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Hmm…

Dove into configuration files to fix a glitch that came out of nowhere and caused the blog to go belly up for who knows how long. Given the time between updates, I begin to wonder whether this whole enterprise needs a rethink…

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C’est quelquechose de Jedi. Tu ne comprends pas.

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Small successes

I told someone I had been using a piece of software for 20 years and did not follow up with “Jesus Christ, I’m old.”

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Art Meets Gravity

Posted in Animation.


This is for Mr. Jackson

Apropos of Samuel L. Jackson’s indicating he’d like to be in the new Star Wars movies. He says Mace might still be alive, but I think I have a more fun idea. Here’s how I would introduce him.

INT. space station

HAN SOLO, LUKE SKYWALKER and LEIA ORGANA SOLO are on the run. They dart into a small chamber, shut the door and pause to catch their breath. Han drops a heavy bag on the floor.

LEIA

Who IS this guy?

HAN

I don’t know. (Into his wrist comm) Hey, kid! Did you get the camera in place?

Luke

Han, I’m really too old–

ANAKIN SOLO

(via wrist comm)

Yeah, you should be able to see him now.

LUKE

–oh.

HAN pulls out a holo projector, and flicks it on. We see a disfigured human pause, close his eyes for a moment as if he was scanning the area, then turn and stride out of view.

 

LUKE/HAN

I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Luke and Han look at each other in surprise for a moment. Han breaks the silence.

HAN

Come on, Princess. We need to get out of here.

LEIA

Wait, you know him?

HAN

I don’t need to know him. I SAW him.

LEIA

(Well, he’s hopeless)

Luke?

LuKE

I’m not sure. He looked like…there was a Jedi my father knew. He disappeared before we were born.

LEIA

But, that’s impossible. He would be older than Obi-Wan was.

LUKE

I don’t think it’s him. He might be a clone, but I’ve never heard of a successful cloning of a Jedi. They kind of… You two go on. I need to get a closer look.

Han and Leia exchange a look that says, “will you talk to him?” and “he’s YOUR brother.”

HaN

Fine, kid. But be at the Falcon by oh-four-fifteen.

Han hefts the bag over his shoulder and marches out the door, followed by a worried-looking Leia. Luke crouches on the floor in a meditative pose, waiting for their pursuer’s arrival.

Posted in Film.


“Worth it”

So…apparently a topic du jour is whether college is “worth it.” I hope that other arguments are more nuanced than this video, but I honestly don’t know. At any rate, the implied answer to the question there is clearly “no.” I’m here to present a rebuttal.

I’ll grant that college is expensive, even too expensive. This is something that I want to come back to, but the first question should clearly be, what do you get for your money? The obvious answer to that is “a degree,” but that’s kind of like saying what you get from winning the Super Bowl is a ring. This is the biggest problem I have with the video referenced above– it reduces a college education to a line on a résumé that you then use to get your first entry level (apparently crappy) job. 

Let’s take that first case– you get a college degree to get a crappy job. Odds are good that the job won’t have anything to do with what you studied, unless your degree was closely related to a trade. This could be anything from a medical or a law degree to communications. Maybe you got a degree in history (like me), and will never use it in your professional life. However, the college degree does open doors that would otherwise be shut. You think you have a crappy job with a college degree? Look at what’s available with no experience and no degree.

Moving beyond the slip of paper, one of the big intangibles of higher education is the network that you’ll start building. This is particularly true if you get into extracurricular activities. I’ve never been a big fan of fraternities or sororities, but they do provide for a strong network their members can leverage once they move past keg stands.

One of my graduate professors described college as a “safe place to fail,” which is something I hadn’t thought of at the time but recognize now is hugely important. Face it, kids screw up. Screw up in class and maybe your grade point average suffers, but screw up in the “real world” and you could lose your job. Related, college is a great place to learn how to juggle different priorities and get things done. There’s nothing like having to turn in multiple papers and study for finals to teach time management.

Of course, as a former liberal arts major, I’m also inclined to think that there is intrinsic value in just being educated. Let’s be clear that I’m not referring to just having a collection of facts rattling around in your head. A proper education doesn’t just give you the tools to kick ass at Trivia night. You also learn how to think clearly and both create and critique arguments that other people make. Basically, you build a better bullshit detector.

Now, back to the cost issue. There’s no question that college is expensive. It has been for years, and is not getting any cheaper. However, a good part of the reason state institution prices are going up so fast is because states are providing less and less support. This shifts the cost burden from the broad base of taxpayers to students and their parents. This is the part of the whole discussion that I find beyond maddening. Given a more solid financial backing, state colleges don’t have to be as expensive as they are, but the relentless focus on tax cutting we’ve gone through over the last several decades has forced them to raise tuition and fees in order to compensate. It’s as if society has looked at education and collectively said, “meh.” 

So, is college worth it? Hell yes. It’s worth it to pony up in taxes, and it’s worth the tuition cost. It took me the better part of fifteen years to pay off my student loans, and while only one of my degrees is related in any way to the work I do on a daily basis, had I not gone to college I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Posted in Uncategorized.


More Doodles

Just so that I can delete them from my iPad.

20121017-204823.jpg

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also…

A word to those out there who would be offended by anti-Islamic videos, cartoons, etc. The world is full of idiots, and god knows the U.S. has a healthy share of them (have you not seen the clowns Republicans thought might make a good President recently?). When you see something coming from us that pisses you off, please just roll your eyes and walk away.

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YouTube video != Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater

There were a couple of posts I saw on Agonist yesterday suggesting that the people who made the anti-Islamic video should be prosecuted/punished for their actions. While I certainly have no problem condemning the filmmakers for what is by all accounts an ugly piece of video, what the Agonist writers suggest is both incorrect and disturbing.

First, the analogy of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater here is wildly inappropriate. There is no guarantee that anything someone posts on the internet is going to be viewed by anyone, especially if you’re talking about a random non-cat amateur YouTube video. Even if someone views your material, there is no immediate urgency to do anything about it. There are a lot of steps between posting a hate-filled video and destroying an embassy. Contrast this with the classic “Fire” example, where you know you’ll be heard, and the content of your message calls for immediate action.

Second, the notion of getting the government involved in prosecuting such speech should give us pause. It’s one thing for the general populace to condemn hate speech, or perhaps to even organize boycotts as has done a number of times in the past, but another thing entirely to suggest that the government should draw a connection between what someone has written/shot/spoken to the actions of malcontents. Yes, people can say hateful things, but unless someone explicitly calls for violent action (for example), we can’t hold authors accountable for how viewers react.

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Two things that don’t really go together, but God help me I’m gonna try

Thing 1: a YouTube video of the kind of slapstick we all know and love.

Thing 2: an article titled “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave” that describes some fairly hellish working conditions here in the U.S.

The thin connective tissue between these is that both of them can arguably be addressed via government intervention. When I watched the video for the first time, my thought was, “…and that’s why God invented building inspectors.” I would argue that the warehouse article, while it never says so explicitly, also argues for some government intervention. The entire thing is worth a read, largely because it describes one aspect of what we should expect from our relentless drive for cheap goods. On one hand, you can’t fault the anonymous company from trying to wring out every drop of performance from their workers for as little pay as they can get away with– as Chris Rock might put it, they’re just “tigers being tigers.” God knows if they had their way, a lot of corporations would maintain 16-hour workdays, pay their employees in scrip and fire them at the first sign of a sniffle.

UPDATE: Some slow progress on the big box warehouse front

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