Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day, and I thought I would take a minute to contribute.

Admittedly my contact with poverty has always been safe and removed. I grew up in a relatively well-off household where my parents paid for an expensive education for myself and my brothers. I've lived in some poor neighborhoods in Los Angeles, but I've always had a stable job and was there more as a financial choice than necessity. I certainly saw the effects of poverty around me, but I was never affected. So although I've lived a very lucky life I do realise that poverty exists and finding the means to pay bills and feed your family is a huge problem for a large number of Americans.

I think a large part of the problem is the current administration and the years of trickle-down economic policy that have left the lower class withered and dying. That's why voting and choosing to vote for Barack Obama is one of the steps I'm taking to fight poverty. From tax relief, to expanding child support facilities for low-income families, encouraging investment in local communities, and investing in re-training programs for workers in industries that are either dying or being outsourced, Barack Obama has a plan of action to revitalize the working class which is and always has been the foundation of the American economy.

Secondly, my charity of choice is Kiva, which I was pleasantly surprised to see highlighted on the Blog Action Day site. Kiva is a service that provides microloans to entrepreneurs in developing areas, giving them the tools to lift themselves out of poverty. You can invest anywhere from $25 to $500 in a microloan that will be repaid by the recipient. I think it's such a brilliant idea because it squashes the idea that giving to a charity you're simply giving away your money. This is investment that gets directly to the people that need it and will help improve communities.

Many thanks to Clito for highlighting Blog Action Day and being a relentless source of optimism and change.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Viva

- I'm back home in Vegas now, having a great time with my family. I went with my brother to see Love last night, the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage, and it was fantastic. They put together some expressive, elaborate set pieces to go with a number of the most famous Beatles songs (my personal favorite was "Something") and they brought together a lot of different elements from dancing to acrobatics to large puppet pieces to a narrative projected video. It made me want to dig through my mp3 collection for some Beatles again. Besides that I'm helping out today with a catering job for my mom's catering company. This is the biggest job of the year for her: every year she caters the graduation at my old high school, which is about 500-600 people. It's a couple of days of hectic work, and I'm sure by the end of the night tonight I'm going to be exhausted.

- The Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee is meeting today to discuss allowing Michigan and Florida delegates a seat at the convention and the ability to have their say in the nomination. I'm a bit conflicted over whether they should be allowed back in. For one, they did break the laws on primaries set by the DNC and should be punished for it; two, Obama was not even on the Michigan primary ticket, leaving Hilary the unopposed candidate; and three, there is not enough time or resources to run another round of primaries in these states if they do decide to allow them, so delegates will have to make their decision through a muddled view of their constituents. On the bright side, the latest round of polls show Obama defeating McCain in November by 8% and Obama was here in Las Vegas on Wednesday! (I didn't know ahead of time so I couldn't go, but Twitter let me know about the event as it was happening.) He spoke about the housing crisis and his plan to help victims of predatory lending by fining predatory lenders, blanket changing the terms of those loans to fair terms, and then taking the money collected through the fines and putting it into a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund to help the victims. I think it's a great move and it really hits at the heart of the problem, that people who took out these loans do not have the ability to repay them at this point and leaving them high and dry will only damage our economy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

She Said the Man in the Gaberdine Suit was a Spy

- I had a really weird dream the other night. I dreamt I owned a Playstation 3 and was playing Guitar Hero 3 with Peter Moore in our apartment. Apparently this is what I get from reading Kotaku all day long.

- There's apparently a Battlestar Galactica mod for Homeworld 2 that looks fantastic. I've seen some videos of the game in motion and I really need to find a copy of that game too. There's also a mod for the space flight sim X3 for which I've only seen screenshots, but I do own that game so I'll definitely be checking out the mod. (I've been in desperate need of a space flight sim for years now, and I'm wondering why the game industry has left this genre barren for so long...)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Massive May Update

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted on here. I've been busy, but also a lot has happened and I've been trying to find the time to write it all up. Here we go:

- Certainly the highlight of the past couple weeks was meeting Maxine Hong Kingston at the UCLA Festival of Books. She was there for a panel/interview in which she discussed her work, her style of storytelling, and the efforts she's made with her writing in changing the world around her. She spoke about how she tries to express oral storytelling in her writing; expressing oral storytelling traditions of myth and history that are intertwined and in many ways the same. She discussed the writing groups she's organized for veterans of war, encouraging them to express their memories, frustrations, and experiences in writing, and the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq, which she emphasized were still important even though they did not stop the invasion. After the talk I got to meet her in person and have her sign my copy of To Be the Poet. I've always loved her poetry and how through it she transmits reality, dreams and thoughts. It was an amazing moment to be able to speak to her face to face and convey how much her writing has meant to me.

- I've finished the Harry Potter series after a whirlwind marathon of books 5, 6, and 7. I've been reading the series for the past couple of years and wanted to catch up to the films. This time when I got through the fifth book, Stuart had the sixth and after powering through that one I had to read book seven. It wrapped up quite well; Rowling did a great job of expressing the danger and importance of the struggle against Voldemort, showing Harry maturing as he goes through these trials and challenges, and I was pleased with the way she wrapped up the series. All in all they're well written books and I was glad to go through that adventure, even if I see anything wand shaped now and want to cast spells with it...

- The new spring anime season has started and I've been reviewing quite a few of the new shows. There's so much coming out this season; I've watched about nine shows so far, there's at least five more I want to check out, and that's not even half of all the new shows coming out. The real stars of this season so far have been Kaiba, an adventure series with this gorgeous Little Prince/French science-fiction-looking animation, and Soul Eater, a wacky action show that has overtones of FLCL in its humor.

- I saw Iron Man last weekend with Vince, Evan, and Mahea. Frickin awesome. They really nailed the character and the story, with Robert Downey Jr playing a spot-on drinking, womanizing, playboy Tony Stark. Jon Favreau, the director, was the main force behind this fantastic adaptation, going so far as to bring in some of the best Iron Man comic book writers to work on the story. It's also the first outing from Marvel Studios, the official cinematic arm of Marvel Comics, and is a promising start to their production career.

- I'm becoming fairly adept at navigating the L.A. public transit system now that my car's gone. Last weekend I managed to get all the way to Redondo Beach and back via bus and rail. Of course I would have a much more difficult time without the L.A. Metro Trip Planning site. All in all it hasn't been a terrible experience, and I wish I had taken advantage of it sooner; I've seen a lot of cool places and shops along the bus routes that I'd like to visit, stuff I wouldn't have noticed driving.

- I've also gotten much more familiar with RSS Feeds and nearer-to-the-cutting-edge web technology. RSS Owl is totally my go to app now to keep up with Lifehacker and the other Gawker blogs, get news about everything from beer to new web apps, and updates from my favorite miscellaneous blogs. I've checked out Twitter and plan to use it in live-blogging anime episodes as I watch, and have tied in all my various web presences to FriendFeed. The future is here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nico and Fred on the Nature of Language

Nico: what's an aide?
Fred: That's like a person who's an assistant
Nico: so a bitch
Fred: "an assistant or helper, esp. a confidential one."
Fred: LOL
Fred: I suppose so
Fred: Ahhh "1777, short for aide-de-camp (1670), from Fr., lit. "camp assistant."
Nico: woah
Fred: Vive la France!
Nico: alors
Fred: I was gonna type out the fake French laugh sound, but I didn't know how to transcribe it
Nico: hough?
Nico: houghoughoughough

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Super Mario and My Fear of Black Holes


http://view.break.com/487616 - Watch more free videos

I caught this video on Kotaku. An underground garage, a ton of empty wine bottles, and an RC car combine to play the Mario theme. Incredible.

Then there's this particular news story I read on io9 about the Hadron Colider. I forgot their startup date was this May. Some of the experiments performed in this gigantic machine will create small black holes that SHOULD disappear as quickly as they were formed, state the scientists behind the machine, but others are worried that may not be the case. It may just be that when I was a kid I read a science fiction novel about a miniature black hole appearing in the center of the Earth and slowly devouring the planet from the inside out, but this seriously freaks me out. Add on top of that meat grown in vats hitting the market in the near future (which I first heard from Stuart) and my irrational Luddism is completely acting up; daydreams of moving to a cabin in the woods and living out the rest of my life as a mountain man with only my books to keep me company.

Addendum: I saw this rather touching article on Gawker about a cartoonist who took his mom's high school yearbook and reproduced it entirely in cartoon portraits. Even MORE awesome is a link from that article to another artist who reproduced a yearbook class from 1925 all in ink and watercolor portraits that are gorgeous.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1st YouTube Mashup

IGN's Legend of Zelda Trailer
IGN posted an article about a Legend of Zelda film in production from "Rainfall Films" starring a cast of unknowns. This has got to be the most elaborate, costly, video game-related April Fool's joke ever, and I really wish this were real...



David Hasselhoff - Hooked on a Feeling
Not an April Fool's video, but I can't believe this didn't get meme'd sooner. David Hasselhoff flies around the world, completely superimposed, with crappy graphics and even worse outfits.



Letterman Top Ten - Battlestar Galactica
I absolutely cannot wait for the season premiere on Friday, and I just got Razor through Netflix to watch before then. To promote the new season they had the entire main cast of BSG on Letterman to do the Top Ten list recently.



Damn Boots
Nomis Football created this commercial, a kind of Gondry-esque adventure through an aspiring footballer's dreams, for their new shoe line. This is somehow related to work, but I have no idea how because I haven't heard about any Nomis campaigns.



Dead Fantasy
The new video from the guy who did the Haloroid fan video, with Samus fighting Master Chief. This one features the girls of Final Fantasy X-2 fighting DOA characters. It's alright, some decent action and great rendering, but for some reason I can't put my finger on not as impressive as Haloroid.



In other April Fool's news, Kotaku was all about cake, Thinkgeek had some really cool gag items, and a large group of anime bloggers created fake inter-blog drama that was convincing in how far it reached and the number of blogs in on it.