Allright Captain Alzheimers

Either your brain is turning spongy or you're just unnaturally preoccupied with stupid shit.

These periods of complete brainlessness are starting to get scary, but it's not something that can't be countered with a little concentration and shedding of worldly concerns. Like "OMGS I can't wait to spend my paycheck on shit!" I thought we had agreed that the accumulation of crap was not something to be proud of? And here you go daydreaming about all the crap you're going to accumulate.

It's an easy trap to fall into, especially with the winter approaching and the human need to stock up taking hold of the brain. Your behaviour might even be excused as somewhat natural. But it's also scaring you pretty bad, so let's take a breather and lay off the incessant buying, allright?

On Bombs

I've been trying all morning to figure out why I'm uncomfortable with the idea of the Google Bomb. While I applaud all efforts to alert people to the remarkable rash of scandal and ne'er-do-well-ness that has gripped the GOP for the last six years, this feels too much like gaming the system. A lot of people make a living on the internets because it's an open, democratic system that shows no inherent bias, which makes it one of the last places a person can go if they're seeking honest information (although this can be a lot harder than it sounds sometimes). We all use search engines, and to a degree we trust that the results we get from them have some merit, that they're ranked by frequency of use, as with Google, or by actual humans who have analyzed the source material, like LookSmart.

This "bombing campaign" seeks to skew the results if anyone should seek information on a particular set of Republican candidates and direct the searcher to one particular article alleging corruption on the part of the candidate. It certainly doesn't prevent you from reading other articles, nor does it necessarily make it more difficult to find other sources of information. What it does is manipulate a system that is ostensibly based on merit in order to steer people towards a set of articles that have been selected by a group of liberal bloggers as being more important than others. It removes one of the reasons that people use and trust Google, that it's results are based on the number of people that have individually linked to an article based on their own conclusions, rather than what one group of people has decided to focus on.

I am not opposed to individual bloggers linking to these articles. That certainly happens enough on it's own, and usually with a good reason. But any campaign to force a result that you want to arise from a system that is normally a meritocracy feels too much like playing with the Dark Side. Replace the word "system" in the preceeding sentence with "election" and you'll get what I mean.

Plus, I'm just not down with the whole bombing metaphor. If we weren't as a nation responsible for the continued mass bombing of civilians in Iraq it might be more fun. As it stands, I just don't feel that Democrats should adopt martial imagery in order to sell an idea or a platform. We are ostensibly the anti-aggressive war party, after all.


If you're unfamiliar

with Pittsburgh, well, it rains here. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes as late as October 17th, which would be today. A number of people on my buddy list have away messages bemoaning this rain, but I keep trying to tell myself that I should be grateful to live in a place where it still does rain. Apparently, drought is going to start killing people in places other than Africa.

Being upbeat about anything has been difficult lately, mostly because it's becoming clearer every day that the world has actually passed the maximum limit of oil production (85 million barrels every day. Visualise that in your mind, then try to understand that we used every drop of it.) I'm almost finished with The Fourth Turning, which was written in 1997 and has made some worryingly accurate predictions about where we are in 2006. Their thesis can be summarised thusly: history repeats itself. That's a bit oversimplified, but based on my own adventures as a history major it's true that certain patterns emerge if you're willing to see them. The authors explore history through the lense of a repeating four-part cycle which lasts between 80-100 years, or a long human life. Each part of this cycle they call a turning, and each one has been repeated in the same order throughout western history with the sole exception of the Civil War, which condensed two turnings into one incredibly violent period.

I find this compelling for two reasons. One, I've always believed that people are more a product of their circumstances than their gifts. And two, we are most definitely reaching the apex of a crisis. These November elections might crystalize the mood of the American public, most particularly if there are widespread allegations of vote tampering and fraud (which is almost a given at this point). Add to the political troubles the above fact (FACT, kids, not theory) that we have passed "peak oil" and are well on our way to cooking half the species right off the planet, and you've got a brew that will test the moxie of the generation just beginning to take power - we 13's, Gen X, the New Lost.

Oh, throw in an increasingly crazy Fundamentalist minority grabbing for power. And North Korea's apparent nuclear test. Hmmm, am I missing anything?

Well, here's a little good news. Casey has a 10-point lead over Santorum, and Rendell leads Swann by over 17. That cheers me a bit.


Those Pig

Fuckers at Target. They want digital downloads to cost as much as a physical copy of a movie, except that -

A. The logistical distribution line for DVDs, from the factory that produces and packages them to the warehouses where they're stored to the stores they're sold at, and all the trucking/hauling in between, adds a lot of overhead to the cost of distribution. This is why bulk wholesalers are cheaper than small corner stores.

B. The logistical distribution line for digital downloads consists of wire and server space, which uses considerably less energy and is far far far faster than a fleet of diesel trucks.

C. They're threatening to remove shelf space from DVDs and give it to... what? More bathmats and tacky table lamps? Who cares?

D. If legal digital downloads replace DVDs on a 1:1 basis, the savings in distribution overhead will more than make up for the loss in physical sales numbers.

E. What they're really afraid of is people downloading movies for free, which will happen no matter what they do with the physical or digital versions. If retailers stop selling DVDs then that will merely push the studios to embrace another avenue of distribution, like say, digital downloads.

Just had to get that bit of anger out today. School is frustrating me and there's clearly some rantage building up that needs a release.