Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Up all night!

Last night I had an odd thing happen to me. I'm calling it PAIS. That stands for phantom ankle itch syndrome. I have no idea why, but it feels like I got some sort of bug bite, but with no swelling or redness at all. Actually no visible signs what so ever. Just an itch that can't be ignored and will not let me sleep. It sucks. I'm betting it's mental in origin, but I really have no idea.

This happened one before and I emptied a benedryl into some hand cream and viola, topical medicine ala McGiver! Last night I wasn't so lucky. Out of benedryl. Sad. I tried like hell to ignore it, but then I got the bright idea to swing over to the ol' Pac-n-save and get me some sweet, sweet, pharmaceuticals. OH NO! Pac-n-save was closed!

Thus began my hour long drug search odyssey in the east bay. My report back to you is this: I could not find a single instance of open retail of any kind at 1:00 AM on a Tuesday morning. If you were thinking I was going to decree away bizarre afflictions that are probably psychologically based, you're wrong. If my power was that strong I'd be way more than king, let me tell you. No, my decree will go like this: If you are a chain convenience store (I'm looking at you 7/11) you WILL BE OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK INCLUDING HOLIDAYS. Why? Because if you're going to charge 400% more for beef jerky for the privilege of getting to stand behind the loser old guy who takes 74 minutes to pick out lottery tickets, I'm going to say that's not "convenience."

Now, I won't have to do this in places like New York, because they already get it. They know the value of being open during times that aren't fun to be open, but are a service to your customers. How did Californians get so damn lazy about this? Hell, I've worked all night making a god damn video game that no one really needed, but we can't have all night retail? Also, if you are going to call yourself a diner, you need to never close and have a waitress that will call me "hun."

I know this isn't one of those society changing decrees, but frankly, I'm god damn tired. You never need a lawnmower, ice skate, or sundial at 1:00 AM, but things like beef jerky and over the counter allergy medicine are things that every Marklarian will have available to them as a Mark given right.

Oh yeah, Slurpees too!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Smell ya later Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp!

So, I'm checking out my pal (one day in charge of my kingdom's press core) Jon the other day and he had a little commentary about the mass infestation of pythons due to the proliferation of escaped pets in Florida.

Well well well, don't think I'll be forgetting that when I am king, little Florida. Don't think I won't revoke your statehood and give it to Purto Rico, because I will. But this debacle points to a bigger problem facing my kingdom-to-be. That problem is white trash ass holes who think wild animals make great pets. You know the people I'm talking about. They're the ones who go to street fairs with snakes draped around their unshirted shoulders. You can see them gloating about how cool they think their snake looks against their barbed-wire-arm-band tattoo. Well poser jerk-off-white-trash dude, you're days as wildlife tormentor will be over as soon as I'm in power. ENOUGH.

...and if you bird people are snickering at the snake dudes, you can wipe that smile right off your face. Birds too will be illegal in my regime. As a matter of fact, I am making a decree:

If an animal can, and would rather live in the wild, it will be illegal to keep it as a pet.

Hear this crazy chimp owners: you won't be grandfathered in either, even though I enjoyed many episodes of Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp. I will have teams of animal protection people patrolling the land making sure your cute little chimp won't have a chance to rip your friend's face off.

Yes, this will have far reaching implications. It will include hamsters, fish, lizards, ferrets... the whole shebang. I'm not sure what we'll do with all the reclaimed critters, but I'm toying around with tasking the royal chefs to get working on some new dishes. Does ferret taste like chicken? We'll find out! Oh and people who think it's weird to eat a ferret but not a cow or chicken, what are you thinking? They somehow have better souls or something? Zoos could be another possibility, but I'm not sure how much draw a hamster exhibit will have. I guess if you had a cage with a couple of thousand gerbils in it that could be interesting to see. It may just be better to keep the snakes in the zoo and use the rodents and birds as food for the snakes, since that's how it's all set up to work in the first place. Can you neuter a snake? Eventually they'll die of old age or something, I'm sure... OR AM I?

Sure, some will call me a monster for separating loving pets from their owners, but guess what? Your pets hate you. You know how you can tell? YOU KEEP THEM IN A CAGE. I know my dog loves us because she won't even wander too far when she's off leash at a dog park. My cat wants out, but she'd be just as happy to have the birds she sees outside come in. Plus there are TONS of perfectly great dogs and cats wasting away in shelters. They're being denied a home because you think a python is a better pet?

P.S. Buzzy, if you're reading this don't worry, when I put a wall around Florida and turn it into a penile colony I'll give you ample notice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We don't have time! You're just going to have to trust me!

So Mark Danner is all up in arms about US torture. I've been thinking a lot about torture lately as it's a really entertaining part of my weekly TV viewing. Whether it's Jack Bauer holding a stun gun to some one's neck, Sayid having fun with a pair of pliers or Admiral Adama flushing someone out an airlock, it all adds up to exciting times. So what's Danner's beef? Oh right. Human rights. Geneva convention. Seems so quaint, doesn't it? Remember when our foes had nice discernible armies and their tendency to want to commit genocide made them the guys you loved to hate? Ah the good old days...

To further blur things, I started to think about things I consider torture. I consider being put in prison pretty torturous. Other forms of light torture include being behind someone driving 50 in the fast lane and having neighbors walk their dogs in front of your house and not pick up after their pets. Oddly my dog likes the smell of these presents, though she seems to hate her own when it's bagged up and in danger of getting near her. Some might consider being forced to eat a pulled pork sandwich torture, yet I consider it one of god's greatest gifts. Being put in a pile of naked men would make me tell the location of a bomb even if I didn't know where it was, but I have friends who go to clubs to freely engage in such behavior for fun. Having buildings that were a part of my world destroyed for no reason by airliners sent me into torturous panic attacks for quite some time and I didn't even lose anyone I knew in the attacks. Other people thought these attacks were a fun good idea.

So if torture is so subjective how do you define it? I guess when I'm king I'm going to have to define it case by case. Like if we found a child's body buried in your back yard and the kid across the street is missing and there's bits of his hair in your house, I think a great idea to pull out the dental instruments and have at it. I'm going to say they'll like it because I know people who do like similar stuff. They pay to go into crazy clubs where all sorts of shenanigans go on! How can something be considered torture if perfectly reasonable people like it? OK, in my version you might end up missing bits and you won't be dressed in black vinyl, but it's all good!

Then there are those who ask, "What if the information you get from the child killer isn't good?" I don't really care. I hope it's good, but in the end I want to create some information of my own. That information is pretty simple. Fuck with my kingdom and the people in it and the gloves will come off. It will happen in broad daylight. Now, I'm not talking about situations where "We suspect" a person did it. Of course all of those situations will have actual investigations and will play out more like an episode of Law and Order. I'm talking about those special times when you're caught red handed and getting a little extra info out of you will actually serve to save lives.

Now, about what happens in war situations? I think we're really ignorant to think that torture ever stopped because of some treaty. I think it's going on right now and will continue. I hear people say it doesn't yield usable info... but then why are they still doing it? It can't be all that fun... could it? I think that no matter what Obama tells his generals and what the generals tell the people below them, if it seems necessary they're just going to do it. Think about this. A guy is seen running away from a car. He's caught. The car explodes blowing your friend's legs off. What happens next? A civil conversation with the guy and his legal council? We're just forcing them to keep it deeper in the dark, that's all. I'd love to believe we'd never do it, but as long as people do fucked up things, other people will step up and do fucked up things back.

I think the U.S. is having a nice time pretending this is behind us, but when I'm king I'll always have Jack Bauer's phone number in my back pocket for when the shit hits the fan. I won't be able to tell you why because we won't have the time and you're just going to have to trust him.

(note: I would never have started a conflict in Iraq and instead I would have spent every dime on funding Compressed Natural Gas, Nuclear, hydroelectric, wind and other OPEC fuel alternatives.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kick'n it new skool!

On my way to work this week I caught Michael Krasny and pals bitching about the horrible state of California schools. They're right. The schools suck. I'll go one step further and say school sucks. We dump a ton of money in this system that was fine for Laura Engles, but makes little sense in today's topsy turvy world. When I am king the focus will be taken off of making schools better and on to making education better.

Think about it. What do you remember from school? Yeah, it was pretty good at teaching you how to read, do basic math and getting made fun of, but after that... do most people get anything out of it? I've learned more about history from The History channel than I ever did in a class room. I'm currently taking a Lynda.com class in Flash Actionscripting and I've come way farther than anything that was taught to me at a good public university. The only reason I know what a bill is comes from a Saturday morning cartoon about our country's law making process. Most of what I learned about physics comes from Peter Ustinov and guys riding around blue and red motorcycles. It's a sad fact but I remember more about what happened in Gabe Kotter's classroom than what actually happened to me in a classroom.

I don't think I'm unique. I bet I'm in the majority. They say TV rots your brain, but does it have to? Why can't it enhance your brain? Sure it taught me some things that didn't actually pan out, like beared men who wear black Members Only jackets are the evil twin of a good person, but it taught me tons of great stuff too, like how a guy could get hauled to this continent against his will and forced into slavery would eventually teach children the joys of reading and piloting a starship. Using that as an example, surely we could sneak in some world history into an episode of Thundercats. (that's still on... right?) We know television mesmerizes kids, why are we using it to tell them they like Captain Crunch and not a little something about the French Revolution? Hell we could kill two birds with one stone and just have Captain Crunch tell how he recaptured the HMS Alexander in 1778?

That brings up another point. I didn't now about the HMS Alexander or the date it was captured by the French, but I looked it up on Wikipedia. It's only a matter of time before Wikipedia access will be implanted in your head at birth. Let's get on that. We don't need to be so critical on the specific dates and names but we should focus more on eras and why things happened. How it effected people at the time and how it effects people now. Have I retained a single date that I learned in school? Nope, like everyone else I learned it for a test and then purged it. Information is no longer a commodity thanks to the internet. Let's shift the focus off teaching information and more on learning what to do with information when you get it. Let's get kids to learn how to think.

Another thing I've mentioned is this silly idea of free school. No one really benefits from something that's free. Ultimately they just resent it like government cheese. I'm thinking that after 8th grade if you want to go to high school you'll have to pay for it. It'll be much cheaper because the people who are going to end up putting up sheet rock or selling car stereos can just get right to it. Why are we forcing algebra on people? If we make it special people will appreciate it more and they'll work to get it if they want it. Because it'll be privatized you can always decide after a couple of years of filling pot holes to go back and see about that high school deploma. You'll do better because you'll have real world motivation.

Anyway, I could go on and on about how to fix schools... like my idea of giving weaker kids TASERS and the nerdiest kids b-b guns to even the playing field against bullies, but before we can work on that, we've got to get the basics right. My number one priorty is trying to figure out how Fred Flintstone can do a better job telling the story of early man... WILMA!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Diamond Age

Dear Amazon,

I'm quite cross with you.  I am what I imagine would be your target market for your new electronic book product, the Kindle 2.  Even as I write this, part of me screams "must get this!"

But I spank that part of me like an petulant child.   "NO," I say, "because I'm the boss of me!" Sometimes I spank too hard.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometimes I imagine myself so small I will go away and live among the electrons flying around inside a magical electronic book.  But my book is nano-tech and will get to know me and be my friend.  It will help me develop into a person who'll bring down THE MAN and free my people from the impoverished life the new economy has created for them. 

Oh wait, that's the plot of one of my favorite books, Diamond Age.  If you click on that link, you'll get brought right to the Amazon page where you can buy it.  New for $11!  Used for $.89! or you can come over and barrow it from me for free if you promise to bring it back or lend it to someone else when you're done.  I don't really lend books out any more because we all know no one, including myself, ever gives them back.  Not out of malice, it's just the way people are.  There's something about books that beg to be passed around again and again and again until they end up in a used book store or recycled into pulp that will become the books of the future or toilet paper.   Instead I give my old books away.  If they come back it's like I got a little gift!  If not, they become part of paperback karma.   It's really nice.

So along comes the Kindle 2.   I really want to like this but frankly there's no way I'm going to drop 9.99 on something I can't lend or sell to a used book store.   Diamond Age is an old book.  I can get it from Amazon used in hard cover for $5.48.  Used paperback for $3.33.  Yeah, they are going to take up some space on my book shelf and destroy some trees, but the cost savings and flexibility of the dead tree editions makes them arguably superior.   The fact that they sit side by side on the Amazon page make me think that not even Amazon cares that much for their new toy.

So, here's what I would do if I were king.  I would make all ebooks $3.  That's fair right?  I might have to do some more research on the average cost of a used paperback, but that's how much I think it would be fair to charge for a bit of data streamed to you.  Especially considering the cost of the Kindle itself is way more than I spend on books in a year.  If Amazon really wants this thing to work, they had better trim down that cost, or give some crazy deal where if you buy one you get a year of free book downloads.   That's a lot of simolians to plunk down on something that has no content at all.  Think about it, you could buy a TV and get free content, an iSomething and get access to tons of free podcasts and music or Satellite radio and and get a few hundred channels of music and talk.  Yeah, the Kindle had a basic web browser, but the web is interactive and you're barely human these days unless you can post a picture of your friends doing something embarrassing or letting the world know you're happy it's friday. 

So, for the time being there will be no ebook in my life.  Sad, as it's one of my top dreams, next to having a robot friend or piloting a Battlestar Galactica Viper.   I predict any similar device will fail until someone finds a way to make one that's similar in function for under $100 that comes with a bunch of book credits... oh yeah, and a vast library of books that can be purchased for less than $3.  Maybe this day will never come... maybe I'll have to wait for my cybernetically enhanced eParrot that can download books and read them too me.  Now that will kick ass.   Fuck ear buds, imagine how cool we'd look if we had a parrot on our shoulders reading to us. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Get your whites quieter!

OK, the queen to be made a great point last night and, although it may seem small, I'm going to devote a single post just to it.

When I am king commercials will be at a lower volume than the show it's being shown in or before.

While that may not seem like something worth lifting a decree finger for, I say nay, it is perhaps going to lead to one of the most important quality of life improvements we've seen since microwavable mini pizzas (and yes, I'm talking about the ones with the silvery cardboard part that make it vaguely crispy).

How much of my precious hearing have I lost due to blaring commercials telling me the government has tons of grant money waiting for me? When will the callus on my remote control thumb go away from frantically lunging for the mute button after Hurley looks intensely distressed about something? It's fucking ridiculous. The FCC is supposed to be protecting us from things and we've got iron clad protection against seeing a iron clad nipple, yet they're OK with the equivalent of someone jumping out from behind your couch with a bull horn yelling at you about how cool everything is at Target. Which causes more damage?

So.. when I am king I will have no greater fun than dismantling the retarded FCC. It will be mandatory for shows to contain nudity and cursing after 10:00 PM. Satellite radio will be subsidized and will be known as "Adult Radio" where as what they're calling terrestrial radio now will be called "Simpleton radio." and will more or less stay like it is. More importantly all of it will have nice and quiet commercials. Oh yeah, and NPR will get all the money they need because if I ever hear another pledge drive again I'm going to have a stroke.

What's the matter? Afraid your kid is going to break into your satellite radio and hear Howard Stern taking about High Pitch Eric getting teabagged? Tough shit. Do a better job of parenting, because I am not your kid's parent. I'm their king.

Monday, March 2, 2009

So depressing...

OK, I'm calling it: It's officially a depression and I'm depressed. Today a good friend of mine got let go because a giant corporation decided to tighten it's belt a bit. The fact that the thing he's working on had nothing to do with that deal, and even that deal was not going to actually produce a product for at least a couple of years was meaningless.  He's not the only one.  A third of the company got the heave ho.  I've worked with these people and they're amazingly talented, bright and some of the hardest working mother-fuckers you'll ever meet.  Monday they'll have no work to do. 

To make matters worse, last night I accidentally got sucked into watching Rob Lowe have a heart attack and boy did it make Ally McBeal and the Flying Nun sad. Perhaps someone stronger than I could hold back tears when the Flying Nun is crying, but I'm not that guy. On top of all that, I'm pretty much constantly bombarded with news telling me reasons I should be depressed. Gloom and doom galore seems to be stomping on Obama's audacious hope. I'm sick of it and it's really pissing me off!

GET A GRIP PEOPLE. These news outlets are the same people who told us to duct tape our windows closed in case of gas attacks. Rob Lowe is far to good looking for god to take from us and next weekend the Watchmen movie is coming out! There's lots to look forward to! Life isn't all that bad. What about not having anything to fear but fear itself do we not get? I know years of Jose and the Pussy Cats and Space Ghost rotted out brains a bit, but surely we can understand this, can't we?

The media loves drama and so do a lot of us, but I'm OK with cutting it off with a remote control. This doom and gloom stuff has got to stop, because it's pissing me off. I'm not hoping for a return to the granite boardroom table dotcom times, but we all might feel a bit better after a game of foosball. We're all sitting here on a huge chunk of land that's chock full of cool stuff. Dirt with all kinds of useful plants growing in it, flamable gas just pouring out of the ground, people who can type little words on a keyboard and have it turn into Killzone 2 or Blogspot.com.  Can you imagine a world without Youtube?  I don't want to live in that world.

So what the fuck is the problem? We've got raw materials, stuff and smart people who can do stuff. When I'm king I'll connect these three things to make sure that all the people who can do stuff have a chance to do it to stuff. Why the hell are we waiting for banks? I'm going to nationalize the bank system because I don't like the idea of an organization being able to make money from people who don't have much money just by having money. It even sounds dangerous and I guess we're finding out that it is. When your job is making money by having money then you're not really doing anything.  Citibank, you're broke after taking $2 from everyone who took $20 our of their own bank account by using one of your little cash machines? Where the hell is that money? Judging by the tie of the teller in your branch, it's not going to employees.

So houses got built. Loans were made. People got that money, right?  Where is that money? I know many people paid more than their homes were worth because the banks artificially inflated housing costs by telling everyone they could buy a house. But someone got paid. We need someone to find where the hell all that money went and get it back.  Most of all, we need to remember that, in the end, money is just bits of paper and data in a data bank.  The real worth of my kingdom is you, my loyal subjects.  Now go and make the flying nun proud.  She'll be so happy if you like her.  I mean really like her.