Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks WTF

The latest Wikileaks information terror attack (the diplomatic cable release) should be their last. Barry needs to man up, for once, and take this guy out. This is classified, secret information. If it is a crime, prosecute. Heads need to roll at State and the Pentagon when they find out who leaked this information. The Iraq War leak was not as bad as it said a lot of what we already knew, destroyed some myths, and answered some questions of a war zone that we are slowly disengaging from and have been disengaging from since 2008. The Afgan War leak was horrible as it put active sources, spies and servicemen at risk. This was in an active war zone that we are increasing our presence in with a shaky leader in a 4th world nation. There is a big difference though in the leaks.

This leak touches a lot of people high up the food chain. Leaders are mocked by others or are the named source of a tidbit of information. We cannot keep secrets. Who will feel comfortable sharing information with us? How do you think our 'insiders' will feel now that their countries or governments know the US has a nice resource within the cabinet? My favorite part is how the Arab world hates Iran's growing presence, but never says it in person. Funny how some people already thought this, but nope, the mainstream media always has to position it as Israel vs. Iran. The docs on worries that Iran has advanced missiles from North korea will not help anyone sleep at night, but Barry will probably still keep that open hand extended out to Iran.

This is not the Pentagon Papers. That was the release of a 'white paper' done by the dept of defense of the US involvement in Vietnam from the inception of the French-Indochina war. It told a story of how we got to where we got, and was old news by multiple years when it was published. it also told of massive lying by the Johnson Admin to everyone else in America. That was a service to our country. This wikileaks data dump is like a hacker, ADD version of that. It is a massive data dump of sensitive material that is critical today. The sad part is that it exposes the State Dept, and the White House, as incompetent or ineffective. How does this happen? How did the first two leaks not lead to an arrest or shut down before this leak? How do you look allies, spies and potential resources in the face and say "you're secret is safe with me as a member of the United States foreign service"?

Letter from Former Slave to Former Master

A piece of US History is here on display that is both awesome and heartbreaking. The first two paragraphs sound like a letter from an old friend with some weird touches, but one would expect some oddities when dealing with post-Civil War, former slave/master communication. The final paragraph and post script are a great screw you to a former slaveholding asshole. There is something to be learned here by many current individuals that you can be vicious and classy when finally getting the opportunity to stick it to a true oppressor.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Reminder of Horror

The Holocaust did happen and we are still amongst people who lived it. Please read this short tale. Dr. Mengele was a deranged individual who used humans as living dolls to do as he pleased. It is a shame he drowned in shallow water in South America instead of at the end of a rope in a Nuremburg or Israeli tribunal.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

America's founding fathers are usually viewed as austere, wealthy and stuffy old white men. While not a historical record of all of our founding fathers, Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton will shatter that myth as he chronicles the life of our greatest founding father to not become president. If you have a $10 bill, look at it. That is Alexander Hamilton. Why is he on the $10 bill instead of the many presidents we have had since his death in 1804? Read this book and you will understand.

While many Revolutionary War era figures are stuffy blue bloods (John Adams) or really out of touch as slaveholding, aristocratic landlords (Jefferson/Madison/Monroe), Hamilton has a very modern rise and existence. Hamilton was born as the illegitimate son, whom even then it is questioned if his father in name is his biological father. He has amazing aptitude, and uses his amazing talents to leap to the continent, to the precursor of Columbia University, to the aide de camp to General Washington, to the Constitutional Convention, to the Tresury Dept all before age 40. It is truly amazing how much he learned through study all the while organizing & administering the army for Gen. Washington. His hands touched a variety of things from the creation of the Bank of NY, the Federalist Papers, the entire structure of our Federal Government's monetary system, to the very legal definition of libel that is used today.

Hamilton is a bit of a hot head who does not know when to stop. His constant brushes with duels are fun to read amongst the serious tangles in politics. In one stretch, Hamilton gets into two duels in a matter of one afternoon, claiming to the 2nd fellow that he will deal with him after dispatching with the 1st challenger. Hamilton feels modern, flawed, driven, and most importantly for the founding fathers, human. Hamilton is a man of amazing talents who still has his flaws. The author does not shy away from pointing out Hamilton's flaws, and I enjoyed this even handed handling of Hamilton's feuds. Hamilton made some bad decisions. The author points them out as well as how easy it would have been for Hamilton to avoid negative outcomes.
Chernow weaves a story that is focused on the man, Alexander Hamilton, but heavily incorporates the many famous figures that shaped his and the early American republic's life. George Washington's mentorship and then close friendship with Hamilton is truly touching as it develops between the General who had no children and the Colonel who had no strong father figure growing up. It is the best male relationship in the book. This is not too hard as Hamilton's relationships with other memorable luminaries of the day were antagonistic (Jefferson, Burr, Adams). Chernow starts and ends the book with the figure of Eliza Hamilton. Their marriage is a nice constant in the book. It endures a rocky period as Hamilton did cause the first sex scandal in US politics, but their devotion to one another is beautiful to read. Not just in Chernow's words, but in the letters left behind by Hamilton. It is difficult to read Hamilton's goodbye letter to Eliza the morning before his death in the famous duel with Burr and not get choked up. This is not a stuffy biography, but a lively and vivid tale of one of our nation's greatest public servants.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Movie Review: 1984

With no work for 5 days, I managed to hit up my netflix instantque to catch up. I passed on the Monica Bellucci movies, Dexter season 2, and settle on 1984. Orwell's masterpiece is one of my favorite novels of all time. I had seen bits of the movie but never the whole thing.

Despite minor differences here and there, the film 1984 is one of the closest adaptations of a novel I have ever seen. Not just in actual plot points and characters, but in the mood and atmosphere. Supposedly, Orwell's widow would not sign off on a movie adaptation unless there was a promise to not use flashy special effects. I think this helped the film. Oceania is not a totalitarian super state with technological advancements that suppress the people. It is a totalitarian state that employs communism and a constant state of war to the nth degree which fails in every way to provide for its people. It is post-WW2 Soviet Russia with even less success. The lack of special effects and use of disgusting sets, poor make up and Godfather lighting all create a mood of depression, oppression and despair.

Special recognition should be given to John Hurt's portrayal of Winston Smith, the protagonist. Part of his success in this film is just that gloomy appearance Hurt just happens to have. Winston starts his diary by explaining that he has committed thoughtcrime and thoughtcrime is death so he is already a dead man. He is a character that knows his future doom and has no real hope. Even when he is intimate and feels love, he wonders if there truly was a time where that was ordinary. Hurt's resigned depression fits the character so well. I personally loved when he finally gets down with Julia the blank face he holds while explaining that he hates any purity and wants everything corrupted. It's not really a seductive explanation of why he likes sex, but it fits very well with his character. Winston is the everyman, and you have to connect with him to get through the depressing story. Hurt does a wonderful job in the film, and his story arc resonates with viewers.

This is a depressing film. It is entertaining. If you loved the book, do see this film. It is a pretty faithful adaptation of the novel. It breathes visual life into the characters and settings. If you compare this film to the cinema in your mind that runs while you read a book, you will not be upset.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thunder and Lightning

This was one of the amateur entries in the National Geographic photography contest. This would make an awesome 1970s rock album cover.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Robots vs. Total Immersion Virtual Reality

There is realistic thinking about the future of technology like 3D printing/fabricating (think Stephenson's the Diamond Age), stem cell research and energy breathroughs/efficiency improvements. There is fantasy thinking like robots and total immersion virtual reality (VR). What could be here in the next 20 years? With my economics background, I always look for the market and how an idea might win out because it is cheaper to make and easier to diffuse (VHS vs. Beta). Rarely does quality win out over cost, and Apple has made the last decade its mission to make their products be associated with cool so that their higher cost and quality (sometimes) products would be big sellers. Will we see a future of robots to make our lives easier and more fulfilling or will we see virtual reality immersion 'holodeck' type systems win out?

As I have typed randomly, I love the idea of robots (especially sex robots). I have read up on total immersion VR. The core comparison of these two systems is that robots would be an enhancement (potentially) to our current lives while VR would be an escape to a different reality. When we work, interact, are fed by or have sex with robots, it's still us as the prime actor and our homes as the setting. We might add robots to the mix that look like Brad Pitt or Grace Kelly 1953, but it's still us in our current bodies with our current surroundings. There is also the fear, unfounded for a few more decades, of robots becoming sentient and killing people. This might hurt robot development. Then there is the cost of each robot. Will specific robots be designed for specific functions or will there be an all in one? Manufacturers will have to recoup costs to produce a product.

It's obvious with alcohol, drug and food use that a lot of people like to escape their current realities. VR can be the next step. Developing computers fast enough to render physical sense manipulation is not too far away. Selling one unit can form the construct which users can play in or modify. Upgrades could be sold and different adventures. Think Total Recall, Matrix training sequences and even Inception. A great thing would be code writing barriers of entry being lower than robot design and manufacturing. There are many applications for the normal world, and a big source of demand would be training of highly dangerous occupations. An action adventure or mountain climbing sequence would be good clean fun. Maybe a violent Old West gun battle could help let some stress off, and maybe a harem program could prevent in the flesh adultery. Best of all, in a VR world, people could render themselves in their idealized fashion. The perfect you could be with Brad Pitt or Grace Kelly 1953. With the flick of a switch, people could escape not just their ho-hum existence, that they could enhance on their own with enough effort, but themselves.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review: Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is regarded as the greatest or second greatest President of the United States of America when newspapers poll historians and pundits. Because he died a martyr to the cause of union and freedom, much of his life is wrapped in myth and legend. There is textbook Lincoln who always does what is right and is the beacon of stability and leadership during the Civil War who rose from a humble birth. There is TV Lincoln with the deep voice, long build, beard and giant hat. Read Lincoln by David Herbert Donald and sweep away those cliche images of Lincoln.

Donald uses primary sources only to take you on a journey from birth to death. You read Lincoln's words, read reports and contemporary accounts of his actions and deeds, and read how he handled the problems of secession and the civil war. Lincoln comes across as a good guy who sweeps into the White House because of a split in the Democrats and just happens to be devoted to the Union to preserve it at all costs. Donald traces Lincoln's rambling ways as a young man, and his aversion to manual labor which lead him to law. The build up of young man to young politician is wonderful, and some of the qualities that would help him later in life were displayed in his younger days.

Readers also get to see that Lincoln was bothered by constipation. Abe also had a squeaky high voice, was always looking too thin, and was a bit weird when it came to whether he should marry or not. So much for the deep voiced savior. He was a loser in multiple elections, and was a lawyer for corporations as well as the little guy. Abe had some peculiar habits and traits. One thing that shines through is that despite his limited formal education, he constantly read and worked to understand the world around him.

Old Abe's time in the White House is tremendous. Donald does a great job of showcasing how Lincoln ran the WH, and how he handled multiple wildly different personalities in his cabinet. Lincoln was a bit of an aloof dictator in how he handled the presidency. Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus is shown as truly tough, and one must remember that Lincoln was working to preserve the union. yes he trampled on some rights, but it was to save the entire system. A world with a victorious Confederacy or a Confederacy negotiated with would be far scarier to imagine. Lincoln would not stand for such a world, and in the end, he would give his life for it. Lincoln also recognized the changing way of war, far sooner than European leaders. Lincoln cursed Gen. Meade for not pursuiting the Confederates as they retreated after losing, and made the hard as nails Ulysses Grant leader of the Army of the Potomac. This was not about showmanship, but about attrition and making the Confederates submit to the will of the union.

Please read this book, as it is a touching biography of one of the most celebrated Americans of our young history. Reading this book, you get a glimpse of the stress and responsibility of the office of the president of the United States. Lincoln is human. Lincoln seems a little goofy at times. He also grows, learns and leads. David Herbert Donald brushes away that film of sweet romanticism and inserts in its place a powerful picture of a historical heavyweight.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Keep Four Loko Free

The FDA is considering banning Four Loko and other alcoholic drinks with caffeine in them (hot air link with video). Some states have already 'taken action', and my question is why? Yeah some people have been sick from drinking too much, but the same could be said about any other alcoholic beverage. The Brits already have experienced this with Buckfast. I've never drank Four Loko, but I have imbibed its older sibling: the vodka red bull. It lit me up and was a great pep juice for gambling binges at Foxwoods Casino. I learned my lesson lying in bed at 4am, hoping to fall asleep. This is a really silly thing for our government to focus on for public health.

Movie Review: The Strangers

A couple weeks after Halloween, my wife and I watched the recorded horror/thriller flick "The Strangers". Simple premise; a young couple spends a night in a remote summer home terrorized by strangers for no identifiable reason. We have a theory now with horror movies: the movies show leads making dumb decisions or doing dumb things in obviously dangerous situations to make you the viewer feel smarter. The Strangers is full of moments that will have you discussing strategy and cursing the characters.

The movie has a great mood. I loved the tense feeling from the first bad knock to the very end. Just having the intruders standing around doing nothing with the masks on felt so unnatural. The film uses a handheld camera for certain moments and many shots are framed to partly hide the object being viewed. Wonderful way of hiding the creepy things that are out in the night and of making you feel like one of the interlopers. There are multiple 'jump' moments. My wife was startled multiple times. The female mask selection was great. Retro Halloween or costume party masks that have aged. The never changing expression makes the toying, playful aggression and violence even scarier. The male's mask looked creepy but didn't see optimal for stalking people in the dark. It looked like a toaster cover with holes in it. The scares are nice punctuations in the sentences of tension in this film.

I want to thank the filmmaker for giving us 20 minutes or so of the couple establishing themselves as maybe people we would care about vs. killers. Liv Tyler, playing the slightly pretty girl next door, rejects a marriage proposal and has to spend an evening with her doting Mr. Perfect that was supposed to be romantic but is sad as she 'isn't ready'. Problem is that he is perfect and does everything for her. Dude, should have been a jerk during the whole friend's wedding instead of super romantic. Just once in these movies, I'd love to see someone screw someone else over or hurt someone and then when shit gets real, the hurt person doesn't defend or help the other person. Wouldn't that be a bit realistic in the aftermath of a rejected marriage proposal?

This was a cheap movie to make and was very very profitable. There is a sequel in the works. The randomness of life and unknown motivations of the universe are explored superficially in this flick, but it does play on a basic fear many people have. "No matter what you do, trouble will find you." I'd love to see a sequel where the strangers get fucked with by their prey. Like the prey would be some woman who watches her man get slashed and she ends up killing the woman with her hair color and takes the mask to then go and ice the other two. Mayeb it could be the guy who sees his lady get slashed and then he goes all Rambo in "First Blood Part 2" and takes them out in the woods. This is an entertaining film. This is a tense film. This has plenty of thrills and even Dennis from "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" shows up. I recommend it for your next slasher flick night or in prep for next Halloween.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Cruel and Dumb Human Mind

A simple house party near Atlanta. A small fight breaks out. After that fight, a young man gets jumped and dies. Four men beat another to death. Why? Because two girls got in a fight and one of them hit a man in the course of their fight. Instead of laughing and brushing them off, he said he would not hit a woman but would jump the next man that came by. Wrong place, wrong time.

People get hit inadvertently if a fight breaks out at a bar or party. Oftentimes, you brush it off, especially if its a weak punch, which usually happens when someone accidentally hits you. An indirect hit usually hurts less than a strike intended for you. No, this guy couldn't let it go, BUT he would not hit a woman. What a gentleman! He and his 3 friends jumped a 5 foot 6 125 lb 18 year old, and stomped him to death. Whatever happened to just hitting the next guy, ? No, they had to stomp him to death. I bet had the 18 year old victim had been 6 foot 6 and 250 lbs, they would not have touched him.

Georgia has the death penalty. They better plea this out or face a jury of twelve in the deep south. A jury full of parents might think twice on the death penalty, might.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Fed Money Printing Wonderfully Explained

The cute animation makes this easier to swallow. The message is clear, concise and pretty damn funny. I love the use of 'the' before nouns. I also like how Ben Bernanke is pronounced Ber-nank.

Smartphone Suggestions?

Anyone have an opinion on available smartphones?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Psychology of Car Design

I figured out how the Ford Fusion hit the scene and has been a success for Ford. They look good and have decent reliability. I would buy one. I figured out why I like the design. When they made the Ford Fusion, Ford built an affordable, reliable Cadillac CTS. Ford knew how awesome the CTS looked in the Matrix movie and made their own.

Here they are. Ford Fusion....

Cadillac CTS....

Depending on package and upgrades, you could save anywhere from 17K to 44K. A completely loaded Fusion is still cheaper than the cheapest CTS, plus Fusions have better reliability scores. Allow your mind to be manipulated by Ford's duplication of a 'luxury' design on the cheap.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Video Game Idea: Harry Potter Style World of Warcraft

Someone should design and market a Harry Potter style World of Warcraft (MMORPG). A player could become a wizard by going through a school like Hogwarts or Durmstrang and then wander through the HP world. You could learn about the Dark Arts and go bad. I see huge potential for this. Lots of winners here. A video game company would make billions. JK Rowling could add another royalty revenue stream. HP nerds everywhere would rejoice.

Update: Corrected that typo.

Thank God I am Not Single

Last weekend, one of my oldest and closest friends came to visit. About 21 years ago, he and I were assigned to the same project of designing a pulley system that kids could use for lifting large weights. We had to draw plans and then mime how it would work. It was a fun project, and out of that we became friends. Two decades later, we still email during the week. His visit was to see the new life I had here in the Midwest, catch up, see some sights and enjoy the nightlife. After two nights out on the town, I am thankful I no longer am single.

It would be a lie to say I didn't think about it occasionally when we were out, but the single landscape appears to be a chaotic landscape. It was a laugh when young women guessed my friends upcoming birthday was his 24th (nope, it's the big 3-0). Plus, we're a good team together. Some broad generalizations will follow. When did all women start wearing super tight pants? This is new as little as 5 years ago, not all women wore tight pants out. I mean pants where you can see VPL. Even the overweight women were wearing tight pants. Can we create a privately funded 'appropriate clothing' police force? This goes for men, too. Men were dressed as if in their living rooms. We had collared shirts and stood out. Men also have weight issues that get complicated by sweating. I saw plenty of pit stains. Bad. Thing is, they still can get laid even tubby and stained with sweat. I think it is possible to meet someone at a bar or club, but the screening process is much much flimsier at those locations. I now understand the appeal of internet dating sites.

For all of the men out there, just because you hit the gym once a week and do the same 3, upperbody exercises and look husky, does not mean you are a future model for bodybuilding.com. You are tubby, not built. This is a double standard where husky guys can pull the "I work out" card because they have mass but no real definition or shape. Women can't do that. The closest female equivalent I can think of is when slightly bigger girls with large breasts talk about their wonderful bosoms, but we know the truth. At least I could see those women and estimate how they'd look in 10-20 years. These guys wear Ed Hardy shirts. They also tend to shave their heads. I'm trying to picture them in 20 years and I can't. That must be tough for women out there. In the end, neither the husky guys nor the bragging husky, top heavy women would engage in that behavior if it did not pay off with sex or relationships!

The final change I noticed was the increase in the percentage of women at the strip club we went to. I was rather shocked by this I had last been to that club 3 years ago and saw maybe 2 lesbians that night. We saw probably 20 women, most seemed straight, like they were out on a date as they entered on the arm of a man. It is just my view, but I'd never take a date to one. Dancers also told us straight women don't tip as well as other patrons. My friend and I still think we could run a fantastic strip club. After hearing how the money system works at that particular one, I think we'd figure out a sustainable system. I'd also have to grow a goatee, change my sleep schedule and become a slezeball.

If I were single, the double standards of aging and women seeking older men would work in my favor. It is totally unfair, but all men have to do is make decent money (+40K annually), maintain a healthy weight and either keep their hair or look good with a shaved head. My friend and I talked much about marriage, and as he put it "why get married when so much is available?" With a carefully managed internet dating profile (match.com for sex, eharmony for relationships) and a bit of game for 'real' situations, a man could continously hop from bed to bed with women between 18-27 if that was what one desired. You could put off marriage for as long as possible while still satisfying sexual desires, and still marry a young woman to keep the child bearing window open. I am a hopeless romantic and enjoy having a wife who is my best friend, so I don't think I'd be happy in my friend's situation for as long as he's run his game. It does work for him, and I am continuously amazed by the situations he can arrange with attractive & intelligent women. He's happy with his choices and so am I. That's what matters. I just thank God I am no longer on the single scene.

*I also know why many of my divorced female friends with one kid have not remarried. Ed Hardy wearing husky guys might not be the best candidates for weekday 'dad'.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Perfect 90s Timing

This link has excerpts from the Rolling Stone Cobain '94 interview. Check out the cover image and script. LIZ PHAIR is mentioned as a "Babe in Boyland". I loved Liz Phair. Exile in Guyville is still in my car for listening on an annual basis when feeling the effects of seasonal mood disorder. That album has some really interesting songs, with songwriting that is not a timestamp for the 90s even if the instrumentation is. For the youngsters, listen to this album. I still can rattle off the lyrics to "6'1"", "Soap Star Joe", "F*ck and Run", "Help me Mary" and "Flower". I always wished it had been Liz reaching number 1 and touring arenas rather than Alanis Morissette.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day

Thank you veterans of the United States military. Thank you uncles, aunts, my grampas, and friends for serving our country. Special shout out to the Marines who celebrated their birthday yesterday. If you take the right tour in Philadelphia, you will hear how the Marines formed. Yes Samuel Nicholas received a commission from the Continental Congress to form some Marine units, but there is alwasy a juicier story just underneath the thin film of sanitized history. There is a bit of Revolutionary apocrypha around the Marines birth. Legend has it Nicholas and a friend were drinking in a tavern in Philly and said "we want to be the first guys in everywhere the colonies fight", and after sobering up, they decided to take this wish to Congress. With the Marines I have known, this makes a ton of sense. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Great Detective Story

Vanity Fair and Esquire manage to produce pieces that are interesting and entertaining. Last year's Esquire profile on famous football flameout Todd Marinovich won an award for outstanding profile. Vanity Fair just printed a piece about the capture of a serial rapist by a private detective hired to help a hotel in a civil lawsuit. Protecting a company's backside turned into a hunt for justice. I loved the marriage of good old fashioned detective thinking with the use of modern technology. Check it out when you have 15 minutes.

A Critique of Social Media and "The Social Network"

This essay/review is a spectacular review of "The Social Network" and Facebook in general. Then there is a nice response to her article. I do use Facebook, but there is more to it that I dislike now than enjoy through my use of it.

Twinkie Diet

A professor at Kansas State just spent 10 weeks eating Twinkies, Doritos and other crap and lost 27 lbs. His good cholesterol went up and bad went down. He did also take a multivitamin, a protein shake and the equivalent of a can of vegetables each day. The key: he stuck to 1800 calories a day. Pushing away from the table is a huge factor. Knowing when enough is enough is the key, whether poor or rich. Golly, I guess those poor people exploited by megacorporations must be just consuming too much.

This reminds me of Supersize Me, which was a mega-hyped and entertaining documentary. I liked Morgan Spurlock's presentation about health and food in general in that film, which the quest for 30 days of McDonald's served as a framework to weave around for 90 minutes. He shows some interesting statistics in the documentary, and it is worth a watch. What I did not like was a slight "not the whole truth" fault in his 30 day quest. If you hear his doctor talk to him when the doc gets worried, he says Morgan has to cut out the milkshakes. It also looked weird that his bags were always so full if he was just eating a meal deal (even if supersized). Spurlock was sucking down milkshakes on top of his regular 3 MickeyD's meals. He boosted his calorie intake to 5K per day, and look at their menu, it's tough to get to 5K with just 3 meals. A Canadian professor ate only McDonald's for 30 days and lost 17 lbs. Swedish research showed similar non-scary results. I liked Spurlock's message of eating healthy, but his non-stop demonization of McDonald's got in the way of doing a documentary. He turned the truth into a truth he wanted to portray. If you read the Les Sayer essay on why he did his month long McDonald's diet, there is that fear that people see something and accept it as truth. As Howard Zinn once wrote, there is no pure fact.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cat Ownership Rises in America

If you read through this little article, you can read contradictions that the author just slips in for fun. It can't be incompetence, it must have been for enjoyment. The number of women without kids is up 80% in 30 years. The article cites the part about people (couples as well as single women) delaying marriage, working on their career, enjoying their young life of fun, and then Dr. Corio mentions "a lot of women can't find someone, or they're very picky or very educated". Umm, hello, smart and picky women find husbands all of the time. This might be a subset of the group, a very small subset. I'd go back to the delay of marriage, the waste of 4 years of life delaying real life by going to college, and the enjoyment of fun things. The trappings of the mature adult life are shunned by young people today. Heck, their baby boomer parents barely shouldered them.

One thing that annoys me about articles that talk about trends in society is that they like to give excuses or focus on how that economic go getter group of young-ins is the cause of changes. The average US salary is 41K here, but I've seen median salary numbers in the mid 30s. That means the average person is not working on some hot shot career. Hell, half of America makes less than 40K a year. Johnny or Joannie Wall St ladder climber is not the cause of the dramatic shift. The shift is much bigger. One thing my mom noticed years ago and told me was that she was shocked how many of my female friends would openly say "I don't ever want kids". We laugh now as most of them have kids, but my mom would say how no one her age would have ever said that out loud even if they thought it. Kids are not for everyone, but when I hear many young women say they don't ever want kids, I think they picture a life like Samantha from Sex and the City. The reality is closer to cat lady.

Tina Fey

I don't like her. I sometimes like 30 rock, usually it's because of Tracy Morgan's insane work and Alec Baldwin's fake seriousness (the fake serious king since Phil Hartman's death).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Music in the 90s

Great series here at the AV Club about music in the 90s. The three essays are fantastic so far, and I really enjoyed the Pearl Jam entry. The author's first essay touches on something my cousin and I were discussing recently: will music or a music scene ever be that big again? I doubt it. The internet has made us the seekers of music rather than passive listeners consuming music through the radio and even MTV. Has there been a "Who do you like more?" question since the Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam debate? Each decade had a rivalry, but this one does not. The band "The Killers" was built for the industry to turn into rock gods. It did not happen. I saw it as a failure of the band, but now I think it might be on the entire structure of music today. This series touches on that, and it explains why the alternative nation was so distinctive and memorable.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Marriage Can't End Can It?

Pretty horrible stats here on the decline of marriage in the US (more here). The decline does have phases, but I find it weird the mention of Vietnam as a shock. I don't see how Vietnam would cause such a shock to marriage, unless they are alluding to people not getting married for the marriage deferment when the US switch from the draft system to the lottery system. I worry about the decline of marriage and other things that highlight our devolution. The basis for a good society rests on good homes and communities. This is not just an American issue, but an entire Western civ issue.

I disagree with the conclusion to this article, as I do not see the marriage rate dropping in dramatic fashion as it has in the last 30 years. My rational is that there will be a bottom bouncing effect, where we reach a level where marriage rates cannot get any worse in the segments that are really driving it down (lower income). The other factor is a reduction in the social safety net system and a reduction in our living standards. This will cause women, the gatekeepers, to make better decisions on how their households are formed. While men and women both share responsibility, women have the final say in many if not all matters. Once living standards have dropped and our governments do not have the money to cover for their bad decisions, forming lasting households with reputable partners will be a priority. It may take some hard work, but lasting relationships reap benefits superior to just satisfying every passing carnal desire.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

2010 Election Prediction

The GOP will win a net gain of 52 House seats, 8 Senate seats and 10 Governorships. This is a bit higher than most governor predictions, but I think a couple of wild cards are out there (Massachusetts being one of them). Let us hope that they don't f*ck it up and actually stop runaway spending, extend the Bush tax cuts, patch the AMT, and reduce government intrusion in American lives.

Imagine if Al Franken had not won his Senate seat with the help of Acorn's illegal activities in 2008?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Morphine Cure for Pain

Totally downer song from the early '90s. No one dressed slutty on Halloween, people were afraid of AIDS still, and we didn't have the internet yet.