Saturday, August 29, 2009

You will really love or really hate this


Things I poo-pooed that I later loved

Dianna has been hounding me to write this entry, so, my dear, here you are:

From time to time on this crazy, spinning world of ours, I make up my mind to hate something that I know absolutely nothing about. It feels good to dig your heels in, and having strong opinions lets you know that you're alive, dammit.

So here are some things that I hated without reservation, only to find later that I really, really liked them:

1. Facebook
Reasons for hating:
"I don't want people to know all this stuff about me"
"I don't wanna jump on this trendwagon"
"I'm too cool for this social networking crap"
"I don't have time for this"
"I'd get too obsessed and spend all my time there"
Reasons for loving:
It helps me reconnect with folks
I learn about cool trends, aps, websites and news
It's a supeb time-waster
It's fun

2. Brazillian Steak Houses
Reasons for hating:
No idea, really - it just seemed different and weird and too meaty, somehow
Reasons for loving:
The food is incredible
It's "ADD Dining" - you always have something to focus on
It's like a video game, with the goal as attracting the guys with the best meats and avoiding the guy with the bacon-wrapped chicken

There are probably countless more, but that's what I've got this morning.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Epicurus: Ancient ass-kicker

Gotta give credit where credit is due... a helluva argument.
This quote troubles me - it's very powerful and persuasive, but something about it still bothers me. I don't know if I agree with it or not.
It takes a huge amount of energy / knowledge to find chinks in this. I think I could do it, with difficulty, but I'll just let it stand.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quick and awesome video games

Here's a great game (thanks for the tip, Geo). These folks are pretty demented. Often, they verge into the strangeness of Adult Swim programming, where you're not even sure what they are trying to accomplish. Try and beat my high score, sucka.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gripping strategy for board games

In my friend Geo's excellent blog I became aware that some people videotape themselves giving advice on how to play board games. At first there's the geektastic Axis and Allies and Chess, obviously.
But what about Candyland as explained by a three-year-old? Or people dressing up as the Monopoly Millionaire Guy (at right) and giving tips on property swaps?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nobody cares about Archie

Archie has the strange distinction of being well-known and yet not popular or interesting in the slightest.
Archie is like a kitchen chair. I know kitchen chairs, I've seen lots of them, and yeah - maybe I even thought a few were cool.
But I don't care about them.
Nobody does.
Archie and his ilk live in the backs of our minds, in the supermarket aisles and a few comic book stores, where his comics never sell but are kept as some sort of symbol, a symbol of a simpler time when comics sucked and we had nothing to read but... Archie.
Sadly, the the media gave Archie the predictable press when Archie comics does the attention-grabbing "Archie proposes to Veronica after 70 years... only to break it off later and go after Betty" bit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dice, Dice Baby

"Cooking" dice =

"the nefarious practice of placing dice in a microwave with the desired result faceup for a few seconds. The plastic melts slightly, ensuring that one end is heavier than the other. "

Apparently, some people use these to cheat at roleplaying games. I didn't know they could get so rough...

And I've learned that there is a market for fancy dice that I never knew existed. I'm talking about dice made of Sterling Silver, Amethyst, Green Jade or even.... uhhh.... bone? Insert really creepy joke here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On Hugo "Huggy Bear" Chavez

I remember when Hugo Chavez was coming onto the scene (at least in the U.S.). It was the middle of the Bush years and "W" hate was suffocatingly all around you, like the stench of a Waffle House bathroom.
Then Chavez jumped up with a lion's roar and started speaking truth to power.
Then he kept doing it.
Then he called Bush "the devil."
Then... things seemed to get weird. First he tried to make himself ruler for life. Now, he's trying to suppress the media.
The strangest thing, for me, is that his obvious shift towards authoritarianism doesn't seem to be an issue for the Left in the U.S. They are willing to look the other way, either because he's the lesser of a few evils or, more likely, they are willing to put up with indiscretions from a leader... as long as he's from their side. Where is the outrage from Commondreams and The Nation?
During the Bush years I was stopped by a young man outside the Providence Place Mall, asking me if I wanted to know how the president was taking away my civil liberties.
OK, it's an important issue, so let's be consistent, people.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Subcontracting out homeless services for profit

It seemed like a lie. A posting on on homelessness said that NYC shelters were subcontractors that were getting paid $90 person per night to house homeless people. This equals out to $2,700 a month, which seems like bank to me.

So I checked it out: Yep, it's true.

The Bushwick Economic Development Corp. worked a deal between a non-profit and a deluxe apartment building to turn its rooms into transitional apartments for homeless people, charging the city a whopping $90 a night to house them.

I can't tell if this is ingenious or scandalous...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A strange apology

I still had my government badge on in the subway last week, and it ended up starting an interesting conversation between myself and this woman. She was Hispanic, and we started talking about bilingual services in the government, and the fact that more and more services would become bilingual in the future as the Hispanic population in the U.S. continues to rise.
Then the conversation changed. She noted that she didn't think that bilingual services helped people and thought that more Hispanics should learn English and to pursue higher education.
She remarked sadly that she's tried to get her own daughter to read more but that she's not interested and prefers TV.
She expressed concern what will happen to the United States when Hispanics become the largest racial group in the U.S.
"So.... um.... I'm sorry," she said.
It sounded like she was apologizing behalf of her own racial group to me. Had I become... a token white guy? Wow.....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's only racist when they do it

We liberal New England types easily fall into the trap of "the other." Y'know, like "Republicans" or "Conservatives" or, even worse, "Southerners." It's amazing how quickly we seek solace in putting people inside nice, little boxes and throwing labels at them.

The author quotes a white intellectual:

There are, needless to say, plenty of individual Southern whites who are wholly admirable. But taken as a whole, Southern white culture is [redacted]. Jim Webb can pretty it up all he wants, but it's a [redacted]." Drum did the redacting on his own blog post, explaining he'd blacked out the offending text "on the advice of my frontal lobe."

He then shows us the problem with Southern-bashing - if you replace the word "southerner" with, say, "a black person," the bigot doth reveal itself:

"There are, needless to say, plenty of individual blacks who are wholly admirable. But taken as a whole, black culture is [redacted]. Barack Obama can pretty it up all he wants, but it's a [redacted]."

Or maybe this: "There are, needless to say, plenty of individual Jews who are wholly admirable. But taken as a whole, Jewish culture is [redacted]. The late Irving Howe can pretty it up all he wants, but it's a [redacted]."

The White House's email on Health Care Reform

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

More at

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tally your skillz

Every other Sunday, I go to my friend Troy's house to play Rifts, a role-playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but cooler and with high-tech guns and such. My fictional character has certain skills that he can perform - cook a gourmet meal, drive a hovercycle, etc.
So, I wondered: what would MY skill set be?

Here are Troy's skills: (he sent them by email)
W.P. (Weapon Proficiency) Nunchakus
W.P. Karate Weapons
W.P. Sword
W.P. Pistol
W.P. Rifle
Skiing (downhill)
Radio: Basic
General Athletics
Computer Operation
Role-Playing Game Design
Lore: Mythology
Lore: Religion (Christianity)
Musical Instrument (guitar)
White-water river sporting
Military Etiquette (from 3 years as a defense contractor).

Ummmm... OK. Now for mine:

Jon's skills:
Computer Operation (Mac)
Computer Operation (PC)
Computer Operation (3rd generation video game consoles)
W.P. Squash Racket
W.P. Supersoaker
Body Building (with "Weekend Warrior" penalty)
Light Jogging
Computer Programming (Basic Html)
Lore: Religion (Judaism)
Lore: World Religions
Lore: Mythology
Pilot: Automobile
Creative Writing
Cooking (Basic)
Language: Hebrew (sub-basic)
Language: Spanish (sub-basic)
Phobia: Silverfish

Did I miss anything?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ways for real men to save the environment

1. Don't shave on your days off
Your GF / wife may not like it, but tell her that America uses a gabillion times more water and electricity than the rest of the world combined, and every little bit helps. If possible: skip on showers too and tell her you got a part-time job at Greenpeace.

2. Don't eat bananas
They are always in season here because they are flown in from the tropics, and therefore it costs a lot of resources to get 'em here. Plus, people make gay jokes when you eat them. They really do. (Hat-tip to Dianna for this great tip).

3. Use a Luftwaffa in the shower
OK, OK... it's actually called a Luffa sponge. These may not look very manly, especially when they seemingly only come in pastels, but they allow you to use less soap, get clean faster and use less water / whatever the hell they make body wash from. You can also grow your own sponges, but I wouldn't recommend it (too much effort).

4. Use a fan (occasionally)
AC feels great, and is our our God-given right as Americans / industrial powers. However, sometimes we just need a little cooldown, and not the bone-chilling awesomeness of the AC. A fan pointing just at you while you watch TV or do computer stuff can help. Plus, your girlfriend hates AC because she has a low body temperature and it makes her dress up in blanket burkas.

5. Occasionally, eat something vegetarian
Did you know that a deep dish four-cheese pizza is vegetarian? So are pasta, eggplant Parmesan, Caesar salads, meatless nachos, refried beans, etc. All these things can you the some caloric / cholesterol damage as meat, but with less stress on the environment. Not saying you have to do it every day, but once in a while is good. And I didn't mention veggie meat stuff, but that's good too.

6. Go for a walk, fatass
Yeah, we all love our cars, but we seem to love our big fat guts more. Walk to the store to get your Slim Jims and love the Hummer at home. Then wash it down with moonshine and you'll nice and blinded before dinnertime (huh?).

7. Carpool / hitchhike / carjack
Anything you can do to put fewer cars on the road.

Friday, August 7, 2009

2-Live Crew versus.... Phil Donahue?

This is gold.
2-Live Crew singing their extremely tawdry / filthy / hilarious "Face Down Ass Up" live on Phil Donahue in 1990. They are cracking up the whole time. It's so delightfully over the top, and the audience has no idea what to do.
Perfect and cringeworthy (NSFW). Lyrics are here - double wow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Say No to Hipster Hate

I've realized something about "hipster hate" - the trendy idea to attack other trendy people, most of whom seem to live in NYC or other metro areas. The attacks center on their brave / creative / outlandish clothing and accessories.

Vice has been praising / ridiculing hipsters for years. Urbandictionary as well.

I realized, though, that Hipster Hate is as stupid and base as Jock Hate, Goth Hate, Prep Hate, or any other category hatin'.

It's just, "Let's ridicule people who are different."

And thus the moral of this story:

Hate: It's not hip at all....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You want to be starting... a garden?

We all love Michael Jackson.
We should.
But what's up with these lyrics from his classic "Wanna Be Starting Something":

You're a vegetable, you're a vegetable
Still they hate you, you're a vegetable
You're just a buffet, you're a vegetable
They eat off of you, you're a vegetable


Mini-skateboards? Huh?

When I was in college this kid named "Vegan Joe" loved doing these strange tricks with a mini-skateboard. It was about 2 inches long and he'd push it down his leg or across and table and make it jump and stuff.
I thought it was the silliest thing I'd ever seen. "Didja get that from a cereal box?" I asked assholically.
Apparently, once again, the joke's on me. These "tech decks" are hot sellers, and people even trade tricks on youtube.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

World peace through MSG

I probably cannot be convinced that MSG is good for you, even if there are some rigorous debate.
But its likely addictive properties are what interests me.
If you can keep people coming back to something, think of what you can accomplish:

1. Use MSG to get kids to eat healthy veggies!
2. Get political foes (i.e. Israelis and Palestinians) to talk by putting MSG-laded food near the opposition. They'll find they can't stop going back!

The opportunities are endless! Just have lots of water around to counteract the salt overdose.