11 September 2010

Remember the good old days?

While looking through Gizmodo, I found this particular gem. There are several obvious problems with this particular product, and it's promises.

One: At most photo places and office places one can get photos printed straight from the SD card.
Two: The photos are going to be really bad, Vivitar makes some fairly cheap cameras.
Three: The expense and chemical waste of film was why the switch to digital was so widely adopted. I'd rather buy 1 SD card once, than a mere 24 shot roll indefinitely.

There are no advantages to the Vivitar camera over even a basic digital camera, and whatever advantages advertised are outright lies.

However, this post is not quite about how silly this commercial is. It's about reminding me that someday I too will be that old man unwilling to adapt to the new age. That commercials touting the nostalgia of using a plastic keyboard to type this blog post will draw me in.

I've feel like I've finally seen the harbinger of the new generation that freak me out, and I don't want anything to do with. In between my episodes of "Venture Brothers" on the Adult Swim websites; I've been seeing the commercial for the movie "The Virginity Hit". I know in my mind that no young generation in America (or perhaps anywhere else) has ever not fooled around in ways that freaked out the older generation. However, these kids are strange.

I thought the younger generation was supposed to have better ideas of gender equality, racial and cultural understanding. I thought that us millennials were the beginning of a new and better America. Instead I see the same objectification of women, exaggeration of middle class lifestyle standards, and group of chummy white folks living in their safe world away from everyone else's problems.

Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps this movie is just a what it is; a bad movie that no one should care about. Maybe there will be a hope that the children of born under the Bush Administration will be just as good or even better than the ones born under the Reagan Administration. (I was technically Carter)

01 June 2010


Marc Bernardin a writer for i09 wrote a compelling bit on the idea of a non-white Spider-man.

My proposal is quite simple. We need a Korean-American New Yorker to play the role. The name doesn't even need to change that much, I kinda like the ring to "Peter Park"

Imagine the idea of a struggling Peter Park trying to make ends meet, with his duty to his family, a nerdy interest in studying physics at ESU, and less than successful attempts to date Mary Jane, Felicia Hardy, and Betty Bryant.

Imagine this as a opportunity to tap into an untapped fan base to have a hot young Asian actor play a role and draw in all the fan girls. People who wouldn't care about comic book movies would come to see the movie just to see an Asian Spider-man.

I can not think of a better time for this to happen. Someone help me pitch this to Marc Webb.

13 May 2010

New "murse"

Lately the newest fashion trend seems to be the mythical "murse". Recently my trusty FLCL bag had started to see some wear and tear and it was time I got a new bag to carry my stuff. As much as I'd like to replace it with this, I figured it was about time I dressed like an adult. I'm not going to go into what's in my bag (see: EDC) but I'd like to talk about my new bag I just got.

Picking the right bag for me had a few major parameters which took quite some time to figure out. Here were some of the basic metrics

-Less than 150 dollars
-Dark or Black leather
-14-15 inches in width
-Sturdy construction
-Unique look
-Compartments for EDC items

While searching high and low I ran into a number of problems. The dream bag that I wanted from Fossil was perfect, but way over my price range. I was playing around with the idea of getting a map case for that nostalgia kick, but I figured most of what I found was way too thin what I wanted. So I found this bag on Amazon which looked promising. I came in the mail last week and I've been using it for a few days now.
I was a bit disappointed in the color. I thought it'd be more of a black, but it's actually more of a dark chocolate color. Not an unflattering color, but not what I was hoping for either. Secondly, the description said there was a zipper; however, the bag I got has no zipper.

It's the perfect size and fits all my things. It feels fairly sturdy, I don't know if it truly is full grain leather or not, but it should be at least as good as canvas. I really like the fact that it has snap buttons. I don't like the idea of having magnets on a laptop bag, I avoid velcro as much as possible, and buckles tend to be more trouble than they're worth. It fits my laptop perfectly, and is fairly comfortable to wear.

I really like messenger bags. I mostly like the ability to be able to wear the bag and swing it around while walking and pull and put stuff in the bag. Perhaps this appeals to my desire to be more mobile. I've stopped using rolling bags and started packing things in a duffel for my trips. When I go anywhere by plane, I try to reduce everything I need to just carry-on. I think gets my to rethink what I really need in this world and it saves on the hassle of having my checked bags getting lost. (BAD bags are truly the best duffel bags one can buy.) It's a form of fantasy really. I preference mobility over comfort, less material things, and the ability to pick up what I have and just go where I'm needed. I feel we all have these guilty little fantasies in our minds what why we do what we do and how they influence our decisions.

21 April 2010

The Space between People

Source picture from Penny-Arcade, full comic can be found here.

Perhaps my friend The Pendant can illuminate me, but an interesting article popped up on "City of Ontario v. Quon" and how this reveals a bit on our Supreme Court Justices' grasp of technology.

Take for example this juicy bit I pulled from the transcript on establishing reasonable expectation of privacy.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Again, it depends upon their reasonable expectation. Do any of these other people know about Arch Wireless? Don't they just assume that once they send something to Quon, it's going to Quon?

MR. DAMMEIER: That's -- that is true. I mean, they expect -

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, then they can't have a reasonable expectation of privacy based on the fact that their communication is routed through a communications company.

MR. DAMMEIER: Well, they -- they expect that some company, I'm sure, is going to have to be processing the delivery of this message. And -

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, I didn't -- I wouldn't think that. I thought, you know, you push a button; it goes right to the other thing.


JUSTICE SCALIA: You mean it doesn't go right to the other thing?


I imagine the laughter was do to the sarcasm of Justice Scalia and not at the expense of either Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia. I also don't mean to make fun of them, being that this is an important point of contention which has no easy answers with technology. What do we expect to be private, and should we trust such expectations? This blog isn't private, and I am aware that I'm pushing this out there in the public sphere, but many feel that text messages and e-mails are private, but they are barely encoded and run on the same public communication lines. Many computer and mobile phone users don't take the time to think of these things despite their familiarity with interfacing with it. It may seem funny to us, but these particularities are hardly addressed but really should be.

Now that people are getting over the hoopla of the iPad, I remember that I had a tablet PC with a touch screen back in 2006, and it was great. I really loved the thing, it did everything the iPad does now, but had a physical keyboard, a camera and USB and SD card slots. It even had little metal legs in the back that folded out and created it's own stand. So when I got my new netbook for school I left behind the PepperPad back in my parent's home. I figured I could mod it or use it for parts some time in the future. The thing is, since it was so user friendly, I could set it up as a really good e-mail machine for my mom. She doesn't have an e-mail address yet, but she owns her own business and I figured she might like one. So I asked her if she'd like for me to teach her how to use the Pepper Pad to check e-mail she responded with...
No that's okay, I like talking to real people, I don't want to talk to a robot.
I understand that she didn't mean that literally, but I wonder if she feels the same way about talking on her mobile phone, or any phone for that matter. In a sense, she's quite right, most of my generation doesn't feel that way and are perfectly comfortable with the idea that we're communicating through technology and that on either end of all this technology is a real human being. However, without this imaginative leap, we are still interfacing at an inanimate object.

Someone once told me that any technology created before we were born is perfectly natural; any technology made before we were 20 is new and exciting; and any technology made after 40 is dangerous magic. Young or old, there are many assumptions and ideas which we take for granted. I take for granted that when I call someone on my mobile phone, the person on the other end is real, and that no one is making the effort to tap into my wireless signal. Is this the natural order of things? Will I be calling my daughter about IT support to fuse with the core mind? At what point will I myself start saying that this particular use of technology has distance us too far from human interaction.

28 March 2010

Palatable Violence

I've been playing around with the word "palatable" lately to give meaning to something that has been bothering me lately. It's not as strong as to say there is a correlation or a link, but it does aptly describe a certain relationship between personal action and media messages. It would be wrong and unfair to say that certain messages no matter how blatant causes people to act violently. This would go against some very highly held beliefs about free will and responsibility which would be difficult to fight against. To make an idea "palatable" would mean to put at ease ideas that may have had some earlier disagreement. It is still the responsibility of the individual to act on such ideas, but the message had made the act feel less distasteful.

My friends and roommates have been clamoring about the new music video by Lady Gaga the hot new sensation who is trying to be Madonna to Adam Lambert's David Bowie.

Now I'm not being anti-Lady Gaga, or that Lady Gaga is "corrupting our youth" as Labor Whip Greg Donnelly would say. This is a part of larger trend which can not blame one individual or even her army of marketing, production, and visual design team. Let's take the simple idea of product placement in which "The Lady" seems to be fond of. No one really thinks...

"Perhaps I might purchase an LG rumor 2 because I saw Lady Gaga use it in that enticing video of hers, also I would like a diet Coke."

However, I do think that the idea of a cellphone with a pull out side keyboard is a more palatable type of phone in which individuals will be more familiar with this design and choose it it available among others. Then companies either in coordination or conspiracy against with the production team of Lady Gaga will provide such a phone at an attractive price point. "Ta da" consumerism wins. In this game, even a 60% success rate would be very lucrative.

So let's expand on this to more scary waters. I've become quite good friends with Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind at the University of Hawai'i. She has been tirelessly doing some excellent research and campaigning against the suspiciously gendered rate of arrests on the national average and in particularly Hawai'i. Her research had showed that "while the total number of arrests declined, females under age 18 had an increase of 6.4% in the ten-year period while arrests of juvenile males declined 5.9%...the trend for drug abuse violations arrests was upward--120% for girls compared to 51.2% for boys. Girls had a greater increase in “other assaults” arrests in the ten years—40.9% for girls and only 4.3% for boys." (Chesney-Lind 2004:7) This is showing a frightening change in rates of arrest for women in only 10 years.

Now one wouldn't be realistically looking for an accurate portrayal of women's prison's in a music video. If that was the case, I'd be attacking the "Dire Straits" for their over simplification of blue collar work, or Genesis for portraying our world leaders as bumbling fools. I do understand that this is supposed to be artistic and just in good fun. However, the message does make the idea of women in prison a palatable concept and we are less inclined to be concerned with any crazy statistical analysis which would indicate a serious exploitation of the women in our society. A reality which is just too horrifying or at the very least a "buzz kill" to an otherwise good time of imagining women wearing fashion made from junk. All the while real people and increasingly women are being abused daily in state funded prisons with reintegration programs cut from the budget due to these economic times.

11 February 2010


What I regularly carry either in my pockets or "man purse"

One of the things I have been noticing is the prevalance of the concept of EDC or "Every Day Carry". EDC items.com is a fairly comprehensive website on the theory and practice of EDC in the United States. It's not a particularly new concept, people tend to have a common set of tools which they deem useful to their everyday life and this set is a constantly changing arrangement of things which tells quite a bit about a person and the life they live.

In my experience EDC usually involves some active or retired military guy going through his gear which often includes a gun (and a backup gun) They tend to be fairly frightening looks into the mind and mentality of many Americans I and I worry if this is a part of a growing trend. Just hearing Nutnfancy talk about the piercing power of his EDC bullets is wincing.

One of the things about growing up in Virginia is the Open Carry allowance for all Virginians. For the most part, Virginians are allowed to carry a handgun with no permit and few restrictions. Which sounds good in theory, but their is nothing friendly about the sight of a big guy with a pistol out on his belt at the Red Lobster.

This to me is a part of nerd culture which is not often understood as nerd culture. It's a "masculinitized" form of gadget geekery, show and tell on the internet, and promotes and reinforces a mindset of being in battle everyday. Who is the enemy in which one is in fear to carry two guns to go to Arbys? Is this a part of the military culture in the US bleeding into the civilian culture? Is this a part of Barry Glassner's "Culture of Fear"?

08 February 2010

Girls in Paris

Photo from Doritos ad 2010

"What I learned from Superbowl ads last night: If you're a henpecked dude with a bitchy wife/girlfriend, buying beer/Dodge Chargers/Dockers khakis/miniature TeeVees/etc. will restore your manliness"

This was a rather inspired quote from a friend of mine on Facebook earlier. The friend in question is somewhat controversial for me. I had a ridiculous crush on her in high school and she didn't seem to give me the time of day. She went to the rival state college, married a Department of State guy, moved to Africa with him, got a divorce and is now living in NoVA YUPy bliss with her new boyfriend... who is also a sociologist.

Other than the obvious problems of the media and the rampantly bad representation of masculinity. One commercial gets to me rather personally.

I understand that the ad is going to be biased, but in its efforts to promote Google as the window to life's opportunities, it simplifies and disinfects the complications of the "international lifestyle" while at the same time pushes some odd ideas.

The history of travel has always been the history of wealthy people going to foreign lands and having sex with the natives. This commercial is a new post-post-modern interpretation of this old colonialist motif. What angers me the most is that the commercial hides the complicated and dirty parts of travel that I have come to respect. It opens up an entire life of going to Paris, seducing and marrying a French girl as something as simple as doing a Google search. It skips the problems of being on the streets of Paris, looking for a job in a town that distrusts Americans, months of doing nothing but washing dishes to pay enough for rent, being rejected by several women, and historically Catholic churches that won't let you have your non-denominational spiritual life-bond ritual. Living a life anywhere involves a lifetime of building trust and knowing the community, not just a simple information and monetary exchange. Unlike what Samantha Brown may lead you to believe, life outside of America isn't just a pretty amusement park for your enjoyment.