Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mr. Large

Let there be crap

OK, OK, to be fair, you can't chalk all bad design on evil art directors, editors and hucksters and their patronizing assumptions regarding the pinhead public.

My surreal slice of Florida happened to be home to an explosion of great, mid-century modern architecture in the 1950s and '60s. Really cool, futuristic stuff. The kind of homes Frank Sinatra would be proud to live in, baby.

Much of that cool stuff has been torn down or remodelled to death. It's been replaced by lots of uncool stuff. The latest explosion: bloated, gawdaful pseudo-Mediterranean Revival megahomes, the architectural equivalent of acromegaly. Mercifully, this explosion of caca was cut short by the Great Recession, but you get the idea. These aren't great homes: these are congealed symbols of the idea of a great home. So, the people who paid out the wazoo (and helped crash the economy) to buy these monstrosities were really buying a concept.

A nothing burger, all steak and no cattle, an unclothed Emperor, cotton labelled cotton candy.

A concept.

I'll admit it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Childhood memories

Yes, it was a simpler time. We weren't worried about global warming back then. We were worried about H-bombs and giant insects from outer space.

There were only three food groups. School lunch was served in plastic trays. The resemblance to food was only coincidental. There was purple stuff, white stuff, grey stuff and something chunky that might or might not be meat. It's a good thing those trays existed to keep all the foodoid stuff separated. If that stuff touched, brother, giant insects might result.

Reminds me of the time I projectile vomited directly into the garbage can of the lunch room of Sarasota Junior High. The grits did it to me. They popped right out of the lunch tray in a vacu-formed mold. The freaking grits WOBBLED at the end of my fork. I ate 'em anyway out of pure spite just to prove I could do it.

Bad decision.

Tomorrow and tomorrow

Science fiction (SF) is all about imagining the future. Well, the future is unimaginable. It's more like imagining that you can imagine the future. Hi-ho.

I had a revelation when I was in 7th grade or so. I was riding my bike past a 7-11 in my hometown. I stopped for a second and looked out at a 7-11, a bowling alley, a gas station. Everywhere I looked, it was nothing but ordinary crap. Wires, pipes, crappy plastic signs, concrete, kipple.

The simple truth that occurred to me was ...

In the great, shining future ...

Say, 2010 ...

The world would be made up of ordinary crap.

The people living in the future wouldn't think it was the great shining future.

People wouldn't be going around saying "Ohmygod! It's the great, glorious future!"
To them, it wouldn't be the future. They wouldn't be impressed.

It'd just be the dull, ordinary, just-so, day-to-day world.

There would still be pipes, wires, concrete and crap.

Or the futuristic equivalent thereof.

No matter how impressive it'd be to us.

It wouldn't impress them.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cap'n Crunch, now

I hate what they've done to Count Chocula and Captain Crunch. It's like seeing an old childhood friend after a botched job of plastic surgery.

Game theory

"Losers" implies a certain game theory. A fairly new one.

Once upon a time, common people used to think you should know your place. And stay there. "Ambition" used to be a dirty word. Basically, God placed you on your rung on life's ladder and you should accept it. The original idea of a villain was someone common and low-bred trying to rise above his station. A villein trying to act like a Lord.

Upper mobility is a core American idea. I.e.: God wants you to climb that ladder. In terms of game theory, America's common people didn't always consider themselves losers because (A) Horatio Alger-types thought the game was fair and they were still climbing. (B)They were stuck -- because the game was rigged. If the other guy is cheating, you're not a loser.

So, at the time of the original Progressive movement -- our old pal William Jennings with his "cross of gold" and all that -- the core perception was that east coast monied interests were allied against farmers, rural America and the Midwest and had rigged the economic game in their favor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More on the Mad Tea Party

Walking through Publix parking lot marveling at the bumper stickers.

On a seven-year-old truck, the slogan “IF YOU CAN’T HONOR AND RESPECT THIS, YOU ARE FREE TO LEAVE” emblazoned on a Confederate flag.

On a rusted-out, 15-year-old Honda Civic, “I’LL KEEP MY FREEDOM, GUNS, AND MONEY, OBAMA. YOU KEEP THE CHANGE.”

OK. Thought experiment: Could a progressive version of the Tea Party be possible? Answer: probably not. The left had some blood and muscle tissue when it represented actual common people: farmers and industrial workers. Now, America has outsourced and robotized most of those jobs. In terms of 21st century capitalism, the bottom rung of society, is basically, losers – by society’s definition, not mine. Low-level clerks, data workers, grunts at big box stores, etc. They don’t see themselves as “working class.” In their minds, they’re climbing the golden ladder of success and using credit cards to fake it until they reach the Giant’s Castle in the clouds. In general, they vote against their own economic interests – partly because they buy into the success gospel, but also because they’re motivated by “values” issues, defined as God, guns and guts, with a dash of closet racism. The progressive movement (such as it is) represents one faction of America’s elite. Until things radically change, a radical left movement analogous to the Tea Party is impossible.

Jesus appearing in the sky doing the power-to-the-people fist might do it. Other than that, outlook not so good.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Asteroid Ship

From Gizmodo --

Hubble has discovered a mysterious X-shaped object travelling at 17,700km/h. NASA says that P/2010-A2 may be a comet, product of the collision between two asteroids.

Either that, or a Shadow warship.