Saturday, October 30, 2004

Generation gap.

"Moore's Law" suggests computing power doubles every eighteen months. So, when considering the entire culture surrounding this phenomenon, it's easy to understand how things can change very rapidly.

Here's a "for-instance". I'd wager to say that very few, if any, of my friends my own age (i.e., people that I went to Waterloo with, or other assorted Toronto acquaintances, mostly from UofT) have these blog things. Heck, I'm a recent convert to this whole notion of publicly airing a selection of your innermost thoughts on a regular basis.

So, you take a dash of Moore's Law... mix that with a few years of age-difference... and suddenly I go from someone mildly plugged into electronic-youth culture at UW (yet keeping the distance I needed to, in order to save my sanity) to someone who's completely alien to a concept such as this. Yet, the kids these days, this stuff is second nature to them.

This has a dual effect. Firstly, it makes me feel a bit, shall we say, "old" to hear about people talking about how, when they were in high school, they did this and that on Google searches (the first time I'd ever heard of "email" I was in Grade 12). Whatever, I can handle that.

But, the thing that strikes me most profoundly is this notion of a completely new set of paradigms, and an entirely novel lexicon, which surrounds the whole online culture. Some of the kids these days get "nostalgic" when recalling days spent on IRC and such; I recall learning how "prompt $p$g" in autoexec.bat made DOS do what I wanted it to do. Kids think nothing of hopping on MSN and talking to someone around the world, instantaneously; while I'm well-versed in MSN, I still have to marvel sometimes when I'm talking to someone in England or Germany on the thing, and it comes through instantly; sometimes I picture all these data packets flying underneath the ocean on cables (or far overhead on satellites) , zooming around at the speed of light, and still thinking it's pretty damn cool.

So, in conclusion... am I trying in vain to recapture my lost youth by going back to university and trying to "live the good life" again, albeit with a slightly different flavour? And, if so, is it necessarily a *bad* thing?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Missing numbers.

On the Daily Show a couple of nights ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson mentioned something very interesting regarding all the polling you're seeing in all the media outlets in this lead-up to this alleged "election" they may or may not be having south of our border.

The Rev noted the fact that polling companies, when they do phone polls, don't call cell phones. (I'm not sure why; maybe because those numbers aren't in the regular phone books, as far as I can tell. This is also reminiscent of the Literary Digest poll in the 1936 U.S. election; they called eight million people -- a gigantic sample size -- and predicted a Republican landslide. But, in the '30s, only rich people had phones, and rich people tend to vote Republican. The Gallup company did a much smaller random sample, predicting a FDR re-election, and they were right.) So, try to follow my logic here.

1. Pollsters aren't counting people whose primary phone is a cell phone.

2. I'd wager to say most people whose primary phone is a cell phone are likely younger.

3. Younger people, according to this week's Rolling Stone, overwhelmingly support Kerry (i.e., 4-to-1 or more).

4. Therefore... Kerry's actually ahead by a bit.

It may seem outwardly insignificant, but it could end up deciding the fate of the world. Kinda kooky, eh?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Miss America is DEAD.

Well, not exactly... but ABC isn't televising it this year, and without at TV contract it's just a bunch of swimsuit-clad women in a warehouse somewhere being objectified by a studio audience (instead of being objectified by millions out in TV-land).

Rest in peace.

Three things happened tonight.

1. A total lunar eclipse.
2. The Red Sox won the World Series.
3. Elena's grandmother passed away.

While the first is a rarity, and the second is even more bizarre an occurrence, my thoughts tonight are with Elena. I'm not usually one to wax philosophical, so I'll let Jerry Garcia do the talking.

There is a road
no simple highway
between the dawn
and the dark of night.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I don't even care for Eminem.

...but this is a kickass video.

Presentation follies.

Yesterday, my partner and I were responsible for presenting a topic -- higher-order thinking processes and long-term memory -- for three solid hours. Yes, that's daunting when everyone else in the room is smarter than you... in case you haven't checked, three solid hours (minus, of course, a tea-break in the middle) is a long time to be leading anything.

Because I'm paranoid about my awful memory, I decided it'd be a better idea to drive to class than to walk, because if I forgot something at home, I could just jet back and get it instead of running and panting and being all out of breath and such. Lo and behold, when I went to class early to check and see if the data projector made it to the classroom alright, the prof calmly said, "They never deliver to this place." Which meant I had to haul ass to the place where they keep them, hope there'd be someone around after 5 (quite a crapshoot), and cross my fingers.

They tend to lock all the doors at the Faculty at about 4:30 pm every day, which to me is ludicrous. Heck, most days I'm just getting started by then, but I do have a weird schedule. This meant all the doors leading to that room were locked up tight. Luckily for me, the librarians kick ass, and one of them called up and caught someone just as they were about to leave the equipment place. Disaster averted, very narrowly. (Seriously, if I couldn't have a data projector, I would've been Fucked, with a capital "F" for maximum fuckage.)

The presentation went alright. It wasn't as kick-ass as the previous week's, but I think we did the subjects justice. The major thing is we got it out of the way, which is a load off my mind.




This was on my "George W. Bushisms" calendar yesterday:

"But the true threats to stability and peace are these nations that are not very transparent, that hide behind the -- that don't let people in to take a look and see what they're up to."
- George W. Bush, Washington, DC; March 13, 2001

Patriot Act, anyone?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

More Homecoming madness.

The pancake kegger at Eve's on Saturday morning was boffo. I'd never seen a "keg stand" before, but now I can honestly say I have:


This was the first time I'd been to a party which has had its first keg emptied by 11:00 am. Obviously, good times were had.

I sobered up and did some good work that afternoon, and headed over to Aberdeen to take in some of the madness later that evening. It started out tame, but quickly escalated as the alcohol started taking effect. By the time a bunch of us jetted, people were funnelling from the second storey to the street, cheerleader alumni were reprising their routines in the middle of the intersection, and all that jazz.

So, a bunch of us headed off to find kindler, gentler forms of entertainment, and happened upon a DVD of Jimi Hendrix playing Monterey, which was bitchin'. Then Kevin played an impromptu accordion solo, to the delight of all in attendance:



It was right around there that I realized if I didn't go home soon, my head would explode from all the craziness.

Ah, the Ghetto... a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.




On a side-note, "Morale" by Treble Charger is one of the better songs ever done by a Canadian group. It was laid down, of course, before TC sold out and got all big and loud and poppy.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Homecoming craziness.

Just being in and around the Ghetto this chilly Friday night... man, did I go to the wrong school first.




Oh yeah, and in the unlikely event that someone is actually reading this, I've enabled the "anyone can post a comment" thing, thus enabling, well, pretty much anyone to place a comment on any old posting they like.

...except the Swiss. Damn their neutrality!

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."
- Paolo Freire

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Partisanship.

I find it curious that Fox always manages to find time to show the singing of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch of games at Yankee Stadium. Let's see... it probably takes two minutes for the guy to get out there and get announced and all that, sing the song, and have the camera on the American flag out in centrefield for a few seconds after he's done singing. That has to represent several hundred thousand dollars of lost advertising revenue. Hmm... patriotism... baseball... New York... voteforbushorelsetheterroristswillwinandwewillalldie.

"But Fox News is fair and balanced."
- Ann Coulter

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

How to Dodge Life's Bullets, Lesson #844.

Today I conducted my first-ever structured interview, for a research methods course I'm taking this term. It went well, if a little short (supposed to be 40-45 minutes; we clocked in at an even half-hour), but the most eventful part came right at the very end. I asked my interviewee if there was anything she'd like to add, if we left anything out that she'd like to say. Just as she said, "No, I don't think so," the tape broke.

Where the flimsy brown tape is anchored into the white plastic reel, the recorder yanked hard enough to rip the tape right in two. I guess it didn't notice the extra stress that the end of a tape side signifies; more likely is a defective tape. (Note to self: write TDK a nasty letter and demand free stuff.)

So, with a bit of surgery courtesy of my precision screwdrivers, and the ever-so-versatile Scotch tape, I carefully popped open the case (no screws, just glue -- which means I'll have to tape it back together to hold it), attached the free tape end to the now-empty reel, and ever-so-gently married the halves of the case back together. I will forthwith transfer the tape's contents to a more sturdy cassette in my stereo, and chuck the original.

In summary, I played the game "Operation" with my EDUC 895 assignment, and won (so far).

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Ann Coulter is a crazy bitch.

I'd heard this woman's name bandied about in various places, mostly in close proximity to adjectives such as "nutcase" and "psychotic" and "battier than a belfry". I'd never seen or read anything by her other than a paragraph or two of one of her books in Chapters, so I really couldn't grasp the nuances of her being.

Tonight, after coming home from the bar and a quick stop at Pizza Pizza for vital after-booze nourishment, I did what any other red-blooded male usually does: turn on CBC Newsworld. Luckily, I happened upon a one-on-one interview by Neil MacDonald (this time wearing stylish glasses) with the aforementioned conservative writer.

Holy FUCKballs.

In thirty seconds, she can go from "studies have shown (insert crazed theory here)" to "I don't believe in studies." She would barely let MacDonald finish a question, and answered them as if there was no one else in the room, e.g., pointing out one of these wild inconsistencies. Her big schtick is "the media are full of liberals;" when presented with statistics on how that's clearly not true, her oh-so-well-founded response is, "That person isn't living in the real world." Apparently, her anecdotes through conservative-coloured lenses trumps objective, scientific study. "Fair and Balanced," indeed.

All the while, she looked as if she was coked-up to her well-manicured eyebrows. With a crazed look in her eye, and all the while tucking her streaked hair behind her left ear (but curiously not her right; make political hay if you will), she proved to me in 22 short minutes that yes, all the hype is true. Ann Coulter is a crazy bitch.

Seeing is believing.




On another note, a thought struck me this evening while my mind played "Everything Writes Itself" by Super Friendz, off their excellent 1996 album, "Slide Show". With the widespread implementation (here in Canada, at least) of peel-and-stick stamps, I hope the phrase "to lick a stamp" doesn't become purely anachronistic. However, I do enjoy not having to lick the stupid things, as they always tasted terrible. Quite the paradox.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Saturday.

My plan for today? Get up at a reasonable time, put on a large pot of coffee, and work on some research-assistant stuff for the afternoon.

What transpired? Awoke at 12:40, listened to the CBC, read about baseball, prepared gourmet scrambled eggs, read more of "Dude, Where's My Country?" and messed about on the 'net possibly chasing down a lead for something for GW.

Wasn't there a "Calvin and Hobbes" strip once about appreciating piece-meal days such as these? Perhaps I'll spend the next hour thumbing through my C&H books looking for it, getting sidetracked in the meantime with a book about SCTV or film history, and end up playing a little guitar.

Despite the lingering guilt about "not being productive," I like days like this.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Orthogonality in music.

A few people I know have suggested that I'm overly analytical when it comes to music. (Personally, I don't see why more people aren't more critical about the music to which they listen; most often it comes down to "I like the way it sounds" or "I don't know, I just like it." To me, that's not enough. I want to know why I think a given song is good, or why a particular artist has merit or talent.) My basic message is, Screw all you naysayers, I'll analyze music if I damn well want.

A thought struck me while walking home after class today. I was listening to some tunes from the very excellent post-punk band Mission of Burma -- specifically their song "Peking Spring" -- when it struck me about what I liked about this song, and indeed this artist. Not only does this song have the bass take on the main melodic lead (the guitar is largely rhythmic and merely sets a mood), the central melody harmonizes with the background guitar chiming. I don't know about scales and such -- are they off by a third, a fifth? I have no clue -- but I do know they're at odds with one another. (They also do this a lot in "Academy Fight Song," and the band Pavement did it frequently, too.)

But, how they carry on through the song, it's almost as if they're riding along with each other; not quite looking the other square in the eye, but complementing the other nicely and making the listener fill in the relationship between the two. Then I got to thinking, that's what The Vermicious Knid does in their songs as well, but mostly between the two main guitars (and not in a cheeseball late-'80s hair-metal power-chord way, but in their intertwining melodies); sometimes the bass jumps into the fray to make things truly crazy, sometimes it just lays the foundation and sets the key.

It's almost as if these instruments make their journey along through the song not mirroring each other, but being orthogonal to each other throughout the entire trip, if I may use a geometrical term. I think it fits.

And now, back to "Banana Phone" by Raffi. Good lord this song's addictive.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal turned himself in to the Cobb County Jail on Tuesday to serve a 21-day sentence on a probation violation.

. . .

A judge decided last week to allow Furcal to participate in the playoffs despite a probation violation on a drunken driving charge. Furcal's season ended Monday night when the Braves lost in Game 5 of their divisional series against the Houston Astros.

Furcal, 26, was arrested Sept. 10 in Atlanta on a charge of driving under the influence -- his second DUI arrest in four years. Because of that arrest, he violated his probation in Cobb County for a June 2000 arrest on similar charges.




Is this not insane? I can just imagine Furcal's lawyer at the trial. "Your honour, I realize my client endangered the lives of people around him recklessly, and he clearly doesn't learn from his mistakes. But seriously, do you want the Braves to lose to the Astros? I mean, come on!!!"

This is progress?!?


I am a lazy ass.

Three hour naps are a bit exorbitant, yes. Especially on a Tuesday afternoon. But, in my defense...

. . .

Alright, I got nothin'.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Thanksgiving at Denny's.

My folks are here in K-Town this weekend to see the sights and whatnot, and it's been fun having them around. I don't get to see them too often, owing to their distance away, and we always get along. (I'm finding that a lot of my peers have issues, of some flavour, with their parents. I don't get it... we're all adults, we get along, we don't squabble -- and this somehow makes me the oddball amongst twentysomethings?)

After an afternoon spent wandering around Wolfe Island (I think it looks like a hilly version of Lambton County, myself) we headed onto Denny's (mom's suggestion) out in BigBoxVille on Gardiners Road. I try to stay out of this part of town -- any town -- on principle. Every city has one, even picturesque Woodstock, and they really do a number at bleeding a downtown dry. But, here in Kingston, it's had the effect of bleeding a mall dry, in an odd ironic twist... the Kingston Centre is mostly empty, save for the Radio Shack and the drugstore. The times, they are a-changin'.

So, what's next after the big-box stores get old? I bet people are going to realize that, hey, going all the way out to Sticksville and the asphalt sea is a gigantic pain and, goshdarnit, why can't we just go to stores downtown instead? One can only hope.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

It's official.

I love the f-word.

Maybe it's because I watched another two episodes of Trailer Park Boys this afternoon (if there's a better procrastinator this side of the Mississip', I ain't-a-nevah met him yet), and the characters on the show, especially Ricky, use it liberally. Or maybe because I'm such a fan of words in general, and it's so versatile it just blows my mind. Or maybe I just have a penchant for cussin' (but I don't think I do).

At any rate... whenever you really want to externalize your vitriol, there's no better way than the good ol' f-bomb. Kudos, you fine four-letter word, you.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Library follies.

A book on one-week loan (i.e., "7-day reserve") from the library is returned one day late. Grade 3 math tells me that's one-seventh the period of the loan. How much money would be a reasonable amount to extract from me in fines?

I don't know, but twelve dollars seems a bit exorbitant. Why not put the thing on regular loan? There are easily a dozen copies of the book (Pratt) at the reserve desk at any given time, unlike the more important other book (Sowell), which I've never seen within fifty damn yards of that place.

Here's a tip: if you're going to foist three textbooks upon us, easily over $120 a pop -- but you understand that hey, we might not want to plunk down four C-bills for one course's books, and you're being a nice prof and putting them on reserve in the library for us -- HAVE A REASONABLE NUMBER OF COPIES AVAILABLE. THEY SHOULDN'T BE AS RARE AS A THREE-LEGGED GOD DAMN BALLERINA.

There. I'm done. Guess I'll have one fewer set of readings to do this week, eh?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Thorns in my side.

Last four years: marking.
Currently: reading.

The thing they have in common is, once I get started, they're really not that bad. But just the thought of having to go through articles or textbook chapters makes me want to watch another ball game on TV. (Thank you, playoffs.)

Back in the saddle.

Alas, the fourth week of school is upon me, and only now am I really getting into the swing of things. Sad, ain't it?

I mentioned to a guy today before my Psych class that I felt guilty for getting up so late every day -- we're talking 10:30 to 11:00, man. His response?

Enjoy it while you can.

So I will.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Who needs two of 'em, anyway?

So, some cock apparently decided, sometime between Thursday night and now (Saturday afternoon), that snapping my car's passenger-side windshield wiper clean off at the base was a good idea. This happened, curiously enough, right in my driveway.

I didn't notice it until I was out in the gale-force wind gusts today, rain nearly horizontal. I fired up the beast and flipped on the wipers... it took me a few seconds (hey, I had some drinks last night, OK?) to notice that something was quite amiss. I grabbed my rainbow umbrella -- it looks like a souveir from a Pride parade from years gone by -- and traipsed out into the fray to survey the damage. Sure enough, I am now the proud owner of one winshield wiper and one stump. Wonder how much that's gonna cost to fix.

Then, off to main campus in the wind and rain to find The Reflective Practitioner by Donald Schoen which, for some silly reason, is in the Law library. The lack of any sort of logic to the stacks had me running in circles for a while, but I finally realized that, hey, the thing's on reserve and not in the main stacks anyway. My wet shoes squeaked quite nicely on the library's floor... 'cause hey, if you're going to be a visitor in a foreign library, you might as well make your presence known.