Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My girlfriend finds child abuse funny?

Why else would she take such delight in inundating me with deluges of creationist propaganda every time I see her?

Regular tolerators of my ramblings ought to recall my late birthday present - a creationist DVD that liberally plagarised both Jurassic Park and the X-Files in its flaccid attempt at indoctrinating children to creation 'science'.

I watched that video, with the intention of getting a good blog entry out of it, but it was so mind-numbingly awful to watch, and so painfully, gleefully, and willfully ignorant, that I was too filled with despair to poke fun at an absurd ideology.

During my last trip to my girlfriend's abode, there was a similar occurrence; I had just dropped my bags and settled into the bedroom after my journey, when all of a sudden she spun towards me, her voice took on the cadence of a mother trying to coax her stubborn child into eating something healthy.

"I got you a present!" she sang at me with nervous excitement.

For what?, I asked her, wondering if I had forgotten another birthday.

"You'll see!" she cooed once more, before making a dumb sounding "hur hur hur".

With the same frantic excitement that she had announced my present, she bounded to a corner of her room, then threw two children's books on the bed.

I had a look:

"Hur hur hur"

"Tee hee hee"

Son of a bitch! If I hadn't noticed Ken Ham's name, or the use of italics on the cover of 'What Really Happened the Dinosaurs', it's possible I wouldn't have realised what a vile work I held in my hands. I showed it to my brother (who recently became a father), and he wondered what was worth showing him - if I was some religious nut trying to pervert my nephew's scientific upbringing, this book would have slipped past the parental surveillance. Crafty creationist pricks.

I've had the books in my possession about a month now, but as the creationist rhetoric is so unimaginative (and inherently flawed), I only opened them now. Here are a few choice quotes, I'll let you play spot the fallacious argument:

[Page 12: WRHTD]
When Did Dinosaurs Live?
Some scientists think that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, long before humans lived on the earth. But the Bible tells us the real story.

[Page 21: WRHTD]
When the Flood did come, only [Noah's] own family was saved. All of the other people drowned. You see, boys and girls, it is very important to believe God's Word. We can be very thankful that we have God's Word today - the Bible.

[Page 22: WRHTD]
Did Dinosaurs Go on Noah's Ark?
I do not think God would have brought the biggest, oldest dinosaurs on the Ark. He probably sent strong, young ones that would have babies after the Flood. Remember that many dinosaurs were not very large when they were grown, and all of them were small when they were young [...] Creation scientists [...] have shown that there was plenty of room in the Ark for all the kinds of animals God sent to Noah.

[Page 29: WRHTD]
What Happened to the Dinosaurs?
[Illustration of a medieval knight on a horse, attacking a raptor]
What do you think this knight is about to do? Yes, kill a dinosaur. It is very possible some dinosaurs were killed by hunters. Perhaps stories like "St. George and the Dragon" are really true stories of someone killing a monster like a dinosaurs. For these reasons, it seems that all (or almost all) of the dinosaurs are now dead.

[Page 30: WRHTD]
Will We Ever See a Live Dinosaur?
Well... maybe. There are some scientists who think that there may be a real live dinosaur living in a dark jungle in Africa.

'Noah's Ark Noah's Flood' seems geared towards older children who have already drank the Kool-Aid, as it's both more text heavy and more preachy, (so it's not as much fun to copy text from)

There's money to be made in selling bullshit to people. Ken Ham's cottage industry of creationist propaganda had netted him his own museum. This man has a museum:


My girlfriend is getting into town in two days, and while I'm very excited to see her - I'm a little afraid as to what she's got in store for me this time.





Monday, December 21, 2009

Misadventures in Twitter

I signed up for Twitter at the same time as a few of my friends, but six months later, few of them are tweeting regularly - indeed, some of them haven't done anything on Twitter since that first week of use. After lamenting at @jmeehan5's lack of tweeting, he scoffed at what a pointless waste of time Twitter was - my response was an unsure "I've found uses for it", but I didn't have any examples to hand.

I've been on twitter since March, and according to my profile page, I've posted 201 tweets, follow 50 users, and have 43 followers (I gave up on pruning the spammers over a month ago). As is typical of this misanthropic blogger, I've engaged little with other Twitterers - only partly because I'm not entirely au fait with the lingo and etiquette, yet I've found uses for Twitter that no other web service (that I'm aware of ) can match:

Manual Videogame Matchmaking
Since getting a decent broadband connection I've been enjoying online gaming on my Xbox 360, and when my friends aren't in the mood for a game, it's rarely difficult to get a game going with randomers since most developers appreciate how difficult it is for gamers to make acquaintances. Since Halo 3:ODST's multiplayer mode didn't come with a matchmaking system, I used twitter to find some playmates:

I got about six replies, and after suffering through ten minutes of a game with a piss-poor connection, I threw in the towel. Chalk it up as a failure, but ten minutes of gameplay with a shoddy connection was better than what I'd have got without Twitter, and once the number of people around me with Twitter / Xboxes increases, so will my chances of finding a suitable match. [Sure, I could have gone to a gaming forum, but that'd require registration and hassle!]

Tapping into your social brain
I didn't do so well with maths in school, and even though I can manage numbers in my head fine, I'm functionally retarded when it comes to theorems and formulas and whatnot. So last week, when I needed a smart person to help with a matter at work, I asked Twitter, knowing that my intelligent friends would be able to steer me right.

The problem arose from a missing invoice - €827.50 was paid for X amount of goods @ €6.50, and Y amount at €4.50, how could I figure it out how much of X and Y were needed?

I got 5 responses - 1 from a non-follower who was interested in the hashtag. Each reply told me that my equation made no sense, and didn't help my problem all that much, but it gave me hope for any future legitimate mathematical quandaries I may find myself in (perhaps once I bone up on my maths language).

Reading the [potential] customer's mind
After bemoaning how Floola turned 14.3GB of my iPod's HDD space from 'Music' to 'Other' on Twitter one evening, I got a response from CopyTrans, shilling their alternative software:

Useful? Potentially - I didn't bother to click the link they sent, but being able to see what internet users are saying about yours and your competitor's products online is a boon for any business.

Appreciating those stalwart bloggers
Okay, indulge me on this one - after noticing an additional flurry of hits on my blog from strange places, I saw that it was because @NiallOK took a shine to my post about Matthew McConaughey's campaign to lean against every woman in Hollywood and shared it on Twitter:

I got quite a kick out of seeing this, which was amplified by seeing the people who were kind enough to propagate it. As a blogger, this kind of genuine reaction to a blog entry shows me that shorter blog entries that can be appreciated by more people with less investment will get shared, but five-thousand-word, self-indulgent, esoteric rants about how stupid the word 'sweater' is just turn people off coming back... But where's the fun in that?

Tomorrow, as an early Christmas present to my regular readers, I'll post part one of my 4,000 word treatise on the absurdity of manners! [I kid!]

Monday, December 14, 2009

New York With a Vengeance.

Since my rushed trip planning had left me with an obscenely (and unnecessarily) long layover in Newark airport, I decided I'd have to venture into New York, New York to somehow glean some enjoyment out of the sucky part of a trip to see the other participant in a long-distance relationship.

A few days before the end of the trip, as the ladyfriend was piloting her car through some heavy snowfall on the way home from Chicago, I decided to let her in on my ulterior motive for venturing into Manhattan.

"The first time I went to New York, I made an album on Bebo, and I called it: 'New York'".


"Makes sense."

"So when I went the second time, I made a second album on Bebo, and I called it: 'New York 2: New Yorker'"


"Oh-kayyy..."

She seemed more concerned with the slippery road than my clever Internet antics, so I decided to step up my pitch.

"So do you want to guess what the next album is going to be called?"

"Nope. No idea."

"It's going to be called..."- I paused for effect -"...New York With a Vengeance!"

"Why?"

"Because it's clever!"

"No - it's pretty stupid actually."

That was the day I learnt that making allusions to the Die Hard Quadrilogy in front of my girlfriend would only serve to amuse myself (not that it'll impact on the amount I do so).

Back to the story - after a painless train journey, I arrived at Penn Station in New York - the starting point of a previous (wider-eyed) trek around the big apple.


I decided to restrict my wandering around in the rain to 180 minutes, which would leave me 3 hours to return to the airport and get my flight (overcautious, I know), and since I wasn't feeling particularly ambitious about making it up to 112th Street for my Seinfeld pilgrimage, I figured I'd plod around the tourist hotspots and take some crappy pictures on my mobile phone to show that I'd been there.

On the way towards Times Square, I stopped to look in the odd electronics shop window at their dodgy wares:

It's the small differences - center, color, shuffel

Since it was still pissing rain by the time I got to Time Square, I decided to stop into Toys 'R' Us for a gawk.

Cool! There's Superman holding up a truck!

video

A dinosaur! Neat! Now what?

After a photoless trip over to Rockefeller Center in a half-assed attempt at finding the Nintendo Store, I wandered back towards Times Square, hoping to find a public restroom along the way.

On the walk over, I managed to pass a young, moderately attractive woman dressed as a toilet dancing outside a building without investigating further, so I decided that now was the time to launch a full inquiry.

Charmin, the purveyors of quality toilet paper and animated arse-wiping bears had a building taken over and filled with toilets for the purposes of staging day-long poopenannies. After negotiating your way past the dancing toilet into the main door, you're greeted by the door-lady who is dancing along to the Charmin theme-tune, then ushered onto the escalator ride, in which you're subjected to posters displaying playful puns on defecation, whilst trying not to dance along to the infectious piped in music yourself.

Once at the top of the escalator, we were funnelled along the (empty) queueing lane, passing the excitable staff who were asking things like "Who's excited to go poop today?".

Eventually I got to my own stall, which was quite the well-stocked lavatory - it had four types of Charmin toilet paper, quality paper towels, and an iPod that was blasting out the Offspring's Smash when I entered.

video

I flicked through most of the iPod's offerings of contemporary rock and pop songs - trying not to think about the amount of e coli that surely lay on the buttons - then I settling on Billie Jean as the song to relax my sphincter to.

"Right" - I psyched myself up - "let's get down to business." I removed my jacket and turned to the door, expecting to find a coak-hook (a much-appreciated staple of US restrooms), but found none - how could the Charmin Restroom engineers, when designing toilets to grant the greatest end-user experience, decide to include an iPod but not a coat-hook? I was going to give them quite the critique when they asked me about how I found the process..


What's wrong with this picture?

Once I had left the confines of the cubicle, I was invited to rate my level of satisfaction. Now was my chance! Give them hell, O'Sullivan! I was shown a touchscreen computer, and instructed to touch one of the cartoon bears on the screen. After realizing that none of the bears depicted were puzzling over where the coat-hook was, I sheepishly hit the cartwheeling bear and shuffled along. The game was rigged.

Dotted around the path leading to the exit were iMacs encouraging users to log onto Facebook & Twitter and discuss their experiences. Internet and toilet access without having to part with cash? I normally have to lie to get either most places I go. These Charmin guys are a progressive people.

Before leaving the building, I was quite troubled by the last room - essentially a studio with a glass door, labelled "Canfessional - Share how you enjoy the go". I can only imagine it's used as a perverse human aquarium for the enjoyment of sick voyeurs with fecal-fetishes, but it was sadly unused on the day I visited:


After leaving the Charmin restrooms on Times Square, I dawdled little before getting back for my train. All in all, it was a worthwhile sojourn into the city, but it was another saddening example of me venturing into a foreign city chock-full of culture and arts - only to spend my limited time checking out the local crappers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nomination for Blog Entry of the Year 2009

1. Watch this trailer for a horrible, horrible film.



2. See what Fin has to say on the matter.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"A Visit to the Hairdresser's" - Part II

Criminy!

When I shared my lament about how tortuous I find the obligatory chit-chat with barbers, it was before I had strolled past a stall at a Milwaukee mall shilling 'As-Seen-On-TV' Contraptions and noticed the 'Aircut' product.

Just now, as I was responding to the comments on that post, I thought it would be appropriate to make a reference to it, so I Googled my way over to the website:


The website is filled with the usual hilarity associated with these TV offers:

Stock photos used to show that it's suitable for just about everybody!

Graphs to show you that you can't afford not to use the product!

Overly effusive testimonies extolling the virtues of the product! (Interestingly, 7 out of 9 testimonies are from Wisconsin based users - could it be that the inventor's family and friends have kind words to share?)


Some 'hard sell' copy that really stretches to fill the 'Top 10 reasons to get this product' list...

Hang on a tick...


No more conversing with barbers? Let me just get my credit card.

A Trip to the Airport

Dear reader, please do bear with me over the next few hundred words as I grapple with a lexicon ill-equipped for describing positive experiences.

Whilst booking my quarterly visit to the ladyfriend (if only this was an exaggeration), I hastily selected the flight on Expedia that offered a bargain-basement fare, and presented little hassle on the outward journey. Being the half-witted twit that I am, I didn’t realise the queasiness-inducing heinousness of the return journey until a few weeks before departure:

My flight was scheduled to leave Milwaukee at 6.20am, which meant arriving at the airport at 4.20am, which knackered not only a night’s sleep but also the prospect of enjoying my last evening of the trip without worrying about getting up in the morning.

When I called Continental Airlines to try and reschedule the flight, they told me it’d cost $250 – I decided that mine and the ladyfriend’s sleep wasn’t worth that much, and decided to suck it up. I then began retrofitting a silver lining onto the dark cloud by proclaiming that I would chip away at the 10 hour layover in Newark by venturing into New York for the day. What fun I was going to have!

As I had lost the debate to eschew guidelines and arrive a mere hour before takeoff, I awoke some time around 3.30am to the prods and gentle nagging from my stalwart ladyfriend, who was going to evict me from her home by any means necessary. We got to the airport at 4.30am, and upon checking in, the self-service kiosk popped up a message indicating that the flight was overbooked, and asked if I’d be interested in volunteer to reschedule and receive a travel voucher.

Go back to bed for two hours? Spend less time thumb-twiddling in New Jersey? Get $200 off my next flight (which has to be Continental anyway since nobody else flies out of Shannon to where I want to go anymore)? Spend a few more precious hours with my woman? You bet I’m interested!

Shortly thereafter, a flesh & blood Continental rep had me booked in for a 10 o’clock flight on the exit row (those damn kiosks never pick up on my needs as a tall man!), given me a $200 voucher, and checked my baggage through.

Bizarrely enough, what started as a situation that I nearly paid $250 to get out of turned into a situation that gave me what I wanted and put me $200 in credit. Granted, my sleep was still interrupted, but it’s a funny reflection on how these airlines operate. Even though the flight was “severely overbooked” (the rep’s words), they still attempted to extract $250 over the phone to reschedule me a week before the flight.

Later, (after an enjoyable nap) when my rescheduled flight was boarding, I noticed a woman at the departure gate being told that the flight was overbooked and she wouldn’t be able to board the plane. I stroked my chin for a moment, wondering how much more I could get for volunteering to stay longer still, and how much of the layover in Newark I could safely eat into. She didn’t seem too stressed at the thought of sticking around a few hours, so I decided to just get on the plane – the prospect of sitting in an airport lobby 20 minutes from my girlfriend’s house wasn’t exactly tantalizing.

Besides – I had to go to New York and find something to blog about on my trip! More on that later...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"A Visit to the Hairdresser's"

My usual barber isn’t exactly a master of his craft. A typical experience at my barber involves me holding my breath for ten minutes as he struggles to manipulate his stout frame into position to cut my hair, all the while expelling a disgusting odour of stale cigarettes and salty fried meats with every wheeze that accompanies each waggle of the razor. Last time I wrote about him, he had left my sideburns woefully imbalanced – just two weeks ago, I left his shop before realising that he had neglected to cut a considerable amount off the top of my head, making my hairstyle look like an aborted prototype faux-hawk.

I’ve long been aware of his incompetence, but he has two crucial qualities that keep me going back:

  1. Proximity: His shop is no more than a five-minute walk away.
  2. Taciturnity: He makes no effort at insipid chitchat.

Since a visit to the ladyfriend was looming, and my features would no longer be transmitted through a forgiving 320 x 240 resolution at 8 frames per second, I thought it prudent to exercise my oft-neglected sense of vanity and consult a coiffeur who would not succumb to their cigarette-craving midway through cutting my hair and abort the mission.


I found myself at my brother’s barber, and predictably enough, I was fending off wave after wave of attempted conversations, taking care to be as thrifty with the syllables as possible lest I provide a hook for cross examination.


So, are you working today?

Yup.

...

Isn’t the weather just dire?

Mhhm-hmm.

...

Looking forward to the holidays?

Sure.

Are you spending it with your family?

Yep.

Are you doing anything special?

Nope.

...


Amazingly enough, my responses were enough to prompt stories that went nowhere, as she regaled me about driving a car on a windy road, or her sister’s plans for the New Year, or her mother’s affinity for Christmas music. Listening to her inane nattering was made all the more arduous due to the effort spent trying to control my facial muscles from revealing my revulsion to the entire undertaking.

“Lipstick on a pig” was the thought that prevailed as this creature with heavy make-up and absurdly coloured hair hovered over me in the mirror, her many undulating protuberances wobbling up against me as the razor droned and rattled in her hand.

I became desolate. Is this all necessary? Must these hairdressers fill their days with the exchange of banal pleasantries and the transmission of dull tales featuring vapid cretins and their esoteric undertakings? Just because the process of removing a man’s hair isn’t particularly stimulating doesn’t mean that I should shoulder the burden through your painful attempts at affability.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m as sociable as the next person (some may even consider me gregarious), but shouldn’t it be a staple of good manners to minimise the boring exposition as much as possible when dealing with people who aren’t your friends? Why must the ritual of a visit to the hairdresser’s involve an empty conversation between begrudging participants?

There’s a dignity in cutting a man’s hair that the superficial simplicity of the task belies. Enjoy it quietly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jobseeker Beware

I've settled into an old ritual over the past two weeks or so - every day I come home from work and go onto Monster.com and attempt to find a job that's some way related to marketing or writing (whether it's technical writing, copy editor, internal communications assistant), and located within 400 miles of my US-dwelling girlfriend (400 miles away would still work out at least 4,000 miles closer).

I'm dubious as to how worthwhile a process it is send résumés to whatever companies on the job search engine tick the right boxes - particularly when I'm admitting to them that I require sponsorship to work in the States, but it feels like I'm doing something, and 'something' feels like progress, so I'll bark up that tree for as long as is necessary.

Since 'marketing' is such a bullshitty word, my job search results feature copious amounts of specious companies that engage in 'direct' marketing - a process that involves harassing people on the street, or at their front door with your wares.

It's the same every time, the company has a crummy name, throws around a bunch of vague superlatives talking about how great they are and what a fantastic opportunity working for them is, and features an inappropriately fancy Flash-based website that seems to be an off-the-shelf template lazily adapted for their use. Just have a look at this snippet from the website for Marketing FX:



It's lorem ipsum - placeholder text! They can spend hundreds of words ducking and dodging mentioning what the company actually does, but miss out on these crucial details.

Here are the dodgy businesses with names awful enough for me to remember:

Global Advertising
ID Promotionz
World Class Advertising
Davis Direct Marketing
DDM
Difference Defined Milwaukee

Those six businesses I just listed comprise two different companies - which is pretty effin' dodgy.

Last year, when I was just out of college, and before I was any way discerning about which companies I applied to spammed with résumés, I got in touch with World Class Advertising, and even though the secretary got the name of her own company wrong when writing back to me (she called it "World Class Adverting"), I was excited by the response:

Your resume has been selected as a potential match for one or more of our job openings. You have been selected for a personal interview with one of our managers.

We have recently signed new marketing contracts with an international cosmetics company and 2 major national retailers. As a result, we are currently seeking professionals interested in learning Event Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Promotions and Team Leadership.
What timing, eh? They're after getting some big contracts and need to expand quickly! Since I was invited for an interview, I decided to pay a little more attention to what the company was all about, and that's when the scamminess of the whole affair made itself clear. I Googled 'World Class Advertising Scam' and read a few testimonials from people who were almost duped or were insulted by what an obvious dupe it was.

Unsurprisingly, one year later, worldclassadvertising.net is now offline, but there's no shortage of nonsense to take its place.

After being left a little cold by the description on Monster for Moxy Marketing, I decided to let Google fill in the details, and sure enough what I found was a very legitimate sounding business:

They even had a decent catchphrase! I went back to Monster to apply for work with them when I realised that the company advertised was Moxy - with a 'y'. You dirty homonym-exploiting bastards!

Nowadays, to get the most out of my job-searching time, I've made a habit of googling every company I've even a vague interest in, and if something smells fishy, I throw the word 'scam' in there and see what happens - if you're applying for work online, I recommend you do the same.

Useful websites (in case Google hasn't indexed them when you need the info!):
Rip Off Report
Complaints Board

Monday, November 09, 2009

Facebook Frustration

A popular meme on Facebook at the moment is the 'dislike button' - the oft wished for counterpoint to the 'like' button that has accompanied every status update for the past few months.


Like most things that are popular for no good reason - I'm strongly opposed to the idea of the dislike button, as to me, as it would serve to provide yet another outlet for people to bitch online.

When Facebook introduced the News Feed feature, the entire experience changed - rather than the tried-and-true system in which you're only presented with information you pulled down about the people you care to look up, you're now accosted at login with every twitch and snort from each of the many acquaintances you've acquired over your Facebooking career. Since most people tend to have more acquaintances than close friends, it means that a lot of the information onscreen is of little interest.

Thanks to Facebook, I now know that people I know:

... enjoy pleasant weather

... like eating pizza

... are fans of smiling

... enjoy the beach
... don't like cigarette. Just one. Unsure as to how they feel about multiple cigarettes though
... love their MOM. It might be an anagram for something cool that the kids are into
... are fans of summer (which dovetails nicely with the warm weather, I suppose)

... don't feel at all ashamed to share with the world that a quiz that confuses simple homonyms considers them a genius
... appreciate hugs
... are patriotic

... will happily take quizzes with the absurd premise of "What female superstar mom / wife are you?" and not hastily take the results down when the utterly insipid fruits of their fifteen minutes of box ticking steps forward onto the friend feed for scrutiny. "You are beautiful but not flamboyant or glamorous"? How the #@¢$ would any quiz on Facebook be able to tell you that? Shame on every party involved in bringing this quiz into the world and propagating its use.

Those are just a few of the dumb entries that pertain to apps and the 'fan' feature - I've decided not to go copying and pasting the status entries that consist of people bitching about work, bitching about friends, bitching about school, bitching about big dirty bitches, or worse, exposing their cretinous misunderstanding of politics / economics / the world in general.

Granted, the only thing worse than people engaging in such mindless tomfoolery is the guy who catalogues it and whinges about it later, but when I haven't talked to a person in months and these are the snippets of their personality that I'm being bombarded with, it makes me think less of that person. The appearance of some brain-pain-inducingly banal update on the friend feed lends it a sense of urgency that it doesn't deserve, and it only makes it more difficult to find the updates that are worthwhile.

This whole thing could be resolved in a few ways. For one, I could learn to ignore the nonsense (which isn't very likely). Secondly - I could set up parameters for my friend feed so that it ignores certain apps / people - I'm grateful to the Facebook people for providing these small mercies, and have used it to dispose of the more cognitively deficient people on my friend-list.

Third - and this is the one I like best - people could subscribe to the same etiquette I do:
Sign up for a dumb app? Don't let it post to your feed!
Want to update people to your status every four minutes? Get on twitter and let people follow you instead!
Feel like bitching about your day? Shut the fuck up!

Remember folks - chances are that you're an idiot, and the more often you pop up in someone's news feed, the more regularly you'll present an opportunity for them to reaffirm that opinion of you.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ich bin der verdammte Ubersully!

Here's a true story. I had an annoying girlfriend once. She nagged me to sign up for MSN so I could join a group chat with her annoying friends, so to annoy her back, I signed up with the handle "ubersully". Chagrin abounded. Words were had. Unhealthy relationship limped on with the same dynamic of lazy abuse and general lack of mutual respect for far longer than it ought to have.

Anyhow - six (Really? Only six?) years later, I've embraced the Ubersully.

Playstation Network, Xbox Live, Twitter, random dodgy forums around the internet - I am ubersully. I own ubersully. The only time that a website has refused me signing up as ubersully is when I've already signed up to that website as ubersully.

See that? It's all me.

Sadly friends, my six-year hot-streak came to an end today. Whilst signing up for my second YouTube account (gluttonous bastard!), I entered ubersully, and believing it to be a mere formality, hit 'Check Availability'.


Hmmm... That's weird, I don't remember signing up to YouTube as 'ubersully' - let's investigate that profile...


You damn dirty Mexians! Is nothing sacred?

In times like this, I turn to my dear readers, and even dearer commenters for solace - I ask you fine people: do you have a 'go-to' moniker online that you feel attached to? Or are you going to lecture me on changing up my online handles so employers / stalkers / Big Brother can't see what fetish category I gravitate towards online?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We Were Warned (about a crap film)

True believers of this Mayan calendar nonsense annoy me a great deal, so it annoys me even more that a film about it is being made, which envisions all the cataclysmic events that the nuts propagating this impending Armageddon get a woody for.

In case you're wondering what set me off - this rigged poll on Facebook was to blame:

Quarter of a million people bothered with this drivel? Criminy. I voted, but only to get the results (not that I reckon too many people take these things seriously):




Over the course of this crummily edited trailer, it manages to tick all the boxes for a genre flick like this - the shots of random foreign cities and their inhabitants looking concerned and feeling tremors to push the 'globalness' of the catastrophe; the use of planes, trains, automobiles and ships to escape the inevitable destruction (represented as a big cloud of debris following them); the struggle of the few good men inside the governmental cover-up fighting to do the right thing, and of course, the demolition-porn of major monuments. This trailer alone shows the Washington Monument breaking apart, Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer Statue getting a powerful dose of leprosy, (what looks like) the DC Capitol building tumbling to the ground, and even the White House (which still has the lights on) being crushed under a great big freakin' tsunami carrying the USS John F Kennedy.

€5 says that either leading man John Cusack, or director / disaster-flick mogul Roland Emmerich will, in an interview about the film, enthuse about how the heart of the film is the family unit that acts as a 'microcosm' for humanity in the middle of such a global catastrophe.

I know that Roland Emmerich likes using CG to show things crumble, but did he really have to piggyback on the 2012 stupidity? Not only will the film age about as well as anything from the 90s named " 2000", but now we're going to see the same stupidity as when Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out, prompting the enlargement of the stupid fringe of alien abduction claims, leading to more 'open-minded' twats pulling on their goatees and 'discussing the possibilities' of such rubbish.

Gwaaaah.

(On a side note - if there's nothing else out on the weekend this releases, I may well go see it - darn my affinity for John Cusack's everymanness)

Friday, October 23, 2009

One soul saved?

As part of my undergraduate studies, I spent a few months on work placement in Belgium, doing absurdly menial work in a third-rate "cultural institute". I found it farcical that the university was providing ridiculously cheap labour to an entirely unethical organisation [to clarify, by 'unethical', I mean "they made us lie to the police about the accommodation they were providing for reasons I won't get into"], and thought that the tone of my required work-placement report would reflect the farce I was a participant in.

Being a homo-sapien with occasional respect for his fellow-man, I tried in earnest to prevent my fellow bipeds from being sent there, but the University were unperturbed by my histrionic outbursts of woe, so I took my fight to the internet, well, this blog at least.

It brings me great satisfaction to see that at least one person has stumbled across my urgent warnings:



The entirety of the posts on the topic are available here, for those curious to see exactly just how condescendingly one can write about getting dressed for work in the morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Feed the world"

Holy crap! How did it take me 10 days to find this? Funnyish comedienne Sarah Silverman put together a video with a compelling central thesis. I won't ruin it for you, so have a watch:



I was mostly disappointed by the latter two minutes - I don't think that some hard facts would have hurt the video - but I still enjoy the point it makes, as anything that draws attention to the sheer opulence of the very organisation that declares living humbly a virtue is fine by me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanks but no thanks

Ever get stuck talking to one of those people who insist on finishing your sentences, even though they keep getting it wrong? Try having that same conversation when that person bald-facedly assumes that you're as perverted as the previous million people they've talked to that day.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's the deal with iTunes pricing?

Since I'm still tooling around with my iPod Touch, I've been delving deeper into iTunes. Despite subscribing to dozens of podcasts through iTunes, I've only spent money on it once, but I poked around in their video section to see if I could find anything cool.

I was pleased to see that they've a healthy supply of TV shows available, even if I thought that $1.99 for one episode of a (fantastic) TV show was more than I was willing to pay. Taking that into consideration, I couldn't believe what record labels were getting away with when it came to music videos:


3 minutes and 39 seconds of music video costs the very same as 30 minutes of quality TV entertainment! I can only assume that these prices are so high so as not to cannibalise the music prices (which are between $0.99 and $1.99), and not because the market sustains the selling of promotional music videos that are readily available for free streaming online.

The bands are making music videos anyhow - it only makes sense that they should be able to sell it for $2 a pop to the impressionable young fans whose shallow gamut of opinion consists of "that's naff" or "DIS IS THE BEST THING EVA!!!!!!"

Fools and their money are often accompanied with obnoxious punctuation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On being a 2nd class Internet citizen

I don't want to have to download my favourite shows through spurious channels, but I'm entirely willing to do so when I'm unable to get a hold of shows that are available for free on television.

For this reason, Comedy Central were my internet heroes - unlike most other broadcasters, they had their best content available to stream for free. Every South Park episode was available, with new episodes appearing a few days after the original broadcast date, both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report disabled streaming entire episodes for IP addresses outside of the US, but (bizarrely) the component clips of each episode could be watched in sequence with minimal fussing about. In exchange for this convenience, the viewer had to sit through the occasional ad. This was the perfect arrangement - I didn't have to part with €2 on iTunes for 22 minutes of entertainment, the content provider was getting advertising-revenue for their trouble, and the guilt I felt at torrenting fantastic shows (I helped killed Sarah Conor Chronicles) was assuaged by the notion of "If Comedy Central can do it so can everyone."

That bubble burst on Monday, when I logged onto thedailyshow.com to find an obnoxious message about videos not being available in my country.

Refusing to believe that the party was finally over, I clicked around on some random clips, hoping that this was a mistake, but to no avail. Bracing myself for disappointment, I went to colbertnation.com:

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Gutted, I turned to an old reliable, southparkstudios.com - the studio headed up by two rather cool dudes who have said on record that they don't mind the illegal distribution of their intellectual property. Sure enough, episodes were still available to stream, but the site had been entirely gimped:


The selection of episodes available to download had dropped from 190 (all of them) to five! Five! That's 2.5% of what was previously available. Pretty weak, Comedy Central.

The months of goodwill that Comedy Central has built up by being the only major network to offer so much free content to international audiences certainly won't be forgotten about, but I'm sure that the internet-savvy, casual fans like myself will now turn to BitTorrent/weird Korean streaming websites to get their fix.

Good thing for Comedy Central that there are more people out there who would rather buy the DVDs.