Monday, May 31, 2010

Dudes of Cancer: Monsieur May

John McCain

It is hysterical what politicians will say in front of cameras, none funnier than Senator McCain. He mixed up Iraq and Afghanistan, Sunnis and Shiites, Somalia and Sudan, and the Packers and Steelers. He said Putin was the president of Germany and miscounted the number of American troops in Iraq by 20,000. He has referred to Czechoslovakia, which was divided into two countries 17 years ago.

I still crack up when I watch the YouTube video of him saying, "And you know, I couldn't agree with them more. I couldn't disagree with you. I couldn't agree with you more with the fact..."

McCain referred to Obama as "That one" when he couldn't remember his name.

He referred to Americans as "my fellow prisoners."

Economics is not something he understands well...according to himself. And he thinks the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

McCain couldn't remember how many houses he owned, and referred the questioner to his staff.

His slip-ups only get better: "Rates were cunt in the Bush years."

"Sure. Technically, I don't know."

"I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don't expect to be a great communicator, I don't expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate."

"I will veto every single beer, um, bill with earmarks."

"We should be able to deliver bottled hot water to dehydrated babies."

"It's not social issues I care about."

"The French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who is still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it."

"At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt."

"Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father."

And the best of all: "I think [Palin is] most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president, tell you the truth."

I am an equal-opportunity politician basher, and would probably prefer to rip Biden instead of McCain, but Biden is not a cancer survivor. In 1993, Senator McCain developed melanoma—the rarest and deadliest form of skin cancer. During his presidential run in 2000 two new melanomas were detected and removed. He has been cancer-free for many years.

We all know McCain possesses an enviable desire to live, to say the least. In truth, he has some highly intelligent policy ideas, as well. It is sad that his medical history and experience as a POW were used against him in his bid to be president. Even Matt Damon, who I love, referred to his cancer when he said that statistically there was at least a 33% chance McCain would die in office and Palin would take over.

On this Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who died serving our country. And I also tip my hat to John McCain. We can only hope that his quotes get exponentially better as he further approaches senility.
John McCain tongue out behind Barack Obama

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost and Found


My brother can attest that I'm bad at following complicated movies. I get confused and lost. Films like Snatch and Traffic will never be in the grasp of my understanding.

Which is why I was surprised last night when I felt that I "got" the epic finale to Lost. Admittedly, I tossed and turned in bed going through different possible meanings, and today I read through virtually every Lost article, blog, and comment I found.

Here is how I see things, though that doesn't mean I am correct. (As an example, my mom is convinced they all died with the original Oceanic 815 crash, but I will show soon why that is false.)

Jack near death with dog from Lost
The island was real, and everything that occurred on the island actually happened. Our hero, Jack, saved the island and possibly the world, and then died soon after. Hurley and Ben took over as protectors of the island for an unknown period of time. We don't know if they succeeded; we simply know that they did their best.

The plane carrying Kate and Sawyer likely got away and presumably they lived out the remainder of their lives in Los Angeles or Sydney or wherever. I say this because as Jack was dying, he saw a plane ascending high in the sky. Some may point out that the two planes are different, and that the wreckage at the very end of the episode was Kate's plane, but I disagree.

Now, my initial assessment:

Sideways world was a creation of their collective subconsciousness as a way to accept death and move on. Timing is not linear in this case, and thus does not matter. (Perhaps even the entirety of sideways world could have been a mere second, occurring in the precise moment of their deaths.)

They needed each other to let go and move on, because they were the most important people in each other's lives. And that is how we know the island was real, because without the island these people never would have known each other. Again, timing doesn't matter—Jack may have died in 2007 and Hurley in 2207. Some others, like Michael, were not present in sideways world because they were not ready to move on.

Stop. About face. Hold the phone.

I thought back to the ending and remembered that Aaron was a baby in the church, and Sayid was with Shannon instead of his life's love, Nadia. And why was it that Jack took a long time to "get it" while all the others accepted instantly?

The answer is that the last episode was from Jack's point of view alone. This was his journey to move on to the afterlife, and these were the people his subconscious chose. Aaron was a baby because that is how Jack remembered him most fondly. And Jack never even met Nadia, which is why she was replaced by Shannon.

Lost series finale
Jack's father, Christian Sheppard, shepherded his son into understanding. Perhaps he was the only one who could do so. This does not mean that Juliet ended up eternally with Sawyer or Kate with Jack. It was simply the process Jack needed to move on to the afterlife.

We can presume that others like Kate and Sawyer had similar experiences in their own deaths, and Jack may have been present in their subconsciouses during their journeys to move on, just as they were for him. Not necessarily, though.

This leads me to the conclusion that the whole of sideways world was just Jack's creation. And this leads me to the conclusion that Lost is a show about Jack's life and death. Period.

I loved the finale. I found two overarching themes that are uplifting.

(1) There is inherent goodness in humans, as evident by Jack killing the smokemonster; good beating evil; light defeating darkness. The "bad" guys like Ben Linus showed that their goodness could overcome evil in the end. Jack saving the world proves that humans have the capacity to defeat all obstacles.

(2) Despite what I just said, for our Losties it didn't matter if Jack and the others succeeded, so long as they did their best and did what they thought was right. In that sense it doesn't even matter if Kate's plane made it off the island or crashed. The smokemonster could have destroyed Earth or even the entire universe, but Jack's journey to death would have been the same. He still needed his friends and father to help him move on, even if life on Earth ceased to exist. The place where Jack's subconscious took him, and the place he was about to go, had nothing to do with the world as we know it. The same could be said for the other Losties in their journeys.

The beauty of Lost is that we can all debate this, and we may all be right because there may not be a "right" answer. As I said a few years back, the first season of Lost was one of the best ever on television. The other seasons dropped off in quality, some of them dramatically, but in the end Lost was provocative and awesome. I was ready to be done with it yesterday. Now, I will really miss it.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Russia Sends Sweet Satellites

I think of myself as a candy connoisseur. I like to try new varieties and alternate brands. I sometimes rate candy on categories like texture, lasting flavor, flavor peak, replay value, and, of course, tongue stain. The bluer the better.

(This odd opening has an even stranger transition into capitalism)

Our American economic system is a marvel. It ranks as both the best country in the world to do business with, and the best country for entrepreneurs. It was just in the late ‘90s that Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google, one of my favorite companies along with Amazon, Facebook, and any firm that makes 3-pound bags of gummy bears. Now, Google ranks 102 in largest American companies by revenue (Forbes), but way higher in terms of profit and market capitalization.

Capitalism has its downsides, though, and none more observable than in the candy industry. Once upon a time there were thousands of confectioner companies making unique candies and chocolates. Because of the internet, all of those local brands could bring joy to anyone in the world. Sadly, most of the treats made by smaller companies are no longer available because the giants like Hershey and Nestle gobbled them up. The biggest losers in this case are us candy lovers.

Some people don’t like our capitalist economy and try to paint large corporations as greedy thieves that lack ethics and function solely to increase the bottom line and shareholder dividends. Sometimes, though, that isn’t the case.

Hamburgers’ dad wore a single pair of Ray Bans for 10 years before they broke. He then wrote a letter to Ray Ban expressing how valuable his purchase had been, and how durable Ray Ban’s products were. Ray Ban then sent Mr. Hamburgers a shiny new pair for free. They valued him as a customer and wanted to “do the right thing” even though Mr. Hamburgers probably would have purchased a new pair, anyway. Ray Ban’s behavior was not based on reducing costs or increasing revenue.

Now, I’ve had my own experience with a huge company that sells extremely durable products, and acts nothing like a greedy thief.

My parents bought me a black JanSport backpack when I was in high school. It lasted at least 10 years. Last month one of the straps finally ripped away from the top stitching. JanSport offers a lifetime warranty on its backpacks—it will repair or replace damaged ones in most instances. So, I mailed it to JanSport with a letter showing my gratitude with the product. I also mentioned that I had bone cancer many years ago and my left hip was removed. Because of my injury, I wrote, it is easier for me to carry force straight down (like from a backpack) as opposed to from my side (like from a laptop bag or briefcase). Because I often bring my laptop to work, I wondered if JanSport could upgrade me to a bookbag which also had a sleeve to carry a laptop.

I received a call from a JanSport representative one week later. The woman said JanSport could easily repair my backpack, but instead they were going to upgrade me to a brand new Sputnik model which also contains a laptop compartment. They don’t normally do that, but they wanted to help me out. I suspect this will last another 10+ years.

Dammit, now I’m hungry for vanilla Tootsie Rolls and cherry Twizzlers and LifeSavers Fruit Splosions and Starburst Jelly Beans and a three pound bag of gummy bears. I could really use some high-fructose corn syrup right now.

JanSport Sputnik bookbag

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arlington Update: Living Quarters

Dead cockroaches in Arlington apartment
We have cockroaches. I see maybe five each day, and multiples of that on peak days. I squash them when: towel paper is accessible; I’m not already comfortable on my couch, La-Z-Boy or toilet seat, or; I’m not in an apathetic mood. I often find them dried up on my kitchen floor. When the benefit of discarding them is outweighed by the cost of bending down to collect them, I just walk around them.

The pest control guy visits every month. Millennium was in the apartment one such occasion and he thought there was a good chance the bug guy was actually a burglar.

My building didn’t turn on the air conditioning until the second week in May. My bedroom reached 86 degrees some nights and my cockroach problem took a backseat to sheets smothered in sweat. Besides, at that temperature critters decompose quickly.

There is a convicted sex offender living on the floor above mine. Though I believe it is a breach of civil rights to register these people on a publicly accessible website, and I have my own qualms about many of our country’s laws, this is still fairly amusing and, thus, blogable. Besides, I've seen his picture and he looks like a sick fuck.

Beyond the incredible ethnic diversity of our immediate location and building itself, we have variations in mental capacity, as well. One guy walks around like a caveman with a blank stare, and speaks in a monotone voice. He moves aimlessly through the building. Another guy talks to all the tenants, as well himself, ghosts, and the cockroaches.

Gay magazines in Arlington condominium gymMost strikingly, there is an extremely high proportion of gay people in my building. When I noticed that my landlord and her friend—the guy directly across the hall from me—are both gay, I considered it a coincidence. Then when I knocked on doors asking if anyone wanted to split wireless internet costs, I noticed several tenants were gay. And in the gym everyone seemed to know each other, and everyone seemed gay. And the only magazines near the treadmills were Out and The Advocate.

I’m no statistician, but that is unlikely to be a coincidence. The percentage of gays seems to be many standard deviations above normal. And if most reside on my floor, which may be the case, then Millennium and I are probably assumed to be gay. (Infinicuralier did tell me that the tenth floor of apartment buildings are known for congregating gays, though he may be full of shit as he often is.)

I welcome this change in sexual orientation. Studies show that gays are better educated and more affluent, and based on stereotypes they are cleaner and more welcoming than the rest of the population. In fact, I vote to make the whole building gay—maybe then the cockroaches would be forced to find a dirtier building.

Having said all that, I like living here. My landlord is very responsive, the weight room is substantial, many major bus lines pick up across the street, my apartment is spacious with fake hardwood floors and a gas stove, and it's relatively affordable with utilities included. I'm inclined to stay next year (moving sucks taint).

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