April 30, 2007

The Future's Pretty Funny

Earlier, I failed to mention the most obvious overestimated visions of a future now past. The date is even in the title:

2001: A Space Odyssey.

It's 2007, Dave, what's the hold up? Answer - Shut up, Hal.

The only technologies presented in the movie that we actually have in the year 2007 are classical music, bone clubs and monkey suits. Some folks over at jacksfilms have done a great send up of this epically confusing movie. It gets funnier as it gets going.

(via milkandcookies)

April 27, 2007


Sometimes it takes me a long time to put 2 and 2 together. After years of reading comic books, I noticed this little button in an old X-Men comic that said "IN THE SENSATIONAL FANTASTIC FOUR STYLE". It made me realize that somebody got lazy over at Marvel when they created the original X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Let me I'll break it down.

1. Captain Alliteration
Both teams are led by a guy with an alliterative name (Scott Summers as Cyclops and Reed Richards as Mr. Fantastic). Personality-wise these guys are both in the same boring boat. Being abandoned by fathers who went of into space or the future probably was responsible for that.

2. Mystery Lady
Marvel Girl and The Invisible Woman have very similar psionic powers. Frequently found in the role of the damsel in distress, they both fall for and marry the leader of the group and have a child with world shattering superpowers.

3. Working Class Brawler
The Thing and the Beast sure have similar names and similar difficulties dealing with a world in which they are so visibly different. Basically, they're both toughs that specialize in slamming into enemies. The Thing is yellow and the beast turns blue.

4. Elemental Boy
The Human Torch and Ice man. Hot and cold versions of the same thing.

Which leaves Angel. Got nothing for him. Again, I'm not saying that these two comics are carbon copies just that someone got lazy.

Media Blitz

Thanks to the new Bill Moyers documentary "Buying the War" the diamond monocle of the nation's elite is turning back to the media's role in promoting the Iraq war. It's another great opportunity for the media bigwigs to hem and haw and make up some nicery about how they couldn't help but act as a mouthpiece for the Bush administration instead of realizing the fact that they could see the president's shriveled unit might imply that he wasn't wearing clothes.

On the bright side, we have gotten to hear some great voices of opposition, such as Glen Greenwald of Salon, calling the media to task . Check out his regular column/blog.

Some media dude today on Dianne Rheim offered some BS excuse that you can't expect the media to be "ahead of the opposition party." You have got to be kidding me. Does he realize how stupid that sounds? Apparently, instead of investigating claims made by Bush Co., the media should simply report what they're told because the Democrats haven't brought up any points in opposition. Without Democratic support, their hands are tied. Give me a break. In the real world, Democratic support existed in the form of a favorite punching bag Ted Kennedy (who at the time was downright prophetic) but was completely ignored.

Since when is the media constrained to representing a political party? Since when is reporting the truth and pointing out falshood considered political speech? Since when is it the role of the media mediate between the controling parties of government?

(The picture is "Join, or Die" by Benjamin Franklin via USFlag.org)

April 25, 2007

News Anyone?

Here's a recent article on sexual differences and wages. Every year, a study like this one comes out and every year the results are reported as if it's news. Or rather as if it's new. new news. whatever.

Yes. Women make less money than men. Even when they have the same experience and do the same job. The dismal science, economics, says that this is impossible outside of blatent discrimination which should only be temporary in a true market economy as wages are set by productivity which blah blah blah.

I hate economics. Turning instead to my everpresent compangion, anthropology, we learn that a major factor in setting wages is the perceived social standing of the job and the people who tend to do it. Women as a group have a lower social standing than men in this country so they will get paid less even if they're doing the same thing. In general, you get paid what you're worth in a social sense as much as you do in an economic sense. You can copy and paste that idea to apply to race and age.

I'm not saying it's right. Just don't expect it to change when people refuse to admit that it even exists. For example, Fark.com tagged this news as unlikely.

Backtracking a bit, I wouldn't put too much stock in the study sited in Reuters article alone since it comes from a private organization that hasn't published it's findings in a journal of any kind and direct access to the study is not freely available. But, there's plenty of other sources that have gotten the same results. The best compliation of theory, evidence, and discussion can be found at echidne of the snakes. This should be required reading for anyone with a high school education.

(The Picture is by Ann Rosener via American Memory. The caption with the photo reads: Women in war. Machine gun production. With swift, deft movements, this young worker, one of 2,000 women employed in a Midwest war plant, assembles barrel carriers of machine guns. It's a job requiring constant attention, speed and judgement; a job for which women have proven themselves better fitted than men. Site: a Midwest plant.)

April 24, 2007

These Aren't the Droids Anyone is Looking for

Did you know that George Lucas owns rights to the word droid? I had no idea. Now, I have to send him a quarter just for this post. I guess that I'm getting off easy; Carrie Fischer sends him ten bucks every time she looks in the mirror.

April 23, 2007

Caption Contest #1

In a feeble attempt to encourage reader participation, I do hereby declare the first The Bedford Hillsian Caption Contest (TBHCC) underway. Warm up your brains and sharpen your tongues because here's the first photo:

We got Pinkerton on the right, Lincoln in the middle, and McClernard on the right. For a more detailed version of the photo go here. Leave your entries in the comments. Oh, and some rules. Leave as many entries as you want. For the caption, you can make any or all of the characters speak or just describe the scene (I put the speech bubble over everyone as an example don't let it constain your fertile mind). Good luck, all.

My entries:
Pinkerton: You want a piece of Lincoln? To bad, cuz you gettin a piece a PINKERTON!
Lincoln: The ladies love the top hat and Lincoln loves their bottoms fat.
McClernard: YES, SIR!

(Photo by Alexander Gardner via Library of Congress)

April 22, 2007

Shut Up and Die

I'm firmly planted in the anti-marketing/anti-advertising market which, as many of you advertising schlocks and Bill Hicks fans know, is a huge market. Advertisers would love to get there greedy little paws on this group. It must be the delicious taste of ironing found in the anti-marketing market that tempts the PR crowd so.

Advertisers see any popular group activity and think to themselves, "What would a commercial parasite do?". It's one thing to wait patiently for someone to ask for information about your product and/or service and it's quite another to stuff it into any and every available space where it fits. The latter seems to be the more ubiquitous trend in the world of ads.

I bring this up because some dude left scattered comments all over my blog the other day which solely linked to some crap clearinghouse ad site. Curse you spam robots!

Anyway, here's another Bill Hicks clip and even though he died before the current manifestation of the Iraq war, he was right on.

April 21, 2007

Future Days of the Past

I admit that when I was in middle school I used to play this great game, "Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?". The game was later turned into a kid's tv game show featuring the vocal talents of Rockapella. Ah, the halcyon days of nerdery.

There is one thing about the game that bothered me though. In the intro, the game referred to the year 1990 by which point time travel will be used to commit and solve crimes. The game was created in 1989 and by the time I started playing it '90 had come and gone. Every time I played, my still forming brain was dumbfounded how far off these people's predictions were about the future.

Turns out that this is a common mistake in the world of future prediction. Images of the future often diverge enormously from where the actual future turns out to be (Recon has beaten me to the punch with some 1900 postcards of 2000). The speed of progress can be easily overestimated. For futurists, time travel, growing human organs and robot butlers always seem to be just around the corner. Fictional series from Buck Rogers to Star Trek jump this gun again and again.

But, of course, my favorite version of the past as seen by the even paster is the '68 Godzilla movie "Destroy All Monsters. Let me see if I can sell this movie to you by saying: If you only see one Godzilla movie in your entire sad life (and it will be sad indeed if you only see one), let it be this movie. Here's the beginning.

You can watch the entire movie on youtube. It's worth every penny that you don't have to pay. Rating $3.

(Picture via consoleclassix)

April 19, 2007

Lightning Strikes Twice

In an earlier post, I talked about the team goal of Brazil in the '70 World Cup as being one of the best in the history of the tournament. Well, the best goal created by one player alone has to be Maradona's goal in the '86 tournament.

That goal needs little commentary but I would like to say that Maradona's style is 90% left foot (not many players rely on one foot so much and especially not the left).

The reason I bring this up now is because of Lionel "The Flea" Messi. Many people (including Maradona himself) have compared this young player to his fellow Argentinian and just the other day he scored a goal that is nearly identical to '86 World Cup goal.

Messi still has a long career ahead of him to measure against the great Argentinian. Unfortunately, Maradona has been hospitalized for the last week or so for acute hepatitis related to alcohol.

April 17, 2007

Not Just Hillary's Daughter

There are other places besides Brazil that make football great.

Take the international makeup of Chelsea for example. Chelsea is a team with a fine English pedigree starting with it's formation in 1905. It has a Portuguese coach and is owned by a Russian. The team itself has a core of great English players but also includes strong players from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Portugal, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. Also on the squad, but not as dominant on the field are players from Israel, Italy, Sweden, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Notably absent since the departure of Hernan Crespo are the South Americans. But a globetrotting squad nonetheless.

Another great thing about Chelsea is that the team is as successful as it is diverse. Just this weekend they defeated Blackburn Rovers and move on to face Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Since the League Cup is already under their belt and they have high standing in both the premier and champions leagues, they are in contention for a hitherto unheard of quad (the treble having only been accomplished once before by Ajax Amsterdam).

Chelsea is far from the only international team these days though. I picked it in particular because it happens to be one of the more successful ones. In European club football, this tends to be the norm. I myself happen to be a big fan of Arsenal.

April 11, 2007


Back to school kidos. The previous post has put me in the mood for some more social science testing. It's a voyage of personal discovery on the majestic catamaran we call the human mind. If you haven't take the RWA test yet, you should take it now before its too late.

Last time, we asked the question - Are you a crowd follower like a sheep or are you a rebellious free thinker like a lost sheep? This time the question is are you a racist pig? Maybe that's a bit over dramatic and barnyard folksy. The real question is do you harbor subconscious prejudices against certain types of people. How will this type of thought be tested? It's ingenious really. Click on the link below, then click on go to demonstration tests, click past the disclaimer. Now there are a list of test types on the left of the screen. Pick one follow the simple directions and get started.

Here are some of my results:
I have a slight automatic preference for straight people over gay
I have a moderate automatic preference for white people over black

April 10, 2007

South Paw

Are you an authoritarian? Do you have a right wing personality? There's only one way to find out. Place your views on the RWA scale! Here's how.

First, download this pdf: http://members.shaw.ca/perchaluk/drbob/chapter1.pdf

Then, open it up, hop down to the bottom of page 3 of the pdf (page 10 of the book), and follow the instructions. It's fun (well not really), it's easy, do it today.

So, turns out my RWA is 57 which means I'm a regular anarchist. I suggest everyone leaves their result in the comments section. I promise not to make fun of anyone.

It's important to note that in this context right-wing is not about being a conservative. Basically, it means that you're a tool. You obey traditional authorities be they right or left leaning.

Here is the rest of the book that the guy who uses this scale wrote.


April 8, 2007

Take This Truckin' Convoy

Increasingly, American culture is being designed from the top down. Maybe, this is a simple result of the US losing manufacturing jobs and moving into the so-called idea economy or maybe not. Either way, we've certainly put those factories to good use making popular music, art for advertising, and blockbuster movies. Plenty of the bottom up culture still exists but good luck finding it.

That's one of the reasons that I've been so enthralled last few weeks by snippets of Honk Horn Music of Ghana. This is music created Ghanian truck drivers and features vocals, horns, and various metallic percussive instruments. The phenomenon has been followed recently by Steven Feld who has done a few years of field work recording this music at gatherings of drivers and especially at funerals.

How awesome is it that the musicians are truck drivers. I love it. The music itself is a mix of west african style with influence from american jazz. You can hear exerpts of it from an npr story and see some video at a smithsonian site. There are a lot of really cool aspects to this music but one of my favorites has to be the pump song and dance. The song supposedly has its origins in the days when drivers had to deliver supplies deep into the forest. When they would get a flat, they would quickly run out of the truck and pump up the tire while a friend would bang on anything around to keep wild animals away (Nothing scares away cougars, anacondas and saber-toothed elephants like banging on a truck). Eventually, this ritual turned in to a song and dance with distinctive pumping action.

The US, on the other hand, has a truck driving culture that can only be expressed through a song so rockin' that it was turned into a movie.


Thanks to Kid Dammit for pointing the way to this masterpiece demonstrating the ability of Hollywood to process trucker culture into fine goo. It actually is a decent movie. I particularly appreciate Ernest Borgnine and a plot that makes absolutely no sense (most likely because they had to make it fit with the song). So, here's the ending of the film with plenty of spoilers and if you just want the song skip ahead to 1:56.

April 6, 2007

Hugh Who?

I was in the Laundromat the other day and the tv got me to thinking.

Most people these days recognize Hugh Laurie as the surly doctor on that biomedical propaganda machine of a show called "House" and while I'm fairly satisfied that he's getting his due as an actor, I'm a bit despondent that his earlier work as a comedian hasn't seemed to been pulled into the spot light with him. How funny was Laurie? I submit Exhibit B:

As many of you probably know, Laurie's mastery of physical comedy and blustery dialogue made him the first choice for playing dim-witted and excessively cheerful english gentleman in some of the most hilarious english comedies of all time. I don't believe that the world will ever see a better Bertram Wooster. If you haven't had a chance to check any of his early work, use the internets.

Blackadder (Recommended: Duel and Duality and Major Star)
Jeeves and Wooster (only one episode here)
A Bit of Fry and Laurie (also just a few episodes)

If anyone has any better links for these shows, please let me know; And dear god stop watching "House."

April 5, 2007

Reno 911

To you novice sleepers out there I say this:

Don't go to sleep right after eating big meal!

Last night, I learned that the hard way when I was chased around a dream airport by the ex-Attorney General and queen of the lady suit, Janet Reno. Please, just let me on the plane, Miss Reno.

The really strange part is that she wasn't even towering over me or chasing me around like in a monster dream. This was a battle of wits complete with disguises, comic misdirection and witty taunts. It only ended when I woke up in the middle of the night to a rousing round of what the hell is going on in my brain?!?. Was my poor unsuspecting mind switched in the middle of the night with Folgers crystal meth (republican edition)?

April 4, 2007

More Pointless Babble

Despite the urge not to, please compare the following two quotations:
  1. All things whatsoever observe a mutual order; and this the form that maketh the universe like unto God. Herein the exalted creatures trace the impress of the Eternal Worth, which is the goal whereto was made the norm...
  2. ...even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief...Brief and powerless is Man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark.
The first quote is from Dante's "Divine Comedy" and represents the euphoric medieval view of the human relationship with the universe. This view posits that humans are the pillars on which the world rests. Also, we are in fact the image of the greatest aspect of the universe, namely the G-Dog. Third, human life has divine purpose.

The second quote from Bertrand Russell's "Mysticism and Logic" illustrates the ice cold heartless perspective of science on the place of life in the universe. Humans are accidents. Nothing has purpose. No grand conscious force even exists to be indifferent.

At this point, you're probably thinking hey, what the hell are you doing reading Dante and Russell. I answer, Ha! I'm not! I just paraphrased the introduction of EA Burtt's "Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science." You guys fall for that trick every time. Unless of course, you stopped reading a few paragraphs ago.

Is this thing on?

Click below for more fun universe facts courtesy of Tom the Dancing Bug.

April 3, 2007

The Monkey God Vs the Science Robot

How curious, after all, is the way in which we moderns think about our world! And it is all so novel, too. The cosmology underlying our mental processes is but three centuries old (a mere infant in the history of thought) and yet we cling to it with the same zeal with which a young father fondles his new-born baby. Like him, we are ignorant enough of its precise nature; like him, we nevertheless take it piously to be ours and allow it a subtly pervasive and unhindered control over our thinking.

Free nerd hats to all who are still with me. You can wear them to my special party where I'll be handing out tasty candy SUCKERS because I just tricked you into reading the opening paragraph of my fave new gem of a book, "The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science" by E A Burtt. The new born baby of which he so insightfully speaks is of course our good friend Science! (the tool by which some lovely lady quite recently pilfered my vision). The program of Burtt's work is to shed some light on the underlying beliefs and assumptions of scientific thought by comparing it to medieval thought. As an added benefit, he spices up the trip with some agile prose and euphemisms such as referring to a woman's lap as the "nether bifurcation." Hilarity ensues.