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Jun. 28th, 2011

love

Thank you, gman, for sending this blog more traffic than it's ever received, ever.

Oct. 23rd, 2010

predictions

1) Intelligent life (as we would recognize it) is remarkably prevalent throughout the universe. All the necessary building blocks are there, and we have no reason to believe that our solar system is particularly special. Intelligent life elsewhere closely resembles us and our mammalian cousins. That isn't to say there aren't variations -- just look at all the various "early versions" of humanity -- but the end results are probably similar. Silicon-based life is improbable, as silicon is incompatible with all that we understand about cell respiration. There are no doubt other kinds of complex, massively interconnected systems -- some having emergent properties we aren't advanced enough to understand as intelligence -- but that is a different matter entirely. Star Trek-style "first contact" scenarios are probably vanishingly rare: the distances are too great, and in order to cross them, a civilization would have to reach a stage of advancement that necessitates having been around for a really, really, really long time. The odds of this happening are very low -- and I'm not just talking about wars and pollution and stuff; I'm talking about shit like asteroid strikes and non-anthropogenic climate change. Still, it's possible....

2) Kim Jong Il will die, and the border between North Korea and China will become increasingly permeable. This will happen long before any sort of re-unification with the South. I'm tempted to think that the N. Korea / S. Korea situation will eventually cool down into a US/Cuba-style long-term stalemate, but it's possible that the DMZ will go away within a few decades, since the two Koreas are populated by essentially the same people.

3) Iran will eventually get the bomb, but it won't really change much. All they want is a bigger slice of the pie, and they will inevitably get it.

3) Israel will ultimately absorb the West Bank and make the Palestinians equal citizens, forming a peaceful, bi-national state. Unfortunately, it will take many generations to reach this point, and it certainly won't happen within my lifetime. No predictions about Gaza. Maybe it will become some kind of Middle-Eastern Luxembourg?

4) Prop 19 (legalized marijuana) will pass next month, and probably by a significant margin. Pretty much the only people who will care enough to vote on it will be in favor. Ironically, I don't think the opposition is terribly motivated at this point in history.

5) Something better than Facebook will come along. Probably something decentralized, on the order of Diaspora. But I think a few things need to happen first. For example, your "server" won't be an actual server, it won't be running on a computer, and it won't require any sort of sysadmin knowledge. It will probably live on your cellphone.

6) The US political culture will continue to be annoying, consumerist, capricious, easily-manipulated, and essentially stagnant -- at least for the next couple of decades. The only thing that will affect positive change will be deprivation and desperation. This isn't as bleak as it sounds; tough times sometimes have a way of making people more practical. Barack Obama was a step in the right direction -- I really liked what he said during the election, and I think a lot of people did. Unfortunately, things need to get a lot worse before people are ready to accept actual change. But I'm hopeful for my generation, and I think we'll be a lot more practical than our parents' generation. In the near-term, the major advances of the Baby Boom generation will continue -- womens' empowerment, gay empowerment, ethnic minority empowerment -- but we won't actually address the widening gap between rich and poor until my generation is in power. Turns out our parents weren't that different from their parents after all. The rampant Islamaphobia in the US will eventually dissipate once we begin to see more Muslim (or Muslim-descended) celebrities. This is only a matter of time; the US is, by nature, pluralistic : it is our major strength.

7) New movements in popular culture will originate in the developing world, as computer and telecommunications technology continue to get cheaper. These movements will then be appropriated by mash-up artists in places like the US and UK, which is probably how you will hear about them. Do not underestimate mash-up culture : it is (and will be) my generation's greatest contribution to culture.

8) Internet radio is still in its infancy, and will be the primary vector for the spread of new music. Expect some new music service that's a cross between Pandora and Facebook. I feel like it's been tried, but hasn't succeeded yet because of some necessary, missing element.

9) Collaborative filtering will get better. It's already pretty good. Expect to see it in places you would never expect to see it -- art? decorating? fashion? Pandora and Netflix are the very tip of the iceberg. Lots of interesting problems to solve here.

10) Detroit will become the city of the future. Urban farming will make it the first US city to provide for all of it's own food needs. Hipsters will move there en masse and throw awesome loft parties. You'll wish you lived there, but it will be too late : you will have already put down roots in places like NYC, SF, Portland, or Austin. Sorry 'bout your bad luck.

Oct. 21st, 2010

vocabulary

Much in the same way that the English language has no male equivalent for "slut," it also has no female equivalent for "loser."

Oct. 19th, 2010

spoilers

Mad Men : because your granparents' clothes were kinda hot on younger people.

The season ends on a scene-setter instead of a cliffhanger : thus is the subtle genius of Matthew Weiner.

Holy crap, Jessica Paré can really act! Faye Miller gets dumped because of her obvious resemblance to Hilary Clinton. Betty completes her metamorphosis into Cruella DeVille. Don's actions seem inexplicable at first, but make sense upon re-watching. Roger continues to get the best line of the episode. Peggy finally learns how to pitch. Joan cuckolds her idiot husband. Lane Pryce continues to be the show's only adult. Pete has gotten marginally more sympathetic. Cosgrove has ethics, or something. Crane is that dork I used to work with. Glenn will shoot at people from water towers when he grows up. Sally Draper is reasonably believable. Bobby Draper re-appears occasionally. Anna Draper is still dead.

Sep. 25th, 2010

freedom

Last night I dreamed I was in a car with The One Who Got Away.  "Won't you give me another chance?"  I asked.  "You're the only woman I ever loved -- the only woman I may ever love."

"What did you love about me?" she asked.

I had to search for a reason -- it woke me up.

What a terrible dream to wake up from; it was my last chance to get her back.

But then I realized what it meant.

Thank you for setting me free, Shira.

Sep. 22nd, 2010

sandwich

This is kinda hilarious.

Basically, you text this dude and tell him that you want a grilled cheese.  And he totally makes it!  He shows up to your door 15 minutes later with a fresh grilled cheese sandwich.  Best of all, it only costs $5!  In NYC!  Nothing costs $5 in NYC!

What's weird is that I kinda had this idea a while ago.  It was more of a joke than an idea.  But basically, I'd start a website called makemeasandwich.com (and also, if I got ambitious, makemeasalad.com).  The idea is that you'd place an ad on this site for what kind of sandwich you want, and vendors (sandwich brokers?) would place bids on the sandwich.  And they'd have profiles and feedback and everything, so you'd have an idea of what you're getting and if they're legit.  Anyway, it would be a total neighborhood thing -- the vendors would be people who lived near you, and they'd probably make the sandwiches in their own kitchen.  You'd pick a vendor, they'd handle the transaction with you -- I don't want to deal with the financial aspect -- and then you'd rate the sandwich and post feedback.

It could also work the other way -- vendors could post sandwiches, and then customers could bid on them.  And you could totally do the same thing with salads and, um, I dunno, soup?

"What a dumb idea," I thought. "It could never work." But as Condor has pointed out on numerous occasions, it seems like only the dumbest ideas actually become successful businesses.  So maybe this is an idea whose dumb time has come.

... thinking ...

Sep. 18th, 2010

royalty

Could someone please explain to me
why the purveyors of plastic bottle vodka
always give their foul libations
names that would indicate some kind of social status?

I'm fucking serious here,
look at that shit next time you're in 7-11.
I mean, you've got Congress,
Country Club,
President,
Monarch,
Bankers' Club,
Royal Gate,
and others.

and I'm not talking about the low-end.
i'm not talking about well vodka.
i'm talking about the really bad shit.
like, the kind that kills animals.

and i wonder
what kind of sick fuck names these things?
has he really never met the people who buy his product?
people who show up to the counter early in the day,
and buy two pints and a cup of ice
only come back four hours later,
wanting more
and the stinking homeless man
who empties his pockets onto the counter
a crumpled-up dollar bill
among cigarette butts and other pieces of trash

seriously, is this some kind of sick joke?
or just a twisted capitalist promise
that this two dollar bottle of industrial solvent
can make any man feel like a millionaire
even if that's the only decision he makes
all day

Sep. 12th, 2010

art



The first few times I saw this, I thought, "Who tried to kill the Loch Ness Monster?"  It wasn't until last week that I realized it's supposed to be a bow and arrow.  My mind just works differently.

portland



I fucking love Portland.  Of course, I've only been there when the weather was nice.

friends

Okay, so about a week ago, I wrote a poem called I'll Never Know, about an ambien-fueled poetry session that did not go as planned.  Well, Condor, his wife, and his brother & sister in-law enjoyed my poem, and decided to make a song out of it.  It's actually kind of awesome.

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