Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cinematic Word Abuse

Hollywood, we've talked about this. Stop it. Just make up your own words when you need some hocus-pocus to happen. Don't steal our real words and abuse them.

It's bad enough in police mystery shows. "Encrypted pixels" and stuff. Don't use or combine words that you don't understand. It's bad writing, and the resulting scenes are bad. But now, there's a film whose very title is wrong.

"The Source Code", the generic deep voice says, after the entire plot is shown in a 30-second TV spot.

I've glimpsed plenty of ads for this movie, which only means it could be anywhere from six months before the theatrical release to sitting in the DVD bargain bin at the grocery store. But "The Source Code", which is English for human-readable instructions for a computer, written in C or Python or Java or whatnot, here means "some magical means of time travel". Do me a favor, while you're in your web browser. Hit "View"->"Page Source" to open the source code for this page; there's some JavaScript near the bottom. See if you go hurtling back in time. Did it work? No? Hm.

See, instead of "modern day vampires = $$$", the lesson that should have been learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is this: Set the show up on a hellmouth, or some other place where magic and demons and impossible-but-fun nonsense is real. Don't say the computer is magic. It's not. While we're at it, no more loser-in-a-tree vampires either, 'kay?

But back to my point, don't hijack real words and phrases! Source code is very important and useful for many reasons, but time travel is not among them! I'll even go one step further and try to be constructive. Call it the Ghost Minutes Spell, or the Past Injection Curse. If you really want to have computers involved, stick it in a Matrix-like setting and call it the Crisis Backtrace or the ... actually, I can't come up with any computer words other than "backtrace" that even vaguely could have something to do with time travel.

But who am I to tell Hollywood producers anything, huh? I've only been writing source code since I was six. ...And, come to think of it, I also wrote two terrible movies, complete with crappy (though not outright lying) titles. At least I had the decency to not be able to finish shooting the second one. ;^)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Religion in America

Of developed, post-industrial nations, the US has an unusually high amount of religion, per capita and in terms of individuals' levels of devotion. I've heard a number of reasons this might be true, but this morning I heard one that seems pretty valid.

Religion in America is business.

We have no "national religion" here, and the sane among us would like to keep it that way. What we do have is carte blanche for businesses to do and to grow in any way they're able, and this presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs: figure out how to keep the pews filled.

Insert a Mark Twain quote here about all the people of the world united in worshiping money. Business is the American national religion, and vice-versa. In a way, churches are just about the only Main Street businesses left. Attempts have been made at Wal-Mart-style mega-houses of worship, but they largely haven't caught on. Who knows whether that's good or bad, but it's what the invisible hand of the market has determined.

Religious disagreements and intolerances are, in this society, less about traditional persecution and holy wars, and more akin to brand loyalty. I'm glad there are less western-society-on-western-society bloodbaths and flame-happy witch hunts these days, but just like its relationship with politics, religion's pairing with business seems only to distort and cheapen it. What Would Jesus Sell? Evidently, he's a key spokesperson for guns, homophobia, and censorship of evolution and climate science. It's a bit hard to imagine the pacifistic, middle-eastern Jewish philosopher sitting on the board of directors going over the return on investment of these branches.

Personally, I have neither business acumen nor religious faith, but it makes me glad to see either used to help others. My employer, Messaging Architects, just matched all of its employees' donations to help out in Japan. At the same time, I find very depressing the common power grabs and the systemic corruption and the excuses to be extremely crappy to one another. I guess the lessons are the same. Our religious and/or corporate collectives have their own agendas, and can be measured better by the quality, not the quantity, of people under their umbrellas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gah, Spam

It's been a long time since this (low, low traffic) blog had any attention from spammers, but I got a batch today, every post on the front page was suddenly linking to some lovely pyramid scheme.

The good news:
I cleaned it all up, and now have changed the comment settings. Moderation is on, and so are public comments. So now anyone can post, but it's got to survive the filter known as me. :^)

The bad news:
Just as I was deleting stuff I think I saw a legit comment or two, which I also haven't had in quite a while. So if you commented and I blew it away, it was nothing personal! Try 'er again and as long as you're not selling the opportunity of a lifetime, I'll pass it on through.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight Wastings Time

Grumble grumble... outdated idea that made no sense to begin with, stealing a precious hour of sleep every year...

Franklin had lots of good ideas, and Arizona lots of bad ones, but in this case I've got to come down on the side of not screwing around with the already arbitrarily-defined clocks twice a year.

For that matter, I'd be perfectly fine moving the entire planet to 24-hour UTC (or GMT, whatever you want to call it), maybe start chipping away at the mass delusions we seem to have about each being at the center of anything.

posted at: Sun Mar 13 18:44:04 UTC 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm proud of my home state of Wisconsin, for its good people being properly outraged by the recent disgraceful actions of its senate and governor. Keep fighting the good fight, fellow cheeseheads! Don't let these corrupt, backwards bastards get away with their bullshit.

I'm proud of my current-home state of Utah today too, not over anything political, but because when I pulled into the liquor store's parking lot today (in preparation for brat Friday) I wasn't the only one waiting for its doors to open. There was even a lady who took her kids in there, which I guess I've got more mixed feelings about, but salutations to we the few drinkers here in Utah valley.

I'm proud of the people in the middle east fighting for their freedom, and I'm proud of our president and everyone else who is sending aid to Japan and other devastated areas. There's a lot of frighteningly bad stuff going on at the moment, but we have to keep a level head and support the good guys.