compared to the allegedly left-wing MSNBC) personality Maria Bartiromo asked forty-something year-old congressman Anthony Weiner why he wasn't on Medicare, since he liked it so much.

To which Rep. Weiner answered, "Because I'm not 65."

Bravo, Ms. Bartiromo! You've (inadvertently) solved the government option problem in health care reform! Let's lower the Medicare age to everyone who wants it, so they can buy into it! And if you don't want this government option, you can stick with your private insurer (until they overcharge or drop you for business reasons).

(Video hat tip: Alan Bloom.)

Maybe the term fearmongererererers has become a bit too ridiculous with all the suffixes. It's debatable whether the prime motivation for these f-m'ers is polarized politics, deep-seated racism, or some sort of abstract hatred, so calling them fearmongrels might be a little too insensitive. However, the Australian usage for the word mongrel does fit appropriately:
In Australia, "mongrel" epithet generally refers to an ill-bred man; a man of poor manners or morals.
But the fear part in fearmongrels just makes it redundant. In any case, the neologism fearmongrels sounds pretty snappy, as long as everyone understands we're using the "of poor manners" definition to the word.

On the other hand, the potential neologism fearmongoloids is just racist and wrong, unless everyone understands the irony applied to the group that would most likely use this sort of archaically ill-mannered speech.

So fearmongrels they are, unless...

Let's just get it over with and call 'em assholes, or if you prefer, arseholes. That really is the underlying condition of the world's bad people, no matter the title - whether they're labeled as alleged racists, fascists, demagogues, abusers, criminals, hypocrites, liars, etc. In fact, the more specific you are in your allegation(s), the easier it is for them to sue for defamation or whatever form of tort. I think asshole is as vague as it is a powerful descriptor of the world's bad people - whatever the form, and whatever the ideology.

To those who believe in good, and to those who believe that they can agree to disagree civilly with their neighbors: Don't let the assholes grind you down.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #114: Fearmonger-ers Write the Darnedest Things

File this under "Not a Surprise": There's an opinion article at the Fox News website (where fearmonger-ers get their news, of course!) entitled "Why the Obama Administration Will Implode In Weeks." (Google it, 'cause I ain't linkin' to it!) The likely purpose of this opinion piece is to rally the unthinking dittoheads of America, and a quick skim through the comments section confirms my suspicion.

It seems that the fearmongering partisans want the current administration to fail because, by many accounts, the previous administration (the one that virtually all of the fearmonger-ers supported) failed. I don't know why they want to continue this divisive cycle. They must realize whatever the Bush Administration did has been done. It was an epic fail, and we are still in the midst of the consequences, but that administration is in the past. This is now. This. Is. NOW. From our mortal point-of-view, the future is still unwritten. New decisions must be made, and the potential for SUCCESS is always a present possibility. (Arguably, all of time has already been written, but that fact is irrelevant to those who live in the now and perceive free will.) Why anyone would want OUR IMMEDIATE FUTURE to be a failure is just sad. Sad. All right, I must have sidetracked into a metaphysical, philosophical tangent here. Moving forward...

Here are my messages to the major parties involved:

1. Democrats - please be on the same page, especially when it comes to health care reform. Thanks.

2. Thinking, educated, fiscal conservatives - please get louder with any real, positive, alternative solutions. The fearmonger-ers profess to be on your side of the debate, but we all know they're ultimately on no one's side. They are not for resolving the debate. They do not this country to move forward. They're just angry. Unfortunately, it's hard to find some decent alternative solutions on the Web or in broadcast media. Possible alternative solutions are usually drowned by a mass of fearmongering buzzwords that detract from potentially good content. I oppose you in this debate, but I support your right to respectfully dissent.

3. To the fearmonger-ers - (1) I'm going to remove the hyphen so my epithet to you will read "fearmongerers" from now on; (2) no one's going to take away your right to nonviolently express your fear, anger, and hatred because that's the double-edged sword of freedom; but (3) please play as quietly as possible while the adults discuss and debate important stuff. Please, and thank you.

It's a shame that these fearmongerers are neither strawmen nor bogeymen of my own creation. Internet searches for "birthers," "deathers," and the loudest voices against President Obama show that these fearmongerers are a part of this modern-day American political landscape...and that makes me a sad panda.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #113: Education, Fearmonger-ers, and Thinking for Yourself

Here's a memo to the fearmonger-ers, with a quote, courtesy of Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Please note that I have ceased calling these folk "right-wingers" or "conservatives" or even "Republicans." Just as the recent election aftermath is hopefully transforming the word liberal from decades' worth of dirty connotation, maybe we can eventually take back conservative from the fearmonger-ers, too.

Now we have that out of the way, why is there a big fuss - mostly from the fearmonger-ers - over a sitting President telling the students of America to do well in school? The last time I checked, working/studying hard is a value on which virtually everyone, regardless of ideology, can agree. It vexes me to read that some trollish fearmonger-ers, commenting on news articles, would write something to the effect of: Obama is full of socialist lies. If that were true, and he advocates being a good student, is that a socialist lie?

Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: "All Cretans are liars." It's similar to that, without the sense of irony. We all know that fearmonger-ers never, ever wink and smirk at their fearmongering words.

The fearmonger-ers will probably overanalyze whatever the President says in his pep-talk to our students. If the President adds that eating well, sleeping well, and regular exercise will help their studies - which in and of itself is common sense - the fearmonger-ers will no doubt say that he is talking about health. By talking about health, they would illogically analyze, Obama would be talking about health care reform, to brainwash American kids to his socialist ideology.

I usually would say that my above example borders (or even crosses the line) making the strawmen of the fearmonger-ers. Unfortunately, the fearmonger-ers are already strawmen, and that is sad.

In any case, while we're on the topic of education, what can be done to increase the quality of American education? I'm not sure what happens in schools anymore, but I'd like to see more emphasis on the basics. Similar to what the forced Three R's (forced because the middle R was writing, and the last R was arithmetic) was, I propose a new trio: K-L-M:

K, as in Knowledge (and Critical Thinking). There's way too much information and disinformation available in this Google/Wikipedia Age. We must teach our students to properly evaluate all this available knowledge logically, so that they don't grow up to be fearmongering dittoheads. Teaching our students skills to critically comprehend information is essential. We should inspire our students to want to learn from diverse fields of study, as well as instill in them a desire to keep current with the news of the day.

L, as in Literacy. This is obviously both reading and writing. Assuming that we're focusing on the English language (although the more languages, the merrier), we must have students comfortable reading as many styles and eras of published English as possible - from pre-1900 public domain text to contemporary usage. While we can't expect every student to want to be a writer with their own individual style, they should be expected to be able to write grammatically correct sentences at, say, the level of a TV teleprompter. Teleprompter English won't win literature awards, but at least the sentences are complete and the content is usually coherent.

M, as in Math. Simple arithmetic - addition, subtraction, multiplication table to the number 11 at least, and short division - should be a no-brainer. If students will eventually rely on a calculator to do more complex problems, they should at least know what all the buttons mean. With these rudimentary skills, our students can create decent Excel spreadsheets and balance their Quicken and Quickbooks finances with few problems.

I think that covers all the basics. If our students learn not to be suckers when it comes to information, read literature of myriad forms, write news copy, and know what calculator buttons do, then we should have a decent average. If the average bar is higher than it is now, then that means our extraordinary students will have to do even better than before.

The USA is still a free country, and we can't stop the fearmonger-ers from breeding (nor should we even consider this!). However, we can try our damnedest to make sure the children of fearmonger-ers don't grow up to be fearmongering dittoheads. If we can somehow inspire the children of America to think for themselves - and they will reach diverse conclusions when they think for themselves - maybe the future of partisan debate will be better than what's going on now. When the fearmonger-ers have no one to replace them, then Americans (and perhaps the global community, too) will be able to agree to peace, prosperity, and civility.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #112: The New Two USAs

Dividing the United States into "Red" and "Blue" is wrong. If we separated the Democrats from the Republicans, we'd essentially have two totalitarian states. That does not sit well with me. The United States is about freedom of expression and the democratic process. Therefore, here is my solution, when it comes to ultimately creating two separate US of A's:

The United States of Civil Americans: In this country, we can have intense debate, but we all recognize that the opposing side(s) believe in America as patriotically as those on our side. Furthermore, all proposed plans by one side are countered with strong alternative solutions by the other sides.

The United States of Fearmonger-ers: In this country, everyone shouts at people that don't agree with them, and some even throw their poo across the room to their foes. Logic and civility are not welcome here. Dittoheads and sheeple of all stripes belong here. People who buy into the hype without some sort of research or choose a side due to popularity belong here, too.

Now it's easy to fake your way to the more desirable America (whichever one that is), so there is one placement citizenship placement test. It involves drinking alcohol. Test-takers must drink until they lose their social filter, their super-ego of sorts:

1. If you are pleasant to be with while drunk, then you belong in the US of Civil Americans;

2. If you are not pleasant to be with while drunk, then you are sent to the Fearmonger state. Enjoy the mudslinging.

I will be the judge of what constitutes as "pleasant," by the way. End of (meta-)rant.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #111: Shirt Happens

Today's entry is just shameless self-promotion, indirectly inspired by last weekend's bout with common cold, of which I am still recovering. With all this talk of needed health care reform and extra-needed swine flu awareness, I might as well put pen to paper (or Wacom stylus to Wacom tablet...which I'm obviously still a n00b) to comment on - or even satirize - the zeitgeist.

In any case, I'm glad I didn't have to vomit any time over the weekend:

...nor did I have to use the toilet in any desperate fashion whatsoever:

Unfortunately, I've developed a cough, which is just annoying. Oh well, c'est la vie. Sick happens.