Saturday, May 31, 2008

How do you get through?

When people say stupid things, I feel compelled to point out what’s wrong with their logic. But lately, despair has made me weary. I’m starting to believe it’s impossible to enlightened people that only listen to themselves……or their own voice to be exact. If someone isn’t selfish, they’re superficial, if not that, then stupid, if not that, stubborn, although it is possible that all of these things are intertwined. You don't know if something is out of your hands or not unless you try to make a difference.

I was talking to another co-worker/friend of mine yesterday. Sometimes, she understands basic things and is able to think objectively, but for the most part, her beliefs are grounded in the intertwined traits named above.

She asked me who I was voting for in this upcoming election and I said Obama. I said that he and Hillary basically seem like the same candidates, although Hillary has become a bit maniacal in her public appearances lately (McCain is beyond the slightest consideration at this point). Anyway, being the Clintonite she is, she asked me if I’d still vote for him if Hillary agreed to give everyone a million dollars out of her pocket, and I said yes.

I then attempted to explain to her that you can’t just hand everyone money and think it’ll be ok. She could hand a million dollars each to a bunch of members of a terrorist sect without knowing it.

The money should go towards funding our infrastructure and progressive social reform. She replied that the terrorists will get their money anyway and that it doesn’t matter.

So, I guess it’s ok to willingly help them out.

I tried explaining that, although you may never completely destroy terrorism, you can certainly help to combat the most powerful figures behind it. But she wasn’t hearing any of this, just herself.

Speaking of stupid things you can do with money, at lunchtime she then asked me what I thought about the country allowing insurance to pay for overweight people’s diets. I, once again, hoping to get through to her, explained that we should not just pay for everyone who wants to up and go on a diet. She then told me that being overweight is unhealthy, therefore, the government should have it taken care of.

Being obese, which may cause things like coronary heart disease or other life-threatening conditions, can be understandably covered by insurance. However, being simply overweight isn't anymore unhealthy than the 10,000 other environmental factors we're exposed to everyday. And for the most part, people who are overweight and feel absolutely compelled to go on diets are comparing themselves to this perfected image of a body that popular media, chauvinist pigs, and superficial waste-of-lifes have put out there.

Things like more jobs, housing, better quality and more access to education, affordable transportation and others things are in substantial decline right now. I hardly think a portion of the national budget should be taken out for people who just want to constantly compare themselves to some idiotic aesthetic.

Back to money, again. We had a previous debate about money being the root of all evil, which she thinks it is. I, one last time before deeming her mentally deficient, tried to explain that money doesn’t do anything but sit and be money. She admitted that people are quite evil (excuse the ‘evil’ and ‘good’ word usage, this is a liberal Christian and conservative Christian talking to each other), but that money makes them do bad things.

People are the root of all evil, religiously and secularly (1 Timothy 6:10: “For THE LOVE OF money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”). People are greedy, and it is that which causes them to do soulless, damaging and moronic things for it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that she completely bases her beliefs on laziness, selfishness and simplicity. If it is something she can’t understand, or doesn’t benefit her personally, or involves her giving or doing the slightest amount of labor, then she doesn’t like it. A true American.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You are available to everyone.


So now, our regular state-issued I.D.s may no longer be good enough to allow American citizens to enter to go on commercial aircraft, enter nuclear power plants, or go into federal government offices. We must now have national I.D.’s, identification cards issued and assembled by the Federal government. That part, I can kind of understand. My thing is, implementing this new National I.D. card will cost the country billions of dollars, and it seems like a way to make it easier for the government to spy on its citizens.

Some Republican named F. James Sensenbrenner in the U.S. Senate knew that the Real I.D. act, as a bill on its own, would not survive under critical and practical speculation when trying to get it signed by G.W. Bush. So, in May 2005, he pinned it on as a rider; which means he attached the Real I.D. provision onto to another Bill that had nothing to do with it. The Bill was passed, and the Real I.D. successfully followed without any questioning or examination. The law was basically enforced on us without going through any kind of democratic approach. It would probably be wrong of me to say that I expect this behavior from a Republican…….but I’ll say it anyway.

I’m a bit of a paranoid. What I’m really afraid of is the submission of personal information and the manipulation of it in the hands of corrupt DMV employees or corrupt government officials. Accordingly, implementing this new law will help put that into action. When we apply for these cards, things like your birth certificate, social security card and things of that nature will have to be brought to the DMV office. They take those physical documents, scan them, and then store them on file in their computers, on a database that officials in the whole country unobtrusively have access to.

Centralizing the databases of identification for all of America’s citizens will make it that much easier for identity thieves to either hack the databases and take information, buy the info from a cop or politician or corporate entity who has it, or duplicate and forge identification for themselves. Instead of our address and social security numbers being bureaucratically separated by state, they’re all dumped into one database, which eliminates the search and research process for an identity thief.

Another argument against the Real I.D. act is the invasion of privacy, as federal government figures can easily go into the centralized information database and monitor anyone’s activity (tickets you’ve gotten on your car, felonies, possibly political or religious status, etc.). I’m not so passionately against this, although I’m well aware that I should be. There really isn’t much for me to hide, although I guess they can judge and unfairly persecute me if they see activity that speaks of something they’re against. Not even considering that putting this Act into play will endanger people who are trying to hide from their abusive partners, people in the witness protection program, juries that need their identities hidden from criminals on trial, etc.

The law is supposed to quell illegal immigration and terrorists’ entry into this country. It supposedly will make it harder for immigration to bring the proper papers and evidence that this country should provide asylum for them, although I specifically remember being told that this country was built for people of all nations to come and pursue opportunities. What the law really does is make the President our own personal terrorist instead.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Days.......

Ah, the days pass by almost in continuous blur, which is not good at all. Wrinkles, osteoporosis, flying cars and a dystopian world show up much faster that way.

Still waiting for Bush to get out of office, for people to come to their senses about the warmongering hatebreed known as John McCain, and for Barack Obama to come in to the oval office. He'll have a ****load of things to pick up and repair, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our depleting fuel sources and some alternative choices, as well as damaged foreign relations, which, supposedly, his team of advisors will substantially help to fix.

I've been spending most of my time playing Grand Theft Auto 4 for the XBox 360. Currently at a little over 40% total game completion. I'm almost inspired to play a little more, since some guy at my job wants to beat the game before I do. But that would involve taking the energy and time out of doing other things, like sitting here and writing about playing the game more often to complete it before him.

In labor news, I was yelled at for playing dominoes on the job the other day. Or I should say, it wasn't the fact that I was playing dominoes, it was that I did it all day and only made one sale on the selling floor. The stupid female manager came to this conclusion because she had not seen me on the floor for the most part, and so was inspired to see how I did in sales by looking through the receipts.

It couldn't be that she hasn't seen me because she spends 7 out of the 8-hour-workday on her computer looking struggling to read 2-3 simple e-mails? Or that she just generally doesn't know what the hell is going on in life half of the time?

Well, she was partially right, I was downstairs for most of the time playing dominoes. And I only had one sale because after that point, I ran out of the patience that kept me from drop-kicking Cynthia [Laura]. But even then, the way she came to her conclusion was narrow-minded and incorrect.

When she did see me playing dominoes downstairs, she didn't know my situation. I could've been on my break. She had no idea how long I'd been downstairs and how long I had been working somewhere out of her vision. I don't have to run myself in front of her eyes to ensure her I'm on the floor working. If I'm working, I'm working, that's it.

I should probably be worried about losing my job, since U.S. economy is so low that we're probably on par with a small village in Paraguay, and 10 people were just cut from my job a couple of weeks ago. But I'm just tired..........tired........

Ah, daily life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BioShock


I'm not one to vote against new developments. I'm not arguing the stupid "We shouldn't tamper with God's design" crap. If we are able to take things further in a given intellectual genre, whether it's the arts or sciences, we should do that.

God does not see good or bad inherent within an object itself, but rather in the will behind its use. I also think that, in the foresight of major offenses, we should build equally strong defenses.

Drew Endy, a synthetic biologist and assistant professor at M.I.T. is in the process of building a new programming language. Terms and words used, however, will not be for the purpose of designing computer programs, websites, games or machines. They will be used to create and manipulate certain DNA. DNA in plants, bacteria. Your body.

These are "BioBricks", DNA segments with links on the ends that allow them to attach to other DNA strands. The programming language will command these strands to bend, fold, change, color, or do whatever the user asks.

Some feats achieved according to the GOOD magazine article: "For example, Endy's colleague Jay Keasling has found a way to reengineer E. coli so that they naturally produce an anti-malaria drug."

"In 2006, one [MIT student team] made bacteria that changes color when it detects arsenic in well water."

Endy says he envisions large-scale cities grown from bacteria, and houses grown from gourds. Of course, these developments and visions are beneficial from all kinds of angles, but objects destroy on the same scale that they build.

He's opened the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, which is an open-source collection of DNA strands that anyone can add to or borrow from. So, as Endy pursue his cities and houses, someone else somewhere else could be very well in the midst of creating the next Black Plague. According to Endy, however, this is the risk that has to be taken. If the technology and science is to develop quicker, scientists need to be exchanging ideas with each other.

Given that someone will, either purposely or accidently, create a new lethal virus or plague with this new bridge or science, scientists should be hard at work on programming the BioBricks to raise as much as an immunity to such things as possible. Perhaps they can program the body produce stronger inflammation (biological defense against pathogens) that can deflect almost any kind of new virus or disease.

We won't know where this will go until we know. A quote from a research book: "You cannot just shape and shift things, germs, and expect everything to just go on it’s merrily way. The changing of a DNA strand varies in its effect, and has more than one effect."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No product - No meaning

I seen a commercial yesterday advertising some new pair of sneakers for children that, if I remember correctly, had a velcrow strap and some other gimmicky tool that tightens your shoes for you in a couple of simple movements. It emphasized at the end of the commercial that children will never have to tie their shoelaces again.

It reminded me of a magazine article I spoke about earlier on schools ceasing to teach children handwriting, and it kind of scared me. I started to envision a world years from now where everyone relied on some corporation's product to perform daily routines, such as tying your shoes, writing, cooking, managing money and who knows what else. I then pictured all of these products simultaneously breaking down one day and life coming to a complete halt, since no one knew how to do anything or think for themselves anymore.

Big businesses would be cashing in on people's laziness left and right, and I couldn't really blame them. We'd all be economic and social slaves to products, mentally reverting back to the cavemen era.

The future for you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sandbox War



There are articles talking about how buying into Rockstar's advertising blitz and taking the word of game reviewers who give early copies of the game 10 out of 10 ratings will say to companies that it's ok to overhype any game, even when it's mediocre or trash, because unrationalizing consumers will buy right into it.

In some relation, ex Editor-In-Chief at popular video game mag "EGM", Dan Hsu, wrote an article about how his magazine is mostly the last to get their hands on exclusive and upcoming games from publishers, because publishers know that his magazine's opinions will not be bought out and that they remain honest to their readership.

The writers at EGM will not take offers from game companies to be flown out on free flights to stay in free hotel rooms, so they can play some new, unreleased game on a huge 40" HD plasma screen that amplifies the sounds and graphics in order to cover up its essential crappiness. They will say that a certain game is mediocre if they feel so, even when everyone else says it's great (Gamepro, Game Informer, etc.). This is why I only read their magazine.

As for Grand Theft Auto 4, I must admit that I personally bought into the hype completely. Rather, the hype was within myself. I wrote a previous post about how, after reading that they've addressed issues that I've had problems with in past installments, I was fully ready to cause new, graphically updated mayhem in the "sandbox". I obtained a copy at midnight (actually around 1:30 a.m.) waiting online at the grand release at my nearest Gamestop and played it that morning.




The controls are kind of awkward and sometimes even work against me. Shooting, for instance, is occasionally a hassle. Although the new take-cover ability makes taking out rival drug dealers and being a gun-for-hire much more approachable then the last games, I still have to struggle with a terrible camera and awkward character movement. Trying to drive can also frustrate. When coming to a sharp turn in the street/road, the car's turn is too little or, even when trying to moderately use the handbrake, the car spins way out of control. Perhaps there's some sort of regular/hand brake/acceleration combination I'm missing.

However, focus on progressing the game's story is much more staple, thanks to the new mission replay feature and the fact that all my weapons aren't taken away when I die. In past installments of GTA, whenever I've failed a mission, I had to drive all the way back to the person who issued it, which could sometimes mean driving across whole cities (or in GTA 4's New York City rendition, driving across whole boroughs). Rather than do that, my attention just diverted to running pedestrians over on sidewalks and seeing if I can get the full police force to come after me.

But now, you'll get a text message on your (game) cell phone asking if you'd like to redo the mission, with all my weapons (that cost money) still on me. This is unless you get arrested, then you have to buy new weapons. But now, even when the police stop you, you have the ability to run away.

Other than the aforementioned problems, I love the game. I always want to see what's going to happen to Elizabeta (a South Bohan Dominican drug dealer), or how Niko is going to resolve a situation with a corrupt cop, or listening to the entire game's incendiary critique of America's capitalist system and unending immorality. But the game is not all money, grand theft and state's evidence. The player must guide Niko Bellic in his social life by answering calls from friends to go bowling, play darts, eat or play pool (which is just as boring in the game as it is in real life [to me]). This adds a sort of "Sims" dimension to the game, and makes the "sandbox" a living, breathing thing.

I'm not sure how EGM rated the game just yet, but I think the hype was definitely worth it's salt.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

We are a means, not an end.

George Bush's opinion of our daily commute:


It'll probably soon cost common laborers their whole weekly paychecks to fill their tanks.

If McCain is elected, we can calmly look forward to being inaugurated as a brand-new third world country. Thank you for your time and patience.