Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mental Mentality! Healthcare Hysteria!

Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare Healthcare



You may or may not have heard of this woman. If you haven't, then this is an instance where using the word "cunt" is appropriate. I know that it's strong language, but it's adequate here.

People who stand in her position are an oxymoron--her husband is working three jobs and still can't afford health insurance, but she remains opposed to universal healthcare. Another anti-health activist was injured and solicited donations to pay his medical bills. Yet these people remain completely opposed to universal healthcare despite the potential benefits to themselves.

Some how, someone has convinced these people to act in a manner that is detrimental to themselves. In a mixture of abstract concepts, loud mouths, and flat-out falsehoods, either a brilliant designer or a mob mentality has driven these people like lemmings. It's done so well that over half of Americans believe that there will be "death panels" in a universal healthcare system.

An aside, there already are death panels--to a degree--of just a frightening nature. Actuaries assess the risk of future events in a person life. With the likelihood of particular risks, they determine insurance rates for individuals. There already are people in private insurance firms whose job is to determine how expensive it is for you to stay alive.

To understand what's going on, consider cui bono. The uninsured protesters do not benefit, and there's no real effect to the insured because they'll get to keep their plans. Likely, the parties with the greatest loss in a system with universal healthcare are private insurance firms. Of course, their lobbyists get the big bucks to push politicians in big directions.

Money can push politicians, but there's not enough to push the people. The people move by means of abstract concepts: pride, morals, values, patriotism, freedom, hope, etc. In this case, it's about protecting American values--in particular, American capitalist values. They've been convinced that the free market will be destroyed if healthcare is socialized and, once that is done, that the entire country will fall under fascist control.

If the country were capable of falling under such a regime, it already would have. Social security and drivers licenses already make a pseudo-national ID system, and that's one of the great fears deriving from the existence of socialized healthcare. Between the patriot act and mob mentality of the modern United States, if there were to be a fascist regime in the United States, it would already exist.

These absurd statements have put Obama on the defensive--the worst place in the world to be. Defense exists to deter defeat. Offense exists to win. Deterring defeat will never yield victory, and a player on the defensive is bound to lose. Obama's response to the death panel rumors was denial--completely defensive. Instead, he ought to have gone on the offense. He should have used the transparency he promised to call out the lobbyists. Instead of saying, "there's no deathpanels," he should have said, "there are people who don't care if you're sick so they can make money."

After all, this is about Obama himself. Obama's opponents want him to fail. They want to break the hope and to stop the change. Breaking the healthcare promises will surely leave Obama a lame duck. Don't let it happen.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Five Years of Logorrhea

My lab partner just pointed that this is the fifth anniversary of this blog. I've missed the anniversary every year, so this is just a damn lucky day.

I don't know where the logorrhea banner went. I had it on imageshack, I think, and it vanished. Since another year has passed, it's time for a new one.

If you're on Facebook, you might not be able to see the many internal links on the syndication of this post. Go to the original site.

To celebrate, I'm going to drink alone and brag about my huge repertoire of posts from the last five years... jesus fucking christ, five fucking years. I was in high school when I started this blog, and I knew everything. Now, the end of college is on the horizon, and I know nothing.

Let's have a retrospective:

+ I used to write rants on my DeviantART page. Someone on DeviantART said I needed a blog. I haven't posted on DeviantART since then. Well, I have, but not really.

+ I started the blog on August 17, 2004. Holy shit. That was a long time ago. I don't think Bush had even been reelected yet. In fact, I complained about it here.

+ The Vacuum Suckers post was great. It was the first post I wrote that had some essence of quality.

+ At some point, I added little features. These include the cycling subtitle, the n years of logorrhea banner, and the cool blue background.

+ RIAA Terror in Brief: For a while, I attempted to sum up events in the RIAA lawsuits thinking that they would someday end. I quit after a while because re-reporting shit is incredibly boring. I can't even find all the posts, though it looks like I wrote 6 of them. I'm not sure; the search tool is acting funny.

+ I've posted nearly at least one post per month, except for a brief hiatus after September 2006. This is because I was a college freshman, and drinking heavily was more exciting than having an opinion on the Internet.

+ Some posts were subtle. They still make me laugh. Others were blunt. They make me shake my head in shame. Yet some were so blunt that they still make me laugh. However bad, I refuse to delete old posts. They're there. At some point, I thought posting them was clever, so they will stay. Deleting them defeats the point of this blog.

Some questions and statements, as to the future:
+ How many of the 6,400 visitors to this blog, how many were simply bots searching for e-mail addresses to spam and websites to catalog into search engines?

+ Will posting quality improve? Will reader counts increase? Will I actually make money off this blog? (Answers: quality cycles, doubt it, doubt it even more because it depends on the result of the last question)

+ There will be more funny pictures. In fact, I might make one for every post I do. This is because I like eye candy, and my posts have grown longer over the years. A few pictures might help make those long blocks of angry text more bearable even to me.

+ The logorrhea banner will return. I didn't realize it was broken.

A reminder to the readers and myself--this blog is intended as nothing more than practice. Practice writing, practice ranting, practice web...siting. You're reading what's on my mind, barely revised, unreserved, apathetically produced.

I could do better, but I'm lazy. This is for fun. I'm not going to write a piece, sit on it for a week, and perfect it. That is not as much fun. This has no attachment (I hope) to my career, and I sure as shit don't make money off of it. It's a firing range for my literary skills and the rubbish that comes out of angry gun. It is a brain refuse depository. Nothing more. Enjoy my scraps.

The Consequences: Ending Social Networks

In the last four years, social networking exploded into a multi-million dollar industry and is now looking at a dangerous decline. While experts ask why, their balding heads fail to understand the youthful minds fleeing the networks.

I still regularly use Facebook. MySpace I've avoided like the plague for years, and only occasionally drop by to say hello to some people I can't reach otherwise. Facebook is still useful, but there are reasons people are leaving, and I seek to address that here.

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Here's cause for the exodus:

+ Society does not differentiate weekends from weekdays.
The weekends are separate from weekdays, and it doesn't really matter what the hell you do on the weekend, so long you remain productive and uncompromisable during the week. Society does not share this opinion, particularly employers, parents, coaches, and school administrators.

The strongest reason users leave social networks is for employment. There's a common fear amongst job-seeking students that their future employers are perusing through their Facebook pictures looking for--god forbid--red cups. Facing the dire consequence of starving, students have left Facebook and MySpace altogether.

For those not looking to jobs, risks remain, particular those of Facebook pictures leaving and wandering into the eyes of parents and coaches. Generally, parents aren't too pleased seeing their children drinking, vomiting into a toilet after drinking, and drinking after vomiting into a toilet after drinking. After all, if Steve's mom is friends with someone who was tagged in an album with Steve in it, and that someone did not put up the privacy settings, Steve's mom can see the album. Steve is now grounded. Students who fear such repercussions fled social networks completely.

Additionally, school administrators have somehow acquired the right to punish students for things they do while not in school. No clue how that works, but just the same, if the school gets its hands on pictures of its students drinking, they will be punished.

The social networks can not stop these pictures from getting to unwanted eyes. No matter what safety nets social networks allow you to put up, it doesn't make a difference. It was once said when some encryption code for hacking DVDs or something was leaked that "getting something off the internet is like getting pee out of a pool." Pictures are the same way. Once something's on the Internet, it easily ends up everywhere and cannot be taken down. The best way to stop it is to keep it off the Internet in the first place, and the equivalent of holding one's bladder is staying off Facebook.

+ Petty Drama
Who cares if Janelle and Davey broke up and got together five or six times this week? Facebook will let you know, immediately. Stacey cut her toe on a rusty nail and is dying because of tetanus. Great. People use Facebook--myself included--to complain about shit that nobody cares about. Since there's nothing there but worthless bickering, who's going to be there at all?

+ You've Been Bitten! Join the Fight: Vampires vs. Zombies
Facebook introduced "applications" a year or so back. This was done to compete with MySpace--completely unnecessary--and draw in revenue--equivalent to selling-out to the man. The result of the development of applications was a large number of apps who's entire goal was get people to invite more people to the app. This produced a large number of "games" that aren't really games at all, but manual spam bots. Of course, each of these had a series of banner ads or were selling upgraded versions that did nothing new.

Not only did the games suck, but if you didn't accept, you'd likely find 60+ invitations in your user inbox telling you that you have pokemon or a secret waiting for you. If you did accept, your user page would be trashed with tacky, worthless boxes of rubbish no one cared about. Continually still, the games flood the newsfeed with "MICHAEL GOT A CHICEKN IN FARMVILLE. JOIN THE FARM FUN WIN BLUE RIBBINZ."

At least "Stacey is dying from tetanus" is entertaining.

+ Creepers
More afflicting women, Facebook--like any social network--is full of creepers. This risk was significantly lower when Facebook was an elitist student club, but since Facebook is available to the public, creepers run amok looking for women with whom they hope to couple. This doesn't even involve dinner and a movie, but centers around flat-out solicitations.
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I've considered MySpace dead for years, but a lot of these forces are new to Facebook, pushing a lot of users out with their novelty, and making the decline a series of business decisions by Facebook. Instead of relying on the solid product they had developed, they sought to expand earnings. It turns out that empathy for the users is a useful force in business after all.

Besides declining product quality, the very nature of social networks makes them vulnerable. No matter how elitist, all groups have creepers in them, being that the world has creepers, and any group is just a subgroup of the world. Additionally, the "pee-in-the-pool theory" of the Internet makes any information put on it impossible to take off, including pictures of yourself in the fetal position, covered in your own vomit.

People could take the existence of this information as a demonstration of the facts of life, but old people aren't ready to hear that and like to pretend that half their generation didn't smoke weed 40 years ago. Instead, we'll get to hear about how the youth are corrupt and how social networks "ruin lives."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hollywood

I was watching Terminator II the other day. I hadn't seen it in a while, and if you haven't, remember that it's very good. It was also one of the first movies to use computerized effects, and it did so effectively. It did so in small, subtle places, such as whenever the liquid metal guy changes forms. They were peppered on for where creating the effect with real life materials would have been impossible.

The film features one shot of a helicopter going under a bridge. I doubt that someone actually flew a helicopter under a bridge, but the helicopter was definitely a real one. Perhaps it was on a track, but the shot looked great. This is something that Hollywood alone has the resources to do: smash-up cars, construct elaborate sets, blow-up buildings, and shoot miniatures, or, in short, do expensive things in real life. They have the capital to do massive scale productions.

Or at least, they did. The use of real life effects has slowly transitioned to computerized effects. Take, for example, the film "I am Legend." Most of the film's budget likely went to Will Smith's salary. The film utilized computerized effects to create zombies that look like they came out of an enhanced version of Poser. It was quite pathetic, really. With all of the capital available and all their resources, they used the computer to create villains which, at the time, were beyond the computer's ability to capture.

The use of the computer allows one to do things that traditional effects did not permit, but it has a restriction. Unless you're creating something far beyond the imagination, that thing will look fake. Humanoid zombies are not far beyond the imagination, leaving the zombies in "I am Legend" to be visibly computer generated and unrealistic. I can't even tell you what it was about them--perhaps a smoothness, something often the downfall of computer effects. I'm not sure.

When watching Terminator II, I put the pieces from "I am Legend" together. Hollywood is trying to use the computer to cheat us. Instead of trying to make the best films possible with the best effects, they're cutting costs. It also reveals their weakness; anybody nearly has the resources at their disposal to do what Hollywood is doing now.

With a good camera, a decent computer, and the right software, one can make a video production with effects on par with "I am Legend," or better. These only cost a couple thousand dollars, unlike multimillion dollar Hollywood budgets of films past. What one lacks is the visual effects experience--by dicking around with the software tools or taking a few classes, one can obtain that--and the acting talent--which is present everywhere, if you look hard enough.

It's ironic that the tools that make Hollywood become obsolete also destroy the traditional distribution scheme. Piracy through the Internet is rising and looks to completely undermine the whole system. The future of film is in your basement, on the computer, and digital.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Truth

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