July 8th, 2009


From Twitter 07-07-2009

  • 19:14:37: We're back from our wild night in Atlantic City.
  • 19:15:19: You can now build an owl at Build-A-Bear, and its head can spin all the way around. That's pretty cool.
  • 19:24:41: @colleenanne He's too busy narrating the thoughts of the grown-up Fred Savage.
  • 19:43:35: @themall Did you ask the dog why her namesake didn't go to Michael Jackson's funeral?
  • 20:16:56: I don't know what price to name on Priceline, and Captain Kirk is too busy sexing up green women to help me!
  • 22:29:16: Al Sharpton is kind of annoying.

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Warping for a Living

I'm not sure what the first video game was to refer to a way to skip levels as a warp zone, but it's become pretty common parlance. Of course, the word "warp" had already been associated with transportation because of Star Trek, but warp drive works a little differently than a warp zone. Still, they're manifestations of the same basic idea, which is abnormally fast transport.

The idea of such transportation is an old one, achieved in fantasy by means of seven-league boots and magic spells. In science fiction, however, it takes on a certain level of necessity, what with travel between solar systems being an integral part of many stories set in space. Since we don't know of any way to travel faster than the speed of light, and that would require a travel time of four years just to reach Proxima Centauri, writers of space stories have to come up with their own ways for spacecraft to circumvent the speed of light. One of the most common is hyperspace, which is basically an alternate universe where travel is faster for some reason. From what I've read, Star Trek's warp drive doesn't work exactly the same way that hyperspace normally does, instead having something to do with forming a bubble of normal space-time around the vehicle while it travels through subspace.

No, not THAT Subspace, although there are some definite similarities. The thing is, with hyperspace or warp drive, space travel is fast, but still takes time. Warp zones in video games tend to provide transportation that's instantaneous (allowing for processor delays). That's more like the idea of a magic door, or the means of five-dimensional travel used by the women in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. I often find myself thinking that teleportation would be one of the most useful magical powers to have. It would save a lot of time if I could just jump into a pipe and end up at work a few seconds later, wouldn't it? Then again, if work had a dress code, that pipe might be awfully dirty. Mario and Luigi have the sense to wear overalls when making their way through warp pipes.

Sarah Palin, Still Failin'

If I may reuse a tired metaphor, Sarah Palin is basically a flaming car wreck. She's terrible, but I can't stop myself from looking. And now she's quitting her job, trying to claim that it's more courageous to do nothing than to, you know, govern a state. Nobody seems to know what the real reason is, but I've heard that her heart was no longer in the job, which would make sense aside from the fact that it would require her to HAVE a heart. And it's been proposed that the cost of legal bills might be a major factor in her resignation. I recently read this op-ed column, which has a main conclusion that I agree with (namely that Palin's career probably would have worked out better if she HADN'T accepted the offer to be McCain's running mate), but I have to object to some of the writer's other points. For instance, he says that her religion was "mocked and misrepresented," but I have to suspect that, when your religion involves being blessed by witch doctors and Alaska being the last refuge during the End Times, misrepresentation of it could only be a good thing. The author also buys into Palin's insistence that she was attacked for certain things that she really wasn't, at least not in the most visible criticisms. I think Palin and her supporters WANT people to attack for being a woman who has a child with Down's Syndrome, or to make jokes about the statutory rape of her daughter, because these things are easy to defend against. When it comes to actual issues, however, it's a little trickier, so Palin seems to want to divert attention from those. You know, like her homophobia, her lack of preparation, her constant talking down to her own base, and her general hypocrisy. And good glaciers, is she ever hypocritical! Sorry, Sarah, but you can't try to use your family as stepping stones to power, then get upset when they become the subjects of media attention. You can't act like your experience as the mayor of a tiny town (although, to be fair, I think Wasilla is bigger than the town where I grew up) was relevant to your intended goal as Vice President, and then act like Obama's time as a community organizer was worthless. You can't get indignant about other people making personal attacks against you, and then imply that David Letterman is a pedophile and Keith Olbermann the spawn of Satan. (Okay, you technically CAN do these things, but they make it difficult for anyone to take you seriously.) And I don't think I would have particularly cared that you had a pregnant teenage daughter if it hadn't been for your constant harping about abstinence and the sanctity of marriage. Sure, many people, including me, have made fun of fairly trivial aspects of Palin's life, like the fact that her children have names that sound like they'd fit in quite well at Santa's workshop, but these things are ultimately not the reason so many people don't like her. Well, they're definitely not the reason I don't like her, anyway; they're just kind of funny.

The thing is, there are certain areas where I can kind of identify with Palin. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had job interviews where I tried desperately to relate something I'd done before to an area in which I'd never worked. And I think that's basically what Palin was doing when she said her foreign policy experience involved looking at Russia. In another universe, perhaps I would be leaving sympathetic comments on her online journal about how stressful those interviews are. The thing is, though, that it's a little different when the job you're applying for is one step away from being Chief Executive of the United States. On a similar note, I've seen people suspect that Palin quit during a holiday on purpose, and I'm not sure I can blame her. I know I've sometimes called people when I was pretty sure they wouldn't be in, so I could say what I needed to say without having to worry about getting a response for a little while. I think there's a chance I might find her awkward fumbling more endearing if she didn't have that insatiable lust for more power than she can handle. I actually think one reason she made it as far as she did in a traditionally patriarchal political party is that she gave the impression that she wanted to be the exception rather than the rule. Sure, she was a woman who wanted to be in charge of a superpower, but I think the Joe Six-Packs realized that, as long as SHE was able to have power, she was okay with every OTHER woman making less money than men doing the same jobs.

My favorite speculation is that Palin quit so that she could run for president in 2012. Yeah, I'm sure the Republican Party would LOVE to nominate someone who gave up partway through her last political position to a HIGHER political position. Good riddance to bad reindeer rubbish, I say.