Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ancient Accidents

     So let's set the scene, shall we, Company?  It is a thousand years in the future.  A thousand.  That is a one with three zeros.  That is how much you spent on that bumpin' system in your Corolla.  The world, as Dr. J has predicted many, many times, is vastly different.  Yellowstone has blown its top and wiped out a large amount of civilization.  Those who were left have managed to sort of restart, and a lot of guys got lucky using that "We have to save the civilization, baby.  We are the only two humans left in the whole world." line and now they are at the point where they are re-discovering shit.  So somewhere along the way an archaeologist is digging through the ruins of North America, which has been buried Vesuvius-style. 
The paper was found in the hand of this Unpaid Intern's skeleton
He is digging through the thousand year old ash-soil (relax feministas, this archaeologist happens to be a guy, there are tons of female archaeologists discovering exciting things elsewhere) and he find the ruins of an old building.  As he and his team start the digging for real, one of his interns comes across the remnants of a paper, saved from immolation by ash and lava be being buried under a million billion other papers on someone's desk.  And on it he sees a stamp which reads "Big Dave and Company, Received, January 62, 2015."  OH. MY. GOD.
      Okay, Company, now we jump into the way back machine and come back to the now times.  This might surprise you, Company, but the media empire that is Big Dave and Company is a huge, giant, bureaucracy.  One that is so huge, and lumbering, and complex that even the Federal government or your health care provider.  So it should be no surprise if you think about it, Company, that we have stamps.  A LOT of stamps.  We have ones that say "Copy," some that say "Faxed."  a couple that make pictures of cute kittens, and lots of them that say "Received." and have a date that you can set for whatever the date is. We even have one that says "Denied" for some reason.  And they are all those ink stamps that are really hard and annoying to re-ink, especially when you are trying to do it in business clothes like a white shirt.  It's tremendous.
A selection of our many important stamps.
     Anyway, I am a great boss, and I like to do all that sort of Undercover Boss type stuff.  Included in that is things like opening the mail.  Well, I went down to the mail floor (yeah, we have a whole mail floor, not just a mail room, so suck it other major corporations) and I opened up the mail like, well, like a boss.  I did this on January 23, which was a Friday, so when I was done I went ahead and set the received stamper to say January 26, 2015, so that it was ready for Monday morning.  I know, considerate, right?  Or was it?  Because I didn't set the stamper to say January 26, 2015.  I set it to say January 62, 2015.  I was looking at it upside down and I made a mistake.  Like a boss.
     So fast forward again to a thousand years in the future, and the infamous paper has been transferred to a university somewhere where guys in tweed are looking at it.  And they are using it, along with other articles and items that people have dug up, to try and figure out everything about our civilization.  Like our language or in this case, our calendar.    And they are going to write a textbook all about it, because that is what people in tweed do after they have looked at things.  And now, students at just-a-little-more-than-a-thousand-years-in-the-future university are learning through the first, second, third, and fourth editions of "Ancient America" that we had a sixty-two day long calendar month.  Uh oh.
Additional evidence may lead us to find that these really are cool

     That is wrong.  We don't use a sixty-two day calendar month, unless you have a strange misprint bargain bin calendar that accidentally forgot to separate July and August from one another.  We use a calendar that is sort of based on the moon but not really at all and named after dead people from Roman times.  But the tweed people or male archaeologists or university students of a thousand and change years from now don't know that, because someone found a paper stamped with my incorrectly dated stamp.  Now, maybe another thousand years later they find the National Archives (there has to be a couple of calendars in there, right?) in what used to be Washington, D.C. and things change.  Just like Pluto used to be a planet but then wasn't and now maybe is again.  Or like how we used to think that parachute pants were cool until we found ample evidence that they were not.
      Anyway, Company, the point of all of this is that you never, ever, know how a simple action of yours will affect the course of history. Simply making the simple mistake of setting the stamper incorrectly can make a whole generation be dumbasses.  Or is that archaeologist had chosen to dig over there instead of over here, then maybe it would have just been a mystery until that big National Archives find.  It works the other way, too.  How do we know that something that we have found in an ancient Egyptian tomb isn't a one-off mistake that the carver made.  Maybe it was supposed to be a bird but he carved a snake into that clay tablet.  Maybe we are the dumbasses.  Maybe we have ancient Egypt all wrong.  Just like they will have it all wrong with Ancient America.  Just as wrong as we are about them. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

MST3K the Liberty Lantern

Let's watch a video.  Shall we, Company?

This is the television commercial that I just recently watched for a product called the Liberty Lantern, which is actually not the worst idea on the face of the Earth.  It is an LED, solar-powered lantern that has a built in USB port for charging your phone or whatever, It is also water resistant and stays cool to the touch.  Sounds pretty good, right?  I think so.  But let's talk about the commercial.  This is one of those "As Seen on TV" products and as you have seen the commercial feels it.  And since these commercials are everywhere these days, I thought that it was about time someone went all MST3K on it.  And this is the one that I picked.  So let's go through it.

0:07 - If this is the weather outside and you don't know that shit is up, then you probably deserve to be wallowing in darkness with no iPad.  Next question.

0:10 - The makers of this video have obviously never suffered a power outage.  The lights aren't going to get BRIGHTER as the juice runs out.

0:12 - Does that actually go through a thing to make it look like a flame starting?  Nice touch.

0:13 - Wait, wait, wait.  So you mean to have me believe that a.) the power goes out and this family just continues playing its board game like nothing happens?  Usually when my power goes out first comes the expletive, then comes me grabbing my phone for some form of light to guide me to where I keep the flashlight, but then again these people have their Liberty Lantern right on the table next to the Monopoly board, which brings me to b.) Who the fuck just hangs out with their Liberty Lantern?  That's messed up.

0:21 - Okay, I will bite on this one.  It is hard to get anything useful done while holding a flashlight.  Ask any plumber or electrician.  But on the flip side, if you are so intent on making coleslaw even through you have no power, well then you have bigger issues than the lack of a third hand.

0:28 - Reading in bed.  When the power goes out, that is the perfect time for, oh I don't know, sleeping maybe.

0:40 - The charging capability is a good idea.  A really good idea for all the just in cases.  But in reality, if you are trying to use your iPad in an emergency, your router is not going to be working, the cell phones might be out, etc.  Enjoy watching your digital copy of Frozen, though.

0:43 - Dear Lady, that lantern has a hangy hoop on the top.  Maybe hang it from the walker and leave the platform free for whatever you are going to get.  Just a suggestions.  Sincerely, Big Dave.

0:54 - What the hell kind of date is this?  That guy is trying awfully hard and failing spectacularly.  He is almost naked and that girl is still in all of her clothes.  If you are in your swim trunks, and your date is still in a hoodie AND bringing something to shed more light on your romantic hot tub area, you aren't going to get some.  Might as well use the charger to charge up your Fleshlight.

1:04 - If that is the only source of light you have outside on your patio, then you are not equipped for nighttime patio parties and should not be holding them.  Also, no one is going to be noticing the lantern, except maybe for one "Wow, that thing really throws off a lot of light" comment.  And approximately zero people will be bringing their children around specifically to check it out.  It is not the prairie dog exhibit at Zoo Boise.

 1:06 - Take it camping?  Now that is a fantastic idea.  It will recharge itself every day, and if it rains it is water resistent.

1:28 - You can charge it from the same things that it charges?  We have broken the space/time continuum.

The Flag of Japan
1:31 - Okay, we don't need to make the "i" be the Statue of Liberty.  Everyone does that for their logo these days, I get it, but in this case it is an awful stretch and just looks cheesy.  Also, if the sun ever looks like whatever that is in the "solar powered" badge, we are all screwed.  Even the Japanese flag has a more realistic sun.

1:31 - What the hell is that crazy blue plazma stream coming off the back of the Liberty Lantern?  Is it on fire with weird blue two-cycle smoke coming off it?  It is a color tornado?  Can someone please explain this to me?  I am so confused and more than a little nervous.

1:33 - I am glad that I get to see all these awesome scenes again.

1:40 - Finally it's over.  I'd buy one.  No wait, check that.  I would not.  I would not buy one on my own accord.  That being said, I would be relatively stoked if I received one as a gift for say Christmas, my birthday, or a bat mitzvah.  And if you were to buy one, Company, I would be like "That's cool.  I saw that thing on TV."  And I can see an instance in which I am camping and I think "I wish I had one of those lantern things that is solar powered and can charge stuff."  So that is that.  It's cool.  Despite the lame commercial.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The State of the Union

    The State of the Union address is on television right now, at least if you live in the United States.  And since it is important, it is on every channel, except, oddly enough, CSPAN.  Yet, no one is watching it.  And that is kind of a sad thing.  But I know why.
     First of all, half of the people in the country aren't watching because they hate the President.  And I don't mean cold, straight, hate, which baffles me.  It is fine to not like the man's politics, but I have never seen such a visceral personal reaction to a President before.  I don't think that people were calling Truman an asshole out in public.  Maybe in private but not just out in public.  But that is why half of the nation isn't watching.
     Second, there are a bunch of people out at work.  And it is important to recognize that.  There is a HUGE number of people who work late or odd hours that make this country go around and get shit done.  And they aren't watching because they are working.  So that is a bunch of people who aren't watching.
     Third, and here is the big one: television.  Network television.  And cable television.  ABC. CBS. CNN. CSPAN. ESPN. Fox News. MSNBC. NBC. PBS.  All of them.  Here is the problem with all of those networks: They are going to tell you what was in the speech.  Sure, they are all going to put some sort of slant on it that fits their agenda, but you can choose whatever slant you want. Left. Right.  Despite the fact that all of these networks, ESPN excluded I am sure, are currently showing the speech, most Americans won't be willing to sit through the whole thing, with all the weird clapping, watching Joe Biden and John Boehner mugging in the background, and synthesizing what the President says into their own opinion when they can just hit the "guide" button on their remote and have their opinion given to them.  If this were the corporate world, we would say that doing things this way is much more efficient.
     Fourth, the Internet.  If you maybe don't have all those channels, then you are just going to go on your smartphone and get your opinion there.  Even if your opinion is that the President is a puppet that is controlled by Communist aliens from the shadow of Jupiter.  You can get that opinion out there somewhere I am sure.
     So no one is watching, but it's on every channel, and we really SHOULD be watching.  And the weird thing is that the fact that no one is watching is probably the most telling fact about the state of our union of them all.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Half-Selfie

     Urban dictionary defines "selfie" in a whole bunch of ways, most of which are hilarious, some of which are a little disturbing, but the bulk of which amount to a picture taken of oneself by oneself with the intention of posting it on a social networking site, and which generally features some sort of face made towards the camera, so long as that face is other than normal.
     Everyone under twenty-five (25) has taken one and posted it somewhere on the Internet, everyone who is under fifty-five (55) has taken one just out of curiosity even if they won't admit it - not even to their priest on their death bead - and everyone between fifty-five (55) and seventy (70) don't know what one is.  People over seventy (70) seem for some reason to have jumped on the technology bandwagon so for them the odds are even up.  The point is here, Company, that the selfie is a cultural phenomenon.  It has its own hashtag (#selfie), it has its own sitcom (Selfie), it has its own absurdly long Wikipedia page which I may or may not have discovered while looking up the link for the sitcom just above there, and which may or may not feature such subsections as "Sociology," "Psychology and Neuroscience," and "World Record" and which may or may not actually break down the effects that taking the photo from a high angle has on one's look and which may or may not refer to something called a "selfie stick" a number of times.  So yeah, let's add that.  The selfie has its own stick (selfie stick).  And, it has its own "disambiguation" which is how you know that it has made the big time.
     But what a lot of people don't know, is that the super popular selfie has a bastard cousin running around the Internet.  I like to call it the half-selfie, which is a little bit of a misnomer because it really isn't a selfie in the true sense, but it is a half of something, but also it is a selfie in spirit.  See what I mean?  Bastard cousin.  The half-selfie is this thing:

Yeah, you know it now.  It is the bastard cousin where you have a photo that you want to use as a profile picture or something, but maybe you don't want the other person to be in it with you, so you do the best with the cropping feature on Android Gallery to get rid of them, but let's be honest.  We all know.
     Here is how you know.  First of all, part of the other person is still there.  Please see Exhibit A above.  That is the worst.  If you are so desperate to use that particular photo of yourself, because you look that super awesome and a half, then the least that you could do would be to hax0r your way into a free trial of Photoshop or something where you can actually remove all the person.  That is just being respectful, especially because at least half of the time in the half-selfie the person who is being cut out is an ex.  And because we don't use scissors anymore apparently we can't just cut them out of the photo and put it back in the frame like we used to.
     Sometimes though, you are really good.  You really get in there with Microsoft Paint or something, or maybe the photo was taken just right and you can get all of the other person out of there and you get this:

No wait.  That's a train.  That doesn't have anything to do with the half-selfie.  That is for a different project.  here is the right one. You get this:

This is, to me, the most disconcerting kind of half-selfie, because nothing adds up.  It is deeply unsettling even at first glance.  Not because it is a half-selfie of the lovely Sandara Park, but because something doesn't add up, you know what I mean?  Once you sort of analyze the situation, you can see why things seem so wrong here, right?  The photo is of such strange proportions, way tall but skinny.  The body language and posture is not quite right for someone who is taking a picture of oneself.  The odd lighting and shadows.  In this one she is at least looking at the camera, sometimes you get the one where the subject is looking maybe at a second camera that is taking a photo of the same scene or something and it looks extra awkward.
     And so it goes with the half-selfie.  Truth be told you don't see the half-selfie as much as you did a few years ago, back before everyone had a reversible camera in their phone (ever try to take a selfie with a flip phone?  Tragic).  Back then sometimes that was the easiest way to get a picture of oneself.  But in the end, there is really no reason to every, ever do the half-selfie.  Because you should be able to have a friend around if you can't just take a selfie selfie.  And if you don't have a friend or maybe live way out in the middle of nowhere, well, there is always a nice landscape, isn't there?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Day 2015

     So here I sit, Company, on New Year's Day 2015, and last night I got to thinking about New Year's Day.  Over the years, this day has taken on a social and cultural meaning far beyond simply marking the start of one more revolution of the Earth around the Sun.  In some places, where they do not use the Gregorian calendar, the New Year begins at some sort of sensical time.  Like say the end of the harvest or the end of the fall monsoon, or it is tied to a lunar calendar in some way.  But that makes too much sense.  Here is the West, we chose to just go ahead and set an arbitrary date and let her fly.  Great.  And then we invented time and the International Date Line, so that in New Zealand and Australia they are celebrating the New Year just about the same time all of the Unpaid Interns are arriving here for work on New Year's Eve.  And if you live on an island in the middle of the Pacific or one of its connected waterways, it could get really strange.  If you live on a tropical Pacific island then maybe you don't care a whole lot because, let's be honest, you live on a tropical Pacific island. But if you live on, say, Little Diomede in the Bering Strait up in Alaska, well then you could watch the fireworks from Big Diomede in Russia - only 6 miles away - 23 hours before you get to kick in your resolutions.  That's messed up.
     But then again, we as Western humans have that knack for arbitrariness, don't we?  We draw lines on the ground that don't follow the terrain, and expect that one one side of the line one sheriff will respond, and on the other a different one.  And they are in different Federal Reserve Districts, or sales territories, or nations, or whatever.  And for some reason it makes sense to us.  It is the same with New Year's Day.  We have set an arbitrary date on the calendar on which we are all going to make dedications to ourselves, our dieties, our friends, etc. that we are going to be different. Better.  Improved.  We all go out and join the gym and vacuum the house every time that we come home, be nicer to people, etc, etc.  The, by the time I trundle in with a cake and some gift cards to celebrate my dad's birthday, the bulk of us are back to lying around on the couch after work and sweeping the crumbs on the floor under the edge of the counters with our stocking feet.
     But maybe that is okay.  Maybe, just maybe, we need to flip the script and sort of redefine the way that we look at New Year's Day.  That is, once the hangover has worn off and we can handle natural light again.  For some of us, the whole resolution and change thing works great, and if setting that arbitrary day of the year to stop smoking, start running, stop killing hookers, whatever allows you to be successful at changing yourself, then more power to you.  But considering how many resolutions just sort of fade away over time and never come to complete fruition, maybe we should just focus our energy on being more accepting of who we are.  In lieu of changing ourselves into who we want to be, or who we think we should be, maybe we should just accept the fact that the kitchen floor is always dirty, that there will always be a dead Baltic hooker bleeding through a tarp in our trunk, that those love handles are with us to stay, that the Unpaid Interns will always get in trouble for bringing us the wrong coffee even if they bring us the right coffee.  Some times the act of simply accepting who we are can be as effective and beneficial as changing our ways to suit what others think we should be doing.
     Now please do not think that I am attempting to say that one path is better than the other when it comes to New Year's and your resolutions, because I am not, Company.  You do ahead and do what you want.  This has just been a little bit of food for thought for all of you as we start the New Year.  But I resolved to change myself into a media mogul who makes people think.  And I am golden on Day One.
      Here is wishing all of you and yours a happy, healthy, and successful New Year from all of us here at Big Dave and Company.