Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Painful Truth?

Most people are not looking for provable truths. As you said, truth is often accompanied by intense pain, and almost no one is looking for painful truths. What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning. Which is where religion comes from."

- Haruki Murakami, 1Q84, page 441

Obama's Faults Lead to Ron Paul?

I'm not as much of an Obama fan as I used to be. And after reading The Big Picture's rant about all of the repugnant things that Obama has either done or has allowed to continue under his watch (hint: he's no friend of civil liberties or holding Wall Street accountable for their maleficence), it's hard not to be disgusted by how far the reality of the man differs from the hopey-changey image that he so expertly built in 2008. I say this in full knowledge that I'll be voting for him next year since he's far and away better than any of the options that the Republicans are attempting to throw in the ring. However, I agree with the post in that he needs to start being held accountable for some of his poor decisions. Which is why this idea is so intriguing:
So register as a Republican for one-year only to ensure that Ron Paul gets the GOP nomination.
Even if you’ve never done so before and never will again (we all know how bad the mainstream Republican party has been!), register one time as a Republican to vote for Paul in the primaries.
If Paul gets the nomination, then he will debate President Obama in the election itself. Then 3 of the issues that are important to all of us – ending the stupid wars, restoring freedom on the Internet and in the real world, and reining in the out-of-control Fed – will finally be discussed.
Whether or not you want President Obama to be re-elected, we all want him to be forced to answer tough questions about endless war, the ongoing drift towards a police state, and the unaccountable Fed.
Helping Ron Paul get the GOP nomination is the way to do so.
Click here for state-by-state instructions.
Note: While many progressives and liberals like Ron Paul, this essay does not focus on actually trying to elect him, only to force a real debate of the issues so that President Obama has to address them.
I'm having a hard-time buying the argument completely - voting is a serious responsibility, and i'd have a hard time knowing that I put someone whose views I disagree with so close to a leadership position - but I have to admit, the idea has merit. Despite his faults, Ron Paul does come from outside the military-industrial complex, and for that reason alone sounds better than 99% of the politicians out there. He brings issues up for discussion that otherwise would never be discussed, and for that reason alone i'm glad he's running.

Songs of the Year, Con't

When compiling my Songs of 2011, I made two egregious omissions. My defense is that these were songs in heavy rotation that i took out before they were ruined. Time to revisit them!

The first is Austra's gorgeous "Lose It." While my prediction of it becoming a huge hit was flawed, the song's combination of electropop and operatic singing is an incredible combination: she simply sings like an earth angel. Her album Feel It Break was named the best of the year by New York Magazine. You can download a copy here.

The second is The National's "Bloodbuzz Ohio". Combine Matt Berninger's intense baratone with amazingly cryptic lyrics like "I still owe money to the money to the money I owe" or "I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees" and you have my earworm for April and May. Listen here.

Related Posts:
Songs of the Year

i alone

Continuing the theme of Hunter's love of classic rock, he's become obsessed with Live's "I Alone" the last few weeks. He and Trey will ask "Can you play my favorite song?" and after I cue it up, lay down on the bed, loving the build up, until the loud guitars kick in.Then they jumping and screaming and play air guitar and go nuts in general.

It's a hell of a lot of fun to watch! And even though i'm slowly growing to loathe the song, I love seeing them getting into music so much. Added bonus: they're burning off a lot more energy. I just hope that they move on to another song soon!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Friend, My Enemy

"In a friend one should have one's best enemy. You should be closest to him with your heart when you resist him."

- Nietzsche

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fall Running Fragment

I recently found a fragment I wrote about running during the fall that I was going to use as a springboard for a longer post, but now that that the window has passed, i'll simply present it here without any fluff. Enjoy!
Fall has arrived, and as the leaves pile up on the ground, the sounds of far-away trains and motorways travel farther through the skeletal trees, bringing otherworldly mechanical hoots and dull hisses that fight for prominence with my breath as I run down suburban roads. I say suburban, and there are certainly traditional suburbs on my running routes – too many houses on streets named for the trees that were cut down to make way for them. But one of the reasons that I love New England is the small scale of everything, and so my runs are punctuated with small portions of wilderness as nature fights her way through the structured settlements. Hence the scene as I run through southern Framingham, and as I transition from one suburb to another I find myself, if only for a quarter mile, on a country road, a small spit of pavement between two ponds, fall colors on the trees and also mirrored back to me on the still water, with only a few ripples coming from a shockingly white swan drifting about in the first light. Or jogging up a slow hill that divides a golf course, pale light floating down all around me through the early morning mist, not a car or person in sight.

Cross Posted on Reading, Running and Red Sox

For Those About to Fly

Charles Mann tests the TSA's security theater and concludes that "To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier ["one of America’s top security experts"] is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost."

Schneier's money quote: “The only useful airport security measures since 9/11, were locking and reinforcing the cockpit doors, so terrorists can’t break in, positive baggage matching”—ensuring that people can’t put luggage on planes, and then not board them —“and teaching the passengers to fight back. The rest is security theater.”

James Fallows has more. Much more.

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Lines of Aurorarama

"In New Venice, every year around February 15th, when the sun goes up for the first time after four months of polar night, it is customary for the inhabitants to gather on the bridges and embankments and take off their mittens and hats to salute the benevolent star. By this, as the Intuit do, they manifest their respect and also their hope that they will be alive at the same time next year."

- Jean-Christophe Valtat, Aurorarama, a beautifully-written piece of steampunk that's so far combining political intrigue, druggy subcultures, and anthropology into an extremely entertaining brew.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nip Watch 2011

In what might be the last Nip Watch of 2011, I hauled in:
- 21 Nips, all vodka (either Absolute or Stoli)
- 5 beer cans
- 4 Plastic Bottles

Tis the season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Protesting and the Police

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
- J.F. Kennedy

I was thinking more about Occupy Wall Street this week, along the lines I detailed in this post - mainly how what was once a peaceful protest is in many instances degenerating into a struggle between the police and the movement. What sparked this line of thought was this article about "just how powerless citizens are when accosted by police officers—even when the cops themselves are clearly in the wrong." Long story short: Both a trial court and an appeals court convicted a black man who protested a policeman searching him even though he "was doing nothing wrong before the incident, [and that the courts recognized] it was illegal for the police to stop, detain, and search him." Even more disturbing, "The trial court, the appellate court, and the prosecution all concluded that these two cops broke the law, yet still, all three have deemed that the cops’ testimony is more credible than the testimony of Crossland, his cousin, and the other witnesses—none of whom was doing anything wrong before the confrontation."

It's important to keep this philosophy in mind when pondering ways to protest against the current conditions of, well, just about anything. In other words, if saying "Fuck this shit" sparks a severe beating for which there's no legal recourse, then i'm not surprised if  citizens succumb to a bitter complacency or assume a posture of noncompliance. In America, where we are not only taught that our freedoms are special but endowed to us by our creator, this cognitive dissonance can really only last for so long. Combine this status with the increasingly powerful methods of control the state has at their disposal (see this post on The Soft-Kill Solution), and the quote at the top of this post becomes even more chilling.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The New Horror in Short Stories

...I was beat. Arguing with the children, a trip to the dentist, then endless shopping for invisible things--toilet paper, glue, salt. Things no one ever knows are there until they're gone and are then needed desperately. An invisible day where you exhaust yourself running around, doing thankless errands that are necessary but meaningless: the housewife's oxymoron.
- Jonathan Carroll, "The Sadness of Detail", page 207 of Poe's Children.

Poe's Children is a compilation of what editor Peter Straub labels the "New Horror" - authors that strive to escape the ghettos of typical horror fiction in favor of "literature" (or at least genre mixing). Like all short story anthologies, not all of the stories are successful, even if they all are variations of a theme. So far, the ones that  work for me are the ones that provoke a visceral reaction - either of horror, disgust, or wonder. To me, that's what horror as a genre is all about - lifting you out of he mundane world Carroll describes so aptly above. For example, Kelly Link's “Louise’s Ghost” is a story that's certainly interesting and has a fun conceit - the entire story is about two women both named Louise so it's difficult to tell who is doing or saying what for a while - but it didn't present any wow moments to me (unlike the other stories she presented in Stranger Things Happen). No, the strongest stories here either shock like Dan Chaon's “The Bees” (a truly disturbing tale of supernatural redemption) or present a situation to you in an entirely new way like Carroll's story or Elizabeth Hand's “Cleopatra Brimstone” (the best story i've read in 2001, hands down).

Still only halfway through the book, but so far it's half hits, half misses. A pretty good showing in my book. Hey, hitting .500 would win you the batting title and $250 million dollars, so Straub did something right!

Cross Posted at Reading, Running and Red Sox

Just Change Something

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”
- Woodrow Wilson

Monday, December 19, 2011

What's the Deal with Christopher Hitchens?

All of the blogs I follow regularly are very actively and eloquently eulogizing Christopher Hitchens. I personally don't know much about the guy, other than he was an atheist intellectual in a position to speak truth to power, something I will always applaud. Can someone fill me in on his best writings? I'm intrigued by the title of Letters to a Young Contrarian, but is there anything else I should check out?

It's Called an Open Mind

Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.

- Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Xmas Music

The missus dropped me off early at the mall today so I could finish my Xmas shopping. The nice thing was that there were very few people there so I was able to do a quick in and out. The bad thing was that with so few people, I was able to hear more clearly the banal Christmas music that was being piped into every. single. store. Call me a Scrooge, but I think Christmas music is overplayed as it is, and I find it exhausting to be forced to listen to the same songs over and over. (Someone needs to write some new Christmas songs.Where's my drum n'bass Christmas album?) Having said that, Anthropologie actually did play some good music - beat heavy, and different arrangements of the "classic" songs made the music much less mind-numbing than normal.

Friday, December 16, 2011

POV French Skiing

Time to get ready for winter!

Make Him Sorry!

"Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry,"

- Mark Twain

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why no Corporate Bankruptcy Stigma?

 , writing in the New Yorker, makes a good point about walking away from debts as a corporation and as a private person:
Paying your debts is, as a rule, a good thing. But the double standard here is obvious and offensive. Homeowners are getting lambasted for doing what companies do on a regular basis. Walking away from real-estate obligations in particular is common in the corporate world, and real-estate developers are notorious for abandoning properties that no longer make economic sense.
I had never really thought of this before, but Surowieck makes some really great points. He even offers a potential corporate/private solution to the dept issue:
They could have helped keep people in their homes by writing down mortgages (the equivalent of the restructuring that American Airlines’ debt holders will now be confronting). And there are plenty of useful ideas out there for how banks could do this without taxpayer subsidies and without rewarding the irresponsible. For instance, Eric Posner and Luigi Zingales, of the University of Chicago, suggest that, in exchange for writing down mortgages in hard-hit areas, lenders would take an ownership stake in a house, getting a percentage of the capital gain when it was eventually sold.

Songs of the Year

It's that time of year when everyone writes their "best of" lists. I tend to find them annoying for many reasons: the arbitrary cut off date that tends to ignore things released earlier in the year, the notion that an entire year of a subject can be narrowed down to just a few items, etc. I could go on and on.

However, I do take the wintertime to reflect upon the recent past in order to determine what went well and what didn't. And since music is such a huge part of my life, I feel that I should share the songs that have changed my life for the better. So since I haven't been able to come up with a clever way of presenting them, i'm going to be lazy and present them as the best songs of the year.

Not all of these songs were released this year, but were new to me in 2011. Presented in no particular order:
  • Nothing Like You - Frightened Rabbit. A slice of perfect rock from this Scottish band served as the soundtrack for March and April. Still resides in my racing mix.
  • Young Blood - The Naked and Famous. A candidate for my favorite song of all time because it makes me happy every time I hear it. Thanks to K for this one!
  • zitunE by Innerfuze (unreleased). A beautiful lullaby to his young son that you want to continue forever.
  • Glowing Mouth - Milagres. Love that falsetto. The lyrics ain't bad either.
  • Manners - Icona Pop. Composed of a bunch of elements that feel like they shouldn't work together, this song sticks with you. For a while. Seriously, if you don't find yourself singing "There is no one like me" in the shower, there's something wrong with you.
  • Derezzed - Daft Punk  (Remixed by The Glitch Mob) The Tron: Legacy movie got me back into Daft Punk. SGTMT points out that you should "listen to it on your earphones whilst marching through a crowded public space, preferably an airport or large train station terminus. Seriously, stomping speedily through Victoria Station listening to Derezzed or The Grid will make you feel like the terminator, and we should all feel like the terminator once in a while."
  • Nightwatch - Acrylics. Not blown away the first time I heard this, it really snuck up on me. Now it's one of my favorites.
  • Everything by Ulrich Schnauss. Not only did 2011 present me with the magisty of Far Away Trains Passing By but the pandora station created from Schnauss' music is stunning and serves as my morning and evening soundtrack just about everyday. Some of the best electronic music you'll ever hear.
What have you been listening to this year?

UPDATE: Forgot two excellent songs, as detailed here

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From One Cage to Another

"What did it mean for a person to be free? she would often ask herself. Even if you managed to escape from one cage, weren't you just in another, larger one?"
- Murakami, 1Q84, page 184

Time for another Tab Dump!

I'm laid up today, recovering from a minor surgerical operation, and you benefit because it's gives me the time to present you with another tab dump! As always, i'd love to write more about these items but just haven't been able to scrape together the time.
  • Like TNC, I'd love for the iPad to have a real competitor, if only so that the prices might drop enough so that I could afford one. Alas, Jakob Nielsen, one of the best usability experts out there (highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter!) "denounced the [amazon] Fire, saying it offered 'a disappointingly poor' experience. For users whose fingers are not as slender as toothpicks, he warned, the screen could be particularly frustrating to manipulate. "I feel the Fire is going to be a failure," Mr. Nielsen, of the Nielsen Norman Group, a Silicon Valley consulting firm, said in an interview. "I can't recommend buying it."
  • Not that I’d ever watch the show, but pulling adverts from the All-American Muslim "reality" show just because the conservative Florida Family Association says that the show is “...propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values” is just madness. Shame on Lowes for succumbing to the bigots.
  • Never underestimate the power of money when it comes to stealing personal and public property for private profit when natural resources are involved. Case in point: Pennsylvania. As Atrios says: “My first thought when I heard about the natural gas discoveries in PA was,'uh oh, we're fucked.'”
  • Harvard physicist Lisa Randall talks about extra dimensions: “There could be more to the universe than the three dimensions we are familiar with. They are hidden from us in some way, perhaps because they're tiny or warped. But even if they're invisible, they could affect what we actually observe in the universe. There are lots of things we cannot see with the naked eye that turn out to be based in reality. ... our idea is there's an extra dimension that's so warped, the masses would be big in one place and small in another. In other words, gravity could be weaker in one place and stronger in another. If so, it could be a natural explanation both for why particles masses are what they are, and why gravity is so much weaker than the other elementary forces we observe.”
  • How animals see color. The most interesting are birds:
    “Birds… possess rich color vision, in many cases better than our own. Most birds have four cone visual pigments, although this varies. In general, birds have an additional ultraviolet pigment in their cones and many more cones than we have. Furthermore the visual pigments that would be similar to ours span different wavelengths. Their visual experience is richer than our own in ways impossible to describe or understand. Not only do they see more colors, but the interpretation of colors would be different. Think of combining different colors of paint—if you combine more colors radiating from the same object, like a flower, you will see different colors. A hummingbird, then, would see a red flower as a different color because of the ultraviolet channel input.
    You may ask what good are these extra color channels in birds? Of course, it’s hard to know completely since we can’t even understand the perception of the color “ultraviolet,” but here is an example. When a mouse is being hunted by a hawk, it will often urinate out of fear and to make itself as light as possible for escape. Mouse urine radiates ultraviolet and that actually helps the hawk follow the mouse trail. Fresher urine radiates more ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet arrow will point to lunch for the hawk.”
  • Sounds Good to Me Too - one of the best music blogs out there - have started to post their best albums of the year
  • Why we invented monsters. This article is one big slice of awesome, combining a treasure trove of bizarre myths ("In Aboriginal myth, there is a creature with the body of a human, the head of a snake, and the suckers of an octopus") with an analysis of the best monster of all - the dragon. In short, "anthropologist David E. Jones argues that the image of the dragon is composed of the salient body parts of three predator species that hunted and killed our tree-dwelling African primate ancestors for about sixty million years ... the leopard, the python, and the eagle. ... ancient primates evolved alarm calls to identify each of the three predators, with each call triggering the defensive response appropriate to the nature of the attack mode of the specific predator. ... [these creatures] were merged into a hybrid creature that had the salient predatory features of each: the face of a feline, the body of a snake, and the talons of a raptor. ...Because the image combined features from three dominant predators, it could quickly send the neural message very dangerous animal."

Bio-engineering at a Massive Scale

The Dish points us towards a real-life SciFi proposal from Libya that would
 "...reverse global warming by turning the Sahara into a massive wind and solar farm." It would consist of “dozens of enormous greenhouse-like structures up to 15km in diameter built across the Sahara and Arabian deserts. Each would suck in air, that would be heated and then escape at high speed through large venting towers.
This “conversion of daylight into steady winds” would power rings of wind turbines that would, with the help of a huge global network of electricity connectors, generate enough power to end the world’s reliance on traditional fossil fuels.”
Global engineering at this scale has always fascinated me, but then I’ve always been obsessed with anything that sparks my sense of wonder. Still, while I agree with Andrew’s take that “some kind of massive bio-engineering like this will likely be humankind's ultimate way of grappling with the stress our mass consumerism is placing on the planet,” I’m also confident that our leaders won’t have the willpower to even attempt something at a large enough scale to make a difference until it’s just way too late.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Irritating Things

The passing year --
irritating things
are also flowing water.

- Chiyo-ni

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Money Man Brown

As someone who ran quite infamously as a man who drove a beat up truck (and IMO not much else), Scott Brown sure has quickly turned into quite the money man:
Next week, Brown backers are slated to hold at least two fundraisers to fill the coffers of Scott PAC and his campaign. On Dec. 7, his campaign is hosting a money bash at the National Theater, where the play “Jersey Boys” is currently running. And on Dec. 11, Scott PAC is holding a fundraiser at Fed Ex Field when the Washington Redskins take on the New England Patriots. ...
Even though Brown’s campaign had over $10.5 million in the bank as of Sept. 30, lobbyists are in overdrive to raise millions more because [Elizabeth] Warren’s campaign is off to a fast start and a new poll shows her with a slight edge over Brown.
Deep-pocketed GOP allies such as Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-founded group backed by secret donors, have sought to help Brown with negative TV spots against Warren.
Brown's been trying to paint himself as a moderate ever since he entered office, and to the extent that he hasn't been associated with the Tea Party, he's succeeded. However, he's had an unimpressive term to date and speaks the same depressingly Randian language as just about every other Republican out there.

Elizabeth Warren and her progressive policies are just about everything that I hope for in a candidate. I'm excited to vote for her. Here's hoping that enough of my Massachusetts brethren feel the same.

Related Posts:
The Social Contract

Attention Republicans

Your shtick was predicted a while back:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"

Isaac Asimov, from a column in the 1/21/1980 issue of Newsweek.

Where's the Future?

"The strange thing about the future is that it never seems to arrive. Every day you wake up and it's still the present."

- Andrew Marantz, from "A Rising Tide," an article about Tuvalu in the December 2011 issue of Harpers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Productive Resistance

The power of an idea can be measured by the degree of resistance it attracts.
- David Yoho

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Theoretical Physicists Adventures Beyond the Multiverse

"Over the centuries science has weakened the hold of religion, not by disproving the existence of God but by invalidating arguments for God based on what we observe in the natural world. The multiverse idea offers an explanation of why we find ourselves in a universe so favorable to life that does not rely on the benevolence of a creator, and so if correct will leave even less support for religion."
- Stephen Weinberg

Alan Lightman's "The Accidental Universe" in the December issue of Harpers is a godsend for those of us who, like me, are fascinated in the theoretical musings about physics and space but don't have the time nor math skills to follow the major texts. He not only provides clear, concise definitions of the latest theories - string theory, dark energy, the multiverse concept - but he also draws them together in order to paint a picture of the current state of the field. I recommend you read the whole thing, but in short a lot of signs are pointing towards our universe, with it's scientifically improbable conditions that support carbon-based life, is merely a cosmic accident, just one of billions of universes- one that happened to have the right amont of energy needed to sustain life. It's the cosmological version of the room full of monkeys banging on typewriters until they produce a work of Shakespeare.

This is interesting enough in itself, but Lightman points out an irony in modern theoretical physics. Basically, scientists who have devoted their lives to "explaining all of the properties of the universe in a few fundamental principles and parameters"- in other words, those who want to scientifically define "laws of nature that govern the behavior of all matter and energy" - find themselves stymied by the multiverse theory. The theory answers a lot of difficult cosmological questions, but it can't be proven because there's no known way to see or otherwise prove the existence these other universes. Thus, "to explain what [scientists] see in the world and in our mental deductions, we must believe in what we cannot prove." Which sounds very much like religion.

Has all of this scientific work merely brought us back to the same spot? Do we need to accept some things on blind faith, be it theological or cosmological? It's still too early to tell - these theories are all relatively new and time will tell what new information will turn up. But it's another interesting twist that make pondering the universe so fascinating.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why Big Companies Die

I found truth in this article by Peggy Noonan. She makes two basic points. One is from Steve Jobs:
[Jobs] has a theory about “why decline happens” at great companies: “The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesman, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues.” So salesmen are put in charge, and product engineers and designers feel demoted: Their efforts are no longer at the white-hot center of the company’s daily life. They “turn off.”
Noonan adds "accountants and the money men" to Jobs' theory:
...[they] search the firm high and low to find new and ingenious ways to cut costs or even eliminate paying taxes. The activities of these people further dispirit the creators, the product engineers and designers, and also crimp the firm’s ability to add value to its customers. But because the accountants appear to be adding to the firm’s short-term profitability, as a class they are also celebrated and well-rewarded, even as their activities systematically kill the firm’s future.
When the people that do the work aren't valued, then the products suffer, and what is a company without it's products? It's why I think Agile Scrum is such an effective software development process; by pushing decisions down to the lowest possible level, you let people who are actually informed about the subjects (the "boots on the ground") make informed decisions rather than choosing directions based on executive summaries or spreadsheets. While you have to be careful to keep the focus on the customer (don't let the Inmates Run the Asylum), Jobs demonstrated that keeping a company's focus on adding customer value - another goal of Agile Scrum - is a path to continued success.

Freeda Stations!

Alyssa Rosenberg reminds me of one of the most infuriating topics around: paying big bucks to cable companies for hundreds of stations that you never watch. Her money quote:
...younger consumers who have decided that cable isn’t worth the money at all and are declining to subscribe in the first place, so they won’t replace older ones who are exiting the subscriber universe. That should be a much scarier proposition for the cable industry, but it’s an intriguing one for networks.
I remain pretty convinced that even if it takes a very long time to unbundle cable, and even if a bunch of networks die in the process, a move towards a more flexible (if not entirely a la carte) multi-platform system is inevitable. The idea that choice is paying for precisely what you want, rather than getting an enormous number of things — some of which you want and some of which you’d gladly see die in a fire — for your money seems pretty well-entrenched in the music industry now, and has always been the case for books.
Who's surprised that young folks aren't buying the crap that cable is providing? If Nexflix carried sports, i'd say ciao to my cable box in a heartbeat. As it is, both Comcast and Verizon make me pay extra (~$45 a month) for their "Basic Plus" package in order to get NESN for the Sox games. Do I watch anything else on Basic Plus? No. So why the fuck am I paying for them? A la carte pricing is the way to go! Or some form of subscription based model; i'd pay for a X amount of hours of streaming content from a range of stations Nexflix/Pandora-style. I'd even pay-per view - at least that way I knew my money was supporting the creation of something that I enjoyed. In fact, I'd take just about anything but the awful pricing tiers that are available now. I know i'm not the only one, so when it someone comes up with a viable alternative, cable's going to crash quickly - mark my words.

A Dish reader makes some great points:

The first that "The LA Times has a story today noting how ESPN's programming costs have increased 50% in five years. Consumers are paying for [programming cost increases without a] way to discipline the market and reject the price increases without dropping their entire cable package."

He also points out that without these artificial limitations, "I think you'd see some cable and satellite companies do some creative things – Pick 10 channels from this bucket for $5 bucks. Pick 25 for $15. Buy 10 from this bundle at $10. – Buy this bundle of sports channels that includes the NFL Network instead of making me pay a dollar a month to watch the Scouting Combine in the summer."

Mental Health Break

Texts from Bennett. Gotta like any kid that names their stuffed bunny "hustla da rabbit"

Wonder Why so Many People Feel Bad About Themselves?

Because print media uses Photoshop (in the past, airbrushes) to make people look more glamorous than they really are. Check out these before and after pictures. If you click the buttons quickly, you can see boobs grow, butts shrink, and facial lines disappear before your very eyes!

Personally, I think age lines and big butts are endearing signs of personality, but then i'm not trying to sell magazines either. What I find annoying is how many people spend incredible amounts of time, energy, and money trying to live up to impossible (because faked) ideals.