Saturday, May 30, 2009

Persona non blogga

Hello? (tap, tap, tap) Is this thing on?

Wow. Funny how real life can get in the way of the internetz sometimes. Not funny like "ha ha" funny. More like funny in that ironical, makes-you-think kind of way.

So anyway, here's an update from my Awesome life. A few highlights from my week (like you care).
  • I finally mowed my grass in the back yard. Due to a series of unfortunate events that included business travel and lots of rain, some of the grass back there was nearly a foot tall. And don't even get me started on the weeds. My back yard has more weed than a Rotterdam coffee house.

  • Kicked ass at Need for Speed Undercover on the Wii. I think my real life driving style has really prepared me for success in this game.

  • Contributed to the Xtacles second-place finish in our weekly bowling league match up. I have a feeling that Logtar and Chimpotle are getting frustrated with my unconventional overhand bowling style. Trust me guys, it will start to click soon.

  • Planted some upside-down tomatoes. Also, some upside-down cucumbers. Up next: Upside-down carrots and upside "home-grown herbs."

  • Installed a keypad garage door opener. Yeah, most people in the 'burbs already have one of these, so I thought I'd bring us into the 1990s. Email me if you want the combination.
Let's see. It seems like there was at least on other big thing that happened. Well, I don't know about "big," but it's probably worth mentioning in passing...

Our second daughter arrived!!!

That's right. I'm doing my part to pass on superior genetic material to help delay the inevitable demise of the human race. Now mind you, I'm not talking about my genes. The world doesn't need more fat bald guys. But it's important that my Supermodel Wife's Supermodel Genes get passed on to future generations. For our purposes, that means a second future-Supermodel daughter.

And she was an early bird, arriving about three weeks early. Four pounds. Twelve ounces. Tons of heart.

Yeah. It's been a good week.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'd be happy to tell you why you're wrong

My good friend and former "Sexiest Man in Independence" is battling withdrawal symptoms (caused by missing too many hippie drum circles) with yet another repetitive, irrational call for a single global government.
There is only one path to the survival of humans on his planet. At some point, we have to have a One World Government that can enforce laws and policies that benefit everyone, everywhere, while controlling and allocating worldwide resources equally for the benefit of all.
My initial reaction was, "Oof. This again?"

Then XO gave me a glimmer of hope by hinting that he doesn't really believe 100 percent in this Utopian claptrap when he begged for people to "Tell me why I'm wrong."

Okay. I'm happy to go over this with you again.

The essential flaw in your logic thought process is that somehow in your 80 years on this planet you've failed to grasp an understanding of the most rudimentary and basic aspects the human condition.

Anyone who thinks that the notions of natural selection and evolution have even the remotest whiff of validity can see the logical flaw when they follow those concepts through to their logical conclusions.

That flaw being, humans are animals.

Now, don't take this to mean that I'm down on humanity. I love humanity. Humanity has been very good to me. Humanity has been responsible for some of the greatest artistic and technological achievements the world has ever seen.

I love humanity, and I get kind of annoyed by people who place more importance in other -ities than humanity.

The failure in the thinking feelings of Utopians like XO is that they don't recognize this very basic fact. If you want to attempt to solve the problems of humanity, you must have an honest recognition of what humanity is and what that implies.

Because humans are animals, you can expect them to behave like animals in various situations. Highly refined animals, sure, but animals nonetheless.

For example, like cattle, people won't to anything if they don't have to. If there's someone there providing all the basic needs of food, shelter and digital TV converter boxes, there's no motivation to go out and be productive. That's not to say that we shouldn't help each other out. We absolutely should. But we should help out each other, for the betterment of our species, and not shove our duties to each other on to larger and larger governmental agencies.

Additionally, if a single person (or group of people) are given charge of distributing wealth and resources on a global scale, just like pigs they'll consume all of the resources they can as quickly as possible with no regard for the needs of anyone else.

The amount of power and corruption concentrated into this hypothetical one-world government would make the Goldman Sachs-Federal Reserve-Obama Administration cabal look like a playground bully.

Concentrating government power is the complete opposite of what we should be doing. Obviously we need some government to help provide basic services. But a decentralized government, where representatives are as close as possible to the represented, is the best way to combat humanity's animal tendencies when it comes to taking other people's stuff and not doing anything productive.

In fact, multiple sovereigns, governmental and social systems is analogous to evolution's natural selection. Political boundaries are the way they are because socio-political evolution has dictated it.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blogger v. Twitter

Of course. Twitter is a de rigueur cyberflavor of the week. But I would hate to think that my favorite bloggers were abandoning their long-form musings for Twitter's quick 140-character fix.

And I'm not the only one. My good friend Logtar has thrown down the gauntlet for a sudden death, Thunderdome-style massive laser tag battle royal to determine once and for all who will be left standing to rule Kansas City's digital landscape.

And judging from the comments on his post, bloggers are severely outnumbered by Twits.

But I don't want that to discourage any of you bloggers out there. Don't worry that we may be outnumbered. That's a good thing. In fact, that's the way I want it!
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our blogs loss; and if to live,
The fewer bloggers, the greater share of honour.
Blogger's will! I pray thee, wish not one blogger more.
By WordPress, I am not covetous for followers,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my RSS;
It yearns me not if men my status follow;
Such outward things dwell not in my Google results.

But if it be a sin to covet pageviews,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, Faith (my link) wish not a twit from Twitter.
Blogger's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one twitterer more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Blogspot, through my post,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his Fail Whale shall be made,
We would not blog in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to laser tag with us.

This day is call'd the Blogger vs Twitter.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe homepage,
Will write long blogs when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Wordpress.

Short tweets forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with archives,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our avatars,
Familiar on his keyboard as household words-
Logtar, Nightmare and T-Rave,
Wrytir and Nuke, Chimpo and Emawkc-
Be in their 140-character tweets freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good blogger post on Facebook;

And blogger/tweeter meetup shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the Internet,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of bloggers;
For he today that shoots toy lasers with me
Shall be a blogger...

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This is only a test

Hey, can you cats do me a solid? I've been monkeying around with the RSS feed here and I need to know if I've jacked it up beyond all recognition.

Could some of you cool people who use an RSS reader let me know if you're still getting this RSS feed? Just leave a comment below if you are so I'll know that I haven't completely borked the works here.

Only the coolest, most awesome people need to respond. I assume you know who you are.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: One, two, three, four, I declare a flame war!

If your like me and you've been creeping around the internet since the mid-90s, you realize certain truths about the online world.

One of those truths is that people who claim to be old experts on the internet are usually full or crap.

Another is that online discussion groups, in what ever form they take (email lists, bulletin boards, forums, etc.) over time will always flame out. And by flame out, I mean that eventually, teams will form, manners will break down, members will stop being polite and some trivial matter will cause the entire system to implode into petty sarcasm.

This video from College Humor is a good illustration of what I'm talking about. It's hilarious and it mocks most of the major memes of the last five years.

Of course, the language is awfully strong and, being from College Humor, its obviously NFSW. Just put on your headphones and be prepared to hit your "cheese it, the cops" key (what? you don't have a "cheese it, the cops" key? Uh, amature).

Also, the offensive expletives (many of which reference body parts and racist and homophobic invective) are meant to show the ignorance of the kind of people, all too common on the internet, who use such language in the first place. I apologize in advance if they offend you.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Serendipity do

I think it’s cool when things seem to happen for a reason.

Doesn’t have to be a great big chain of cosmic events altering the time-space continuum and creating alternate realities. Although I guess in a cosmic sense we wouldn’t really know when that sort of thing happens anyway.

What I’m talking about is those seemingly trivial, seemingly insignificant events that happen every day that just fit together so well that it makes you wonder about fate, providence, whatever.

I say they’re seemingly insignificant, but I think these chains of events happen more often than we notice. And perhaps they are more important than we think they are.

Here’s the latest example from my awesome life.

So I’m at a certain sports/entertainment event well known for the proliferation of product sponsors. I’m wandering around a concourse area when a helpful chap comes up and offers me a free sample box of Goody's Headache Powder - Cool Orange.

It's a powder (like Kool Aid) that you pour into a bottle of water, let it dissolve, then drink the potion for headache relief. Nifty idea, I thought. Wonder if it works.

I stuck the three dosage packs in my pocket, anticipating a headache later in the day from too much sun and fun. But with all the merry-making and being awesome, I soon forgot they were there and it turned out I didn’t need them anyway.

Now fast forward ten or eleven hours. It’s two in the morning and I’m returning to the hotel. I stop at the front desk to check for messages and mail. There’s another fellow talking to the front desk attendant. The woman behind the counter seems to have disappointed him, saying something like “I’m sorry sir, we just can’t give out that kind of thing here.”

But the guy is insistent.

“Look all I need is some Tylenol, or some ibuprofen or something,” he says. “My wife is next door and she’s got a terrible headache. There aren’t any stores open around here.”

I instantly remember the headache powder packets I've had in my pocket all day and it all seems too perfect. I size up the guy and quickly conclude he isn’t some kind of ibuprofen junkie. I pull the medicine out and slide it down the check-in desk counter to him.

“Try these,” I say. “I don’t know if they’ll work, but it’s better than nothing.”

He recognizes the packets and is very gracious.

“Aw thanks man!” he says. ”This is great. You’re really helping me out. I really appreciated it.”

He offers a handshake which I return.

“No problem,” I say. “Hope it helps.”

“I want to repay you. Are you going to be in town for a while?” he asks.

I tell him I leave in the morning – actually, in a few hours. But no repayment is needed.

“Well are you going to be back next week? I own the bar across the street and you can be my guest for drinks or something.”

Tempted as I am, I’m pretty well exhausted from being awesome all day, and I’m already thinking about the travel day tomorrow – er, later today. I tell him I won’t be back in town and repeat that no repayment is necessary. It's just me doin’ a solid for a brutha (hell, I didn’t pay for the stuff anyway).

And besides, I couldn’t help but mull over the possibility that God... The Universe... karma... or whatever... had me bump into the medicine marketer and get a free sample for the express purpose of delivering it to this guy’s ailing wife a few hours later.

For that matter, the entire purpose of my life could have been to be in that specific place at that particular moment with free samples of headache medicine in my pocket just at the time when someone needed free headache medicine.

That may sound trivial and unimportant, but how do I know that the guy’s wife wasn’t working on a key breakthrough in the cure for cancer and if she could just get rid of her headache she could concentrate on finally working out the solution.

Or maybe she was about to finally figure out how to achieve peace in the Middle East? Or perhaps she'd worked out a way for newspapers to make money? Or it's possible that she was about to develop a treatment for Larry Moore's extreme geezerism.

We just don’t know, is all I’m sayin’. And I couldn’t very well take payment for playing such a pivotal roll in this cosmic drama. It just wouldn't be good karma, you know?

So I left him with these words before heading up to my room.

“Look, you don’t owe me any money. But some day, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this headache medicine as a gift from me.”

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It's a common story, but one that people are always happy to hear.

A close friend or relative is diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis is grim, but the patient fights the cancer with everything that modern science, medical technology, a strong support network and a vast reservoir of faith can muster.

In the end, the cancer goes into remission or is removed altogether.

It's an inspirational story. The stuff that plays and movies are made of.

But it's not what happened with my next door neighbor, George.

When I first mentioned George's cancer 8 weeks ago, he was optimistic. Not optimistic that he would live forever, but optimistic that he would fight the disease and take each day as it came.

I didn't know at the time that would be the last time I talked to him. I saw his wife a couple of weeks later. She gave me the bad news that the chemotherapy had not gone well and that the doctors had stopped it. George was now on hospice care. His wife said he had maybe a couple of weeks left.

In the days that followed, George was surrounded by family at all hours. Relatives were at his house daily, making sure he wasn't alone, trying to make him as comfortable as possible.

Then one day in late April, I saw long lines of cars parking along our street, throughout our neighborhood. Hundreds of them. A lifetime's worth of friends who came to pay their final respects to a good man. Maybe one of the best men, but who am I to say.

Like I said, no heroic, happy ending here. Real life isn't a Lifetime movie of the week. Sometimes all of the faith and medical science doesn't lead to a miracle recovery. Sometimes the best people die while undeserving scoundrels make off with billions in ill-gotten TARP money.

There's no inspirational lesson, unless it's the message that some day we are all going to die. And when that day comes, the best you can hope for is that you won't be alone -- that you will have made enough of a positive impression on people that they will remember you for being a good man.

Even if they were just your next door neighbor for a couple of short years.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Help!

This is a really fun animation, and it's a cool example of the fine line between genius and insane. That difference being, if you see stick people attacking you on the way to work in the morning, you're insane. But if you're able to put it into a cool video the likes of which nobody has done before, you're genius.

Help! from Michael Moloney Studio on Vimeo.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sporting chance

I've long valued this medium as a channel for discussing important topics and exchanging ideas on the policies that will shape our society for years to come.

So I wanted to take this opportunity to share my view on an issue about which both J.D. and Lodo have recently opined.

I know it's something that we are all very concerned about, especially in these trying times that we are going through. And with baseball in full swing and football kicking off just around the corner, it's important to talk about... sports.

Lodo made a pretty good point the other day:
Truth be told, the only sports I find even remotely as exciting as sex or live music are basketball and boxing. Especially boxing.
But my response today is prompted more by J.D.'s rather rigid definition.
There is only one absolute rule of sport identification, and it is this: If among an event’s essential ingredients are animals, betting, or pavement, then the event in question is not a sport. All others are negotiable, and the physical conditions of the participants is irrelevant.
While elegant at first glance, these criteria are problematic. For example, professional cycling takes place on pavement. Therefore, according to JD's model, it is not a sport. At the same time, professional mountain biking is a sport because it involves neither betting, animals nor pavement.

Hard court tennis is also played on pavement. Does that make the U.S. Open not a sport while Wimbledon and the Australian Open are? Of course not.

Another example: People bet on college football all the time, but pretty much anyone you ask -- even those who hate college football -- would categorize it as a sport.

In fact, you probably don't have to look too hard to find a bookie to take your action on pretty much any athletic endeavor you can think of. I would say that criteria should be eliminated solely on the basis of being over broad.

As you can see, this is a topic to which I've devoted considerable thought (at least 10 minutes worth if brain power).

Here's the model I've come up with, and it's a good reflection of my worldview in general.

I don't think you can divide athletic endeavor into "sport" and "not sport." It's not an either/or, it's not digital, it's more analog.

There's a continuum, a scale that indicates the degree to which a certain activity is sportish or non-sportish. There are certain criteria that can move the activity to the right (sportish) or left (non-sportish), and JD's rules fit nicely into this model (except for the betting one).

So to find an activity's position on the continuum, considers such factors as the filed of play (including whether it's on pavement), equipment (are animals included), the presence or lack of balls, the physical effort exerted by the participants, etc.

But one factor, perhaps the primary factor, is scoring.

In my view if judges or a panel of judges are the most significant factor in deciding the winner of any contest -- well, that's a major negative mark in the degree of sportishness.

It's such a big factor that I would say sports like gymnastics, dancing and figure skating have a lower degree of sportishness than, say golf or even auto racing.

And, when an activity scores high in all criteria, it's way to the right on the sportishness scale.
  • Football: High degree of physical exertion by participants, played on grass (or reasonable facsimile thereof), uses a ball, objective scoring based on achievement of predefined goals, protective equipment only.

  • Baseball: Played on field, low-tech equipment only, high-degree or physical coordination required, objective scoring system, uses a ball.

So you see, pretty much any activity can be graded according to this method. And it still supports my assertion that figure skating, though very athletic, is still quite lame.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I've kind of been bringing my own coffee in to work a lot lately.

Our office coffee is that vacuum packed Folgers stuff. Frankly, it's not that good. And it's become a general practice in my block of cubes to double the dose of Folgers when whoever-it-is makes a new pot. The flawed logic seems to be that if a single dose is bad, then two doses will be good.

Anyway I sort of ignored the last 1/3 of a cup of coffee in my work mug for the last two weeks or so, drinking instead from several travel mugs that I fill up with decent coffee before work.

Well I today I just happened to glance over at my mug to discover that all of the liquid has evaporated out, leaving only coffee crust and a thick, inky sludge at the bottom of the cup.

Note the rings of crust rising about a third of the way up the inside of the glass. It must be some kind of indication of how well the dehumidifiers work in my office. I mean, that's a lot of liquid to just vanish into thin air.

Here's a better view looking down into blackness at the bottom of the mug.

I'm thinking about letting it dry all the way out, then adding hot water to see if I can reconstitute it. Does coffee work like that?

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The long and winding The Road

Reports are surfacing that the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning The Road finally has a release date.

This is something that's been on my radar since first reading the novel a couple of years ago. I remember thinking at the time that a movie version was a foregone conclusion. The book is written almost as a screenplay.

And, with the critical and commercial success No Country for Old Men, a movie based on another of McCarthy's novels, it seemed studios would be anxious to get on The Road.

Well, it now looks like the film version of The Road is set for release this October, just in time to be the feel-good hit of the holiday season. Original reports were that it was supposed to be out early this year, but it has been delayed for various reasons.

There's not much info yet on the official website, aside from the mention that Viggo Mortensen will be playing the lead. And try as I might, my five-minute Google search produced no video trailers for the film yet.

But there has some hype about the movie being a leading contender for more awards at the next Oscars. I just hope it lives up to the quality of the book.

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Swine flu over the cuckoo's nest

These days, with all of the modern touchy-feely parenting techniques that focus on "feelings" and "self-esteem" and "proper dental hygiene," one very effective motivational device gets woefully overlooked.

Of course I'm talking about fear.

Fear is a great motivator when used sparingly (if you over use it, your kid gets desensitized and then it stops working). Anyway, it occurred to me that this recent swine flu mania was a good opportunity to get in some good parenting moments.

So when I brought The Kid home from kindergarten the other day, I took her immediately to the kitchen sink.

"Okay, the first thing we need to do is wash our hands. It's more important than ever to wash our hands a lot these days," I said.

Of course I received the expected and inevitable answer in the form of a question.

"Why," The Kid asked.

"Well, there's a really bad flu going around," I explained. "It's so serious that people have died."

Ah yes. The fear of death. That should get her attention. But first things first.

"A 'foo'? What's a 'foo'?"

"Not a foo," I explained. "A flu. It's a virus that can get into your body and make you sick. It's kind of like a germ."

"Oh. And people die from it?"

"Yes. They have had people die from it. But as long as you was your hands a lot and make lots of suds, you should be okay."

For the next few minutes we washed out hands together. I told her how important it is to use warm water, make lots of suds with the soap and wash the front and back of you hands, between your fingers and even up around your wrist.

The next day on the way to school, NPR conveniently played the latest tragic news about the flu, and I conveniently turned up the volume for The Kid to conveniently hear. When I picked her up from school that afternoon, I asked if she washed her hands a lot during the day.

"I tried, but the soap here doesn't make suds very well," she said. "Also, my friend Carly doesn't care if she dies."


"She didn't believe me when I told her she had to wash her hands so she doesn't die from the flu."

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YouTube Tuesday: Cinco de YouTube

In honor of taking the day off (I wish) and drinking lots of Mexican cerveza and refusing to refer to it as "Mexican Flu" -- here's a quickie YouTube history lesson for you.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

3AM EXCLUSIVE: SPECTRE switches sides

SPECTRE ISLAND (3AM) - Global terrorism network SPECTRE announced plans Tuesday to switch sides, a move intended to boost its chances of remaining profitable during the global economic downturn.

"We now find our political philosophy more in line with the forces of good than evil," said super villain and Chief Evil Officer Ernst Stavro Blofeld in a statement posted on a Web site devoted to world-wide anarchy. Several lower level henchmen said a formal announcement could come later in the week.

SPECTRE, the notorious crime syndicate, is one of a handful of terrorist organizations remaining from the Cold War era. It is known to have been involved behind the scenes in several high-profile terrorist operations specializing in kidnapping, ransom, extortion and stolen Soviet rockets.

SPECTRE faced an extraordinarily difficult challenge throughout the cold war and was stymied on many occasions by special operatives of the Western governments. Some proposed that it was this ongoing war of attrition that finally prompted the syndicate to change sides.

"It's true that we never intended to join in the fray directly," explained senior SPECTRE Operative Julius No. "But our strategy of pitting one side against the other to weaken both so that we could then achieve world domination proved to be flawed when the two superpowers made peace."

As a member of the side of good, SPECTRE spokesmen have pledged to use their global criminal network to help Western powers root out and defeat terrorist organizations around the world.

"We have the ability to tap vast resources to provide the kind of critical information necessary for successful anti-terror operations," said Professor R.J. Dent, an operations analyst for SPECTRE.

"Using information we provide, Western governments will be able to engage the enemies of freedom directly and effectively. Our believe financial and human damage from these operations will be minimal."

Added Blofeld, "Rest assured that our organization will stand ready to step in an assist with any rebuilding or recovery necessary if you country is significantly weekend as a result of these operations."

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