Excerpt from the smart, political thriller I will never write

January 4, 2010

Davis Kenny hunched intently over his computer, hacking.  All the pieces where there.  The trail of dollars, the hidden secrets, the lines to the top.  It was all connected, and it was smart.  He felt rocked, but he was never saluted first, so it wasn’t it a good way.

He continued to hack furiously away when the door opened – shit – and he quickly alt+tabbed off his current screen, which was displaying information which could stun the political world, to a harmless browser window displaying child pornography.

Shit

He settled for throwing his jacket over the monitor and turned to newcomer.  It was Monica Smalling, a molecular biologist physicist philosopher he had seen around the office from time to time.  She was as smart as she was sexy and she had a man’s confidence with woman’s hands.  She didn’t need anyone, although he suspected she harbored a deep secret (a smart one) that made her put up walls around herself.  And she had huge tits.  All this flashed through his mind in seconds, coupled with images of his dead mother.  The whole thing was confusing.

“Kennedy?”  she said surprised, walking into the office.  “What are you doing here?”
“I should ask you the same question” he responded smartly.
“Should you?”
“Yes” he moved his rook into checkmate position.
“Why though?” she responded.  “Seriously, what are you doing here?  This is my office.”

Swing and a miss. 

Thinking furiously, he grabbed the first item on the desk – a stapler – and showed it to her.   “Just needed to borrow this bad boy” he said.  “Don’t even remember I was here.  I’ll just be on my way”.
“But you were on my computer.” she protested.  “Why were you on my computer.  And why were you looking at… what was that, child por-”
He cut her off quickly “Look Monica, there’s no time.  Do you trust me?”
She looked perplexed.  “I barely know you.   And you’re in my office.  On my computer.  So no, I don’t trust you at all.”
“Listen” he said, thinking furiously “I’ve stumbled on to something.  Something big.  It’s big and it’s connected and it’s smart.”
“I’m calling security” she said, pulling out her cell phone.
“Wait!” he said.  “What if I told you a portion of what I found.  Just listen.  I’ve been doing some research.   Do you know of corporations?”
“Yes..” She paused in the act of dialing
“Right, well what if I told you that corporations… don’t always work in the best interests of the consumer!!!”
She stared at him incredulously “What are you saying?”
He dropped his bombshell “I have information here that shows corporations really just want money.  And the government is involved somehow”
The phone dropped out of her numb, lifeless fingers.  “That’s.. that’s fucked up” she whispered.
“And smart” he reminded her.  She was drawn into his web.  But would there be enough time?


Canada vs the US Part IV

November 12, 2009

Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Today’s battle: Nickelback vs. Creed

It would be all to easy to let this comparison degenerate into an inarticulate rant about the general state of music, how quality has steadily declined since MTV stopped showing videos and how the industry stifles any originality whatsoever. 

Because it would be easy, that’s what I’m going to do.  Consistent with the music of Nickelback and Creed there will not be one shred of originality or creativity within this entire comparison.  I’m banging this thing out by the numbers and I barely care about the results.  Queue power chord.

Lead Singers
Chad Kroeger and Scott Stapp are two human beings who were born of women and age in a linear fashion in the sense that they get older consistent with the forward progression of time.

Both play an instrument called a guitar which produces sound by means of vibrating a steel string over a gaping hole in a piece of wood.  They both play this instrument at a higher skill level than say, a five year old with no hands and no access to a guitar.

Both claim to write music inasmuch that several notes (recognized by humans as a combination of pitch, tone and velocity) are played in succession to achieve a result.

They’re both kind of douchebags that no real person who ever would want to spend time with.

Only one effectively converts oxygen to carbon dioxide, the other kind of struggles.

Winner: Nickelback

Hobbies
Typically humans divide their activities into different subject areas.  Broadly these would be work, hobbies and other.  Oddly, activities like “watching TV” which can take up to as much as 15% of your time is never classified as a hobby. 

Regardless, as having “hobbies” is considered to be a fairly routine part of day to day life, it is assumed both Chad Kroeger and Scott Stapp have hobbies and maybe they enjoy them. 

Winner: Creed

Music
Both bands have achieved some degree of success in playing multiple instruments simultaneously while one or more members of the band uses their own vocal chords to augment regular speech by the use of tonality and rhythm.  This provides a counter-melody to the noises coming out of the various pieces of equipment.  Very often, the member of the band singing will string together several words in the attempt to form a coherent narrative that would stir emotion in the listener.  Very often, they will fail.

Creed is notable for imitating certain types of bands while Nickelback has been observed to imitate different bands that are basically all the same band.

Both bands are reported to have drums although I have not confirmed this.

Humans have collectively bought 35 million shiny pieces of circular plastic containing compressed data which, when used correctly with a type of electronic device, will replicate the noise generated by both bands.  Apparently this is something done for enjoyment by some humans, presumably those with only a passing knowledge of what music actually is.  For example, it has been theorized that if a person has only been exposed to three bands (Nickelback, Creed and 50 Cent) then it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they would consider Nickelback and Creed to be within acceptable auditory thresholds.

Winner: Nickelback

Critical Reception
There are a group of people who are paid money to listen to things done by people like this and then write about what they thought about it and then they also tell other people if they should enjoy it.

These people, generally, do not care for either Nickelback or Creed. 

Winner: Nickelback

Well that certainly was blandly inoffensive and certainly didn’t push the comedy envelope at all.  I guess if you had to pick a winner between these two bands, you’d have to go with Nickelback.  As always, these rankings are scientific and not subject to argument.


Swine Flu FAQ

October 27, 2009

There’s a lot of confusion about the Swine flu outbreak and the associated vaccination.  As my primary character I play in World of Warcraft is a healer, I feel that I’m uniquely qualified to clear up some of the misinformation that’s floating around.  I’ve collected these questions from co-workers, friends and family.  Hopefully this gives a clearer picture of what is happening.

1. What is the swine flu?
Let’s start with the easiest.  The Swine Flu is a new strain of super-virus making its way through Canada, the States, South America, Europe, parts of Paraguay and New Zealand.  Those are the only known affected regions.  It originated in France with the French King St. Simon DeLeTrenchant who famously uttered the last words “Zut Alors, tu Swine!” to the doctor attempting to bathe him just minutes before his death (the French are notoriously superstitious of baths and water in general).

It’s not clear exactly how the flu originated except to say it’s not a surprise it came from France, which remains an unstoppable cesspool of lax morals and general failure.

2. How contagious is it?
To say that it’s the most contagious disease that man has ever encountered is like describing the horrific music of Creed by saying it will make you long for the sweet embrace of a painful, protracted death.  Obvious and inadequate to the task.  Simply put, English has not yet come up with a term to appropriately describe how contagious this disease is.  Oxford has proposed the new term “Flagoclox” which would mean “Contagious to the extent that literally, just by reading descriptions of the virus, you probably have the disease in question”.  Therefore the Swine flu is flagoclox.

3. But I’ve heard that the vaccination is dangerous?
True!  It’s a well known fact that any nations government exists simply to kill its populace.  Plain and simple.  This is proven.  Therefore, the fact that the government has released a vaccination means, by definition, they want you to die from it.

4. Right, and… wait, what?
Yep.  The government has released this vaccine – 100% untested – with the hopes that it will permanently kill and cripple its populace.  This is done, to keep the population terrified and under control.

5. W-
Stop right there.  I know what you’re going to ask already.  Yes, this is a liberal conspiracy.  First they spend our hard-earned dollars and send us into a $24 Billion dollar deficit, and then they ban smoking in cars.  What’s next Mr. McGuinty?

6. None of this information seems remotely accurate.  Is it possible to have a reasoned, rational discussion about this?
I don’t see how that would benefit anyone, least of all the media that thrives on artificial controversy

7. Fine.  How will the Flu shots be administered?
Keeping in accordance with Canadian Parliamentary law (all hail Maple), the flu shot will be mandatory for any citizen of Canada whose citizenship number is greater than 10393873 (check your CanuckCards people!), however it is only mandatory for registered members of the Progressive Conservative party (see points 3 to 5.  For SHAME Mr. McGuinty!)

8.  People are starting to die from this.
The important thing is you don’t remain informed and continue to use largely unsubstantiated apocryphal third-hand updates from friends on Facebook.  As always, this remains your best and most accurate source of information.  Oh, and that wasn’t a question.


I don’t know how I feel about this

September 17, 2009

Inasmuch as I don’t have a “style” on this blog, I typically don’t break the third wall.  Is it the fourth wall?  I write articles with no personal voice and I don’t break a wall.  Please let me know which wall it is.  Nonetheless, whatever thing it is I don’t break, I’m going to break now.

I want to talk about Glee.

Like everyone else, I have agreed that Glee is the best new show on TV.  Oh sure, there are some people who don’t agree.  Typically, these people are convicted rapists and people who wish to rape.  Rapists are a contrarian lot who don’t care for the magic of show tunes.  This is why they feel compelled to rape and not like Glee.  Bastards, the whole lot of them.

Like all of you, I watched the season premiere of Glee and was not initially impressed.  First there was the one-dimensional characters, some of whom only existed to advance the paper-thin plot.  Then the deus ex machina’s at every turn.  Truly horrible, horrible writing.  But then.. the songs.  Can I love a show on the strength of cover tunes alone?   God help me, it turns out I can.

The premiere episode came together with the cover of “don’t stop believing” by Journey.  As it turns out, you could release any TV show pilot you wanted to, and if the first episode featured a cover of “dont’ stop believing” I would probably hooked for another 40 or so episodes.  Such is the power of that song.   I’ve sat through five horrendous seasons of Lost just on the off chance Kate would take off her shirt.  Imagine if after the first monster attack Charlie ripped it up with Don’t Stop Believing?  I wouldn’t even need a Kate.

So imagine my horror when I found out that the fantastically arranged cover they did of this classic song was ripped off from a fucking mini-pops CD.  Not the song itself obviously, but the harmonies, the way the song was put together, everything.  Is someone getting sued for this?  Do the minipops have lawyers or all they all just orphans?

I don’t know how to feel.

You might be asking yourself – why was I listening to the minipops in the first place?  Honestly, that’s not something I want to get into.  Let’s just allow that there was a compelling reason for me to download 22 different covers of “Don’t Stop Believing” and listen to them all in one night.  The important thing to remember here is that Glee 100% ripped off minipops.  For some reason.

Minipops version (click play) (it’s song 18.)  It was released like 19 months before Glee. 

Glee ripped off version

Long story short – I’m not sure I can watch Glee anymore. 

Update

I’ve explained this situation to my wife – “GA!  Glee ripped off Minipops!  FUCK!”.   I may have mentioned the government somewhere in there.

Terrifyingly, she doesn’t see the big deal.  She doesn’t even know why I bother taking to her.  I think I may also have to quit my marriage.  I can’t explain why this is a big deal.  You are either a type of person who understands why this ruins the show or you are my wife.  Please pick sides.

Update 2

According to Amazon, the Minipops CD wasn’t released until Sept 1, 2009, meaning the Glee version came first.  BUT!  They don’t just write these things the day before they release, they plan first.  This means that both versions probably were conceived at very close to the same time.  On the other hand, how long does it take to record a Minipops CD?  40 minutes?  I will continue to do research.


Self indulgent claptrap

September 11, 2009

I haven’t posted in awhile and this is the best I’ve got.  For a couple of songs, I’m going to provide a running commentary as my iPod randomly cycles through 3149 tunes. I will not skip any of them, no matter how intolerable.

I’m pumped to get this started. Here we go, I’m pressing the shuffle button.

Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls
Currently not ranked
I’m privately happily with this selection as a first pick, but I’m publically horrified that my very first sentence has to be a justification for having Indigo Girls on my iPod. Fine then. This is off their eponymous CD which represents their musical high point. I think they weren’t that brutal to listen to at this point and…

I’m not sure I can defend this. I have a vagina.

Aside – I used to love this song in high school which probably goes a long way to figuring out why I was always the “guy friend” that girls didn’t want to hook up with. It’s not actually because I was a great guy and they didn’t want to spoil the friendship. It’s just possible that I wasn’t a guy at all. Apparently the stench of guys who are sympathetic to chickrock turns off the babes.

Last nail in my coffin – I just gave this song a 4 star rank. Boom.

The Ice Storm by The Go! Team
Currently not ranked

I’m not even sure I know this song. The Go! Team is one of those bands I claim to love, but really I think I’ve only heard about 4 or 5 songs all the way through. This song isn’t that bad. It’s got no lyrics and the keyboards are a little grating, but I’m not hating it

Oh shit, this goes on for 5 minutes? It’s the same thing over and over again.

There are very few instrumental songs with slightly grating keyboards that can be tolerated for longer than 2 minutes. I’m not sure I have anything else to say about this song except I can’t wait for it to be over.

That said, I’m going to 3-star rank this because I think it’s unfair to penalize the whole EP for one song

Eyes Wide Open by Toad the Wet Sprocket
Currently not ranked

I think TTWS was 10 years before their time. If they released their music now, with the same stupid band name and grew some beards, they would be the darlings of the Indie set. Rock critics would write articles with headlines like “Toad the Wet Sprocket is Good to Get Flockhart (Crista)”. I guess I’m not sure what that article would have been about.

Too bad for them, they kind of have just aged like a watered down Goo Goo Dolls. And it’s really hard to water down Goo Goo Dolls to a lower level. I’d wedge them firmly between Soul Asylum and the Replacements.

This song is very standard of Toad. I am going to forget I heard it as soon as it’s over and will have no recollection of the melody. I will have no feelings associated with it either positive or negative.

A very neutral 3-star ranking.

German Studies by The Breeders
Currently not ranked
Okay, I might have to delete this entire CD off my iPod. This isn’t off Last Splash (the one with Cannonball and Divine Hammer that is awesome) this is off Mountain Battles which is their recent release that is mostly terrible.

Having said that, this song isn’t as awful as everything else on this CD, but I sure don’t have anything else to say about it.

I’m giving this 3 stars because it was okay.

Hardhearted by Amy Millan
3 star ranked
Oh god, I love you Amy Millan. Love you, love you, love you. Torquil, just stop singing and let Amy do all the work for Stars.

This song is not the strongest off Honey From The Tombs, but it’s not the worst either. I love the lack of emphasis in her voice. She sounds so washed out in every song.

“I have been beat, not defeated. Not bitter, not bound and not meek”. Great line, sung like she’s just crawled out of a whiskey bottle – a theme which is prominently featured through this entire CD.

I’m sticking with my original 3-star.
ps – I love you Amy. Please have my 2nd child.

Not Now by Blink 182
Currently not ranked
It’s funny that this song is off their greatest hits CD, yet as I flip through their greatest hits I mostly have never heard of any of the songs. Including this one. I’m positive this is the first time I’ve heard this, ever.

Like every Blink song it is instantly catchy and you can really hear Mark struggling on the guitar.
Wait.

Oh crap, it’s a Tom song. I hate Tom songs. There’s nothing worse than a band that shares singing duties but you hate one of the singers. It’s like the fat guy in the Goo Goo Dolls or when the Beatles would let Ringo sing a song. Or any of the girl songs in Arcade Fire. Oh god, awful. Tom is a terrible vocalist and should have never been let near a microphone

This song is like any other Tom song – a good song basically ruined because of Tom’s horrible whiney voice. It’s one of many reasons that Angels and Airwaves are so horrible.

This song is getting an angry 2-star for almost being good.

Low Gravity by The Acorn
Currently not ranked
Mental note – must clean up my iPod. The Acorn are this terrible Canadian folk rock band from Ottawa. This is actually one of the more tolerable songs that I might keep on due to the very interesting guitar, but in general, why are they even here?

God I hate folk rock. Who did I even think I was getting when I downloaded this? I think Genius pitched it to me because I have Bon Iver. You lose again Genius.

Ugh, this is going to be a long 3:32 minutes. If I ever met Steve Jobs I would simultaneously offer to felate him and punch him in the mouth. iPod raises very mixed feelings in me!!!

3-stars anyway for being the one good song on the CD

Baby’s in Black by The Beatles
Currently not ranked
One thing I’ve noticed about the iPod is once you add new music, at least some of it will show up in the first twenty songs of an all-song shuffle. Anyway, I just added this last night, and it’s a pretty good song. Apparently this song is in 6/8 time but at such a speed that it sounds like 3/4 time. There’s a statistic that has no meaning for me whatsoever. Does this make it a better song? I guess.

I don’t think I “get” the Beatles. Don’t tell anyone. I’m giving this three stars because I don’t want to be embarrassed.

To be continued?


Joke goes on too long category

August 10, 2009

Aaron Neville has been drinking. It is very late at night. He makes a phone call

Linda Ronstadt: Hello?

Aaron: Linda, it’s Aaron.

Linda: I love you

Aaron:  Yes.  I love you too.  How… how have you been?

Linda: I don’t know.  I don’t know much.  I know… I love you.

Aaron: Yes.  Agreed.  We are in love.  That’s what I was calling about.

Linda: Look at these eyes.

Aaron: I can’t.  We’re on the phone.

Linda: I love you.

Aaron: Yes.  Linda.  We really need to talk about this.  I know years ago we decided that knowing we loved each other was enough but… I’m sorry.  I think I need to know more.

Linda:  I love you?

Aaron: Life is too hard like this. Yesterday I think I went to the store for milk and I ended up driving for 300 miles until I ran out of gas.  I had forgotten where I was going because I don’t know much.

Linda: I.. love.  You?

Aaron: Linda, it’s killing me.  The only reason I was able to call you was because I’ve carved your phone number into my thigh.  I’ve enrolled in some adult-education classes to try and get my life into some kind of order.  For god sakes, I found myself agreeing with the Birthers.  That’s how little I know. 

Linda: Who is this?

Aaron: It’s me, Aaron Neville.

Linda: Aaron!  I love you!!

Aaron: I know.  God help me, I know.

He hangs up the phone, broken

Aaron: … what.. what was I just doing?


Bob’s first day at Swordfish Inc.

July 12, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmR3wIBJZbk

(Int. Swordfish Inc. – a young programming start up company.  It is Bob’s first day of work.   He is sitting at his desk.  He doesn’t know what to do)

(His manager Stanley Jobson walks up behind him.  Stanley bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Jackman)

Stanley:  How’s it going, sport?

Bob: .. um.  Good?  I guess?

Stanley: Well listen, we like to get right down to it here, so if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.

Bob: Yeah, good.  Actually, I do have a couple questions about this setup and my role here.

Stanley: Hit me Bob.  I want to help.

Bob: Okay, well for starters, my desk is… ah… a little cluttered.

Stanley:  That’s top of the goddamn line technology staring you in the face Bob. 

Bob: Right, I get that, but I was hired as a mainframe programmer?  Specifically COBOL?

Stanley: … and?

Bob: Okay, so I don’t want to rock the boat here, but I don’t actually need nine monitors.

bob's workstation

Technology staring Bob in the face. Not pictured - three more monitors

Stanley: (confused) This is how we roll here Bob.   It’s nine goddamn monitors, or it’s nothing.

Bob: Right, but what do half of them even do?  Like this one (points) – it’s just displaying random binary code, which even assuming I could read binary, it’s scrolling at a near unreadable-speed.  AND, I can’t read binary.

Stanley: I-

Bob: And this one.  It’s just displaying the file structure of my C: drive.  Which I can pretty easily get on my main screen.  Using like command prompt or explorer.  Nor is that information I need constantly displayed.

Stanley: Look Bob, here at Swordfish Inc., we give you the tools you require to succeed-

Bob: I don’t need three keyboards.  I can only type on one at a time.  I can’t simultaneously type on three keyboards.  And how many hard drives to I actually have?  Five?  So two hard drives are just random storage with no keyboards?  And are they even hooked up to monitors?

Stanley: Listen Bob, I’m trying to promote an environment –

Bob: And sorry, but what the fuck is that spinning cube on monitor six.

bob's nightmare

Bob's worst nightmare

Stanley: Like that?  It’s a graphical model that shows how close your program is to completion.  Every time you compile your code, the graphical model interprets the number of errors and attempts to redraw itself based on that.  The closer you get, the more cubes show up over top of the cubes.

Bob:  Are you being serious?

Stanley:  (proudly) I programmed that myself.

Bob:  How fucking long did that take you?

Stanley: Dunno.  19 months I guess.  Give or take.

Bob:  Does it even work with COBOL?

Stanley:… no.  No, probably not.  In fact, it only works with the one program I was writing at the time.  I’m not sure it works with anything else.  But Bob, that’s your first step here at Swordfish Inc.

Bob:  What.

Stanley:  Before we start any programming exercise here, we first write another program that graphically interprets how close our second program is to completion.

Bob: ….

Stanley: Straight up.

Bob:  So I can’t just use xpediter?

Stanley:  Is it a graphical syntax interpreter?

Bob:  (deep sigh) You know Stanley, I don’t believe it is.

Stanley:  You’re in the big leagues now kid.  So get down to work – writing that payroll system.  But first things first.  Don’t forget to write that graphical compiler interpreter.

Bob: Uh huh.

Stanley:  And Jesus, have some wine.  And program standing up.  And listen to easy beat techno.  This is how we do it in the pro’s kid.

Bob:  O…kay.  Hey, do you ever write design specs before you start cod-

Stanley: Great to have you on the team Bob!  You need anything, I’ll be finding out a way to cram more monitors onto your workstation.


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