Saturday, March 21, 2009


I need to buy new glasses. Mine are blurred with scratches and some type of expiring coating. So I look on LensCrafters' website. Out of habit, they're the only place Ive ever been to buy glasses. I'm looking for durability. That's my only criteria. They don't sort their glasses by materials. They sort them by designer.

I click on something called "Frame Personality", hoping to find the picture of a pair of glasses wearing construction gear with "I'm tough" in a word balloon. At least that absurdity would be useful to me. Instead I find this quiz.

The documentary Century of the Self comes to mind. Are people really irrational beings, caring more for their "Frame Personality" than actual information?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mass Movement

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole.

Hoffer, Eric

(p. 41) The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

I began to keep a list of things that I heard about but didn't understand. Manchuria was the first thing on that list back in 2003. The list is the reason that I know a lot of things. There's nothing rigorous about this project, I've been meaning to look up Gottfried Leibniz for years but something always seems to come up. If you keep a list, I would add Eric Hoffer to it. I'm reading The True Believer and I'm impressed. He's also interesting because he's not your typical academic.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Here's a list of Christian-second-coming-end-of-the-world predictions listed in Wikipedia's Rapture article. I was perusing the list and I burst out laughing when I saw poor Harold Camping's name there. Twice. I hope the other radio evangelists don't say things behind his back.

Some notable rapture predictions include the following:

  • 1792 - Shakers calculated this date.[citation needed]
  • 1844 - William Miller predicted Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, then revised his prediction, claiming to have miscalculated Scripture, to October 22, 1844. Miller's theology gave rise to the Advent movement.
  • 1977 - William M. Branham predicted that the Rapture would take place in 1977.[22]
  • 1981 - Chuck Smith undogmatically predicted that Jesus would likely return by 1981.[citation needed]
  • 1988 - Publication of 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant.
  • 1989 - Publication of The final shout: Rapture report 1989, by Edgar Whisenant. More predictions by this author appeared for 1992, 1995, and other years.
  • 1992 - Korean group "Mission for the Coming Days" predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the rapture.[23]
  • 1993 - Seven years before the year 2000. The rapture would have to start to allow for seven years of the Tribulation before the Return in 2000. Multiple predictions.
  • 1994 - Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 27, 1994.[24]
  • 2011 - Harold Camping's revised prediction has May 21, 2011 as the date of the rapture.[25]
  • 2060 - Sir Isaac Newton undogmatically proposed, based upon his calculations using figures from the book of Daniel, that the rapture could happen no earlier than 2060.[26][27]
** Since writing this I have learned that he originally predicted 1994 or 2011. Might seem like a cop out to pick two years but I look up to anyone who goes on the Armageddon record. Unfortunately, this site's scrutiny of his number crunching reveals a shoddy methodology rivaling the Bible Code.

Old and New

My new comedy moniker, Elephant Empire, is up with Vimeo's slick service. I was able to check off "create a sketch comedy pilot" from my list of things to do. I envisioned the shows format as a short film told in three acts with silly sketches filling the intermissions.

Director's Commentary:
It's fun to watch and remember where each cockpit was shot. From my bedroom, to the stage at Unit 102, to the floor of Swindle's kitchen.

Yes, that is an old travel battleship on the right.

Those glasses on Whizzticket and the helmet are so key to this scene. Both were provided out of nowhere by Laroo.

Watching on a high quality TV hurt the production. You could see the texture and tones of various bedsheets providing outer space.

I'm always impressed by Triggs' performance as the Commander. There are countless outtakes of him yelling in error. I also love what he does with his cheek at 1:43.

The scene is missing a sound engineer. It needs the wonderful sounds of spacefighters and some orchestrated battle music to drop out and highlight the punchlines.

I'm a big fan of elaborate set ups for quick shots. I look forward to Mar-mar ya-natawan every time.

I really like my video game ship design. I love pixel art. It added a nice final layer to the scene.

Also, I stumbled upon some of my gifs from the old Ghost Robot website's menu. I quite like my only foray into animation. On the old site they would show the ghost and activate into the word upon mouseover but I don't have the time to find and test the javascript. For a superior look you're better off downloading them. It's worth it. They're adorable.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Press 'B' to Use Diplomacy

In most video games you can punch or shoot. These are your options when you approach a new thing. How shall I destroy it?

Perhaps they are making a point that to live is to destroy. To eat is to squeeze the life from plants and animals, using their juice as fuel. To decide is to assert your desires on the world, crushing the dreams of your competitors.

Perhaps violence is the simplest story device, providing attachment and excitement in an immediately recognizable conflict. Video games suffer from terrible storytellers.

Perhaps violent fantasies lie behind all of our eyes.

We are a culture that condemns violence, promoting it everywhere. I am not a pacifist calling for better behaviour. I think these contradictions mark our age and are worth thinking about.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Where's the Future?

2Q Video is doing what I expect of every store. Their inventory is online. You can look up things from home or if you go to the store they have a simple desktop offering their website. More importantly, it's small and simple. I despise the websites of major chains with their broken links, poor search engines, and results informing me that the product is available in a store on the other side of the country.

The only thing that 2Q is missing, as a video store, is a system that recommends titles to you based on what you've looked up. The addictiveness of clicking on recommendations, like the endless digging of wikinauts, will replace browsing shelves.

I'm constantly disappointed by stores that don't offer inventory access. Perhaps I don't understand the complex world of inventory but I thought everything is scanned into "the system". Employees have access to this information and they're irritated when they have to hunt for something. I would enjoy doing it myself and would buy a lot more.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today, Be a French Intellectual

Imitate a French scholar. Today, have a carefree personae, take your boldest observation about the world and say it in the most controversial way. Speak in creative riddles and allow your opponents to see what they want in your work.
I like this style of scholarship. Baudrillard claims that 'the Gulf War (1991) did not happen'. Foucault peeks at sinister shadows behind "progress", and Sartre declares that he and his fellow citizens of Paris were free when they were under Nazi rule.

I love being engaged by bold statements. Especially when there's a clever point behind it. Here's the excerpt from Sartre where he points out that freedom, a feeling of deliberate choice, is created in oppressive circumstances.

"WE HAVE NEVER BEEN SO FREE AS UNDER GERMAN OCCUPATION. We had lost every right, and above all the right of speech: we were insulted every day and we had to remain silent; we were deported as laborers, as jews, as political prisoners; everywhere, on the walls, in the newspapers, and on the screen, we saw the foul and listless face which our oppressors wanted to give us. Because of all of this we were free. Since the Nazi venom penetrated our very thoughts, every true thought was a victory. Since an all powerful police tried to force us to be silent, each word became as precious as a declaration of principle. Since we were hounded, every one of our movements had the importance of commitment. The often atrocious circumstances of our struggle had at last put us in a position to live our life without pretences--to live in this torn, unbearable condition which we call the human condition. Exile, captivity, and above all death, which is ably disguised in periods of happiness, became the perpetual object of our concern; we discovered that they were not inevitable accidents or even constant but external threats: they had become our lot, our destiny, the source of our reality as men. Each second we fully realized the meaning of that trite little phrase "All men are mortal."

I don't know who did the translation.
From the essay: La République du Silence (1944)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What was it like to have my Wisdom Teeth removed?

It's the next morning and I feel fine. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I was given antibodies to prevent infection and painkillers (light and serious) which I haven't needed.

They put a needle in me and knocked me out intravenously. I asked the dentist what they were using and he got quite defensive. He was adamant that they were chemicals that I wouldn't remember and seemed suspicious of me for asking. I suspect his authority is challenged a great deal on this subject -Western medicine, anesthesia included, struggles to be authoritative and objective when the reality is full of side effects and uncertainty.

He lightened up after I made it cleat how fun I thought the whole thing was. "Wouldn't you be curious about what was being pumped inside of you?" I asked.

He said they use a variety of chemicals, one makes me sleep, one freezes for pain, one prevents inflammation, and one makes me forget. Despite the high sci-fi value of the last one I changed my questioning to ask if I could keep my x-ray. They treated me as if it were normal for them to send it to my dentist and I stopped pursuing the topic. Now that I'm out of their chair I want it and I think I'm going to get it. Don't I own it?

In fact, I'll call after I write this. Writing my thoughts certainly spurs me to action.
My phone call led to an interesting run around. They are insisting on sending the x-ray to my dentist -although "my dentist" was simply someone who squeezed me in and isn't taking regular patients. The surgeon's receptionist who is currently holding the x-ray said she would talk to my surgeon tomorrow.

What I remember.
I can recall about five minutes of action. I could feel tools clattering around on my wisdom teeth and pulling them. But there was no pain. I could hear my dentist say that I teach history, this may have been a dream, based on a brief conversation before we began. He was on to the next patient before I could ask.

They were worried about me. I was in good spirits but they said I looked quite faint. My heart rate dropped to a surprising low. They sad this happened to athletes. I asked if it was tru for Buddhists too. They missed my vein with the needle the first time and when they started to sedate me it hurt. I love how well the staff ca understand me with my mouth full. The dentist scolded his aid and fixed the needle. I don't remember getting sleepy. Afterward, they dripped two bags of clear juice into me to rehydrate me. After the second bag, I was barely dizzy, walking on my own.

I was walking up and down the stairs when I came home o find a movie. I was worried that it would make me feel faint but it didn't. My brothers bought my drugs and popped the movie in for me. Later that evening, I felt very faint. Apparently I was supposed to start drinking something to get my energy back but I hadn't touched food or water all day. A banana-berry smoothie with a helping of mom's protein powder and some maple sugar in water and I was back. I worked until midnight and slept until 6:30am.