Friday, January 27, 2012

Birthday rumination

Today I commence my 45th year out of the womb. It's my 44th birthday, but that means yesterday I completed 44 rides around the sun.

I'm not sure why I'm so inclined to think in terms of what I'm starting rather than what I'm finishing, but I like to consider it vaguely admirable. That's not suggesting I'm necessarily optimistic about this 45th year, but I do have to believe it's got as good a chance as any that it will improve over how much of the 44th has gone.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It must be love

Over on the photo site there's a recent post featuring a bunch of shots of elephant seals, some being affectionate, some snuggling, and even some scuffling.

Swim on over and check out the rest...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Here we are now--entertain us: How social media salvages the Golden Globes

Although we don't go to a lot of movies anymore (and, thankfully, have gotten over any sense of feeling obligated to see a bunch of nominated films in the early part of the year), the wife and I do still watch the major awards shows. And somehow the Golden Globes telecast still meets that criterion.

For better or for worse, the ceremony where the Hollywood Foreign Press Association divvies out its little trophies still qualifies as what will be a topic in the pop culture field during the lead-up to it and in the days following it. And while both the Globes and the Oscars are, in the end, a frivolous exercise in celebrities being feted for not having had to get real jobs, the reality of the power of movies and TV even amongst those who couldn't care less about awards is still pretty strong. We like to be entertained, and at least to an extent we like to see the worthwhile entertainment be commemorated.

What that has to do with these awards shows clearly becomes less clear.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Freakonomics round-up

I've been catching up on more Freakonomics podcasts (as noted in this recent post), and part of what I like about listening is the that  their shows tend to inspire some thoughts in my noggin, such as these I'll share with you:


A question on which they touched: Should there be a requirement of those running for political office that they complete some classes on at least the rudiments of various topics (such as economics, history, etc.) that would seem applicable to running a government? And the obvious question that arises from such a suggestion: Who decides what is to be required? And who of those already in power would want to subject themselves to that, so conceivably they would exclude themselves (all present politicians would be grandfathered in), thereby making it more likely for those incumbents to stay in power as of the next election, because challengers would be less likely to jump through the extra hurdles then required to take on those incumbents.

And thus we are back to the primary difficulty of implementing what even seems on the surface to be reasonable changes: Nobody who has power would want to introduce something to make it harder for them to retain that power.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maniacs behind the wheel will not drive better due to this post, but still, here it is

When I walk down the street from the condo I cross some side streets. And it's not uncommon when I'm in the crosswalk, with a green light and a walk signal, that a car approaches down that perpendicular side street, coming toward what is for that motorist a red light (and one where it has been red). But the driver speeds up and then brakes somewhat abruptly just short of the line of the crosswalk (and it's obvious that had I not been walking there the car would have just pulled through the crosswalk).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm ready, I'm ready for the laughing gas

Recently on cable I saw part of a documentary film, From the Sky Down, about the making of U2's 1991 album Achtung Baby. I recall at the time being sort of dismissive of it, both because I'd preferred the Unforgettable Fire sound of the band and because that album got the shit played out of it on the radio. But now, a couple decades later, I can enjoy at least some of the tracks on there, and do acknowledge it was an important album for its day.

And then, inevitably, I had that moment of thinking, Holy crap. It's been over 20 years. How has it been that long? But let's not digress to that.

Then I had a moment of wondering what album, if any, that has come out in the last year or so, will be worthy of a commemorative documentary feature in the 2030's because it was groundbreaking or otherwise culturally significant.

Monday, January 09, 2012

On saying "I don't know"

On a recent Freakonomics episode they touched on the topic of why people in business are so reluctant to say they don't know something when they, in fact, don't know something. As to why that was… they admitted they didn't know, but they offered a theory (based on dealing with people in business) that postulated it wasn't so much that people were afraid of losing their jobs or that they were delusional (and believed they did know) but that they were conditioned to believe they should always offer an answer based around what they could claim to know; if it was at all in their area of supposed expertise, they should have an answer—not necessarily a right answer, but something more than "I don't know."

My personal take on that scenario:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A special offer for next New Year's Eve

Do you have a friend or loved one who spent all of December 31st remarking about how every mundane activity he/she did was the "last time in 2011" and it started making you hope that Mayan apocalypse would strike just to get him/her to shut up about it? Well, reserve your spot for next New Year's Eve now with a new service that will take that person on or around December 30 and put him/her into a completely safe medically induced coma for the entirety of the 24 hours preceding 2013, thereby preventing that person from annoying you and others with their inane prattling about how "This is the last time I'll brush my teeth in 2012" (and the like). The person will be revived on January 1, 2013, believing he or she merely over indulged at a pre-New Year's celebration.

If you are concerned the tendency merely will be transferred into commentary about how, post-awakening, the person will note everything is the "first of 2013" (or make silly quips such as "Look at all this laundry left over from last year"), for a modest additional fee we will maintain the coma for the entire first week of January. (Note: This option requires that the person wake up in the hospital, with the cover story involving an accident at the hypothetical celebration. Please be prepared to play along.)

And if you wish that person to remain indefinitely incapacitated, just testify that he/she is suspected of terrorist activities. (Requires recurring monthly fees.)

Merely leave a comment. We'll be monitoring them and will contact you.

Your friends at Halliburton Industries. Your American government (thanks to that bill the president signed). Never mind who we are. Just know: We have the power to make next year better for you. Unless you are quipping about the every stupid little thing you do on the last day of the year.