Thursday, October 21, 2010

Remember When The Third World Envied Us?

Permit me to get out the soapbox. (kids, wiki the term. I'll wait).

Children are dying in the US because for some unfathonable reason, people think MDs with 10 years of higher education and 3-4 years minimum in the field can't be trusted. Things they do trust:  the internet, gossip from the guy two doors down whose name he can't remember, any idiot actress/stripper on TV, old wives tales, cartoon bears on bathroom hygene, a crackpot relative who heard from a friend of a relative who knows a person who heard....., the list is endless.   But doctors, what do they know?

Here's what I know. 
1) You don't trust your doctor? FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR. Doctors are people, so find one you can work with. You'd do that with your mechanic, right?
2) Don't blindly accept medical information from a source that routinely, without your permission, fills your inbox with promises of riches and a larger penis courtesy of a Nigerian prince.
3) Don't let nonsense get passed on if you can stop it. Hear some nonsense at a party? Challenge it-- the source, the logic, whatever it takes to stamp it out. Lose a friend, save a child.
4) If you're on TV its because you want to be on TV.  If you're in a clinic treating the sick, its because you want to be in a clinc treating the sick. Only one of these is a calling.  You figure it out.
5) The Great Physician heals in an infinite number of ways, and the gift of folks who choose to toil long years in labs to rid the world of disease is one of those ways.

I'm not a doctor but I've stood by one for years. I don't tell her about the reports on the news channels about whooping cough killing babies in the US, because she would drag herself out of bed, tie the
oxygen tank to her wheelchair and roll herself  door to door and BONK YOU ON THE HEAD for even THINKING your child does not need their immunizations. And she needs her rest.

Soapbox retracted. Now back to my pithy, witty, humorous, and supeficial posts you've all come to expect. (Just go with it. You want me to get the box back out?)

Now, about those flu shots you've been putting off...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Location, Location, Location

A famous quote (I forget the source) from a film reviewer defending Hollywood's poor opinion of the audience for their films: "Producers don't think Americans are stupid, they just don't think Americans are any smarter than they are."

It was obvious to me even at a young age: A TV movie about killer bees invading New Orleans had the populous seek refuge in the mountains outside of town.  Or Murder She Wrote, where EVERY city in America seemed to have the San Gabriel mountains in the background. Smokey and the Bandit II, where the border between Texas and Louisiana is stark and dry, eerily reminiscent of southern California.  Even today, Psych tries to make British Columbia (wet and green) be Santa Barbara (arid California coastline). Everything is geared for cheap production in or around LA, whether or not it looks silly.

Of course, a few times they really tried to get it right.  Walker Texas Ranger was filmed, in all places, Texas.  And I Spy filmed on location in exotic places like Hong Kong, Italy, etc.  So somebody had to be aware that the little things count.

But it really makes a difference when they go the extra mile and shoot the show where it makes sense.  Burn Notice actually films in Miami, and The Good Guys actually shoot in Dallas.  Memphis Beat gets an honorable mention for being on location, just not in the right city (NOLA for Memphis, but its still the same river, right?)  Both of these shows are not only enjoyable, but have an extra sense of depth.  Not to mention the boost to the local economy these productions bring (NOLA could use it).  And in an age where people take everything on TV for the gospel truth, they won't be fooled into thinking Dallas is in a desert or Miami is near a mountain range.

Just thought that these shows deserved to be singled out for letting us have a brian.


P.S. The list of atrocities goes on and on. Don't get me started on Aaron Spelling and his warping of geography.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This Was No Boat Accident

Two posts in one day, which is more than I do in a year. What could have brought on this case of blog rage?

The Simpsons jumping the shark.

I know that I'll probably be in the minority here. A lot of people still hold The Simpsons in high regard, although a lot of people feel that the show is well past its golden age. I really didn't fit in either camp until To Surveil, With Love

Lip sync the opening to a Kesha song? Matt Groening and the gang have both influenced and lampooned pop culture for two decades now, but with this they cross over to the other side of the street, begging the popular kids to sit at their lunch table.

The Simpsons started out as part of a struggling Fox network (indeed it propped up Fox at one point). They were the unruly brats of TV, such an ingrained part of pop culture that even heads of state couldn't help but put in their two bits (I'm looking at you, Herbert Walker). After twenty years, they are now middle aged gazillionaires, and the writing staff alumni has gone on to run their own shows for wads of cash as well (and, of course, rule late night TV). No longer the bad boys, they now find themselves to be "The Man".

They could have parodied the song, or even the whole instant pop diva culture that the music business has devolved into. But sadly, they spent a kings ransom to animate their opening to a popular but eventually forgettable song from a soon to be forgettable singer. Ten years from now, is this idea going to seem as good as it was in the writing room, or is it going to be a "oh no, how did we ever think this song was cool?" moment. If they had done this 13 years ago to "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba we'd be looking at the tape today and howling with derisive laughter.

Losing the show's pathos was sad. Losing the show's satirical edge is pathetic.


MTV, The Blind Hog, and the Acorn

MTV used to be Music Television. I think. Just out of college when it originally booted in 1981 I was already too old for their demographic, so I was aware but not much enamored of it.

MTV networks has changed identities many times since then, like a cable channel that's part of the federal witness protection program. (Ack! Someone over 25 is watching! Hide us!). But somewhere along the line they actually got something right. A program that wasn't aimed at a strictly male demographic, skewed over their age target audience, and was blissfully absent of any mention of anything Jersey--bovine or otherwise.

Daria was a non-spin-off spin-off of
Beavis and Butt-head and was the only other product of MTV animation that lasted more than a season or two. It was so far afield from everything else on the channel that it is a wonder that it lasted for 5 seasons. (IMHO it was the injection of the "song of the week" into the soundtrack of the show that made it valuable to the network as a marketing tool--sort of a non music video music video. )

Some die-hard fans are unhappy about the music changes, a result of exorbitant fees for music licensing, but I'm not one of them. My opinion: striping the show of the original music is an IMPROVEMENT. It allows the show to live up to the timelessness of the characters and stories, and not be bogged down in a retro version of Name That Tune.

The complete Daria is out on DVD, at long last struggling free of the RIAA straight jacket. I think it ranks alongside King of the Hill as proof that animation is as powerful a storytelling device as any three camera brain burp currently broadcast today.


P.S. WKRP was devastated by the removal of the original music. Hypocrisy on my part? Hardly. WKRP was a show about a small top 40 radio station, not about a small generic elevator music radio station.

LKF Although B&BH was a creation of Mike Judge, the character of Daria was created by staff writers at MTV working on B&BH. Mike Judge gave permission for the spin-off but had no hand in the creation or execution of Daria.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Twitter is the New Black, and I Have No Idea What That Means

Keeping up with the kids and their darn loud music and hoola hoops is an avocation of mine. The technology advantages they have today--texting to alleviate the boredom of driving, email so they can help poor Nigerian princes with their finances, Double Stuff Oreos for, well, just 'cause they're there.

Granted, keeping my toe in all this technology has left me puzzled. This amazingly erudite blog, for instance, averages .34 hits per month, which probably means that some guy reads it but doesn't pay full attention. Facebook seems like a wonderful place if you're interested in cyber farming or acting out your Sopranos fantasies.

And then there is Twitter. I hear that people on twitter have thousands (some even millions) of followers. So I instinctively got an account and waited for the masses to follow the missives generated by my never ceasing data mining of my Science Fiction DVD/Bluray collection.

For example.

LKF-- in 1st draft of 2001:ASO Dave Bowman's last word; " My god! Its full of ham!"

And this.

LKF--James T. Kirk's favorite method of computercide was the phaser (60%). Talking them to death was a distant 2nd at 40%.

You can't just wander over to the guys dozing off at the Genius Bar in your nearest Apple store to get this info.

Still, I figure that all those big twitter accounts had to start with just the one follower. I mean, for months and months, just the one follower. Right?

Just a thought.


P.S. LKF "Little Known Fact". Sorry for the confusion.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Haiku for Me, Haiku for You, Too.

Working at the Big Red Q was an opportunity to see a lot of cool stuff, and then pull my hair out when nobody paid attention. To be fair, the company was running on borrowed time (if only I had known then) and was only interested in what Dell was introducing next quarter so they could at least look like they were keeping up.

One of those cool things was BeOS. These guys had a multi-tasking OS that booted in 4 seconds from a hard drive, would fit on a floppy, run in a few hundred K of RAM, had a tough-as-nails journaling file system, and a wicked cool user interface. And nobody was interested. Not with the fantastic possibilities that Microsoft was promising* with Windows ME. So BeOS got kicked to the curb and finally folded.

Now, after 8 years, some really dedicated people have an alpha release of Haiku, which is BeOS rising from the ashes like a somewhat procrastinating Phoenix.

If you ever used Be, then this is cool news. If you haven't, then you may have a copy of Haiku in your future if you really want to squeeze some performance out of that cheap netbook you bought on impulse during some late night Woot-off (no, not me. Never).

Check out the links.

* promise (n, v) An oath or delcaration to perform a stated act or duty, as in "If you continue to talk to BeOS we promise to cut your bulk pricing discount to zero. Its a nice little factory here. It'd be a shame if something happened to it, capice?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Odyssey of Ike

You can run but you can't hide.

We live in one of the mandatory evac zones in Harris county, just about 8 miles from the Galveston bay and 2 miles from Armand Bayou. So with barely 5 hours notice we packed up and headed north to Conroe, Texas. Thought being 90 miles inland would be enough.


We set up shop in a Holiday Inn Express (I now view those commercials with a great deal of irony). We got past the bulk of the storm okay, even slept through most of it during the wee hours of Saturday.

Then the power failed at 6:30 am.

After 24 hours with no light, no phone, no motorcar, not a single lux... oh wait, that's another story. Anyway, Holiday Inn Express (es) are little boxes with no opening windows, and the emergency lights in the hallway failed after 2 hours. When the cell phones went out at 4:00 pm, we were cut off from the world completely. We managed to get through to some dear friends in Colorado who went on a search mission for us and found a room for one night at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Yep, HOUSTON. We drove 4 hours for a Holiday Inn and we could have stayed in downtown Houston and not risked death by hyperthermia.

Since we couldn't stay more than one night (Hyatt was a command post for Centerpoint Energy and Houston Police), we were still in a pickle. Then, around 4:00 pm Sunday, we got through to our house and got the answering machine (we left one circuit active to run the burglar alarm). Hooray!

We're back home now, with just a bit of roof damage. Spent 30 minutes cleaning the fridge and then settled down. Even had cable! (Uverse from ATT runs TVIP over the phone lines). We are thankful for all the prayers of everybody, and hopeful that the rest of Galveston and parts north will recover soon. We lived and worked in Galveston county for many years, and know many of the places that are now just debris and sand.

When we got home, the flag in front of our house was still standing. Pretty beat up, but still there. Pic at the top of the blog says it all.


P.S. Soon after taking the pic, I could hear Marine One flying overhead on the way to Galveston.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Robots Redux Fin

After a few weeks of work, I entered the robot image into the Hash monthly image contest. Sadly, Mr. Roboto and his space-suited minions did not fare well. There are some pretty talent people who enter these things, remarkable since the user community is relatively small compared to the Autodesk/Alias juggernauts. Glad I entered, since it motivated me to get the project in shape before I filed it away. Maybe I'll dust it off in the future.

The top four of the sixteen entries are here