Monday, September 22, 2008

We were at Fanny Wood Day yesterday and amid the usual small-town street fair vendors and tent — for window treatments, aluminum siding, popcorn, and the local Board of Education — two caught my eye. The first was a table offering, quote, Islam. Which surprised me, because even though Fanwood isn't some backwoods retarded gun-toting cousin-marrying big-ass fourteen-karat silver belt-buckle flyover hicktown, it still has more of an intolerant 1950's-style conformist vibe than anywhere in the information age should have. At least that's my take, judging from the letters to the editor in our local waste of a tree newspapers, but maybe I'm wrong...

...or maybe not. Fanny Wood Day also had an Old People For McCain tent; see my above analysis of the town. Not that I expect Old People, or small-town Republicans for that matter, to have the slightest grasp of de-regulation, the eleven-trillion dollar national debt, or the mortgage crisis — haven't they at least figured out that for the past eight years, they've been making less money and paying more for the big-box crap they buy? Short answer: no, because they've been building credit card debt instead of paying for stuff. Very Republican indeed.

I wanted to confront them, and I wanted to change their minds, which are two mutually incompatible things, especially when I'm overflowing with contempt for these Old People who got us into this financial mess, this Iraq mess, this oil mess, and who also drive slow as they walk. But I believe I've found the key: There's this sardonic grassroots organization Billionaires for Bush that's a "grassroots network of corporate lobbyists, decadent heiresses, Halliburton CEOs, and other winners under George W. Bush's economic policies," ironically supporting the Republicans who would return the favor, if they were actually rich and not upper-middle class college students. The problem is that they're too self-aware, that you don't even have to hear the joke because you already either agree or disagree with it. People are stupid, and appeals to self-interest don't go anywhere when they're only supported by facts and logic.

What I wish I thought of back then, and had the balls to go through with, is agreeing with the Old People's economic instincts. It's way obnoxious, and the more smarmy MTV-generation lingo you throw in, the better:

"Hey! Hey, there, great job! Thank you for voting Republican, cause the hedge fund I work at, we made so much cash off this economy. You should've seen my Christmas bonus, it was obscene. Probably worth more than your house. Speaking of which, if you need money, you wanna reverse mortgage that place, you call me. Here's my card, there's my cell, my e-mail, cause I'm looking for real estate to turn a profit on. I wanna buy a motorcycle..."

Friday, September 19, 2008

One of the perks of twenty-first century living is being pummeled by abstruse, confusing viral advertising that demands you ask it what it's hocking, and also weird promotions for stuff you can't actually buy. BASF: "We don't make the things you buy..." So, why are you selling it to me then? But advertising has never perplexed me so much as this sidebar gem that someone spent money to put on Facebook

Knot physics

I, for one, wasn't even aware that knot physics is for sale. How much do you think a unified field theory with a simple Lagrangian costs?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who else was getting some apocalyptic nerd-love last night when the team at CERN powered up their new Large Hadron Collider toy? "You know, the world could end any moment now, just as soon as those two proton beams annihilate each other in a dark matter fusion reaction ripping apart all the atoms in the planet's gravitational field. It would be a shame to spend maybe our last few hours in the universe watching this repeat of Lost. Maybe we should, I dunno, fool around a little....?"

If the idea of empirically verifying the existence of the Higgs boson in the quantum chromodynamic vacuum doesn't get your loins tingling just a little, I don't even know you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Losing All Hope Was Freedom"

I'm not a huge romantic, still I feel like Tyler Durden isn't the ideal philosophical voice to follow when you're looking for love, just leaving a mess of contradictions between me, girls, and the tenuous CupidMail connecting us. I'm currently zero for seven, disheartened and a priori pessimistic, and embracing Fight Club's absurd reductivist nihilism under the illusion that it's not just comforting but even empowering. Roger Ebert simply calls bullshit on Tyler's myopic, emasculated world-view — and I do see the false premise — but short of suffocating myself in Axe™ Deodorant Body Spray, it sure seems like it doesn't matter what the hell I write to or because they won't respond anyway. So, "Hey, cool profile. [Generic question referencing a detail in said profile.] Hope to hear from you soon!" Close my eyes and click send, and at least it's not like I'll be disappointed or anything.

You can see the problem here. I can't tell if I'm suffering from a self-fulfilling prophecy because I do, at least consciously, make my best, honest effort to be appealing and attractive, engaging and interested — and to be sure, that's certainly not my greatest strength — but at the same time, I don't imagine people who are really successful at dating treating it like the love lottery.

Then again, my computer generally behaves the way I want it to, and you'll hardly catch me complaining about how modern technology is inscrutable.

I predicted it would take ten to fifteen CupidMails before I'd figure out the right thing to say, so in that vein, I'm almost fifty to seventy percent of the way there. But it would be nice to know what other guys are Cyrano-ing, maybe cutting out a bunch of the false starts and (utterly adorable) self-doubts plaguing me. Some people might be missing out in the meantime.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Demographic Election

Anybody else notice how the Republican talking-head faux demographic generator has been growing more and more redneck every election? It started with the soccer moms, till that was too European and gay. Then NASCAR dads, a solid vroom-vroom Dukes of Hazzard replacement except gas went up to four dollars while loud-ass advertising machines were driving in circles five-hundred times a day. So, hockey moms! (Which is apparently only redneck on the surface, as it's right up there with Lou Dobbs's working-man equestrian team when it comes to parents' disposable income being thrown into undoing their childhood failings vicariously through their overscheduled kids.) I wonder what ESPN reject the Republicans will cram an ill-defined group around next. Rodeo? Chainsawing?

In 2012: Backyard-wrestling creepy uncles.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The temperature went up to ninety today, so I thought it wouldn't be utterly retarded to wear a heavy black T-shirt and walk two miles from a random place in the city to the train home. I really do love my urban hikes, the way hiker hikers let nature into their private mind-world, it's the same for me, except with paved roads and less poison ivy. They're great for thinking journeys, where I'm just a bit too active to be bored senseless and still on autopilot so I won't be distracted... except that it's ninety-degrees, garbage day on the Lower East Side, and Fish Day in Chinatown — but everyday's Fish Day in Chinatown and that's part of its charm cause, you know, fresh fish should smell sweet and not at all fishy. It is a bad day when the bubble tea shops, jewelry dealers, and hairdressers all reek of rotting eel, too.

My only problem with hiking, or exercising in general, or often just sitting in my car, is my integumentary system and how it could easily keep a couple acres of rice paddies irrigated. If my glands also produced soap, I'd never need to shower again, and one of these days I might just inject myself with lye and emollients to save myself that trouble every morning. Instead, I keep plodding along, pretending I'm that guy who the Discovery Channel drops in the middle of nowhere and he has to walk back to civilization with only a half-empty water bottle and fifty pounds of camera gear. It's exactly like that.

I shouldn't bitch — well, I wouldn't bitch — passing by the courthouse complex, where everyone wears a dark suit, dark pants, and a tie. I tried that shit once, and I left the wardrobe moist and overwhelmed with the sense that if God wanted mankind to wear three thick acrylic layers He would have kept the ice ages going and the woolly mammoths alive. "At least they'll be drippy and shiny as I am," I figured that if they're going to be young, attractive, rich, and lawyers, at the very least they could be oozing saltwater and cresols. But they're not, probably because — cheap lawyer joke coming — they're cold-blooded.

Hah! Maybe I should've been more straight-forward and gone with "lizards?"

My urban hikes are good times for thinking.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome: Is It Your Best Browser Choice for Porn Surfing?

Google released a beta of Chrome, their inexplicable new browser, yesterday to modest indifference even from the digital geek community. We already have two well-designed, relatively standards-compliant alternatives to Internet Explorer — Firefox and Opera — and just how many more variations on an innovation do we need when it comes to pulling bytes off a server? Chrome isn't that much of a misfit, but I'm used to my Firefox workflow, shortcut keys, and add-ons (except for Ctrl-Tab, which will never feel natural) and I don't see a lot of benefit from switching. Also, Google hasn't released a Mac-friendly version of Chrome, so there's another reason to stick with Firefox.

I was fiddling with Chrome this morning, since it would be nice to have a lightweight browser not crammed with extensions and widgets, and it confirmed all my predictions of blandness. The one feature that caught my eye is Chrome's incognito windows, which wipe themselves and their cookies, cache, and browser history from your computer automatically. But there are caveats. You can't expect security at work because it won't encrypt your requests and responses on the local network. Incognito windows won't keep the government and its telecom surrogates from illegally snooping on your browsing sessions either. (Google's documentation explicitly makes that point.) And they won't do much good in public either because — as I should've pointed out to the dilweeds next to me looking at fat, hairy naked guys and getting all moist — you're in freaking public! Have some shame!

Really, the only use I can think of for incognito windows is porn browsing on the family computer, which is what I tested it for, in the name of research, of course. The family and I don't share a computer, but I've still been using now-defunct Netscape 9 to compartmentalize... you know what, too much information. Let's just say that Netscape puts a ton of energy into swapping in and out of virtual memory, and no, that's not dirty. Chrome is supposedly lightweight, for a faster, more efficient naughty but banal experience, but I can't say I saw any real difference. Between looking up URL's and trying a bunch of username-password combinations, the switch wasn't worth it. And of all the things a Google browser should do well, YouTube videos played choppy — choppier than usual — and, wow I'm jumping through a lot of technical, un-erotic hoops for pictures of scantily-clad ladies.

So there's some work for Google to do in terms of helping me jack off. Maybe tomorrow, or in five minutes, I'll try Chrome's sandboxed asynchronously-threaded tabs and advanced JavaScript engine. Man, that's making me so horny.

Such a nerd.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Pitch to Bravo

I hope Bravo's latest fully-scripted reality debacle, Tabatha's Salon Takeover, will finally have the network execs dousing somewhere other than the bone-dry well of stereotypical cultural havens for rich, frivolous gay dudes and the metrosexuals who envy their highlights and boot cut jeans. This will be Bravo's fourth drama-queen hair salon-related programming venture, sponsored by Paul Mitchell styling product and an apparently limitless supply of self-important anal-retentive hirsute douchebags trailed by an ozone hole like an aerosol shadow, but dear God I hope that network is way overestimating our culture's interest in professional hair setting. Pure complacency on Bravo's part: giving the salon makeover show to an arbitrary loser of perennial Television Without Pity favorite Shear Genius. It's like pointing to one of the "Real" Housewives of Orange County and letting her host a show about botched plastic surgeries (Face Off, in the tradition of wordplay titles) while her gray-haired husband is out dicking around L.A. in a European convertible.

Here's the next new prime-time reality hit: Hipster Death Match. We throw a bunch of attention-starved bohemians together in an impossibly large fixer-upper apartment; they spend the first forty minutes downing Merlot and Chimay on Bravo's dime, having casual sex and pillow-talk, and stealing each other's copies of Me and You and Everyone We Know — the director's cut — before each week's finale of two manorexic performance artists slugging it out. There's something for everyone: for Bravo's core demographic, HDM features hipsters, and for the rest of the population, it's got hipster death matches.