Friday, February 29, 2008

Posting for the Sake of Posting

It's February 29 and I have nothing to say aside from I want this date on my blog, so here's a nice picture of Miranda.

Miranda, The Snow Cat

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poem: The Ash Tree City (Draft)

The Ash Tree City

"Circle Line chain now approaching,
stand behind the yellow line."

He growls in alleys on starlit nights
In dumpsters
Piles of human shit
Clothes and vomited kebabs
Sewer grates and curved windows.

His horns crown everyone:
Drunks in Burberry
The corner barber
BTP in H. Road Station
Football fans enjoying Premium Lager

Three sharp brass nails on a tail
and Old things, breaking through
Museum-Glass History.

"Stand clear the closing doors."

This is not our place.

It is bigger on the inside
Than it is on the outside.

Creative Commons License

This work is licenced under a
Creative Commons Licence.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Beginning

The Trail Goes Ever On and On...

The first day is always the hardest, except for maybe the second and third day. After that it will get easier and ultimately the payoff will be worth it.

I turn 30 in October.

It is time.

Update: Didn't mean to be cryptic, I'm referring to the last rounds of weight loss I need to do.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

17 and Counting

Remember that post I made about suicides in Wales?

They're up to 17 victims now.

That's fucked up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rumor: Massive Layoffs at CIA Following Castro's Resignation

Following today's resignation of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, employees of the CIA were told to expect "massive reorganization" in the coming days.

The federal agency, whose primary mission has been the overthrow of Castro since the Cuban leader took power in 1959, is no longer necessary as the last vestiges of the Cold War finally came to an end. Castro will be succeeded by his brother Raul, who has been serving as temporary leader of Cuba since Fidel's illness in 2007.

"It's just not going to be the same without Fidel in power," said Jim Chowder, a CIA operative in Havana. "Sure, we could try to overthrow Raul, but he's got such a pussy name. He sounds like a Dancing with the Stars instructor, not an evil dictator. Fidel Castro is a brand, you know? He's someone you can hate, a symbol of Cold War power. Raul Castro, he could be your wacky Latino neighbor."

Chowder, who enjoys Cuban cigars and Cuban rum, said he would "miss Cuba" and hoped the embargo would end soon so he could return and enjoy a life there without having to attempt to assassinate the nation's leader on a daily basis.

Experts estimate as many as half the CIA could be downsized, as the agency has made Castro's overthrow or assassination its primary objective.

Meanwhile, in Miami or "Not-So-Little-Havana" as it is commonly known, Cuban ex-pats took to the streets in a drug-fueled, alcohol-spritzed, Miami style party. One Cuban, who refused to be identified (photo left), told reporters that he was preparing to return to Cuba now that Fidel Castro was finally gone.

"I can't wait to go back and see my family and introduce them to the glorious lifestyle living in the United States has afforded me," he said. "Look at dis stuff: jacuzzi, guns, power, money, women: the US has it all baby!"

When asked about the men and women of the CIA would would lose their jobs, he said he "didn't care."

"This man's reaction is not uncommon," said Chowder as he watched a pair of bikini-clad chicanas walk by his cantina. "Too many Cubans in the US get high on their own supply. Just look at that Perez Hilton guy. That's what we've got to look forward too now."

A Lot Can Happen in Three Months

On December 1, I packed up a few boxes of my stuff in Seattle to ship it to London. It's now February 19 and I'm going to have to wait at least another week before I see my stuff, making it a good three month lapse. You can read the whole story on my other blog, thanks to the lovely company VIP Relocation, who the Beautiful Competition and I now simply refer to as "those jokes."

One of the things I packed into those boxes was my good old Xbox 360, and one of the other things was an accompanying attachment I purchased as a tax break back when I was working on Microsoft business in Seattle: the HD-DVD Player accessory. In early December Heroes had just come out on HD-DVD (exclusively), things were looking really great for the format, and I was looking forward to getting some good life out of it once I unpacked it here (should it ever arrive.)

Even on January 1, that was a distinct possibility.

Then the following happened:

Warner Bros., one of the major backers of HD-DVD, switched to Blu-Ray exclusively. Blu-ray is the competing HD optical format.

HD-DVD canceled their CES press conference. Ouch.

Paramount defected to Blu-ray shortly thereafter.

Universal hedged its bets and went with Blu-ray too.

My former client announced a fire sale on HD-DVD accessories.

Netflix dropped HD DVD from its lineup, a sad move since aside from Heroes and a copy of Hot Fuzz I never bought one, just got them from Netflix.

So did Wal-Mart. Double-ouch.

Finally, Toshiba, the HD-DVD manufacturer, gave up and pulled the plug.

And to add insult to injury, Gamestop won't give you any money for your HD-DVD stuff anymore - even the Xbox accessory.

Now there's nothing left to do but to tell sad stories of the death of kings.

It's pretty amusing that this all went down while my HD-DVD accessory was locked away on a boat somewhere. This is always the price of early adoption, and I don't think I'll ever make this mistake again. But on the other hand, I liked HD-DVD's menus far better than the Blu-rays I saw, which were basically DVDs with better resolution. The HD-DVDs were just cleaner, they looked more techie. Which may be part of the reason most people didn't like them.

On the other hand, all I'm out is an accessory that cost me $150 for which I got a tax write-off anyway and I did get some serious enjoyment out of for the short span in which I had it. Who knows, maybe it will become a collector's item someday like a Sega CD or a 32x or any other failed add-on video game accessories in the past.

I guess when it finally does get here I can just put it in my collection of old video game crap that I'll use when I have a house again, someday, maybe.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

In Internet, News Chooses YOU!

So I promised no more marketing-related posts, but this really isn't that so don't worry. The Beautiful Competition returned from Barcelona a couple of days ago and has been sick, giving me a project this weekend that's keeping me in the house, and I've been slammed at work (but in a good way) so I haven't had time to come up with anything very creative. But this has been "knocking about," at my new countryfolk might say, in the back of my head and I want to get it down on paper.

I'm often wary of a lot of the iconoclastic ways people discuss the Internet - print is dead, print is worthless, this is the new way and the old way doesn't matter, blah blah blah. I realized though that the structure of the Internet has allowed a fundamental shift in how I receive information - not just news, but information of any kind.

Taken as a whole the Internet is nothing more than a vast repository for information: most of it worthless or irrelevant, but information nonetheless. At its most fundamental level, it is a series of wires (not tubes, although tubes could describe fiber optics and - never mind) connecting computers together in a huge network - but those wires would do nothing if it weren't for the information flowing between them. Series of 1s and 0s, vast volumes of information being sorted, routed, directed and stored. If I wanted to, with two or three clicks of my mouse I could make all the information on my hard drive accessible to anyone in the world who wanted a peek.

It wasn't that there was a lack of information before the Internet, there just wasn't a good way to store and share it. Right at this very second I'm staring at a device smaller than a half a stick of gum that holds 2 GB worth of information. According to an old forum thread I just Googled, it can hold about 10,000 books. Until about 20 years ago, that would have been impossible. Actually until about a year ago it would have been impossible, but I'm talking digital storage vs. physical storage. It is now incredibly inexpensive to house and share quantities of information that you could not before; imagine storing 10,000 books on clay tablets in the Babylonian era - it would have taken a small city. And to transport them around the world? Armies of slaves. Even the original Library of Alexandria can't hold a candle to what I can do with my 80 GB iPod right now.

The end result of this is that there's now a whole lot of information out there available to anyone with a computer and Internet access at the touch of a button. With broadband and wireless penetration reaching record numbers - the wireless Internet in Africa puts some areas of the US to shame, even though it's all happening on mobile phones - and the OLPC program has set the bar low enough that a world where everyone is online is actually conceivable - we're all part of a vast network of information. It's happening, right now.

And the most fundamental, iconoclastic and hyperbolic paradigm shift isn't that we have all this information at our fingertips - it's what we're doing with it. It's how we're dealing with it - being forced to deal with it really.

As I noted a good deal of the information out there is either worthless or irrelevant - either on an overall level or a personal level. While someone out there is interested in the migratory patterns of bees or what Alexei in St. Petersburg had for breakfast, I'm not. So we've been forced to develop ways to sort through this information on our own.

Enter RSS and other kinds of information aggregators - and this is the fundamental shift. Now instead of others choosing the kind of information I receive (whether a paper or a TV station will cover a story or the way they cover it, the limited number of books that a publisher or editor chooses to publish and so forth) I choose that information myself. I select which news sources I pay attention to, by a mixture of interest and trust. I'm more interested in what people like Brandon and Seth and Jon and Kevin are sharing through their Google Reader items than what CNN thinks is important.

We're only just now beginning to realize the implications of this change, and it is the cornerstone of how the Internet and the New Media is will affect how we process information. And it's not simply a matter of being able to choose; with choice comes responsibility. We're now responsible to no one but ourselves for the information we choose to process and gather and share with others.

It's an interesting, scary and empowering prospect no?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Where I Been? Where YOU Been?

OK, I know where I've been. Drowning at work. No kidding. Gug. The Beautiful Competition is doing no better - last night I woke up at 2:15, realized she wasn't home yet, called her, found her still at work. She rolled in around 3:00. That's 3:00 AM. On a Thursday. With more work on Friday. She's worse off than me, but for different reasons.

This isn't a bitch about my job post or anything, but being drained so much at the office hasn't left me with a lot of motivation to update the old bloggie or do any creative writing, although I did start hammering together something that may or may not go somewhere. If it does, I anticipate it will go beyond short story into novel territory, but I'm keeping an attitude of cautious optimism about that.

In other news, I'm going to Germany for a couple of days on Sunday. Team meeting. I suppose that's not all that different than saying 'I'm going to LA for a couple of days for a team meeting,' but it's a lot cooler because it's a different country. And I get to practice my German!

"Wenn den Katze nicht zu Hause ist, die Mause spielen auf dem Tisch."

Unfortunately that's really the only single phrase I know. Five years of German and all I can say is a rhyme, the word for 'masturbation,' a few exotic animals, and enough of the language to order off a menu, get a room for the night and find a toilet. Go American education system!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sometimes These Things Just Write Themselves

For my next short story: hot news in the UK right now, where a 14th young person has committed suicide in the same small Welsh village using the same method.

I realize this is a very real tragedy and I don't mean to poke fun, but this is exceptionally odd and it's got the imagination going. Some kind of ritual sacrifice? Aliens? The King in Yellow? Perhaps the stars are just right?

Good story fodder either way.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Would You Kindly Endorse a Candidate

With Super Tuesday looming in a few hours for American Puppeteers, I thought it was high time this blog finally endorse a candidate for the American presidency. Therefore it is with great pride that I announce the Subversive Puppet Show fully endorses the candidacy of Andrew Ryan for President of the United States.

1. Andrew Ryan built an underwater city. Ryan is a businessman and motivator with a vision, and the wherewithal to execute that vision. Unlike other visionaries he is able to motivate his base to implement his dreams.

2. Andrew Ryan believes all men were created equal. As he is fond of saying, there are no Gods or Kings - only men. Each person can become anything he wants and his success or failure is no one's fault but his own.

3. Andrew Ryan is not afraid of bettering the species. Stem Cells? Try ADAM. It's not just curing disease, it's for making humans more beautiful, stronger and more intelligent.

4. Andrew Ryan likes golf. Name one bad president who liked golf. You can't. Most people forget the golf factor. Not us.

Ah, who am I kidding. I endorse Obama. Now get your asses out there, vote early and vote often!