Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Perhaps it is Time to End

I wouldn't exactly call myself pessimistic. I'd say pragmatic, usually, with a hint of optimism. While I always look at the negative aspects of any situation, it's more a matter of trying to figure out what pitfalls we may need to avoid before we get to them rather than thinking and expecting that everything's going to go south. Call it a proactive problem solving and preparedness tendency. I prefer smooth sailing, and so I look to anticipate the troughs and be prepared for them, even if I can't avoid them. It's not always possible or achievable, but it's my outlook. I want the easy, happy days just as much as anyone else, but I know those days are few and far in-between.
There are those beautiful days, when no one kills another person, when no one gets shot, stabbed, or robbed, when the government is actually interested in its citizens, and those citizens are actually good to one another. There are those beautiful days when children look up in awe at their parents, thinking they're as perfect as anyone could possibly be, and those very same parents are looking back at their children in utter amazement, thinking the same thing. There are those days when two people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation and race and religion, look at one another and realize that they don't want to be with anyone else in the world. Ever. There are those beautiful days when enemies find common ground and can laugh together at the same joke, because deep down, they both know they really want the same things.
But those days seem to becoming even more rare than they already were.
Early this year, I was inspired to write a short story that I haven't yet finished. My original attempt at capturing it didn't feel right to me, and so I've been searching for a way to rewrite it for much of the year. The premise is that one man is charged by God (regardless of the reader's particular religious beliefs) to determine whether the world should go on or end. If he decides that it should end, the end begins immediately, no waiting. Oddly, I feel as if this burden has shifted to my own shoulders.
I started writing this story back in April, long before the Batman shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and long before the stabbings in China and the shootings at Newtown, Conneticut, but I was certainly thinking of incidents like those that my main character had to weigh against the beautiful days like I mentioned above. I had long since tired of the political campaigns that have raged over the last 18 months, when our leaders thought the best way to prove their worthiness to run our nation was to cut one another down, when it was easier to come up with lies and negative spins than it was to come up with solutions and offer to work together. I had long tired of those smiling faces dancing in front of the cameras to get our votes because they wanted to be in the history books rather than legitimately trying to fix the problems our nations face, the problems that our people deal with on a daily basis. Isn't it odd that people care more about money than they do about the health and well being of other people, especially their fellow countrymen? How shallow they seem when they then rush out to start charity drives and raise donations for emergency relief when a disaster strikes, but during the other 99% of the time, they don't give a damn if those people live or die...
The problem with the people in this world is that they are increasingly self-centered, with little or no regard to how their actions affect other people. People simply don't care what happens to anyone else any more. Reality shows propagate that even more; most of the time the "stars" of these shows are put in contrived situations to see how they react, and most of the time they try to do the most outrageous things possible to make themselves into celebrities. The worst part is that people watch these shows and propagate that behavior even further, and because those are "reality" shows, people think they're real, and that that's how life really is.
As much as I hate to think it, let alone say it, I'm really starting to believe that people, especially the youth in America, are losing sight of the difference between true reality and the fiction of reality shows, "found footage" films, viral videos, and video games. I've fought against that argument for many years, because I thought you'd really have to be an idiot to not know the difference, but it seems to becoming a bigger issue all the time. I'm not going to link these mass shootings to any of these things, but every time one occurs, people bring that up... Perhaps it's true... Perhaps these people think that people will simply respawn after some cooldown timer expires...
So, in a round about way, this brings us to the mental health issue. I just finished reading an article on CNN, "Anarchist Soccer Mom Cries Out For Help", which discusses a blogger that is afraid of her son and recently had him committed. The article points out that people are both supporting her and attacking her for her decision, but the fact of the matter is that we don't do enough in this country to support one another's physical well being, let alone mental well being. Any time someone brings up universal health care for American citizens, people start screaming "socialism!" and acting as if the world is about to end. Well maybe it should end. If you can't care about the people living on the streets of your own city, state, and country, then maybe we don't deserve to have that country. When this country was founded, admittedly on the backs of slaves and across the bodies of the indigenous populations, those founders looked after one another, seeing to the health of all of those in the [accepted] communities. That was a socialist tendency. Get over it! Until World War II, the United States had a socialist party, and essentially the only reason we despise socialism so much today is because of the examples that came about 70+ years ago: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, countries that were or became our enemies. Instead, we cling blindly to the belief that capitalism is better; that it's better to work hard, feed the military industrial complex, the oil companies and the insurance companies, and scream that these things make us better!
What made us better was that we were willing to look out for one another. We were willing to join together to overcome our problems, to find solutions, and even just share a meal. People weren't willing to just let others in their community go without because they had no money. People were willing to bend over backwards to help one another. But that time has passed. People don't want to make sure that there's a roof over every American's head unless there's a profit in it. People don't want to help a sick person get well unless they can get a dollar out of it or demonstrate how charitable or generous they are on television. And no one wants to help the mentally ill or those that could just use a few hours a week speaking to a mental health professional because of the stigma involved.
Liza Long did the right thing in committing her son; there's no way around it. I wish Adam Lanza had gotten the help he needed. I wish James Holmes had gotten more help. I wish my countrymen cared enough to stop bitching about socialism and start giving a damn about their fellow countrymen; perhaps enough to see to it that we all get healthcare and education. People have said in the past that we're the richest, most prosperous and most powerful nation on the Earth, but, if that's still the case these days, the reason is because this country is full of selfish assholes crying over profits. The Republican party likes to scream over the national deficit that we're leaving behind for our children, but they say nothing over the deficit of compassion that's being propagated through our society as people are left to struggle to survive let alone stay healthy. Generally, their idea of making the country better is to enrich the rich, make the corporations powerful, take away women's rights, restrict the minorities' right to vote, and let the middle and lower class fight among themselves for survival. I'm surprised they haven't proposed the return of gladiatorial combat, allowing the non-rich to fight to the death for scraps of health care and education... Shit, I should delete that before they introduce a bill on that idea...
With a deep breath, I apologize for delving into politics. I didn't want to go there, but I feel it was necessary since "liberals" like me are always screaming about "entitlement programs" and healthcare. I just think this country is morally bankrupt when we start talking about the economy making this a great country rather than the principles that this country was founded on. The founders of this country didn't particularly want anyone to suffer. If they were around today, I guarantee you that each and every one of them would be in favor of better healthcare and education for all Americans.
As it is... I don't know... I'm at a point where I think that this world probably deserves to end, that I almost wish that the doomsayers that foolishly believe the world will end this Friday were actually going to be right... I'm not going to do anything to try to bring that about, but despite the promise that our people, all people, have, I really don't see any good reason why we should go on. Maybe God will bring about a new plague, one that wipes out all the world's adults, sparing the children and, through His grace, allows them to grow up to be better people than we are.
Perhaps it is time to end.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Apple, Microsoft, Google & Others: END THE PATENT WAR NOW!!

Look, we get it, each company wants to be successful and ultimately be the dominant player in the mobile phone arena. Microsoft, you've got Windows Phone which showcases your ideas on what a smartphone should be. Apple, your products have always been innovative and well thought out and well implemented. Google & the Android camp, you've got the momentum, the ability to rapidly improve and adapt, and the open source movements to bolster Android devices. And all of you, Microsoft, Apple, Google and the Android army are all doing one thing extremely well: pissing all of us the hell off!!

Patents are a key to maintaining intellectual property and protecting its enclosed ideas. We outsiders understand that and recognize that without patents, a lot of the advances we enjoy every day might not have been possible because there might be too many competing technologies on the market to enable advancements based on them to develop. But that can hardly be the case with operating systems, mobile or otherwise.

Face it, you all have stolen or borrowed ideas not only from one another, but from your predecessors. And I'm especially aiming that comment at Microsoft and Apple! But what you guys are doing right now isn't about protecting your business, it's about hurting the other guy. This patent war is barely accomplishing even that! What you don't realize is that you're hurting your customers!  Most of what you are suing one another over is prior art, common sense, or the reasonable evolution of an idea that likely didn't even have its origin with your companies.

What it's mainly doing is pissing off all of your current and potential customers. Apple and Microsoft: you make many consumer products outside of the smartphone market that you're probably hurting your own sales of those products as well future smartphone sales as you alienate Android enthusiasts. While most Android manufacturers simply tout their product and try to keep to themselves, others, like Samsung, have taken an aggressive stance in their advertising campaigns deliberately targeting iPhone users. While it's hard for me to paint Android as an antagonist in this war, simply an entity defending itself, it's obvious that some of the things that Android developers and manufacturers have done have been deliberately provocative.

Then again, isn't that the whole idea of competition in the capitalist market? Anytime someone implements a similar feature is implemented in Android, lawsuits start flying. Never mind that the same features have been implemented in desktop OSes or in iOS and Windows Phone without triggering the same lawsuits. The bottom line is that rather than competing and relying on the superiority of your implementation, you unleash a team of lawyers.

Give the people you claim you're serving a break, and stop this damned patent war!!

Update 7/9/2012: I'm not exactly the only one thinking this way... http://www.tomshardware.com/news/patent-lawsuit-judge-Richard-Posner-patent-system-broken-reform,16220.html and http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18736415

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To Write or Not To Write

Yesterday I stumbled across an opportunity to write for a website that's just starting up. The site's subject is something I'm reasonably knowledgeable about and I happen to have written blog posts on the subject. The problem, at the moment, is that the position wouldn't be a paid position unless the website gets to be successful.

I can do this theoretical job, easily, and probably be one of their best writers, but the question is do I want to divert my desired career path long with the hopes of getting paid when I have no income and plenty of free time to write as I please? This job could lead to cash a lot sooner for me and represents additional experience I could use, but then again, the website could utterly fail...

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

So... That's Done...

As of this past week, I'm a college graduate with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies. What this means is that I'm now qualified to formally analyze films in terms of mise-en-scene, themes, style, narrative, and other filmic elements. Oddly, this has little to do with my desired career as a filmmaker, let alone as a screenwriter.
But the tools I've acquired can and will have an effect on that career. I fully intend to apply them to my own work, in-progress and afterwards, to improve the quality of my work, and ultimately improve the quality of the pictures you see.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dodge Dart sighted?

Once again while driving to Oakland University I spied a vehicle that isn't exactly commonplace in American society yet. What was obvious from a distance was that it was a Dodge vehicle but I couldn't spot any model name on it as we drove north on I-75 towards Chrysler's headquarters.

I wasn't sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me or not, then I remembered the new model introduced at the North American International Auto Show in January: the Dodge Dart. I promptly looked it up after I parked at OU and I'm about 95% certain that I saw one of the new Darts on the road, not even in the eye  irritating camouflage that Chrysler has used for other pre-release vehicles.

Does this mean the Dart launch is imminent?

April 6th: King Julian Day!

Celebrating the world's most famous and beloved noble, King Julian Day is nearly upon us once more. The traditional method of honoring his royal lemur-ness is to act silly and sing "I Like To Move It" at the top of your lungs, even if you only know the following lyrics from the song:

I like to move it, move it
I like to move it, move it
I like to move it, move it
I like to

Beyond these requirements, you are only expected to make the best of your day and be friendly to everyone, especially those jealous of your awesomeness. So spread the word and joy that King Julian Day is nearly upon us once again!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lions vs Packers 2011 Round Two

Ok, yesterday, on New Year's Day, the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions again. There's no way around that fact. It's immutable. The final score was Green Bay 45, Detroit 41.

So far, however, people in the news business aren't really commenting on a couple key points of this game.
They all point out that Green Bay's backups beat the Detroit starters, and that Green Bay outscored Detroit, but none are really pointing out that the referees completely blew a call that would have resulted in an additional Detroit touchdown in the second quarter: Titus Young successfully caught the ball in the end zone with one foot down already and dragged his other foot in-bounds before falling out of bounds. It was a touchdown. The home audience saw it. The play-by-play reporters saw it and called it as such. Both coaches saw it, but the refs decided that it wasn't a touchdown. Oddly, a few plays later, a Green Bay reception under similar conditions was ruled a catch. That play alone would have made the difference in the game, but was completely neutralized and unchallenged.

The refs in general seemed to be biased against Detroit in the first half. On two separate occasions to the the "touchdown that never was" a Detroit ball carrier who was obviously down by contact had the ball come free, and on both occasions it was ruled as a fumble by the refs. Coach Jim Schwarz was right to challenge both of those calls, but only one was overturned even though both were obviously not fumbles: the carrier had been down, and the ball came free after he was down.

But you know what? I'm not going to whine or complain any further about the officiating. At this point, I want to remind everyone that yesterday, the Detroit Lions nearly beat the previously 14-1, defending Superbowl champions in their hometown. More or less the same team that finished last year with a 6-10 record, came up a few points shy of beating the theoretically best team in the league. The Lions scored more victories in this season alone than they did in the prior three seasons combined! Green Bay was expected to win yesterday's game by everyone, but they were nearly beaten by a team few expected to have a winning season this year.

Much is being made of Matt Flynn's record setting day yesterday, but what about Matthew Stafford's? Not counting the failed touchdown throws (which would have tied and exceeded Flynn's 6 on the day; lets not forget that Calvin Johnson dropped what would have been another wide-open pass for a touchdown), Stafford threw for 5 successful touchdowns which was a Lions' record if I'm not mistaken, and 520 yards in a single game — a definite Detroit record! Yesterday's game set all sorts of records for the NFL and both clubs, but only Flynn seems to be getting recognized for his efforts. Stafford threw for more yards yesterday than Flynn did, but the difference is that Flynn won and is a backup quarterback, where Stafford lost and is the starter. You know what? That's bulllshit! It doesn't matter if you're the starter or backup in the NFL, a killer game is a killer game, and should be recognized whether you win or lose. Once you factor in that the defending Superbowl champions' backup is as good as any starting quarterback in the league, then you have to drop the idea that their "backups" beat the Detroit starters.

The raggedy Detroit Lions nearly beat the superbowl champions. Period. No it doesn't really matter that it was a close game as far as the stat books are concerned; a loss is a loss, and a win is a win, but all the official sports news reporters really need to look at it for what it was: the Defending Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers Nearly Lost to the Detroit Lions!