Monday, July 25, 2005

Gotta love comics

Comics are not an American creation: no, not by a long shot but these picture books have been the center of almost all teenagers' lives and America commercialized them to the extent that comics are now universal; Marvel group being by far the most popular but DC being a close second.

I love comics. They are easy and fun to read. The hero or heroine is usually some samll insignificant person that find his or herself being thrust into the limelight and the villian: well, ... the villian is usually an overblown image of his otherwise small ego.

Call them supervillians: if you may!

Super villians are, in many respects, relate-able because of personable tragedy and in many cases, these villians are likeable but unlike the hero, which is loveable, we take delight whenever the villians' ploys are foiled.

Ever since he was thrusted into the American psyche by the 41st. President of the United States of America, Osama bin Laden has attained super villan status, which begged the observation that governments cannot deal effectively with super villians.

Just as in the comic book, the hero mixes it up with the villian but the bad guy always, somehow, manages to escape only to fight another day; and the hero retreats to his place of refuge, where his wounds are natured and his psyche, nurtured.

Osama bin Laden: nothing but a comic book super villan being played out in real life. There are plenty of collateral damage but in the end, the bad guy always seen to get away, only to resurface later for a repeat performance.

Been there: done that!

Gotta love comics...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Going Against The General Wisdom

I, as a common man on the street, am going against the common wisdom, which herald the Chinese move of allowing their currency to float as a good thing. While the perception may seem that it is a good thing for investors: and this particular group of people are always looking for the next good thing, I am convinced this is bad news. Yes, I am aware of how this would help exports from China to the US, by making Chinese goods more expensive and our exports cheaper, but the question: How can making goods more expensive for Americans, be good for America?

This recent move reminds me of fools gold, where the objective is to pull the wool over one's eyes such that they believe they are getting something for nothing.

It's a bad idea for people to believe this good news!

The real question therefore is: How can a country do something for the total benefit of others and NOT benefit even more from 'said action?'

To believe this is good news would be to believe there was NO selfishness on the part of the Chinese. That is very hard to believe, even for one moment...

China may very well have reasons to allow their currency to float BUT to assume this flotattion is for the benefit of others and not the Chinese is, ...er, well, foolish.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Personal Journey: Ditching the shackles

For most people, it is not even thought about, far less discussed, far less considered but ditching MicroSOFT's Windows operating system has always been a major goal of mine. This objective has been mine as far back as Windows v3.1 when I bought my computer for $2500. It was a Packard Bell and my journey began shortly there-after.

I do not remember whether it was the constant recyling the power switch or the reloading of the OS whenever something did not work as it should have, or was it the sixteen CDs that came with the system that contain the same nonsense, repackaged a million ways but I was totally ready for a change by the time Win98SE came out.

It took a while: I migrated to WinME and played with WindowsNT unitl Win2000 came along; and then the odious 24 digit install number, which got so perplexing that I was forced to call MS to get permission just because I exceeded the allowable number of hardware changes.

I was also in a better financial position also, so I bought Abit's K7 RAID motherboard, a 700 MHz Processor and using bits and pieces that I acquired from flea markets and computer shows, I put my second computer together.

Installing GNU/Linux was not any more difficult than Windows. However, I was able to spread the entire OS over five hard drives; and the beauty of it was that my data is better protected. The system also proved to be easier to maintain after the system was up and running. I did not have to reboot after every system patch and my computer is not affected by the spyware and Spam that so readily infest windows machines.

My total cost of ownership has gone from buying hardware plus software to hardware only. I can buy bigger hard drives and better video cards: for instance, my system currently has a nVidia triple output video card, which is pure joy.

The handicap of not running the Windows OS are... sorry, I cannot think of any. I have the best browser and several email clients at my disposal. There is no annual tax for Norton or McAfee Antivirus and my system is always on.

I had a copy of WindowsXP but I never used it; in fact, I gave it away last year. I do not need it. My GNU/Linux box works fine. I have two word processors at my disposal to do my work, which is to become an author.

And my MS Windows system: it sits idly by as a reminder of monopolies work...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I am not an American: Part two...

Earlier, I gave a couple of reasons as to why I am not an American. These include the fact that only a birthright can make one an American while a constiutional act can and does make one a citizen of the United States of America: but yes, I am an American, if the entire Americas is taken into account and then the Caribbean is added into the mix. However, that is not the recognized nor acceptable term, for the people of Cuba are universally known as Cubans: Jamaica - Jamaicans; Venezula - Venezuelians, Columbia - Columbians and Trinidad - Trinidadians.

Hence, I am not an American.

My idea of an American, if I can set aside the early people of the republic just for a moment, would be Colin Powell. It was when he was Bush I's Chairman of The Joint Chief of Staff. His miltary rank is unimportant, except that it was in this capacity that I shall address my comments, but it was his explanation given at a press conference on the means and methods of defeating the Iraqi military.

Powell's words still ring in my head: "We shall surround ...and... ultimately kill it."

Those words conveyed to me the meaning of an American. They were bold, blunt & confident: sort of, "I know I can achieve this and all you have to do is watch me do it."

And Mr. Powell did exactly as he said that he would do!

I could never have done that because, well..., er, I am simply not Mr. Powell. He grew up with the idea that America was indestructable, and as such his speech reflects the indestructability of his thought. Whatever his handicaps were during his life, I am sure that none of them were the idea that his country could ever be beaten.

Sure! It might lose a battle but not the war.

Me? On the other hand, I grew up with the constant reminder of my country's size in the world: small and insignificant and therefore the only way it was possible to an impression was to learn how to out-smart your opponent.

I had to factor in the possiblity of failure because of my inherent disabilities, and therefore, I had to developed a back-up plan: and a back-up plan for that back-up; and... well... you get the picture.

Buried deep into the psyche of my thought process is the idea that I am vulnerable and that's what keep me on my toes. I am not reluctant to change "directions" when faced with sudden and unexpectedly challenges.

Mr. Powell's direct assestment of the task was, first and foremost the thoughts of a miltary man. He had a clear objective in mind and therefore, a relatively easy route of achieving that objective. The results speak for themselves.

The military always make -ans. It is, in one sense, the triumph of brawns over brains. It doesn't have a back-up plan, and a back-up plan fpr the first back-up plan. It is not the "market:" that place where "what is hot today is suddenly cold tomorrow."

In this place, one must always be on one's toes, if one is to survive. GM stock might be a hot buy today but Ford can easily replace it tomorrow; and Ford will certainly only shine for so long.

In Mr. Powell's sense: I am not an American but in the sence of trying to stay one step ahead of the market: I am a citizen of the United States of America. Section 8: clause 4.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why? Oh! Why doesn't Hollywood understand?

I know they must be constantly making product but why haven't anyone over in Tinseltown sit the brasses down and try to figure out this madness? I am referring to making horrible video games from half-decent movies. I just read that Marvel has just inked a deal to make the video game from their upcoming movie, "Ghost Rider." Apart from asking the obvious: Do we really need another comic book movie, why is it that there must be a stupid video game for every movie produced?
Someone should really be telling these people that there is such a thing as saturation: we have probably reached it and the law of diminishing returns have already set in. If I, an admittedly movie lover, can be turned off by this crazed marketmania: if you make it, people will buy it, then what does Tinseltown think of the casual consumer?

Uuggghhhh! Enough already: quality is much better than quantity...

Monday, July 11, 2005

In the beginning

In the beginning, God created man: man returned the favor a few days later...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I am not an American

Although I live in that part of the country that is routinely called "Fly Over Country:" the great expanse of land the lies between the east coast and the 'left' coast, I would call myself an American. Although, I can identify with the majority of norms, traditions and values around here, and though I live in the ultimate water state: five lakes surround us, I still cannot bring myself to be called by the 'a-word.'

I am not an American for one simple reason: I was not born in this country. I am a transplant, a Johnny Come-Lately and though I may enjoy rights and priviledges that natural born Americans enjoy, I am constantly reminded there is one that I cannot attain. I cannot become the President.

I am shouted down whenever I try pointing out the fallacy of the argument. The constitution says so, the say and therefore that settles it for them: never mind the thirteenth and fourteenth amendment to the constitution of united states of america guarantees me all rights and priviledges as a citizen, yet, in the view of many I am an outsider and theredore, cannot become the president.

The double standard becomes apparent quite clear and very, very quickly. If a naturalized citizen cannot become the president, then the united states is a country with two sets of laws: one for the Medes, the other for the Persians. However, the 'country' is quick to claim that not even the president is above the law.

I am confused! Which one is it? Either all citizens have the same rights or we are a country with two laws: it cannot be both.

The other BUT more important reason that I am not an American is tied up in the previous arguement. Congress was authorized to confirm citizenship upon aliens (side note: aliens, not humans): and if it something that government giveth, then it can also be taken away. All that is required for that to happen is five people dressed in long black robes to agree with the administrative branch of the federal branch of government and presto! It is done and you are out of here.

No, my friends: I am not an American. I was not born here and as such, I can be kicked out whenever the people say so. I am a guest, a temporary resident living at the whim and fancy of this country. Therefore, my coduct is according to that of a guest for when all is said and done, the most that I can say is that I am a citizen of the united states of america.

I don't dare forget that...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

For who exactly is a hero?

I am very tired of hearing this word bandied about these days: Such-an-such is a hero! The person is usually a fireman, policeman or a paramedic. The showering of praise upon the individual or group(s) is almost always in response to something these people have done BUT their actions are ALWAYS in reaction to tragic events. Hence, the incident in London and NYC have redefined the word hero. These state employees are no more heroes than the man next door: they ARE NOT, and to ascribe the term hero to someone just because he did his job, albeit, very well is, well..., very egotistical in the very least.

Man cannot be a hero. If he could have, then I would easily say that my father and mother would be mine BUT they are humans: as such they have flaws that became magnified as I got older and I too took on part of their characteristics. These two people might have fed, clothed and sheltered me during my childhood (as they should have) BUT they are NOT heroes.

Why should someone be called a hero for doing their job?

The ancient Greeks had a much better definition of who deserved the title of hero. According to them: A HERO was a half-man, half-god who argued with the gods on behalf of humanity and ultimately gave up his god-hood to save humanity.

That nice neat definition eliminates all except two: Hercules, who having his god status restored after foiling Hades attempt to usurp his father's throne, declined so that he could live on earth with the woman he loved; and Jesus Christ who asked his father, why did he forsake him.

Of the two, the first is a myth: a legend if I may say while the other is opened to debate but for me, it is done deal. Jesus Christ IS the son of God but in any case, NOTE that the making of a hero did not proceed any catastrophic disaster, whether man made or not BUT they actions simply grow out of one taking a STAND on a life and death issue. That is, their actions involved their TOTAL life and not an aspect it.

These people that we so routinely and commonly call heroes MIGHT very well do heroic deeds BUT they are not heores. To qualify for that title, they would have to put their future on the line, not JUST their lives...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Perspective is everything when it comes to differentiating the crucial difference between two ideas. The president of the United States of America is NOT an international statesman; neither is Anthony Blair, or any other country's leader for that matter.

They cannot be!

These men, or women, have been chosen by indiviual countries to be their leaders. Thus, it is asinine to attribute international status to any of them. They cannot effect change in some far flung corner of the globe except: (a): that part of the globe is the host contry's possession -i.e.: a territory, a protectorate or just a plain extensions; embassies and miltary bases, and (b): out of the barrel of a gun, which follows threats, cohersions and bribes.

Other than those two methods, the leader of one country cannot mingle in the affairs of another. Hence: they are NOT international people. They may be known internationally but other than their reputation, what are they good for?

I grew up in a small, little, tiny Caribbean island that is less that 250 sq. miles or sq. kilometers, for what it is worth. My reference for viewing the world therefore came from my education, primarily Geography, History and to a lesser extent, Religion. Geography put the other countries of the world in a spacial context. History told me how they treated each other, but more importantly, how these countries treated the people that lived within their borders and Religion taught me how tolerant these countries were.

It is in the best interest of the President of the United States to do what is best for the United States. Ditto for France, Germany, England ad infinitum.

If you were born in South Dakota, then that is your reference for the world. As far as your eye can see, all you can see is America. It is your world. You grow up surrounded by all things American, and therefore there is no need to learn about other parts of the world; because it cannot not reach out and touch you. In may ways, you are insulated.

I currently live in the Great Lakes Region and this idea of being international has been vexing me of lately. We ascribe the word (meaning) to everything in hope of breaking the doldrums. There is the Detroit Autoshow, some say it is truly international. Ford has its headquarters around here but now its referred to as their World Headquarters. General Motors is doing the same but Chrysler has gone one step further and is now known as DaimlerChrysler. Yet these companies, though they may have an international presence, they still have "North American Divisions." Not even Microsoft, SONY or Toyota is immune from this..., naming phenomenon.

There is no such thing as international in that context. There is no international leader: the closest would be the United Nations and that falls woefully short. There are no such thing as an international company: They may be known internationally but they are NOT international. In the end, just like the leaders of their respective countries, these companies do what is best for them.

Perhaps, it is best to start using the word 'global' but that brings a whole new feeling with it: sort of menacing and scary...: "No Way Out."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I am going out on a limb nad say that China's effort of building their economy is the greatest thing that could ever happen to the next generation of Americans. It may not be so great for the Federal government and their Washingtonites but it is the best news that the commoners could ever hear.

Here is why: The recent attempt by the Chinese backed oil conglimerate to buy US Unocal reveal the true nature of all people-in-power, every where; and that is their self preservation and the scare tactics they will employ to retain said power. We, meaning corporations in these united states, have sold entities before.

Four examples: The Japanese own the Empire State building, IBM just dumped their computer making division on the Chinese and our Federal Government has invited the United Nation to co-manage our major parks. Sony couldn't sell their PS2 to certain countries because of fear of turning the thing into a supercomputer.

The above were all done without much fuss, but our government go into a tizzy when another government express interest in fossil fuel energy converting machines. Please note this has nothing to do with the simple man on the street, for he will buy gas irrespective of who owns the pumps; and the argument of the owner having the ability to withhold the commodity doesn't wash. The US government can withhold the product just as easily as the British, Japanese or Chinese if they own the pumps.

The mantra "for national security" does not apply to the individual. If it did, and if oil is deemed to be the government's most common denominator, then marriage would have to that of the individual. Since it is the most basic of all society, then individuals would have to institute a ban on foreign marriages in order to parallel the state: foreign government buying national's assest = individual marrying foreigners. Indiviuals cannot do this and if anyone can, then that person automatically become the state.

A convuluted argument: I know but I wanted to show how silly it would be for our national government to block the sale of Unocal to the Chinese. We need another country to be as developed as ours so that we can run there when the pressure get too hot over here.

But that will never happen and I am sure you know the reason why...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

If youth is such a wonderful thing, why did God waste it on the young?
That is not my quote but I find it amusing. Young people often laugh at their elders: cruel mockery but..., hey, it is life. We that live in these United States of America should be laughing at the congress just about, right now. Yes sir, we should be on our backs and be rolling on the ground at all 535 members of the US Congress. It is hours away from Independence Day (July 4th) and the boys, girls included, in Disneyland on the Potomac are proposing an amendment to the US constitution that would outlaw the burning of any US flag. Never mind most of the flags sold in this country are made in China, with Chinese labor and from Chinese materials. And so the eldery proposes to punish us for burning that which is ours: after all, we bought the flag from Walmart, remember, with our own money that we so slavishly worked for.

Reality Check: There were only four (4) reported incidences of people burning flags in the USA during the year of 2004: Four (4)!

But I have a question: two, if you may: If they succed in passing this law and there is a fire at a warehouse, and several thousand flags are burnt, was there a crime committed?

And if this warehouse is in Shanghi, China, are we going to start a war with China?

I think the young have justifiable reason to laugh at the ..., er, well... their elders.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Hand drawn toons will always be my favorite form of animation but the new breed of computer generated animation have superceded the Disney era. Monsters, Inc. and Shrek were probably the fore runners in this new medium but this too will be short lived as a newer breed of movie making take over. I call this the Complete Computer Generated Movie or CCGM for short. We got a glimpse of this medium in Square-Eunix's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The most distinguishable thing about this movie was that everthing was done on the computer, up to and including the voices. Before, the movie houses would use human voices for their characters but Square took this one step further and eliminated people from game altogether. Hollywood should be scared. The movie is actually very well done and deserved a collection spot on the DVD rack.