December 2005 Archives

Something to look forward to

Ms. Garland's face on a U.S. stampThe end of the year has come, which means it's time for reflecting back and imagining what's to come. I feel comfortable making this bold prediction: 2005 will go down in history as The Year That Sucked. I won't rehearse my reasons, as it's still a little early here in Pacific Standard Time to be breaking out the traditional New year's Eve alcohol. Instead I shall pass on to you this hopeful sign of the future. While perusing my favorite Judy Garland fan site, The Judy Room, I saw in the latest news section that the U.S. post office is issuing a Judy Garland stamp for 2006. Indeed, we can expect a bumper crop of excellent commemoratives from the U.S. post office in 2006, with Favorite Children's Book Animals and DC Comic Super Heroes scheduled for issue in the year ahead.

Physics for the disinterested

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I'm not sure what I was browsing this morning when I came across The Top 10 Podcast Episodes of 2005, possibly digg, or blogsnow, or tech.memeorandum. In any case, I clicked over and listened to #6, The Physics of Superheroes on Science Friday. It was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. It also answered questions I've long harbored myself, like just how fast would the Flash have to be traveling to run on water?

Prize Words

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A few weeks ago, I downloaded the full text of the speech Harold Pinter gave in accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature. It made very worthwhile reading. I've excerpted one of my favorite passages below, wherein Pinter describes the process by which the United States's crimes against countries such as Indonesia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, and others, have been made invisible.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

It was a strange relief to read these words. It is a relief because it reflects the facts of U.S. history as I understand them, and not the fantasy that is constantly projected here in the U.S.

Although the media often discusses the political frustrations of the Democratic party, I have rarely seen any examination of the daily frustrations of ordinary individuals trying to live in a culture where one is lied to every day. A place where lying is glorified, through the elevation of people who lie boldly, such as the Enron millionaires and our own President.

It is confusing to live in such a culture. One thing that I have been surprised to discover since 9/11 is how ideology can be extremely blatant and still work. Previously, I assumed that ideology was most successful when it acted surreptitiously, almost as an unconscious effect. But ideology must work hardest when the facts diverge most jarringly from "the official record" that is being offered. It is this constant presence of ideology that becomes so tiring, because it becomes such an effort to remember, day in and day out, what is real.

Dig My Pony

While stumbling around on the Internet last night I happened across an exhibit called, The Pony Project. The exhibit is sponsored by Hasbro, maker of My Little Pony. For the show, Hasbro gave blanks of the My Little Pony statuette to female artists from "the fields of fashion, fine arts, illustration, photography and grafitti" and asked them to customize the figures.

Among the participating artists there are several that have been discussed here at In Sequence, including Dame Darcy and Isabel Samaras. As I look at the Pony Project's online gallery I am reminded of the famous question posed by Sigmund Freud, "What do women want?" At long last it can be answered: they want My Little Pony, in as many styles and color options as possible.

The PS2 and the Pendulum

Although it's reviews have been mixed, I'm attracted to the idea behind Trapt, a PS2 game that appeared in the U.S. earlier this year. You play as an evil queen (already sounds good, yes?) in a medieval European setting. Your goal in the game is to avenge yourself on your enemies by killing them. The story apparently provides background information on each of your targets so you can have a full understanding of why each of them must go. To accomplish your killings, you have a castle full of items right out of an old Vincent Price movie--pendulum blades, walls of spikes, a wheel, a cannon--that you must assemble into death traps. The whole point is to make the nastiest trap possible and then lure your enemies into it. One reviewer said Trapt was "like a gothic horror version of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon." Many reviews mention the fact that the game is poorly translated into English from the original Japanese. Of course, for fans of Engrish, this may only add to the game's charms.

Holiday Groupthink

It is possible, I suppose, to be too tapped into the zeitgeist. That is what happened to me yesterday when the Cute Little Red Headed Girlfriend and I went to go see a matinee of Munich. We showed up 45 minutes early only to be met by a complete mob scene. By the time we had sized up which of the many lines to join to buy tickets, the movie was sold out. Who knew so many people would want to see such a solemn film on December 25? Not me, or I would have bought my tickets ahead of time online.

Hear me roar

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My dear friend Joe has interviewed me for his most recent podcast. Although Joe is still a pretty steady blogger, he's been getting more and more involved with podcasting lately. You can hear me on Joe's beppepodcast here.

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