Sunday, May 31, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #17: Free Speech, Civil Debate = Good; Violence, Demagoguery that Advocates Violence = Bad (#Tiller)

The big news of the day is the murder and apparently ideologically-motivated assassination of Dr. George Tiller. Tiller was the director of an abortion clinic in Kansas. He was shot dead while serving as an usher during Sunday morning church services. Ironically, Tiller's similarly religious enemies are already condemning this church usher to hell.

Half of America's squeaky wheels are apparently rejoicing over this murder, some even providing their own stamp of karmic justification due to their views on late-term abortion or abortion in general. The other half of America's squeaky wheels are in the process of creating a backlash movement, some even lumping their pro-life/anti-choice foes along with Tiller's murderer. The rest of America (and the world) are simply shocked, and hopefully angered at this act of criminal violence.

Philosophically and theologically, we as regular folk have no say in afterlife condemnation nor can we directly and justifiably affect the wheel of karma. The murderer must be caught - ideally alive - and brought to justice using our earthly, civilized laws. Those fortunate to be citizens of free democracies have the right to debate, petition, and vote to try to codify their ideology in their society. The debates regarding abortion, gay marriage, gun control, immigration, etc., must be conducted in an non-violent and productive manner.

Even stereotypically loudmouth commentator Bill O'Reilly is partly correct in his self-absolution regarding his responsibility, when he is reported to have said:

"I'm entirely confident that my constant railing against this guy had nothing to do with this." said Bill O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News in reaction to the the slaying. "My thoughts are with his family and loved ones. I still stand by what I said before though."
In the grand scheme of causality, I can potentially disagree with the clause "nothing to do with this." We can't deny the possibility that this O'Reilly fellow is pretty influential. After all, he's on TV, the radio, and prominently on the Web. We must entertain the possibility that Tiller's murderer might have been a fan who internalized some of O'Reilly's rants against "Tiller the Baby Killer" and transformed it into a plan of violence. That said - O'Reilly (and most others who have the same power of influence) is not personally responsible for the murderer's actions, and it is likely that he did not intend for someone to act on his urgent rantings. Unfortunately, unintended consequences happen.

I don't know how to resolve this disconnect between urgent political persuasion (for entertainment purposes) and violent people who take the bait. The solution might be as simple as the O'Reillys and Moores and Limbaughs and Frankens of the world to say, as a friendly occasional reminder: "In my opinion, my ideology is correct (wink, wink), but you the viewer/listener/fan shouldn't be a stupid sheep about it."

Methinks and mefears that successful polemicists care too much about their own profits and power than occasional nuance and recognizing the potential that some of their fans might just be ignorantly bad people. Upon hearing a reminder not to be stupid, most of us would be slightly offended because we wouldn't do such things, but there might be a small fraction of those who might find such an obvious bit of advice helpful. Those who are easily swayed to violence might be just as easily swayed to not be stupid - maybe.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #16: Root for Home Court Advantage or Anticipated Epic Duel?

I am happy that the Los Angeles Lakers finished the Western Conference Championship series with a blow-out victory against the Denver Nuggets. The 119-92 finish of Game 6 was essentially the Lakers' answer to their humiliating defeat in Game 4.

The question I ask myself (as well as those who may also have a relevant opinion) is which team to root for tonight: The Orlando Magic or the Cleveland Cavaliers? If the Magic win, then the Eastern Conference series is over and next Thursday awaits for both teams. Also, the Lakers would get home court advantage with a Finals against Orlando. Of course, a series against Orlando would be as difficult (if not more so) as the series against Denver and Houston.

If the Cavs hold on tonight, and subsequently win Game 7 on Monday, then the much-anticipated, much-hyped "Dream Finals" will happen. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will have several, hopefully exciting one-on-one duels. Of course, Cleveland will have home court advantage in this Finals scenario, and will presumably have more momentum after a hypothetical Game 7 win on Monday going into Game 1 on Thursday. The Lakers will have been more rested and possibly more rusty as the visiting team in Games 1 and 2.

Which team do I want to win tomorrow night? I don't know. I'm glad that the Lakers are in the Finals, so whoever wins the Eastern Conference, wins.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #15: Make Your Own Epic Decisions But Let Fate Decide the Mundane (Where Do You Want to Eat Tonight?)

Objectively: Whatever happens, happens. Subjectively: Whatever happens is your own damn fault. In other words, in most cases, you are responsible for your own actions, even though you are supposed to do what you do in the grand scheme of things. This is where free will and determinism meet head on.

This widget will decide for you which restaurant to go (if you don't have access to an iPhone with the same app):

Los Angeles restaurants on Urbanspoon



You can always change the location by clicking on the bottom right-hand corner or by going directly to the Urbanspoon Blog. Remember: Whatever happens, happens, but you decide to spin the wheels.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #14: Blog about the Recent #unfollowdiddy Twitter Trend

Apparently, Sean "Insert Similarly Evolving Nickname Here" Combs is the victim of a mildly amusing quasi-cyber bullying mob, in the form of encouraging his Twitter followers to stop following the jack-of-all-trades private jet passenger. Apparently, Combs released another bizarre YouTube video celebrating gaining more than one million Twitter followers. As a backlash to Combs' perceived arrogance (which is quite a spot-on perception on more than one occasion), the #unfollowdiddy hashtag has been a popular trend as of late, and the top trend on Tuesday.

It is a little funny and a little sad that this man was once at the peak of his career, as a Burger King pitchman with a commercial that portrays him as an arrogant, self-centered, me-first kind of douche, er, dude:



...and now, he is the apparent victim of cyber bullying, just like an adolescent outcast in this Web-connected world. Instead of just a handful of classmate-bullies on Facebook, Combs has been bullied by a rather large percentage of the Twitter population, making this rapper/T-shirt designer the butt of several one-liner jokes. This Internet victimization has caused Combs to set his Twitter account to private, so that people who want to see what he has to "say" will have to follow him - thus keeping his followers over one million.

Of course, the curious can receive secondhand re-tweets from Combs' loyal followers by typing out "RT @iamdiddy" at Twitter's search page and not follow the "Vote or Die!" founder.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #13: Become My Own Recursive Acronym: RYAN = Ryan You Are Not

At face value, this is going to be a filler post. Otherwise, it may blow your mind. I'm going to make my first name a recursive acronym. For the sake of this post, RYAN will stand for "RYAN YOU ARE NOT," as in, "I am Ryan; you are not (except if you are also Ryan)." Now the first part of the acronym is also the temporary acronym RYAN, so that the first iteration:

RYAN YOU ARE NOT, becomes

RYAN YOU ARE NOT you are not, which comes

RYAN YOU ARE NOT you are not you are not, then becomes

RYAN YOU ARE NOT you are not you are not you are not, ad infinitum.

Okay, I'm done for today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #12: All Spin, No Context

Today is a big day for political news:

The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, but grandfathered pre-November gay marriages as valid. Thus begins an awkward time in California for a segment of its population - the early adopters vs. the late comers, so to speak. Anything can happen after this, whether quickly or over a long period of time, but assuredly, it goes to show how temporarily laws come and go.

Moving from State affairs to the Federal:

President Obama nominated Sonya Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, various squeaky wheels are in opposition of the nomination for the sake of opposition, I guess. It really didn't matter who was nominated, as the Limbaughs of this nation would find some sort of ideological flaw in the nominee. And no matter who was nominated, Mike Huckabee would still call her "Maria" - or some other quasi-racist pseudo-Freudian mega-slip.

While I support a system that allows for dissent, an opposition party (or parties) that rely too much on spin but light on context is entirely useless. When Obama added "empathy" to the qualities of a nominee, the opposition spinmasters played down the possibility that empathy is better than robotic apathy in a fellow human being. If empathy is such a bad supplementary quality, I don't see Dick Cheney using his Halliburton bonuses and dividends for R&D in AI SCOTUS cyborg justices.

Furthermore, here's more context-indifferent spin, when quoting nominee Sotomayor: "All of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is, court of appeals is where policy is made." That quote, especially the last clause, is the soundbite du jour for the non-nuanced political right. Some context reveals the rest of the apparent joke: "And I know, and I know this is on tape, and I should never say that, because we don't make law, I know. ... OK. I know. I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it, I'm, you know." But context effectively renders spin moot, and that doesn't help any propagandist - conservative, liberal or otherwise.

In any case, remember that laws, law makers, and law interpretations are temporary. Justices replace older justices. Injustices are eventually resolved and replaced by newer injustices. Of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the last one is conspicuously ambiguous - what exactly constitutes happiness, who gets it, and how?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #11: Rant a Bit about Time Travel

I wonder if certain psychotropic drugs can enable perceived or real consciousness time travel - either one is fine. I'm pretty if "real" consciousness time travel takes place, the traveler would somehow forget to change the past, and do what he/she was supposed to do anyway - all the while making a subjective choice to do it.

An article from TIME Magazine (appropriately named) argues that our brains (under non-diseased conditions) time travel all the time, incorporating previous memories to tell us to remember names, faces, and not to touch a hot stove. People with Alzheimer's and similar memory disabilities are stuck in a perpetual now and thus do not have the context of history when interacting with the world.

In any case, it would be nice to take a vacation from the now we're all aware of (regardless of memory condition) so that you can just go back for a temporary (also an appropriate term) visit. The catch would be to make as many "present" moments as "good" as possible so that if/when you go back to a certain moment, it will be pleasant.

Happy Memorial (another appropriate term) Day! It's 3 PM, and according to Vin Scully in today's Dodgers game, we should observe a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers, at least for us Americans. I don't know what happens for Spring Bank Holiday in the UK. ::boom:: LOST

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #10: Solve the Cheney/Powell/"Republican" Debacle

As optimistic as I am about the Obama Administration doing what it can to help the country recover from the previous years' economic downturn, and as optimistic as I am about the Democratic Party majority in at least two of the three branches of Federal government, we still need at least one (ideally more than one) party of opposition. We need debate - ideally honest debate about actual issues involving the health of the nation's people, the wealth of the nation's people, and issues relating to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This nation needs a (non-demonized) devil's advocate, to question if a plan of action might not be the wisest plan to execute. Yes, a daily nay-sayer will slow down the process, but it is infinitely better to inch toward prosperity than it is to accelerate to hell.

Several decisions of a previous era attest to ill-conceived acceleration (without naming cliche names). Additionally, several nations throughout the history of the world show examples of the evils of single-party/single-minded totalitarianism, whether fascist right or communist left.

That said, our de facto (really de jure) opposition party du jour - the Republicans - are still torn in (at least) two. Sure, there are the social conservatives (the Evangelicals, the Religious Right, and the Fundies) with a different main agenda than the fiscal conservatives (the Industrialists, the Capitalists, and the Libertarians). However, more clearly, it seems to be a divide between the Cheney/Limbaugh Republicans ("hard right") and the Powell Republicans (more-or-less inclusive "moderates"). General Powell wants to grow the GOP base to include as many varied ideologies in varying degrees of opposition to the current direction of the Obama Administration and the majority Democrat congress. On the other hand, former VP Cheney fears moderates and wants the GOP to remain absolutely to the (hard, far) right of all issues - socially, fiscally (presumably except when big government creates contracts to benefit certain conflict-of-interest corporations), and politically (see: Freedom fries, treasonous dissent, moderates are socialists, etc.).

My rather hyperbolic, but possibly feasible, solution would be to just split the party in two. It's a simple solution, and there are several party names already in use to divvy up between the two estranged factions: (1) One could be the GOP, and the other the Republican Party; (2) one could be the Lincoln Party, and the other the Reagan Party; (3) one could be the Moderate Republican Party/Moderate GOP, and the other the Conservative Republican Party/Conservative GOP; etc.

It is a safe bet that Obama voters who may be disillusioned by the Obama Administration - depending on the consequences of the current economic recovery, etc. - might filter faster to the Moderate GOP than further to the right. In doing so, we could have some great debate between the Moderate GOP and the Democratic Party. If no violence is involved, no needs to censor the Conservative GOP. They can make a lot of noise, which might potentially hurt their cause or rebuild it - who knows? The Conservative GOP might get another shot in the limelight if the Moderate GOP defeats the Democratic Party for an election cycle but somehow does not live up to expectations.

In any case, a true multiple party system might change up the old American political cycle for the better. And yes, if the Democratic Party finds itself in another era of defeat, a party split could also be a feasible solution there as well.

Here's to organized democracy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #9: Great NBA "Final Four" But Only One Ideal Finals: Lakers vs. Cavaliers

We are a few minutes away from Game Three of the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Denver Nuggets, at Denver, with a tied series for the Western Conference (one game each). Both games have been nail-biters, down to the wire. In fact, the Eastern Conference series is also tied between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, with nail-biter finishes (especially LeBron James' buzzer beater in Game 2). Obviously, all four teams are formidable - potentially both series going the distance - but my excitement level for the Finals depends on the outcomes of both series:

1. If it's Lakers vs. Cavaliers - it's on! I am 100% interested in this Finals.

2. If it's Lakers vs. Magic - at least my hometown team is there. I'll be maybe 90% interested.

3. If it's Nuggets vs. Cavaliers - it'll be a shame with no LA, but at least King James can finally after all these long years and old age get another chance to win an NBA Championship. I'll be at least 60% interested in this series.

4. If it's Nuggets vs. Magic - sorry, guys, I am going to use my time on something else (there's always something to do). I'll be about 0% interested, personally.

In conclusion, I hope the Lakers win tonight. If not tonight, maybe on Memorial Day - but at least one in Denver.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Good times.

Posted via email from DeRamos' Clipboard

Waiting for 2010 #8: Change Up the Blog Posts a Bit

I think today will be a Posterous re-posting to Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook day (and looping again via RSS feeds). We'll see how this experiment goes. ::boom:: LOST

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #7: Resurrect an Old PC with Live CDs of Various Linux Flavors

My first personal computer was a Hewlett Packard Pavilion purchased in late 1997, running Windows 95. To fully use the two USB 1.0 ports (inconveniently located in the rear of the tower), the PC was upgraded to Windows 98 around the year 2000. It was finally taken offline around 2006, while still in good word processing/decent Diablo II condition. In late 2008, after 11 years of faithful service, the hardware stopped recognizing the hard disk drive (and thus the operating system), effectively rendering the PC useless. My best guess is that the master boot record (MBR) was somehow corrupted. Paradoxically, when removed from the tower, the 6 GB hard drive works well as a USB-connected external drive on other computers. In any case, the MBR seems impossible to fix to work with the HP PC ever again.

On May 20, 2009, this 11 year old PC was reborn as a Live CD-bootable Linux machine, at least for the flavors that are compatible with very minimal (minimal!) requirements: A 233 mHz Pentium 1 (not Pentium 2!) with 96 MB of RAM. I attempted to use three flavors thus far, with hopefully more to try in the days to come:

1. Knoppix will not boot. Well, it will boot - sort of - as the platform will only show a movable mouse cursor and a black background. It's pretty useless with the HP.

2. Damn Small Linux works damn well, and it shuts down cleanly. It is called "Damn Small Linux" because the OS and all the programs of this Live CD total 50 MB in size. Needless to say, DSL doesn't have the flashiest graphic user interface. There are lots of card games included.

3. VectorLinux Light has slightly better graphics than DSL, and it includes a clone of the arcade classic Galaga. It has a sloppy-looking shutdown, but since there's no hard disk drive to worry about, simply pressing the off button isn't much of an issue.

4. I am downloading U-lite Ubuntu as I type this. I can't wait to try it out; hopefully, it won't be another Knoppix.

5. Addendum: I am now burning a U-lite Live CD, while downloading the Sugar ISO.

6. Update (4:30 AM): U-lite is a horrendously slow load, Sugar on a Stick doesn't work, Puppy Linux is fantastic (especially the Rubik's Cube 3D game), ...

7. Feather Linux (based on Knoppix, apparently) is decent, ...

8. and, unfortunately, antiX won't boot at all.

Virtually all of the useful Linux flavors have a word processing application, a PDF reader, and a Web browser. Since there is no working hard disk drive, the HP will have to rely on the obsolete floppy disk drive. There is a chance that the USB ports will work with some of the Linux OSes, and that would be a good thing.

By the way, you can see what the HP's monitor looks like by watching the end of the second season finale of Lost, in the scene with the polar Portuguese speakers who work for Penelope Widmore, after Desmond turned the Swan station's fail-safe key. ::boom:: LOST

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #6: Be Entertained by Troll-ish Comments on the InterWebs

People like their pop culture. When I don't mock it, I like it too, but mostly for things that seem more timeless than timely, or at least have a connection to ages-old storytelling tropes and the beginnings of human civilization (and beforehand?). Anyhow, I digress. The gymnast won Dancing with the Stars, but this rant isn't really about the show. This rant is about some of the fans/trolls with their - I don't know which - purposeful trollish or unwittingly obtuse comments.

This is from an Entertainment Weekly article:

Kathy Wed, May 20, 2009 at 01:06 AM EST

Gilles should have won, he was consistently the best dancer. Shawn is a cute kid but she was not very graceful and danced like an athlete, not a dancer! These are the same "bright" Americans who voted for our wonderful new administration. Idiots!!

Seriously? This Kathy person inserts a political jab into a frivolous pop culture episode? I personally didn't vote for any of the dancer/celebrities of this show (I only voted in one reality TV show), but I DID vote in yesterday's California election.

Another?
Diane Mair Tue, May 19, 2009 at 09:57 PM EST

The so called "comedian" was very insulting. Not funny at all. DO NOT bring him back next year, he was an insult to the show.

Jimmy Tue, May 19, 2009 at 09:05 PM EST

I think it was in poor taste to have a poor commedian [sic] come on and cut everyone down. Is this a washed up comedy show or a dance show. Remember dance show.

I'm pretty sure either one of the hosts prefaced this segment as a roast - the kind without the meat. If they're going to complain about that particular filler comedy segment, they might as well complain about the other filler segments that make up most of the show. Without the filler, the finale would be a fast version of the last 30-4o minutes (WITH commercials) of the two-hour show. Shoot, even the episodes before the finale had lots of filler. ABC makes the most money possible with these low-budget (relative to written shows) reality TV shows, and filler segments create more ad time to sell (about 20 minutes for every hour, not counting in-show product placement). I should stop myself before I start sounding like one of my very awesome professors from college, and critically analyze TV for what it really is.

In any case, similar comments will occur (or have already been posted) for tomorrow's not-Elvis vs. not-Pat Boone American Idol finale.

And yes, for the record, the pop song (that the new judge co-wrote) that both contestants sang at the end was awfully generic. With the guyliner guy's vox, it sounded like an '80s hair metal Monster Ballad that didn't make the cut. It was more the other dude's "style" (or at least fit with his "image"...I loathe to speak of image when speaking of music but whatever), if it weren't out of his vocal range.

I will speak ill of generic pop songs written by non-performing, non-recording songwriters...that is, until I get to do the same thing on a regular basis for lots of blood money compensation. In which case, I will hilariously admit to it. Then I'll keep my typing fingers quiet...all the way to the bank. Until then, art it is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #5: Knowledge Is Cheap; Learning Is Expensive

I'm probably going to stop numbering these rants, waiting for 2010. Then again, it would look cool to see these numbers ascend. In any case, here's my rant for today:

I tried Wolfram Alpha today. I'm not quite sure how I can use this "search engine," but I tried out some nifty functions: (1) It can calculate my age in days (I'm several thousands of days old); (2) it can tell me the temperature, humidity, and wind speed in my locality; and (3) it can do some advanced math.

Seriously, it can solve parabolic equations from algebra and a bunch of other stuff I've forgotten over the years. If I had Wolfram Alpha (or even Wolfram Mathematica) in high school, I wouldn't have had to learn how to do these things (for which I have little use these days) the long way.

This got me thinking about Internet technologies and how they have made things "easier" for several tasks, and whether the old-school "long way" is better. We can search for virtually anything on Google, but it takes a certain skill set to effectively research offline and online. We can roughly translate many languages with Babel Fish (et al.), but it takes patience and brain cells to actually learn that language - even with Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone courses. We can learn various historical information and trivia from Wikipedia, but it takes real soul to learn from history.

There's the old cliche/proverb that says it's better to learn to fish than to be given a fish - you know how it goes (or you can Google it). These new technologies still enable people to learn how to fish, albeit with a motorized fishing pole with a bunch of supplemental gizmos. Unfortunately, "advanced" technology can fail, crash, or mislead from time to time. While it's good to embrace technology (which I'm continually doing), it's always good to remember that old-school (and older-school, and oldest-school) methods exist, and it's a plus to have a little know-how of how things were done before Google.

You know...just in case you're mysteriously transported back to 1997 or something. ::boom:: LOST

Monday, May 18, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #4: Download Digital Albums and Review Them

Last Thursday night/early Friday morning, I downloaded Coldplay's live EP LeftRightLeftRightLeft for free and the new Green Day pop-punk rock opera album 21st Century Breakdown at AmazonMP3 for $5. I loaded both digital albums into my Shuffle, turned off the shuffle function, and listened to both during the driving portions of my Friday errands. Driving is not the best situation for critically listening to an album, but here's what I thought of both new releases, in slightly-larger-than-tweet-sized format:

Coldplay's live EP is a decent short collection of performances from their Viva la Vida Tour. The highlight is actually the short song "Death Will Never Conquer" with the drummer on lead vocals. Will Champion is a regular Ringo Starr.

The new Green Day album is essentially the continuation of them wanting to be like The Who by recording another rock opera concept album. In fact, they actually cover "A Quick One (While He's Away)" as an iTunes-only bonus song. Anyhow, much of the album is mid-tempo and...well, let me put it this way: At $5 on AmazonMP3 for a limited time (with a live Dookie song as a bonus track), the album is a decent listen at a decent value. At $15 on iTunes (with its own set of bonus tracks - to paraphrase Townshend's words/Dalrey's vox - you probably won't call it a bargain...the best you ever had. Unless you're a fanatical fan for Green Day, the iTunes version is overpriced. I'm pretty sure Billie Joe, et al., had some political angle to the concept album's storyline, like American Idiot, but my review was based on how it holds for casual listening while driving a car.

Anyway, that's the world of digitally delivered pop rock for you. I have a new Pearl Jam fanclub vinyl single that needs some spinning. ::boom:: LOST

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #3: Watch the Final "Prison Break" Episodes on Hulu

I watched the final six episodes of Prison Break (presented as five, since the finale is two TV "hours" long) on Hulu. It was quite the marathon of quasi-twists and minor dei ex machinis every time a cell phone coincidentally saves the day or breaks a tense moment. The finale itself was sort of a cast reunion, with the army guy and Sucre returning to help out, as well as the formerly bad Secret Service dude as the big deus ex machina. It's a shame that the army guy and Sucre didn't get more screen time because their storyline was actually the most interesting of all the finale threads. In the end - SPOILERS AHEAD - the bad guys suffer poetic justice, most of the good guys get to live free, and the hero Michael Scofield is dead and buried...or is he?

Apparently, two anti-climactic episodes of Prison Break that occur after the collapse of The Company but before the four-year flash forward will be released as Prison Break: The Final Break. From many accounts (Google or Wiki to confirm or be deceived), these episodes involve Michael and friends trying to free Sara, who is incarcerated for killing Christina Scofield. In addition to the main plot, the DVD movie will probably add more epilogue and explain Michael's death.

Occam's Razor says that Michael's tumor wasn't totally removed, and he eventually succumbed to that. Remember that this is fictional storytelling, and Prison Break was built upon convoluted premises. There is a chance that in order to free Sara, Michael must make a deal with the new Scylla U.N. conglomerate for her freedom. He gives up his freedom to work for "the Conglomerate," and they fake his death - just like his mother. If so, we'll get to see the Prison Break friends reunion scene at Michael's gravesite again, but with the hero himself observing from a distance.

Of course, Michael Scofield will be wearing a khaki DHARMA Initiative jumpsuit. ::boom:: LOST

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #2: Expand the Conglomerate or Create a Front Company?

As I may have mentioned on a number of occasions on this blog, almost a year ago, my brother and I founded a limited liability company called DeRamos Group LLC. It is currently structured into two main divisions: (1) DeRamos Music, which produces and publishes my music, my brother's music, our collaborations, and potentially the music of people we can convince to join us; and (2) DeRamos Media, which handles everything else, usually on the Web.

I can go about this particular "Waiting for 2010" sequence in one of two ways, possibly both:

1. I, Ryan DeRamos, can continue to run the DeRamos Group like I seriously do in real life (yes, that is real, unlike this hyperbolical blog entry), just like Charles Widmore's Widmore Corporation. I can also enjoy a fine whisky whilst I forge alliances with various other corporations and organizations. Like the possible connection between Widmore Corp. and the Hanso Foundation (financier of the DHARMA Initiative), the DeRamos Group might create ties with the non-profit sponsor of whatever I ranted about yesterday.

2. I can create another division/subsidiary of the DeRamos Group called DeRamos Bioscience, just like Richard Alpert's (or Jacob's?) Mittelos Bioscience, but that would mean I would have connections to the natives/Hostiles/Others. But in all seriousness, having a real-life division (or even a spin-off company) called DeRamos Bioscience sounds good, maybe because my surname is a quasi-rhyme with Mittelos.

Maybe there's a third option, where I eschew the Lost connection and instead go about business like either Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #1: Form My Own Dharma Initiative

An interesting discussion with a friend revealed that there are places in this world that contain pockets of "electromagnetic energy" (or similar force) below the surface. There are also places in which "paranormal" activity occur, but in all likelihood, can be explained by more advanced science. Finally, there are places with possibly dangerous, hostile "natives" - not really natives, per se, but long-established folk as de facto natives.

Sometimes, all of the above conditions occur. I think it is my duty (as a fan of Lost who needs to figure out what to do for the next few months to entertain myself) to form a team of dedicated researchers, security, and workmen (and various positions in between) to explore and experiment at a large location that contains all of the above conditions. This "island" (not necessarily an island) is an undisclosed location because I call dibs.

Who's with me? Radzinsky-types need not apply, however. Also, the security team must not suffer from Stormtrooper incompetence. Additionally, while the management should be somewhat low-key (not high strung), they should try not to be a bunch of hippies (not that there's anything wrong with that).

This Dharma Initiative will work! It'll do cool stuff! And when 2010 rolls around, we'll abandon the whole project.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Txt to Posterous to Blogger & Twitter to FB = 2008!

Posted via SMS from DeRamos' Clipboard

Hello, 2008!

Posted via SMS from DeRamos' Clipboard

Is It 2010 Yet?

In any case, I can wait until the final season premiere of Lost. There's always lots to do in the interim. WARNING - Spoilers for "The Incident" are ahead:

They finally revealed Jacob as a kindly sort of fellow, as well as his nemesis (?), that various people have dubbed "Esau," who is a shape-shifting SOB. My best guess is that the writers went old school, as far as storytelling tropes go, with a rivalry between gods or higher powers. This conflict between deities is as old as Yin and Yang, Olympians and Titans, and the Book of Job.

Since "Esau Locke" is a counterfeit "rebirth deity" metaphor - because John Locke is really dead - I speculate that the stabbed and burned Jacob will potentially do the Jesus Christ Pose and somehow be resurrected. The concepts of life-death-rebirth deities and trickster gods are also "timeless" storytelling themes.

That said, I like how the show is merging religious/spiritual/mythological themes (The Others/Hostiles/Natives) with quasi-science/sci-fi/quantum physics (Dharma Initiative), or pitting one against the other. In real life, I feel that while "lesser" science and "lesser" faith almost always contradict, there is potential a "greater" level for both that is not only mutually compatible but also one and the same. Ah, mysticism...

While tropes are classic and effective, the writers still managed to add cliches in the season finale. The largest offense is the Protagonist = Gunslinger Han Solo versus Obstacles = Inept Stormtroopers. I'm talking about Jack (mostly), a spinal surgeon picking off Dharma Initiative security forces, who drop like Stormtroopers. Then again, a two-minute action sequence films (and views) better than a two-hour standoff.

My last observations/questions for the night: In the big 1977 Swan construction showdown, when the drill breached the electromagnetic pocket, it seemed like everyone was fighting an invisble Magneto (the misanthropic, usually bad guy mutant of magnetism in the X-Men). Dr. Chang's arm is injured, but is it severed? Miles calls him "Dad!" to free him from the twisted metal. Where is Hurley? Anyhow, at the end of the episode, at the bottom of the Swan shaft, an injured Juliet pulls a Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) from Armageddon and detonates the bomb herself.

It's funny that the writers apparently took some inspiration from that laughable '90s disaster flick for the season's climax/cliffhanger.

In any case, I don't know if Juliet changed anything or did what she was supposed to in 1977. I have a feeling that the exploded nuclear bomb may have rendered the Island toxic for pregnancies, but that remains to be answered next year. Possibly a combination of Jacob's 2007 assassination and Juliet's 1977 detonation will teleport Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Jin, Juliet, and Miles - who else am I forgetting? - as well as Rose, Bernard, and Vincent the dog to another place, another time, and maybe another Universe.

Maybe it is possible to retain the memories of surviving a 2004 plane crash, despite traveling to 1977 to prevent that plane crash and displacing one's body from the Island to an airport, safe and sound. We do that all the time in dreams, creating temporary Universes with context and memories, only to return to this real Universe with some of those bizarre "memories" intact.

Here's to 2010 and Season Six of Lost!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Attempt at Humor #57,409,383

Re-posted from my Twitter:

DWTS prediction: Melissa will win [the] mirrorball trophy, but [the] trophy will flip-flop with feelings for [the] runner-up.
Yes, I know. My "predictions" sound like Family Guy insert scenes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Attempts at Humor #57,409,381 and #57,409,382

I predict this will be Donald Trump's decision regarding Carrie Prejean's title of Miss California:

Trump won't fire her. Instead, not only will Trump marry Prejean, he will gay marry her.* Don't ask me how, just believe that the irony is possible.**

Alternatively, "The Donald" will fire her.

Either way, I just wasted my time writing this short rant and you wasted yours by choosing to read it (thank you, by the way). Then again, whatever happened, happened.

*Attempt #57,409,382.
**Everything is possible when pigs fly. Swine flu.***
***Attempt #57,409,381, from sometime last week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Extremely Predictable: Cheney Chooses Limbaugh over Powell

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/us/politics/11cheney.html

This is not unexpected, coming from Dick Cheney (relative to his public persona and his reputation to many). News articles and blog sites that allow comments regarding this story are equally - if not moreso - hilarious. The anti-Cheney, anti-Rush Limbaugh crowd tend to demonize both men. Meanwhile, Cheney's supporters sound like stereotypical "conservative" talk radio, just like Limbaugh. All I can say about various commenters and writers, including yours truly, are just culturally (?) or environmentally (?) wired believe their point of view is the correct one.

If Cheney thinks Limbaugh better represents the Republican party than Colin Powell, and if that is true, we'll see what happens to the current major opposition party. Additionally, while Cheney says there's room in the GOP for moderates, he doesn't want the party to shift to the left. In other words, assuming that Cheney's assumed GOP base is more like Limbaugh, the party is deep in the right - socially and fiscally. Therefore, Cheney doesn't want too many moderates in the GOP, as that would shift the base to the "left."

I'd like to think that most voting Americans, whether Democrat, Republican, or other party affiliation, are nuanced - a mix of issue stances to the right, the left, the middle, and some issues undecided (or constantly shifting). If that is the case, then a hard-right Republican Party full of Cheney politicians and Limbaugh voters might not succeed in the free (voter) marketplace (pardon the ironic metaphor). However, I shudder to think that the majority of Americans have a totalitarian bent to their ideological beliefs, whether to the left or to the right.

Besides, General Powell, politically, strikes me as more-or-less fiscally conservative but socially moderate (rather, nuanced for various social issues). If that makes Powell (as some commenters may say) a Republican in Name Only (RINO), then the RINO party sounds like a good opposition party to the majority in Congress and the Obama Administration. Ideally, in my opinion, the Democrats should be more-or-less fiscally moderate but socially liberal. Of course, some might say that would make them the DINO party.

If I remember correctly, a commenter named "Dave" on a Christian Science Monitor article covering the Cheney/Limbaugh/Powell topic said that we might as well have the RINO Party with a rhinoceros mascot and the DINO Party with a dinosaur mascot (I say it should be a donkey-like velociraptor). On the one hand, the fringe extreme right and left would be marginalized (hooray for puns). On the other hand, debates between fiscal conservatives and fiscal moderates, as well as between social moderates and social liberals, would be more civilized than today's ad hominem flame wars.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Superfriends "The One Where [Superman] Got High"

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! Re: Last Post - I stand corrected. There's a third episode for our superhero Friends, a special Thanksgiving one:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Superfriends "The One Where No One's Ready"

It's been a long, somewhat strange day. I'd rather sleep now. So here's the second Superfriends/Friends mash-up. If the first one was "created" in 2006, and this one in 2008, it seems like we'll have to wait until 2010 for a third combo cartoon video/sitcom audio episode, unless a third one is already up (and I didn't search well enough):

Friday, May 8, 2009

Superfriends "The One With The Embryos"

On Facebook, a friend posted a mash-up of the DC Comics superhero cartoon Superfriends and the sitcom Friends. In lieu of a rant, I repost it here:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Richard Alpert's Compass #Lost

Caution: Mild spoilers ahead. I'm trying to figure out when and where Richard Alpert's compass was first acquired. I don't know if I have the chronological details correct (or even if the showrunners do), but I've given this a shot:

Full four-toed statue time: A 48(c) year old John Locke fixes loose frozen donkey wheel to stop the time travel flashes. Locke is transported to 2007 Tunisia, where he is still biologically 48-ish but legally 51.

1954: A 48(b) year old Locke gives a compass to Alpert.

1956: Locke is born.

1974: The frequently leaping main survivors (at the very least) end up here after Locke fixes the wheel.

2004: Ben Linus causes the Island (and its non-native inhabitants, namely, the Survivors and the Science Team) to jump frequently throughout time.

2007: A resurrected "legally 51" year old/legally dead Locke asks Alpert if he still has the compass Locke gave him in 1954. Alpert presumably takes out the same compass, saying that it is a little rusty. Following resurrected Locke's orders, Alpert goes to an injured 48(a) year old Locke (who temporarily jumped to 2007), treats his bullet wound, and gives him either (1) the rusty compass from 1954 or (2) a "younger" version of the compass also in Alpert's possession.

If Alpert gave 48(a) Locke the rusty compass in 2007, then 48(b) Locke will give that same rusty compass to Alpert in 1954. Between the years 1954 and 2007, Alpert will let the rusty compass get rustier, unless the Island prevents the compass from getting decades of wear and tear. Barring that, in 2007, Alpert will then give 48(a) Locke a rustier compass. Then 48(b) Locke will give that rustier compass to Alpert in 1954. The compass will get - let's say - "rustiest" throughout those next five decades. In 2007, Alpert will give 48(a) Locke the rustiest compass, who in turn, as 48(b) Locke, will give the rustiest compass to 1954 Alpert. Et cetera, and eventually both Alpert and Locke will give one another a pile of sandy metal particles.

Am I missing and/or misunderstanding a detail or two?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dr. Oz's Seven Minute Workout

I found this video whilst surfing the Web. Blame Oprah.



It's basically the next step up from the newbie poses/exercises from Wii Fit. I've tried exercising while learning a foreign language, and that worked for a while. I can say "beer" and "in the hotel" like a blue collar James Bond, but the intensity of the work out took a back seat as the languages got trickier (and vice versa). So I've resolved to keep the two more or less separate. Maybe I'll just listen to a LibriVox audiobook while exercising - and maybe I'll attempt Dr. Oz's prescription.

To health!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Video Ellipsis, Fox News, and Pro Wrestling

On Facebook, one of my favorite college professors posted a link that had this embedded video:



I commented on his link:
I can tolerate Fox News continuing what they're doing, as long as their methods are made common knowledge like the reality of Pro Wrestling: Fans can appreciate the melodrama and technique, children eventually accept the truth, but only the delusional cling to the "reality" of the storylines. Thanks for the link, Professor!
And now I will use the magic of the ellipsis ( . . . ) for some of today's Google News headlines:

Karzai: Taliban gains . . . peace in Afghanistan



Dom DeLuise . . . at 75



Microsoft moves forward . . .



Treasury to own . . . GM: SEC filing


The above examples range from subtly inaccurate to outright misleading. In conclusion, we can only hope Fox News (and propagandistic media outlets of all ideological stripes) become as wink-wink, nudge-nudge transparent as World Wrestling Entertainment.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Memo to Eric Schmidt: Duh.

To quote an article from AppleInsider:

A report by the New York Times explained that the investigation centers on the Section 8 provision of The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, which forbids "interlocking directorates," a situation where directors serve on the boards of two competing companies.

Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, and Arthur Levinson, the former chief executive of Genentech, serve on the boards of both Apple and Google. If the FTC were to take action in the matter, the largest consequence would call for the two members to resign from their duties as directors for one of the two companies. Antitrust experts cited by Times stated that "investigations of interlocking directorates rarely lead to major confrontations between companies and the government."
Ten years ago, everyone flocked to Yahoo! for much of their search engine and free Web-based email needs. Ten years ago, Microsoft was in legal trouble for their monopolistic practices, and that Evil Empire reputation remains to this day.

Today, the vast majority of Net surfers go to Google for search results and Google's Gmail for Webmail, among several of Google's other services - YouTube and Blogger, which hosts this blog, et al. Today, while Apple's computer division still retains about 10% of all PC users (despite the consumer dichotomy, less-than-server-class computers are personal ones), Apple's iTunes/iPod/iPhone/small gizmo division is pretty dominant - or at least strongly competing - in its various covered fields: iTunes vs. AmazonMP3 vs. Wal-Mart's MP3 Service (?); iPod vs. other mp3 players; iPhone vs. Blackberry vs. other smartphones; etc.

With Google's G1 also growing in the smartphone realm, as well as talk of Google's Android OS evolving for (at least) netbook PC use, it's no wonder that antitrust red flags wave strongly in this game of corporate intrigue. The Federal government is supposed to try to prevent the inevitable formation of Goopple (RE: a previous facetious rant) and products like the gPod and iGoogle. Scratch the last one. Google Pro, perhaps?

In any case, I anticipate that Eric Schmidt will (be forced to) step down from the Apple board, since he is the CEO of Google. I don't know which side Arthur Levinson will pick. Let's guess that he'll pick Apple...who knows? As for me, I will continue to own my small pieces of Google and Apple, until which time the respective share prices give me a good profit. Then I will eventually sell my small claim to both companies, at a capital gain, and I will have to report that on the year's tax return.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Meddling Shareholder

OK, I really have nothing earth-shattering to write (again, when have I ever?), so I'm just going to write short, Twitter-sized comments to companies that I technically "own" (and possibly use their products), without going through the hassle of actually @ tweeting their respective Twitter accounts and not get a reply. I'm just going to address a handful of companies that you all know and love/hate:

@GOOG: Develop Android as true PC OS. Bury Windows; OS X. Do it.

@AAPL: Make Hackintosh EULA w/ two versions of next OS X: $129 for Mac w/ reg. customer service; $300 for 3rd party PC w/ crap customer service.

@MSFT: Pro-PC ads ridiculous - consider Linux (no $$$ for you) on Dell, HP, etc., and Bootcamp'd Windows (+$$$ for you) on Apple.

@SBUX: Lookin' good again; ensnare the masses more; don't screw this up. BTW, I'm not a customer. Evil LOL.

Et cetera on the portfolio, but those are the handful of companies about which I want to rant for now. As you can see, other than Starbucks, I'm gearing to set up a three-way smackdown among Google, Apple, and Microsoft for computing platform dominance. Where Ubuntu fell short (to some hopeful enthusiasts), Google's Android (or whatever it will be called in the future) will open the door to both cloud computing solutions and other open-source Linux flavors for those who don't want to be spoonfed everything. I'm getting into experimenting with Linux OSes, and so far, you don't have to be Woz-building-the-first-Apple-PC to break free from the Mac/Win dichotomy. Also realize that I openly support open source solutions in spite of the small financial gain that happens when people patronize the aforementioned proprorietary technology.

I guess I must end this pseudo-geek rant ('cause while I have fun playing with technology, I'm not wired to replicate or at least fully understand it). Yes, this is tied to the apparently cautiously recovering (knock on wood) economy.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Smashing Pumpkins "Go" / Tinted Windows "Back with You"

I don't feel like writing anything substantial today (come to think of it, when have I ever?), so I am going to post the two songs I mentioned in yesterday's review: James Iha's "Go" (recorded by the Smashing Pumpkins in 1999) and James Iha's "Back with You" (recorded by Tinted Windows in 2009). I have a suspicion that the latter is the sequel to the former, and I just realized that they are about 10 years apart.

Smashing Pumpkins "Go"



Tinted Windows "Back with You" (Live at SXSW)


I'm disappointed that Iha didn't bust out his EBow for the live performance. I still have yet to find out if there is a rough preproduction demo of Iha handling doing the vocals for "Go, Part II," I mean, "Back with You."

If there isn't, I will have to figure out how to use the modern audio technology at my disposal to make a mash-up of Iha's similar tempo, similar lyrical content duology.

Maybe Iha will include his version of the song for his overdue solo album (the follow-up to 1998's Let It Come Down), or maybe he'll write and record a de facto part three with the same pace, the same lyrical content, and the same feedback-y vibe.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Review of Tinted Windows' Self-Titled Debut Using the Scientific Method (Not Really)

Characterization

Tinted Windows is a "supergroup" consisting of members who have played/current are playing in notable rock bands. The singer is the all growsd up kid from Hanson, a band that apparently has a post-"MMMbop" career and following. The guitarist is prodigal Pumpkin James Iha, who gets to actually record his guitar with this band. Okay, that's not fair: If you listen to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the guitar parts that are either Tom Morello-bizarre (the whammy on "Zero") or aren't wannabe Eddie Van Halen licks (that's Billy Corgan!) are probably James'. The bass player/majority songwriter is Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne who gave us "Stacy's Mom" and wrote the music for the fake band in the movie That Thing You Do. The drummer is Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick. If you don't at least tap your toes to a Cheap Trick song, then you have no soul.

Hypothesis

For Generation Xers past 40 and similarly aging Post-Xers/Pre-Yers, Tinted Windows is the Jonas Brothers it's okay to like. Your kids (or your friend's kids) will wonder why these old folk sound like the Jonas Brothers. Your parents and/or grandparents will school you about real poppy sounding, bubblegum rock 'n roll from the '50s and '60s. Then the Big Crunch will happen.

Predictions

Billy Corgan's fans will say (and have said), WTF? Iha's fans will go, "Take that, Billy Corgan!" I have no idea what the Hanson fans' consensus is. Schlesinger's fans would praise his pop songwriting powers. Cheap Trick fans can't wait for Cheap Trick's summer tour.

From the interviews and strange marketing (a pseudo-80s late night show for the first two singles), it seems like the band members had fun recording the album, and it looks like they want to keep it fun. We might see a sequel to the self-titled album if there's another main band downtime for all members, and if there isn't the time - it's likely there's not going to be a supergroup acrimonious meltdown like Zwan, Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, etc.

Experiments

In lieu of a good alien abduction and probing, I'm just going to talk a little bit about the songwriting. (The performances of all four members are solid, by the way.) At times, there might be a little too much "whoa, whoa" and "c'mon, c'mon" for some. Other than three tracks, the songwriting is mostly Schlesinger's, and the hooks mostly stick (which may or may not be a good thing). Taylor Hanson's contributions, "Nothing to Me" and "Take Me Back" (co-written with Schlesinger), sound on par with Schlesinger's pop rock style.

Iha's "Cha Cha" is kind of weird. (Hey! The previous statement is a bizarre entendre!) It's weird in that, it's almost a paint-by-numbers twelve-bar quasi-blues, surrounded by more-or-less paint-by-numbers pop rock.

In contrast, Iha's "Back with You" is my personal favorite on the album. With Iha's signature atmospheric EBow/feedback work, it's basically the sequel to "Go" from Machina II. I hope that there is a rough demo of "Back with You" with Iha's vocals out there. I just might tweet an @ message to @TintWind with that question.

They'll probably ignore me.

In conclusion, I'll probably not review anything again like a high school biology post-lab write-up (but never say never). In any case, here's my verdict: Tinted Windows is a mildly amusing spin, especially if you're a fan of one or more the the band's elements. After the first couple of spins, feel free to leave the songs active in iTunes/your mp3 player, as any song will make good filler during a shuffle music listening session. Is it worth buying a physical CD to take physical space in your home? Probably not. Buy the mp3 or AAC version instead.

Since AmazonMP3 didn't give the album a deep discount when it was first released, this is one of the few times to go to iTunes for your digital delivery needs: You'll get a bonus track (ironically about cassette tapes) and a PDF of the liner notes for about a dollar more than the AmazonMP3 price.