Saturday, September 27, 2008

The not-so-great debate

Last night the nation was treated to the most interesting presidential debate aired in the last eight years. Basically, the hour-and-a-half forum unraveled in the following format:

Jim Lehrer: Senator Obama, how would you say the _______ will affect your plans for the presidency?

Barack Obama: Well, _______ is very bad. The current state of ________ has been mishandled since 2003. If we want to change that, we will have to actually look at the problem and come up with a new solution, not just continue what has failed to work since the 1980s. Senator McCain -

Jim Lehrer: Please address Senator McCain directly. Dadgummit, I'll get two candidates to talk to one another eventually!

Barack Obama (to John McCain): John, you can't look me in the eye and tell me that you have no reservations about the way the current administration has handled _______.

Jim Lehrer: Senator McCain, same question.

John McCain (to Jim Lehrer, not looking Barack Obama in the eye): I want the American people to know that I also feel that ________ is bad. I'm a maverick in the senate. Let me tell you about World War II. There were a lot of veterans of that war. What was I talking about? Oh yes, Senator Obama wants to spend seven hundred billion dollars fixing our infrastructure, giving everyone health care, and making sure our children are educated past the standards of a third world country! That will raise the American taxpayer's taxes astronomically. We can't afford that!

Barack Obama (to John McCain): I have to correct you John. (Turning to the audience) I am going to give tax breaks to the middle class, and stop giving tax breaks to businesses that outsource American jobs overseas.

John McCain (To Jim Lehrer): Jim, please tell senator Obama that he doesn't know what he's talking about. American businesses pay almost 35% of their income to taxes. Why would a business owner stay in the U.S. when he could go outside of the country and pay less? I'm a maverick in the senate. Senator Obama is showing his naivete in thinking that his plan will benefit American families by driving the businesses that employ them out of the country! I mean, he wants to spend eight hundred billion dollars that we don't have on education, our infrastructure, and health care!

Barack Obama (to Jim Lehrer): Excuse me, I have to interject - (to John McCain) On paper they pay more, but in reality there are so many loopholes in the tax structure that many pay less than they would in other countries. (To the audience) My solution is to simplify the tax structure so that it's fair, and to close the loopholes so that there is no confusion over what they pay.

John McCain (To Jim Lehrer): Jim, please tell senator Obama that he's an ass. He wants to spend nine hundred and forty-two billion - that we don't have- on your health, your kids, and making sure that the bridges you drive across on federal highways every day don't collapse on you! And yet, he refuses to fund our troops in Iraq by giving our existing administration as much money as they want whenever they want it! I should know, I've visited a lot of these places. I'm a maverick in the sen-

Jim Lehrer: Oh shut up, I'm sick of both of you.

I don't know whether it was because these were both potential presidents (unlike the last debate), but Jim Lehrer seemed a bit more impudent than usual, telling the candidates to wait their turn, and complaining when they went over the limit. In short, he was acting almost the way he should have acted a few years ago.

Obama did shine in this debate. He stuck to his guns for the most part, and seemed to keep to the issues at hand, though much of his time was spent correcting the mistakes in McCain's blatant attacks on his character.

McCain wouldn't address Obama throughout the entire debate, and consistently flipped between 800 and 942 billion dollars for Obama's plan for the budget, indicating that he really wasn't sure what it would cost and was just trying to throw big numbers out there to hurt Obama's credibility. This, of course, hit the fan when Obama pointed out that the current republican administration has spent almost a trillion dollars in Iraq that we'll never see again. McCain actually got red-faced and angry at one point during the foreign policy section. I normally wouldn't accuse McCain of this, because I actually have some respect for the guy, but his posturing seemed cowardly and forced.

Out of the two, Obama seemed to have an actual understanding of the way a stable and healthy economy works, as proven by history. McCain (as all Reaganomists) stuck to his guns that the trickle-down theory works, despite the current proof that it obviously doesn't - at least in the regards that all it seems to do now is corrupt those at the top to gather more money and wealth and not spread it around.

McCain obviously has a more realistic view on Iraq, having visited the area more than Obama, but wouldn't concede that we had made a mistake in going there. His philosophy of, "we made this bed now we have to lay in it" is true enough, but why is Afghanistan crumbling and Osama Bin Laden still alive? Plus, I'm sure that Obama would defer some of this responsibility to Joe Biden if it came down to the wire, so I'm not so sure that he couldn't handle that either.

McCain felt it necessary to remind us that he will not win Ms. Congeniality in the senate, due to his gruff, no-nonsense sticking to his guns and what he believes in, but when his voting record agrees with the Bush administration 95% of the time, and history has shown that they're not correct for even half of that, one has to wonder whether his loyalties lie with his lobbyists, his party, or the American people (I'll give you a hint - it's not the last one). The question is, can we trust Obama any more?

A friend of mine felt that McCain won the debate, but he's a tried-and-true brainwashed republican conservative, so I don't usually count his opinion in these matters at full value. I would have to say, knowing what I do from my history and sociology classes in school (though it was an art school - I'm not sure how much credibility that grants me) that Obama's plan will work, assuming the senate doesn't gum it up. I mean, we pay the government to do things right, not to make our lives worse as has been the case for the past eight years.

To sum up the debate:
Barack Obama would say what he would do if elected.
McCain agreed with Obama on the tough issues.
McCain then would attack Obama on his lack of experience.
Obama would correct McCain's factual errors.

(You will notice that nowhere in the preceding segment did McCain say what he would do as president.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blight Rider

When the original Knight Rider was aired back in 1982 it was something novel and original. It ushered in the genre of shows where the cast took a back seat to the vehicles and technology in the program, and whether that derivative is a helicopter, a motorcycle with machine guns, or even an armored stealth semi-truck the basic premise always remains the same: a group of semi-legitimate undercover operatives fight injustice and crime with impressive technology. Knight Rider executive producer Glenn A. Larson even produced a few more of these shows in syndication, such as the eponymous Viper and the laughable Night Man. These shows are candy for the eyes and brain - usually not good candy like fudge or M & M's, but like Necco wafers or Tootsie rolls; the kind of candy you ingest when nothing else is available but you're in the mood for candy. Ironic that the very producer who started the genre should have run it into the ground so much that we are only now starting to see a return to it with Ford Presents Knight Rider(tm).

I am of course referring to the recent airing of what is the shining gem in NBC's new fall lineup. While the show's title is only ever stated onscreen as Knight Rider, for distinction in all future discussions I will refer to it as Ford Presents Knight Rider(tm) because it is unabashedly an hour-long Ford Motor Company commercial... and cleavage.

In short, that sums the show up, but what kind of review would this be if I didn't go into the exact detail of my dissatisfaction with a television show that nobody forced me to watch? The answer: not a very good one.

The first thing that I noticed, was that even before the opening credits the show's hero (Michael Traceur, a complete lack-wit played by Justin Bruening) and his best girl, Sarah Graiman (Deanna Russo, who must have been directed to just look pissed in every scene) are put into a situation where in order to save their lives they must take off their clothes. I'm not kidding. From there on the plot just drags along having no real point other than to convey to the audience that Mike Traceur doesn't remember about three years of his military life in Iraq, and that the rest of the cast knows something he doesn't.

Returning from the pilot show is Bruce Davison as Sarah's father Charles Graiman. I almost feel sorry for him as I have always found him a capable actor who is often cast in less-than-heroic roles; here he gets to finally play a competent good guy (taking over the role that Edward Mulhare as Devon Miles filled in the original series), but the show is so terrible and the rest of the cast so bland and stereotypical that his performance just seems like melodrama. I can't figure out Ford Presents Knight Rider(tm)'s female cast at all. They're all supposed to be "smoking hot," but the fact the FBI agent and the genius translator girl both look like they shop at the same store for teeny-bopper whores only seems to highlight the fact that the women filling these roles cannot act. Even the villain dresses like a cheap tart and delivers lines so broken and unconvincingly dramatic that you need to wonder what "Hooters" the auditions were held at. That doesn't convey "smoking hot," that just conveys "cheap," and "stupid." There are two other male characters in the show, a government liaison who is obviously supposed to be the show's resident douche bag and a genius nerd type who is supposed to be the comic relief. I understand in this, the post-age of Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer that television feels the need to give a seemingly invincible hero a bunch of "Scoobies" to deliver jokes and plot points that the hero can't, but the original Knight Rider only had four regular characters and one of them was a magical talking car, and that worked pretty well for what it was.

Ford Presents Knight Rider(tm)
is not trying to be the original show though -- it is trying to be the original show on steroids. Everything is bigger, louder, cooler, and more tech savvy, which is part of why it fails on so many levels. In the original show, Checkmate's (the Knight Foundation's crime fighting organization's code name) mobile lab made perfect sense. If K.I.T.T. needed repaired, upgraded, refueled, or just a place to lay low the inconspicuous black semi truck was perfect cover. In the new show, there is a stationary lab and the car is then transported via a C-130 transport plane to near the location of where it is supposed to go. Being that everything seems to take place in southern California and Nevada and that it would take more time to get the stupid thing packed and airborne than to just drive the car where it needs to go this seems excessive, stupid, and wasteful (not to mention that the plane doesn't even stop - the car just drives out onto the runway - how needlessly dangerous is that?).

The absolute low point in the show though was K.I.T.T.'s transformation. Fans of the old show will remember when the original, aging Trans Am was given a "super-pursuit mode" to keep the show going, and to win the appeal of kids who loved the emerging transforming robots phenomenon. The show Viper even utilized this ability, as the Dodge Viper in the show could even become an AWD 4x4 vehicle with mud tires and a raised suspension. Those were both pretty cool for the time. The new K.I.T.T. has a pursuit mode too - and can also apparently transform into a Ford F-150 pickup truck. That's right: the FORD car transformed on-screen into another FORD vehicle. This was the dumbest thing I had ever seen on television. There's suspending your disbelief, and there's having it thrown to the lions right in front of you - this just happens to fall in the latter category.

So to sum up: I used to love Knight Rider as a kid, and when I grew up I loved the camp value of the fake science and pitifully shortsighted design flaws in K.I.T.T.'s abilities. Now, after seeing this new show, I can take the old show seriously again just by comparison.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brightfuse burned out

About a month ago in my search for a lead on employment, I came upon a website called Brightfuse through Careerbuilder.  For those not in the know, Brightfuse is a career-oriented networking site; kind of like what MySpace would be if  MySpace specifically catered careers.

Now, it was not my intention to troll this site, though undoubtedly that's what I will be accused of in the future.  I was interested in making a genuine connection with someone there who was experienced in finding creative work, or to at least get some gauge on what I was up against.  What I found instead was a bunch of other people exactly like me:  that is to say, unemployed or disenfranchised with their job to the point where they were looking for a new career.  But they weren't alone - there were also people seeking to line their pockets for other projects, and some "Amway-esque" pyramid scams.  When I first logged on, I was contacted by about a dozen people wanting to list me as a contact!  This was before I had even put any profile information on the site, so I had to wonder about the legitimacy of their network.  I tended to turn down people who didn't share at least some common background with me, my training, or my jobs of the past.

Brightfuse wasn't just individuals though, it was also about groups.  There were groups for all sorts of different creeds, and some of these groups were for a less-than-professional discussion.  What I tended to notice though, was that most people would start groups (some with very similar charters to other peoples' groups), and then not administrate them.  Even when I directly contacted the persons involved to as an easy question like, "where would someone starting out go to learn more about Linux?" or "how often do you get work from this freelance website?" it seemed as though I was being ignored, or that the administrators had started the group before succumbing to some terminal disease during the night.  Most had few members and even fewer discussion threads, but one that could not be accused of this was the group "Aspiring Sarcastics (sic)," which I initially thought was set up for the purpose of wit-driven satire of Americana, but after my first few posts I was accused of not being venomous or passionate enough (in truth, I was being sarcastic).  Turns out that the group had nothing to do with sarcasm - it was just a discussion where the administrator would ask a "deep" question (about such things as capital punishment or how much help the people who didn't evacuate the current hurricane actually deserve) and then wait for heart-felt responses.

Those who know me know that I have been dreading the up and coming termination of my unemployment benefits, as I have still not found work and after four months of looking I have no idea what to do now.  It has made me a bit more morose than usual, and as such I tend to get a bit melodramatic.  People would often question my motives for making the observations that I did, and always had a sob-story much greater than my own to retort with, such as "I'm a paraplegic," or "we got one Christmas present a year, so learn to appreciate what you're given you prick!"  I make no excuses.  I wasn't looking for sympathy, just answers.

If this blog hasn't made it clear by now, I am fully aware that I am a "sniveling (sic), whiny-ass cry baby," (yes John, I read your comment while I was deleting my profile information this morning) but I would also like to add that I am lazy, stubborn, impatient, and self-absorbed.  I know this, and I tell it freely to those who ask, but they always give me guff for it anyway, because despite the very real truth of my statement they don't consider that there are people this bad out there.  As I tried to tell them diplomatically, after nearly twenty years of trying, I can't elevate myself, so it becomes necessary to bring others to the same level of misery that I feel every waking moment of every day.

What I'm really trying to say with this entry though, is that Brightfuse was yet another incredible waste of time that Careerbuilder introduced me to, just like the various temp agencies that have contacted me in the past because of it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Soapbox 11

Today is September 11th, 2008, the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attack on America, and on New York in particular. As I expected, this was reiterated on television and on all of the news websites that I usually visit. It is a great tragedy for my country, but I feel that the tragedy should be more personal than national.

I'm not saying that the day should not be remembered at all, though I've read conflicting arguments from survivors of the tragedy as to why we should continue to mourn or not -- while some want the old wounds to heal, others want it to be remembered for all time. It's not that at all; I'm just sick of celebrities and politicians using this national tragedy as a prop for their waning popularity.

The facts speak for themselves:

1.) The needless war in Iraq, which was orchestrated before the attack and fueled by the madness and outrage following it, has now claimed more American lives (over 4,000) than the twin tower collapse (under 3,000), and an untold number of civilian Iraqis, despite the fact that one of our oil-producing allies in the Middle East (her initials are S.A.) harbors far more militant fanatics than Iraq ever did.

2.) From finalizing the plans until completion of construction the original towers took 11 years to build from 1961 to 1972. Seven years later construction on a new project is just now starting to get underway.

3.) Our fearless leaders proudly report that thanks to the curtailing of our freedoms and getting private corporations to spy on us with government backing that we have not had a terrorist attack in the U.S. in these past seven years, conveniently leaving out the fact that the last semi-successful foreign terrorist attack in the United States was the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993 where six people died - an eight year span; even with diligence manifesting itself in racism and xenophobia these things can still happen.

4.) Worst of all, the ringleader of the people who performed this unwarranted attack on a civilian population is still at large, and has not been brought to justice.

Why am I throwing this out there?

It's time to put up or shut up America! If we want to show America's resolve then we need to quit acting like helpless victims, take back our government by electing people of strong moral fiber who will ensure what made America great - our freedom and our right to choose. People who will seek out those responsible and make sure that they are finally brought to justice, via trial! The same people keep making the same bad decisions and then denying their guilt then they've made a mistake! Quit letting these people play both sides of the field for their benefit and no one else! If we don't do something, then next September 11th we'll be celebrating a new national holiday, which I propose we call "Terror Day - the day the terrorists got away with murder, because we let them!"

Monday, September 8, 2008


I purchased a pair of magnifying glasses a few months ago, and today I just happened to look at the box. If anyone can translate this for me, please let me know what it means. Here's the rundown of it:

Manual For Double Lens Head-wearing type Magnifier

Many thanks for your patronage on our above magnifier.

Such type magnifier is with many features and easy operation as follows.

1. Light weight (approx. 110g only). You can get clear solid view in wide sight through the double lens' two square glass.
2. Sticky-buckle head wearing tape. It can be easier to adjust per user's head size.
3. Convenient use: It's no need for the user to take off his glasses and his hands will be free moving.
4. One-touch design. The magnifier is with time x 1.8 and 2.3. Just one touch, then you can change the magnifying time. If glass accessory used, the more time you will get up to x3.7 and x4.8.
5. Increase the sight for precision inspection user under magnifier.
6. Multi-use in a wide range. For professional or ameuter (sic) workers, it can be suitable, i.e. precision processing, mold making, picture taking, mold assembly, sculpture, precision drawing and electronic micro components assembly etc.

When the glass is dirty, please clean it by alcohol or neutral washings. If other cleaning used, the glass will become vague.