Like: The Social Network

October 2, 2010

What elevates a film?

What takes it from “good” to “pretty good”, or from that to “best of the year” status?

Does it start with having an interesting idea and resonate simply from that? Does it take the mere humble execution of excellent script? Is it how you imbue the most simplistic of scenes with tone and mood? Is it hanging your hat on a great performer? Is it maybe is simply having an engaging score? Is it…

Okay you get it.

Filmmaking is a lot of things coming together and somehow working in harmony. Those who doubt how difficult it is, should really try it one day. You’d be shocked by just how much is out of your control. You’d be shocked by how hard it is to see what a movie is going to be until your done editing it. Things you worried about actually flourish and things you thought you nailed can easily fall flat. Filmmaking is alchemy. It’s instinctual. You just hope for some good aspects to carry the piece through….

Luckily, THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a near-flawless amalgamation of  many excellent aspects:

1. The idea – The founding of Facebook is a great story and not because there’s anything particular “movie-like” about it.  In fact, the movie engages the kinds of things we rarely see represented in culture these days: the base forms of genesis, inspiration, evolution of ideas, and even the surprising nature of our recent history.  It is largely a story about ego and how ego combines with the fear of rejection to invigorate change (both personal and cultural).

2. Aaron Sorkin – I give the man a lot of crap.  He’s obviously all sorts of brilliant, but his delight with himself often just seeps off the screen. This is not the ravings of someone who says things like that. That usually my least favorite comment in the world. The problem is in Sorkin’s case it’s just so obvious (he even admits it) that the man’s just typing with one hand. Worse, the way his characters converse as if they know what the next line is going to be sometimes means intelligence can come off *gulp* as twee(*). That’s not a good thing. It can so easily scream “manufactured!” But when he’s on point, he can soar. What works in this film is wonderfully he’s able to get into the mind of a character who is similarly solipsistic to himself: Sorkin’s found the perfect vehicle in Mark Zuckerberg. The young man is brilliant person who is more interested in being right, than being good. And Sorkin can write the shit out of righteousness. Better yet he shows that he not only understands Zuckerberg, but every character in this movie (more on that later). Sorkin beautifully uses the dialogue to excel every single character motive and never launches an off-topic diatribe. Now there are diatribes of course but they are all so inherently focused on the story/action at hand that really there was no better person to write this script. It’s the most focused work we’ve seen from him.

3. Naturally, David Fincher helps with all of that. The man is yet another absurdly talented figure in this production.  I tend to waffle around on my feelings with Fincher and readily admit that FIGHT CLUB is  his most definitive work. It tapped into the zeitgeist in a way many thought impossible at the time. Heck you could argue that movie went on to define the zeitgiest. My only problem with it is that even with its mature “grow the fuck” endgame, the majority of the hardcore fanbase didn’t’ get the movie whatsover. It was stunningly counterproductive and I can outright blame it on Fincher’s romanticizing of nihilism. But nowadays I think my favorite work of Fincher is ZODIAC. The movie is such a careful examination of journalism and the nature of truth. I love it wholly. Everything else he did? Technically audacious but they all have major, major problems at script level. Well, we already talked about THE SOCIAL NETWORK’s script from Sorkin and I can think of no one more suited for executing it. The tweeness gives way to Fincher’s unblinking, dour reality. His dark atmospheres. His sense of irony. A line that may be just” smart,” comes off as brutal in his hands. He raises the stakes. He makes Sorkin’s work cut to the bone. I walked out of the film still having a litany of perfect lines rattling around my brain: “If you want to stand on my shoulders…”

4. Then there is the matter of the score. There was a lot of curiosity regarding the hire of Trent Reznor, meaning there was also a lot of suspicion too. I imagine that many of these doubters were worried about it sounding like Reznor’s more popular industrial Nine Inch Nails tracks. I doubt that many of them had heard his work from  “Still,” which features haunting, ethereal tones mixed with piano, classical instrumentation and subtle percussive rhythm. “Still” is actually one of my favorite albums, period. As such, I have been aching for Reznor to get a real shot at a film score. And his work in THE SOCIAL NETWORK is absolute homerun. While perhaps being rather overt in some sections, it knows exactly how to walk up to the line of not-overwhelming-the-narrative without actually going over. I think everyone can point to the first “facemash” sequence as the part that stands out.

5. But even with all these stalwart aspects, the weight of the film ultimately rests on the shoulders of Jesse Eisenberg.  In some ways he’s the perfect mouthpiece for Sorkin: dry, matter of fact, fast-tongued. But what makes it him so much better than that is that Eisenberg has this wonderful ability to take Zuckerberg’s deeply introverted nature and make it appropriately ranged and functional. The Zuckerberg of the film is a terse young man, someone who constantly just have to frustratingly explain his own (and far more advanced) thought process. The frustration of being that bright makes him an inherently solitary creature. Eisenberg conveys it beautifully. He’s someone who barely wants to waste his words on things that aren’t worthy or interesting. Yes, he sympathizes and emotes with others, but often he’s speaking another language. What is amazing is how Eisenberg imbues that static detachment with a subtle emotional range. He uses the slightest change in inflection to show guilt (think of his hollow first attempt at apology to Erika in the opening scene), or to show enamor (his quiet delight when cool kid Sean Parker seconds his opinions).  It is not only a joy to watch, but I can’t wait to watch the performance a second time. It’s the work of the year so far.

6. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that every other actor in the film is a delight. Andrew Garfield plays his partner Eduardo as that guy who is at once the voice of reason and yet out of his league.  It’s heartbreaking and the emotional arc of the movie depends on his ability to be wounded and weary. Thankfully he nails it. Joseph Mazello continues his foray into older roles (check out his work in The Pacific) and he is a subtle joy in this film as the “I’m lucky to be here” guy. The biggest surprise is undoubtedly Justin Timberlake. What at first seems like obtuse casting is ultimately perfect; Sean Parker is the celebrity of their programming world and their revering of him completely works with Timberlake’s celebrity status. Beyond that, Timberlake really does play the role with such a great mix of nerdy-but-earned bravado, fear, and deeply rooted insecurity. I loved him and honestly believe this will change his career.   I also think it’s safe to say that the Winklevoss Twins are going to be a lot of people’s favorite part of the movie. They are hilarious, both intentionally and unintentionally. As for the interest in the actors who play them, I won’t necessarily spoil it, but let’s just say that Armie Hammer has big things in his future. Lastly, I have to mention Rooney Mara’s brief portrayal of Erika, which works as a convincing lynch pin of the film.

So…

THE SOCIAL NETWORK is not a flawless film. It runs out of steam before sweeping in with a poignant stopping point, but it never outright collapses either.

What really is important about the film is how it really manages to define a decade that has seen it’s society flock to the internet and recreate an idealized social representation of their own life.  It never goes into any of this as outright discussion of course. But it’s all there. It’s in details and moments that we extrapolate into a bigger meaning about why people drive to go on the internet. We look at Zuckerberg’s long, lonesome walks on the wintery campus. His dissatisfied contempt of social structures and people who “have it easy.” His belief in his own ability. His concern for what is right over what is kind (Okay, fuck being kind, he’s more concerned with being right than not being a total asshole). His jealousy of friends. His secrecy and duplicity. His desire to show who are and what we want right on our sleeves. To penetrate the difficulties of real society. These are all things we all deal with, but admittedly it is the plight of some more than others. The internet makes it easier to both engage and retreat. For the tepid person in all of us it is a revelation. One that will inexorably change us forever. But we can never forget that it has also made even the nicest of us be callous jerks (ahem.. i may have once right a feature about 5 people I’d like to punch). We iunwittingly become like Zuckerman just as he has unwittingly became the voice of the internet.

We are all Zuckerman.

And we are legion.

Endnote.

* Old timey movies are written like this, but I tend to be more accepting. In fact I often love sharp, unrealistic dialogue. The key is just to have characters who don’t seem to be aware they’re engaging in witty reparte. It’s what makes the first Ocean’s movie work. It’s what makes Sorkin’s CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR work. And it’s what makes THE SOCIAL NETWORK work.

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Don’t Like: The 42 Funniest and/or Scariest Search Terms Used to Find My Blog

May 26, 2010

Reader: Beware.

You are about to stare into the dark id of the internet… and it is not pretty.

Those of you who may have your own website may be aware that you can see the search terms that one entered to click on your site. The results are often shocking.

Those afraid of being found out, don’t worry. We can’t see who you are or where you are… just the terms independently. So technically we can only see “what” you are.

I’ve seen the mind of the internet. And it is sexist, racist, ill-informed, and completely nonsensical

Without further ado, the top 42:

……….

42. Sexiest budwieser

-I don’t get it and It’s still hilarious. I have no idea why someone would search for this, nor what it even means. I sorta picture a dancing budweiser bottle.

41. Patrick swayze basketball

-Did he ever play basketball in a movie? I’m not sure about this one. Maybe something I’m not aware of. I just like it.

40. what kind of roids give you acne

-All of them. Glad to know that’s your primary concern though. Good luck with that.

39. reality tv informs people about health

-No. It doesn’t.

38. sweating basketball players players

-Players is doubly important. Also their sweat.

37. how people look when have aids

-As bad as your syntax.

36. scottish terriers fucked up dogs

-Scotties are adorable you jerk.

35. fuck her

Previously discussed.

34. 4 friends hang out with drugs

-My guess is they needed a picture. Otherwise this makes no sense.

33. Does shane black like fan mail?

-I wonder if Shane Black likes fan mail? To the internet! Really, I think most people don’t understand the difference between a search engine/yahoo answers/the concept of general inquiry.

32. Mia who is she?

-Again. The internet is not something you can ask questions to. And fyi, it’s M.I.A. and she’s a really good hip-hop/tribalesque/alternative recording artist.

31. sugar cookie death

-Sweet, sweet death.

30. black basketball player guarding a white

-I get TONS of shit like this. Vaguely racist basketball talk fuels the internet.

29. I don’t like safety laws

-Darwin award forthcoming.

28. can u play football if you have hiv

-Yikes.

27. “Busy?”

-You don’t need quotes for one word searches. And what the hell are you going to find asking this? No Idea.

26. iconic boxing images with gloves

-Hope you found some.

25. nazi+herion / naked heroin users (tie)

-The plus sign kills me.

24. kobe bryant gay pictures

-This one is really popular.

23. i like to do it with my sox on

-Notice the baseball spelling of socks.

22. old fit men

-I like to think of this as hopeful

21. “veronica lake was not a good”

-Is the “a” a mistake? Did they mean “god”. Why did they have the presence of mind to put quotes if their sentence if it makes no sense? The questions are endless.

20. Crystal meth 2008 like election

-Whereas this just plain makes no sense.

19. makes no sense

-Whereas this is literal.

18. Fear of pooping when around people

-Everybody Poops.

17. i’ve just dumped someone i really like

-Why’d you do it then?

16. touching badass buffy

-Who wouldn’t?

15. feminists but…

-Haha. One of my faves. The possibilities are endless.

14. Elizabeth taylor puffies

-Bwahahahaha.

13. Snorkel, woman / Fat people snorkeling / Snorkel fuck (3 way tie)

-Snorkel is truly a great word.

12. i don’t like football am i gay?

-No.

11. i’m going to kill you in the face

-Not in the face!

10. mr. manhattan watchmen

-The “mister” kills me. Like “mister manager” from arrested development.

9. complete ass compleat ass completely asi

-I desperately want to know how this ends.

8.  jessica alba mayo

-Gross imagery abound!

7.  how do i pick a title for my memoirs

-If you have to ask this question you probably shouldn’t be writing memoirs. Or writing in general.

6.  iron giant sex

-Oh god. We’re entering weird cartoon nonsensical fetish territory. This one actually makes the LEAST sense of any cartoon to boot… Amazing movie though.

5.  maribel – fucks daughter classic

-And it gets darker. Down the rabbit hole we go…

4 – white baseball players don’t like ugly black players

-Again. More weird basketball racism. What makes this one special is that it seems to be implying all black players are ugly… yikes.

4a – Dumb Michelle Obama Beaten Up Fuck Sex and then: Dumb Michelle Obama Beaten Up Fuck Sex Pics

-DEAR GOD. I mean… ugh. You wish you could pull out a person’s mind and look at it sometimes. See how someone’s entire fears/racism/attraction all get mashed up in this reactionary nonsense where they turn to the internet to satisfy some insatiable and completely fucked up desire. Better yet, there is NOTHING about this search based in any kind of reality. And then the insistence to come back and look for “pics” again is the icing on the cake.

3.  acceptable molestation

-Nope, it’s never acceptable

2.  my vomit is red

-Please call your doctor.

1 .  abiggail breslin nude feet

Just… I mean… god. I can’t… it’s just… GOD. Forget about the pedophilia/foot fetish cross over, and the mispelling…it’s just even the syntax… i mean… how… why… ugh… I don’t feel so good.

Forget this…

… Then again, it’s sort of scary knowing that these search terms can actually somehow lead to my blog.

… Yikes.

Honorable Mentions:

toilet plugged, self-improvement stuff i like and stuff, fuck hansbrough, who s who, love, normal kid, public speaking is like…, miss daisy racist, freakin nuts, “george carlin” 2008 photo, david merkin asshole, showtime synergy, funny internet, white and black basketball players fight, how to make the most of my gym, people who don’t like country, irish faggot, youkilis swearing espn, stuff the irish like, basketball players penis, Basketball intelligence black white, Medicine sucks, Girls pants pissing, Puking and peeing.


Don’t Like: How Everything Is Totally Shitty Right Now

May 6, 2010

Everything is totally shitty right now. This is worth acknowledging.

You may have noticed I’ve been posting subjects of pretty much only stuff I like for the last year or so.  Part of this stems from a desire to be optimistic and not just resort to the ease of snark.  At one point I went back and skimmed all my posts and I realized just how easily I fell into inane belittling and mean-spirted-ness. Not overtly so, I’m not one of those bloggers who just unleashes pure venom against everyone and everything… just more than I’d like. It was mostly surprising because I don’t believe that to be part of my nature.

But it’s hard to deny that there’s a lot not to like right now.

For example: The gulf coast is now engrossed in one of the worst ecological disasters ever. For those thinking I’m about to crow on about environmentalism, there is in fact a larger human tragedy to this. The gulf coast fishing industry is now hampered once again. Maybe even effectively killed. The magnitude of the damage will have ramifications for years and it will cost the local gulf economy untold millions. Think this is exaggeration? The Exxon Valdez spill wasn’t a fourth the amount of oil spilled here and they are still feeling the effects 20 years later. I visited New Orleans just a week and a half ago and cannot tell you how much I love that city. And now to think that as they were just getting back on their feet after Katrina, all may be undone.

But there’s a lot more than just this. Horrible storms have flooded Tennessee’s great cities. Arizona just made racial profiling not only legal, but an active policy. Oklahoma legislature just made it okay for doctors to withhold information from patients. Britain may be in the midst of actively overthrowing their party in a special election. Cuba had their worst sugar harvest in over a century (this will be a bigger deal than you think). Oh yeah and Greece is going broke and effectively destroying the worldwide economy in the process. They’re not happy about trying to deal with it either.

I understand the impulse to politicize all these stories. Please. Don’t.(1)  Just take them at a human level.  Yes, there are always tales of something going horribly wrong somewhere in the world, but what’s striking about the climate right now is that all of these problems are of incredible magnitude. They’re the kind of stories that could dominate front page headlines for weeks and since they’re happening all at once our magnet-ball media doesn’t even know how to construct a uniform narritive. People need to be caring, but really there’s almost too much to address. So let’s just notice how extreme these situations are are… pretend they were happening directly to you. For some of you, maybe they even are.

These problems are not distant. They are immediate. They are American. They are all the kind of problems that we usually respond to with the kind of self-sustaining vigor that defines us.(2)

We just can’t seem to keep track of them all.

1 – It’s really hard not to politicize them, especially as Fox News continues to spit insidious conjecture about almost all of these subjects; including Michael Brown’s claim that the Obama administration wanted the oil spill to happen and did little to shut it down. Not only is that radically unsubstantiated, but it’s the kind of claim reserved for nutty 9/11 conspirators.  I’m not going to say that it can’t be put on television. That’s fine. I’m just saying you’re ethically bound to standards when you put this kind of information under the guise of “news.” It’s Fox’s fundamental flaw. Not that they are conservative, but that they undermine their own credibility with this kind of haphazard nonsense.  In fact, most of my favorite sources of information tend to lean conservative and I like them because they help me think about a problem in a different sort of context. Meanwhile, I have to out ignore fox news  in order to just get through the fucking day.

2 – and possibly our bullish-ness.


I Write a Dumb Blog…

January 23, 2010

I write a dumb blog. The syntax of this statement is purposefully atrocious, but I embrace the grammatical horror with the same warmth that I embrace the concept of this blog itself. You see, even though I may want to be a writer, this blog does exemplify the merits (or even highlight the goals) of that desire. It instead serves a completely different function in my life: I tend to write compulsively, with constant ebb and flow throughout my day of work, emailing friends, or arguing sports, or posting lame observations. And rarely, if ever, is it because I want to tell people things. It is because the mere act is wholly satisfying. There is conversation going on constantly inside my head, one that seems of grave importance, but usually being about nothing more superfluous than surprising aptness of certain films or the lacking qualities of certain people. But if I do not share these things, they are somehow lost. An argument inside my head is nowhere for it to live. It should breath. It should be expressed and crafted. And maybe if it is lucky it should be ever so lucky as to be read by a single eyeball; because inherently the passing thoughts and notions inside one’s head are horribly lonesome things.

It’s not an alien notion. It is why people with absolutely no writing talent blog in various forms and why they share the most menial and useless details of their lives. The motive is not different from the most eloquent thoughts an essays of some of our great writers. When they think, or wonder, or develop a passing material fancy then one simply wants to feel like someone is coming with them. This is not to say this exercise is sad or pathetic, but just ultimately necessary. We tend to chastise those who share every detail of their lives as conversely having “no life” or probably lacking someone to share it with, but I find that to be a false appraisal. I have a wonderful significant other with which I share my life and hope to til the end of our days, but quite honestly, if I were to assault her with the daily pointless musings on “stuff” that pass through my head with alarming regularity, she would have long since obtained, loaded, and fired a shotgun directly into my person. And it would be wholly justified. Our significant others are there to enjoy the wonderful quiet and happy moments of our lives, not to listen to our needless crap, be our punching bags, or let us blow off steam. They are to be cherished. And so I write a dumb blog to bring people through the inherently lonesome and terrifying journey of trying to figure “stuff” out. Which I admit, makes it all the more strange that most of my arguments and theories are wholly declarative in nature. If I was really wondering or entertaining notions my blog would be far more nebulous and obtuse. It often reflects a cocksuredness that is completely absent from my actual mental dialogue. And such is a function of my own limitations.

And they are limited. I truly consider the quality of this blog to be substandard. I often rush out posts with one menial edit simply because it makes no sense spending infinite amounts of time crafting some thoughts that are wholly disposable. Which is not to say the thought or reasoning behind them is invalid, or that I’m not proud of some posts (the feminism one is rambling but I actually thing stands as pretty insightful. It certainly gets the most attention and emails to me). But I wholly assure you that all my best work sits in the litany of unfinished drafts that seem to outnumber the posts I already have on here. Mega Part 2’s that were promised, detailed analysis of tax policies, and the logical fallacies of a sub-standard health care system. It’s all my best work, yet all hopelessly half done and untimely (posts with some perceptive 2008 election coverage anyone?).

But the ultimate point is this: this blog is going to change. It’s going to become even more obtuse and superfluous. But only because I’ve already started, and going to start  another blog which will be far more serious and professional in its aims.

The first blog which has already started is called www.foodilikeandfoodidontlike.wordpress.com and it evaluates food, restaurants, and culinary philosophy with far more seriousness than is often found in there. I hope to make it informative and fun, but wholly admit it’s core audience will be foodies and those with mild food curiosity.

The second blog is going to something else entirely. Devoid of gimmick or pomp, there will be actual, serious journalism comprised of interviews, profiles, and long form non-trivial essays. And I’m determined to make it actually good.

I will continue to post on stuffilike for sure. And I hope it will be entertaining. For example, I’m currently planning a long reoccurring series about sexual icons of yesterday and today and why there has to be a way to talk about them with an apt social and totally-non-sexist context.

So why talk about this? Is it really important to announce a paradigm shift in philosophy for a stupid blog? Well sort of, because this blog is surprisingly popular. Not mega popular “did you hear about it on so and so?” kind of of way, but in the way that I have a decent amount of actual readers who are not my family (or even friends!) and hundreds of people coming in the form of float-in-traffic every day (side-note: the search engine terms people use to find this blog are absolutely fucking hilarious). And I really do appreciate those who take the time to read. I truly do.

So I just wanted to give a heads up. Hope to keep seeing you.

Thanks to all,

Mike


Don’t Like: The New York Post’s Decision To Post Erin Andrews Spy Video Pictures and Including A Distasteful Cartoon As Well

July 23, 2009

(note: this is not page with the picture… I’m not going to do that)

Ragging on a rag like The New York Post (eh, get it?) seems like a waste of time. It’s a nonsense paper, with a nonsense agenda, designed to make money, and it does. Fine.

I’m also not here to get political. That would be pointless. Dismissing a sensationalist paper for it’s politics completely misses the point as they are inherently designed to piss people off or go the extra step out of bounds on a given angle (politically speaking of course). Does it potentially have a negative effect? Sure. Do I like that so many people read it? No. It’s just doesn’t make sense to rail against this because it’s an inherent reality of the mud slinging business. And most of their gossip rag stuff is completely trashy, but appropriately trashy in the larger sense. In other words it’s exactly the kind of nonsense you’d expect to find in any magazine like that.

So then The Post went along the other day and ran a story on page 1 referencing the now unfolding and infamous Erin Andrews story. If you have not heard, the ESPN sideline reporter was recently filmed with a peephole camera as she was changing in her hotel room. It is a significant offense. Highly illegal. And rotten to the core. Honestly, I did not find that it happened that surprising. Erin Andrews has a vehement, vocal, and often juvenile fan base, stemming from the fact that she is an attractive, capable woman and is a member of the sports world, particularly college sports. That lends itself to a certain kind of attention. She is also a decent sideline reporter (my qualms are more with actually sideline reporting and not her performance itself). The problem with having this kind of celebrity-like admiration is that she also a sideline reporter and NOT a giant celebrity with security and protection and all the like. Honestly, I’ve worried for her safety in a variety of situations.  Sure, she seems tough and no nonsense and all that good stuff; she’s probably perfectly capable of taking care of her self… but still. I worried about, I dunno, something like this.

Most of the major papers have and simply abstained from referencing the story all together… but The Post? They ran an article about her outrage… including a screenshot from the video (a barely censored one).

This is absolutely deplorable.

More than than that it is actually illegal. They are posting a pic which was from an illegally shot video. Admittedly, I do not know the finer points of the law concerning this issue, but I know that that kind of act is illegal and grounds for legal action. The Post have since taken it down on the website version of their paper. But probably more because people are pissed (even within their regular readers). This sentiment is also not to imply that I, or some of the people who complained, are some kind of prude or believe that sexuality has no place in modern media. Who can’t understand why a lot of people would want to see a naked video of someone famous? Particularly an attractive famous person.  It’s just that I recognize the inherent difference of a video obtained through such incredibly dishonest and violating means. Not helping matters is that some people are confusing the release of this video with the “release” of some other famous celebrity videos; they don’t understand what the big deal or difference is and why this video can’t legally be posted.

There isn’t even a comparison. Those videos were released with pre-made deals and financial compensation. It was planned. This video was not.

Which leads to something else The Post happened to do in that edition of the paper. They printed this cartoon.

07222009

There are three possible meanings you can take from this cartoon. The first is that modern corporate/celebrity culture uses sex and personal stuff to sell sell sell. Which would be valid. But that would be giving a lot of credit. See the problem is those 5 blatant ESPN signs, which means the second possible meaning and perhaps most obvious is that ESPN planned or wanted this video to come out. Or is somehow glad. Which is malicious and implies they are a morally bankrupt organization… which I find to be anything but the case for the company. It also completely discounts the fact they’ve been running around like crazy suing websites and LEGITIMATELY trying to shut it down. If anything ESPN has been the one major sports coverage unit that has really, and truly tried to abstain from sexualizing sports. They consider themselves a family network. They really do and seperates themselves from Fox Sports, which has no qualms about doing so (the great irony of this being that Fox sports is 1000 times more likely to have the kind of behavior/viewpoint shown in this cartoon). The third meaning, and most offensive, is that Erin Andrews was in on it. Which if that is the intent, is probably the most heinous, sexist, cynical, violating tone I can think of for a situation like this.

Once again… this is absolutely deplorable.

Yes the cartoon probably falls under free speech and probably has the legal standards to run… but then I have the right under free speech to say this probably should never have seen publication and if I ran a paper it wouldn’t… ever.

This sounds like I’m getting all high and mighty and holier than thou… I know… I’m sorry. True, should I expect anything less from society? Is this really THAT big a deal? I’m not sure. But sometimes I get tired of being cynical. I get tired of just ignoring shitty behavior just because humans are inclined to be shitty sometimes. But every once and awhile it’s okay to call a duck a duck. Their actions are egregious. It deserves to be called out.

In response to the whole affair, ESPN has blacklisted any Post reporters from their coverage and removed their access to any ESPN broadcast. This will have an immediate effect on their coverage and will hopefully hurt them financially.

But for Erin Andrews, in a perfect world, she would sue for posting the picture and defamation of character for the cartoon. She has a legit claim with the picture, but the cartoon claim would be thrown out under free speech. And since the post is part of the News Corp empire the history of two mega corporations suing each other tells us that it would be so bogged down in various stalls and litigation as to be a complete waste of time.

So in the end, ESPN made the right call.

For me, the whole thing has no effect, really.

I will continue to never read The Post.


Like: Overblown Opening Day/Week Baseball “Stories”

April 9, 2009

OH MY GOD! CC SABATHIA SUCKS! NEW YORK HAS WASTED 190 MILLION! TEXIERA CAN’T HANDLE THE PRESSURE! THE RED SOX ARE BETTER THAN THE RAYS THEY BEAT THEM 5-3! ELLSBURY CAN’T HIT ANYMORE!

Saying opening day results are prone to hyperbole is like saying I am using a simile right now.

Really,we shouldn’t we be better than this? But hyperbole sells papers and I even seen legit people at least addressing the issue of “well, you want to get off to a good start.” For the fans, yeah sure, whatever. But statistically speaking CC Sabathia has had many awful starts to his seasons. Last year especially and then he got it going on. Texiera is also another notoriously slow starter and yet no one seems to pay attention to these trends.

The fact of the matter is whatever seeming deduction that has come out of the last two days will be supplanted by another one once the week is out. And then another one by the end of the month. Trends will layer themselves and start to define a larger context. That’s baseball. It’s a law of averages, not the recent singular moment. Every guy goes 0-5. Every guy puts together a decent streak. The singular stuff only seems to matter in the post-season.  There’s about 160 games left so let’s wait and see how everyone shapes up.

Just started watching the Red Sox game now. Lester strikes out ANOTHER! CY YOUNG HERE HE COMES!


Don’t Like: This Asshat’s Logic on “Why Athiests’ Arguments Do Not Work”

April 2, 2009

First off he never really addresses atheist’s arguments and just makes hilarious statements and conclusions instead. But first, a qualifier!

1) I am somewhat at odds with logic. It’s is an incredibly useful tool of construction/deconstruction and often provides the crux of philosophical theory. But logic itself is not, and has never been, the definitive system for “answers,” philosophical or otherwise. The basic scientific principal of “correlation does not mean cause” prevents it so, and yet most logic depends on that being true. While it may seem that “science” as we know it was invented in the 17th-18th century, really the basic tenants have always been routed in the pillars of observation and appropriation. There’s a timelessness to those qualities, just as their is a timelessness to logic, but they are interdependent on one another and have always been. More so, in the age of increasing scientific propriety, observation, data collection, and technology, we have a legitimate ability to gain actual substantial answers to long theoretical questions and problems. With that, logic has become the currency of the intellectual disaffected and the occasional dead weight of lunacy.(1)

Enter this asshat.

There’s a lot of general stupidity out there with which I have absolutely no problem. I generally like to single out the most amusing or most outrageous in some kind of personal way. So like those, this guy is special (assuming he’s serious. Which I think is true. More on that later). But this seems to think he is the god of logic. But so often the problem with logic is that YOU define the variables and if you define them wrong you can go of an logic bender that leads you to a stunningly crap-tastic conclusion. So let’s go on a journey.

First off, there is his claim that Atheists don’t believe in god, because they can’t see god. He compares this to the fact that we can’t see air, but we know it’s there.  Sigh.  The obvious problem is that we can see air. You use a thing called a “microscope” (well a powerful version of one) or other scientific instruments with which we can look at and analyze the molecules that make up this “air” thing you speak of.  Even better, he then uses the comparative example of “not being able to see your own brain, yet it exists.” Well tell you what, I’ll go grab my dad’s Vietnam era machete and give a good slice across your forehead, grab a piece of your brain and show it to you before you die. Because you’re sitting and talking to a camera, yes, even you have a brain (of course this implies your sliced brain would still have visual functioning capability). See we have TANGIBLE ways of actually seeing these invisible examples you speak of. The atheist argument is dependent on the fact we currently have NO TANGIBLE ways of seeing god. (2)

The next part is equally awesome. Saying that proposition of God’s existence inherently begins as a 50/50 chance is a total falsehood.  Just because there are two possible answers, does not mean there is an equal chance of those answers being correct. It’s like saying there’s a fifty/five chance I’ll be hit by a falling lime green Boeing jet today. The odds are actually dependent on, you know, the probability of said event occurring, not the number of a possible outcomes. It is one of the most basic pillars of logic and one of the first things you learn on the subject: An either/or result does not facilitate either/or logic.

Which then brings him to the “51%” thing where he goes from his already incorrect 50/50 probility of god existing to the the long-pause-inclusive “but. there. is. evidence!… of him, existing!” deduction is high comedy. Needless to say said evidence isn’t presented and instead we’re just treated “we exist” followed by a statement which implies 100% of god existing by saying “And if he didn’t exist there would be nothing.” Just awesome. It becomes evident he has no idea where he is in his logistical timeline and is pretty much winging. Then sequeways with a sort of nice equivalent of saying science can’t prove anything “because it’s logic.” Which is oh so failsafe.

The also also best part comes right after that with “the four most evil people in history of human history” (nice repeat) were atheists… followed by the hilarious DOUBLE eyebrow raise (a kind of awesome you get me? you GET me? ATHEISTS ARE EVIL, eh?). Followed by the prefect double hand open of obviousness.

Just Killer.

The also also also best part is his other videos are even more hilarious, offensive, and culturally charged (the one on sex hurting the vagina being okay in particular), but this one highlights his logistical failures much more acutely.

Psychologically speaking, his arguments are oddly solipsistic. He is taking special care to deny almost any other singular influence on his opinions. Most like to reference and support, his logic is instead a wholly insular enterprise. It is an increasingly common behavior on the internet and something I find to be a result of 1) a disconnected society and 2) bad learning habits. But that’s all conjecture. The dude is funny to watch.

There’s a lot of belief that this guy is playing a character and these segments are a joke. Who knows? The problem is that it doesn’t pass my gut test. I look at him and it reads real even if his statements are ludicrious (a good deal of Christians seem to be just as offended by his nonsense giving them a bad name). He’s just too good the personality type. He’s simply too good at playing the self assured, withdrawn, intellectual type who is probably a libertarian, thinks no one is as smart as he is, and dismays that society does not live up to his standards. Which makes me sad… I’m going to hope he really is playing a character.

It should be said there scientific arguments/theories for god’s existence (the big bang, etc) that are at least somewhat interesting. It’s all deeply theoretical and miles away from having scientific legitimacy, but it’s still interesting and enjoy reading about it. And no, I’m not talking about intelligent design. Any scientific theory that is built on “we haven’t figured this shit out yet, so it must be god” is about as faulty in logic/science/basic life skills as you can get.

For those  questioning my motives, as everyone tends to do, I really don’t have a stake in the answer. I might believe in God, but I lean sort of atheist. I’m not sure. I just know that I care about the methods we use to come up with “answers”, because often the methods inform the answers themselves.

Addendum

1- This statement however does ignore the problems created by conflicting data and the mass amounts of misinformation.

2- There are some interesting theories, which I address a bit at the end above.