Monday, February 28, 2011


What is it about Zombies?!

Zombies, it seems, are everywhere these days.

Zombies are officially defined as "the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose."

It's that second-to-last word that is the key.

Evil (in case you missed it).

The re-animation of corpses has become a popular instrument of entertainment, starting in 1968 with George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" and, in their most recent incarnation, the new video game "Dead Island".

(If you watch that clip in reverse, it makes a lot more sense. Trust me.)

By the way, the creators of this game need to seek psychological help. Seriously. Who in their right mind envisions a pleasant family vacation that gets interrupted by flesh-eating zombies?! No one, that's who.

But the Zombie Apocalypse phenomenon has become a major tool of recent fiction, in everything from books to TV to Film to Music. And a lot of people are getting rich off of it. It's become the latest fad, much like the "coming Rapture" was a few years ago (and may be again about a year and a half from now, give or take a few months. But I digress.)

Granted, I will accept that some instances of Zombieism may actually be possible in some bizarre way, due to outside influences--(Half-Life's Headcrab Zombies, Resident Evil's Virus infected Zombies, and 28 days later's "rage"-infected zombies--come to mind (Bing them--do I have to say again that I ain't your damn search engine?!))

But does anyone really believe that some day, for no apparent reason, the corpses of every person that dies will suddenly come to life and immediately hunger for the flesh of the living? And that every person even scratched by one of said re-animated zombies will become one?

Apparently, yes. At least enough to make it VERY profitable. It has to be. Otherwise, the phenomenon would have ended a LONG time ago!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I am Psychic

A few months ago, I posted this entry about the number one reason labor unions are a good thing.

And, as I watch the events unfold in Wisconsin, and here in my state of Ohio, I realize just how prescient I was.

The governor of Wisconsin is engaged in a push to pass through a bill that will take away the right of public employees to collectively bargain. It will also do a few other nasty things. Mainly, it will allow the government to sell any state-owned facility that provides heating, cooling, and electricity to a private corporation or entity without any competitive bidding. Do I need to explain to anyone the potential problems with that?

The proposed bill also will allow officials appointed by the governor to make cuts in health care to poor families without any legislative oversight. As if the poor needed any more obstacles in their path. Desperate Democrats, of course, are doing everything they can to stop it. And they have a LOT of support, whipped up by nearly every progressive organization from every state in the country.

Here in my state of Ohio, of course, newly elected Republican Governor John Kasich is attempting to enact similar measures, apparently taking his VERY slim win last November (he didn't even get a majority of the votes) as a mandate to do whatever he pleases. All these changes are proposed, of course, in the name of cutting the state deficit. That, of course, is ridiculous. It is not the public employees that caused the state's massive budget deficit. It was the financial crisis precipitated under a Republican administration and fed by the unregulated financial markets that ruled under same.

Ohio's governor, of course, worked for Lehman Brothers before he entered politics. At his advice, Ohio's Public Employee pension fund, of which I am a contributing member, invested heavily in Lehman Brothers. I think we all know what happened. Now, instead of focusing on the real problems, like cutting back the massive tax breaks received by the wealthy, which are one of the major causes of the budget deficits, he is instead scapegoating the public workers and doing his best to strip them of all of their rights. To strip me of my rights.

I have been a public servant for nearly fifteen years now. I have devoted more than half of my working life to public service. I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I barely make ends meet. I have a 90 year old house that is gradually falling apart around me. I drive a 12 year old compact car. I make less than $30K a year and I can barely support myself. I am not the cause of the state budget deficit. Nor are any of my co-workers, or any of the other 4000 or so county employees who I work alongside every, along with the thousands of city, state, and federal employees who work with us to make sure the lights stay on, the water flows from the taps, the roads stay passable, the streets stay safe, and the mail gets delivered. And yes, there are corrupt public employees only interested in enriching themselves, but such employees are the exception, not the rule.

If the Governors of Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as many other states, have their way, then all of those services will eventually become the responsibility of private, for-profit corporations. Corporations, I might add, that might not even be America-based. Corporations that will have no interest in anything but increasing their profits at the expense of everything else.

Labor unions are our only line of defense against them. An organized workforce is the only way to stop corporations from completely controlling our lives. And that is the primary reason why corporations, and their Republican lap dogs, are doing everything in their power to destroy them.

This whole cycle is nothing new, of course. Over 100 years ago the first labor unions faced the same challenges they are facing today. Union members fought, and, in many cases, died, to earn the rights workers enjoy today.

Those members are watching us today. And they will judge us by what happens. I hope they are not disappointed.

I'm not optimistic.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Take it Back!

No it is not wrong.

Yesterday, I thought I was wrong for enjoying the video of Justin Bieber being shot--over and over and over...and over. Because I saw this picture:

After seeing this, I have concluded that he was not shot enough.

And they should have used real bullets. And not by accident.

So I'll keep watching that video. Over. And over. And over. In spite of my well-documented hatred for Google and YouTube.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's so Wrong...but I can't help it!

There is no way that I can stop enjoying this!

Please tell me that I am wrong to be so happy about this!




Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jersey Shore

In the last post, I jokingly mentioned how we as a nation, and possibly as a people, were being collectively dumbed down by shows like Jersey Shore and Keeping up with the Kardashians. I joked that it was one of the steps to prepare us for being taken over by computers.

Then I saw this picture.

(Note: Pay close attention to the viewership numbers at the bottom of the page.)

I'm not joking any more.

I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL!

As I write this, I am watching night 2 of a 3 night event: A computer vs. Jeopardy.

Apparently, 3 years ago, the eggheads at IBM approached the producers of the daily game show with a request: They wanted to build a computer that could challenge human players.

Challenge. Accepted.

Jeopardy chose its two biggest money winners: Ken Jennings, who set a record for most consecutive wins, and Brad Rutter, the all-time biggest money winner, to compete against IBM in what is basically a 3 night commercial for the company.

Against them is Watson, an advanced supercomputer with Gigabytes of useless knowledge in its memory banks, an ability to recognize puns, wordplay, and other quirks of the human language, and a superhuman ability to recall.

The first night, it started off strong, but then made a couple of very silly mistakes that cost it some money. It also has the tendency to mis-pronounce things, and it has a very strange wagering system when it comes to the daily doubles.

It also scares me a little.

There is no computer that can currently match the human brain, in terms of reasoning power, intuitive thinking, and creativity. Not even close.

But they are working on it. And give us humans a few more seasons of "Jersey Shore" and "Keeping up with the Kardashians" (I wouldn't watch either show if you held me at gunpoint, by the way) and we will become collectively as dumb as a bag of frozen shrimp. Throw in the explosion of smart phones, and I think we will soon be ready to become the slaves of the machines.

Terminator, anyone?

Update (8 p.m.): Watson won the Double Jeopardy round, winning over $36,000 total. It did not come up with the correct "question" to the Final Jeopardy "answer" (paraphrasing): "This (U.S.) city's largest airport is named after a WW2 hero, and its second largest is named after a WW2 battle. (Question: What is Chicago?(O'Hare & Midway)). The computer, however, wisely only wagered about $500. Also, Toronto is apparently now a U.S. city. It is in the lead for the final round tomorrow.

Update (8 p.m. Wednesday): It's over, and Watson has triumphed! This round was a lot more even than the previous round, possibly because it had more bizarre categories. Watson also showed a weakness in the "Actors who direct" category, which simply gave the names of some movies and the contestants had to give the name of the actor who directed (and sometimes starred) in the movie.

So machine triumphs over man yet again. Ken Jennings came close to beating it, nearly pulling a John Henry at the end. But he didn't wager enough in the final Jeopardy round, and Watson went for broke, betting nearly all of its money.

At least when the machines take us over, I'll be too old to work in the slave labor force and will be killed. I feel sorry for my nephews, though...