Archive for the 'Humor' Category

Brogrammers Making the World Better Through…

In just the sort of Web 2.0, Hacktivist, Hipster, Social Media, viral-video launch you could expect from a hungry start-up, Mike Judge’s HBO Series Silicon Valley Episode 1 was posted to YouTube this week: http://youtu.be/VvkmsI54ss4 and is wonderful.

Much like Judge’s other well-known (if under-appreciated) efforts and cult-culture hits, Office Space and Idiocracy, Silicon Valley is acidic, hyper-real, and both simultaneously painful and hilarious to watch.

2 minutes into the first episode I was laughing so hard I was grabbing a pencil to record the many memorable lines/scenes/scenarios – here are just a few:

  • Tech companies making the world better through…
    • “Constructing hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility”
    • “Through minimum message-oriented transport layers”
    • “Claiming to make the world better all the time”
  • Spot-on depictions of…
    • Brogrammers, stereotypical party-of-5 developers, nap-pods, “hacker hostels/incubators,” launch parties, tech T-shirts (H.T.M.L), the Google-bus, TED-talks : e.g. “College is Snake Oil,” vapid VPs, supposed tech gurus/visionaries throwing money at any silly idea, and many more.
  • Frighteningly realistic and hilarious developer quotes such as
    • “I put the prototype up on Github”
    • “I memorized my hexadecimal time tables when I was like 14” – “go ahead ask me what 9xF is?” “fleventy-flive”
  • Miscellaneous biting indictments of Silicon Valley and the culture at large
    • “Kid Rock is the poorest person here”
    • “Inferior products win out all the time”

Keep up the good work & maybe there will be at least a few people who can appreciate and understand such good humor and perhaps more importantly who are actually still willing to reward such efforts & quality by actually paying for something (full disclosure – I am too cheap to pay for HBO – but I *will* watch it when it comes to Netflix).

 

GJ Top of the Lake Quotes

Oh, Internet you disappoint me, all I wanted (and surprisingly couldn’t find, which is pretty rare in the information superhighway smog) was a simple catalog/list of the quotes from the TV miniseries Top of the Lake’s most enigmatic and entertaining (some might argue pointless) character: GJ (played by the lovely and talented Holly Hunter). Slate’s Dan Kois and Michelle Dean sum up her character best: “GJ is like Hunter S. Thompson mixed with Sappho. She’s an earth mother guru with a really hard edge.”

As strange as the character GJ is, her group’s backstory and subplot is just as inscrutable. GJ leads a group of troubled women would just put their finger on a random map point and move there (across the world) in search of truth and healing; their search could have been a story in and of itself. At the beginning, someone shooting a self-styled documentary says: “There’s a lot of women here in a lot of pain. They come from abused marriages; broken hearts, sex addicts….” There is some reflected isolation, many of the same repeated mistakes, just in a different setting, and finally it unclear if they have really learned anything. And then the story ends with GJ leaving for another antipode (from New Zealand to Iceland). If nothing else it certainly represents a tale of abandoning your past and moving in a completely orthogonal direction – but it seems wherever these characters go, they are still themselves at the core and still trapped with their same demons. Anyway, here is a list of the GJ’s biting, cryptic, and philosophical quotes captured for none other than my own amusement:

(Why did you come here?) It’s the name: Paradise.

What happens here (Paradise)? Nothing

Love that is not reciprocated just turns to apathy or hate.

(Tui: What happened to you?) a Calamity, like being struck by lightning, every cell in my body changed.

That (Tui’s unborn baby) is a ticking time bomb – boom!

No freeloading. Fifty bucks a week. You’ve gotta work. No one will pay you for closing your eyes.

All the b–ches here are searching for love, and when they don’t find that, enlightenment, they don’t find anything, not a one of them.

(To Detective Robin Griffin) How are your knees? You will go down hard – bang – the search will bring you low, to the ground on your two knees, that’s right – no one likes it – face in the dirt.

Why are these people (meditators) closing their eyes? Wake up!

(Mike: Is there such a thing as the human mind – what is the nature of the human mind?) Plotting and scheming. Planning and calculating. That is the nature of mind…Constant thought.

(Mike: When you get to the end of the universe what is there?) Dunno we’re not going there any time soon (what do you see?) My guess you’re not going to like it? A lost little girl, your girl with a secret growing inside.

(Advice to Robin’s dying mother) Get some heroin.

The universe knows no death, it is just atoms rearranging themselves.

Follow the body, it’ll know what to do. It has tremendous intelligence.

You picked the wrong way to help someone, that one, she wants to help Africa! Like the airplane put on your own mask first!

Stop! Stop Thinking!

We’re up in a place called Paradise, but is everything okay? Of course not.

How’s gold doing? (while checking girl’s iPad).

So, you are on your knees? Good. Now die to yourself. To your idea of yourself. Everything you think you are, you are not. What’s left? Find out.

(How do I help myself?) Why should I tell you when you don’t listen? (I’m listening) No! All you hear are your own crazy thoughts Like a river of sh-t, on and on. See your thoughts for what they are. Stop your helping. Stop your planning. Give up! There’s no way out. Not for others, not for you. We are living out here at the end of the road, the end of the earth in a place called Paradise How is it going? Perfect? No. You are madder than ever. You are tired? So lie down right here. Be like a cat. Heal yourself. There is no match for the tremendous intelligence of the body. Rest.

Just get me away from these crazy b–ches. When is the next flight to Reykjavik?

GJ-Top-of-the-Lake

Drug Policies So Bad They Make Me Defend Potheads

Lord knows that the world doesn’t need any more drunks or potheads, and I support neither. But it doesn’t need a justice system that is highly incentivized to target and prosecute these folks either-that only seems to compound these woes. I have never written a letter to the editor before but I was mildly annoyed that as the legislature of my state of Maryland debates the first real proposed changes to marijuana prohibition in decades, all of the articles in my local paper were from quite respected members of local law enforcement who were highly critical of even the smallest changes/experiments. What none of those articles mentioned is how completely dependent police budgets are on the current drug-war status quo, and how this “drug dependency” (if you will) might distort the lens of their viewpoint. Anyway here is the article I angrily emailed off to the editor one morning after reading a front page of the local paper filled with such articles… 

It Is Time to Identify the Real Drug Addict

Like an addict worried where he will get his next fix or a pusher worried about losing his best customer, Maryland police organizations are absolutely apoplectic at the prospect of any real experiments with marijuana decimalization. Much like the police, I’m concerned with substance abuse and the prospect that an abuser might drive. But then again, all of the secondary concerns brought up by police, such as impaired driving and child neglect, are already crimes and will remain so even after marijuana decimalization. I am likewise concerned that youth with try any harmful substance including alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana, but it is simply being realistic to acknowledge that most will try these are some point in their youth. However, what concerns me far more are the waste, damage, and discrimination done by current prohibition policies: young lives ruined by criminal convictions, African-Americans prosecuted at much higher rates, high-level drug dealers who are further empowered and enriched, and many similar unintended yet worse consequences of the marijuana war. Much the same as we learned with Alcohol Prohibition, current marijuana laws have done little but waste police resources, hurt the potential of our youth, and benefit dealers. After 40 or more years with the current, misguided policies, common sense tells us that it is time to experiment with change.  Don’t let police continue to use our youth as easy targets and a revenue stream. Let’s break law enforcement’s addiction to marijuana convictions.

Cool Guy Greg on Taxes

Productive Citizen Cool Guy Greg on Taxes

On the Dangers of Unskeptical Googling

Fifteen years into this whole internet fad, I had gotten so accustomed to looking for (and readily believing) information I found on the internet that it unfortunately took a rather extreme example to reawaken a healthy skepticism and my perception of facts. 

I was curious about the ratings of the C-SPAN channels and how they compare to other cable channels so I Googled: “C-SPAN nielsen ratings”

The C-SPAN Dancers

And innocently clicked on the first promising result of “C-SPAN Ratings Up …”  I was halfway through an article on how C-SPAN’s addition of the “The House Of Representatives Dancers” had markedly increased their ratings before I eventually realized that I was on the parody site “The Onion (full article here).”

I then began to wonder how many other times I had read complete nonsense on the internet and just didn’t realize it because it wasn’t on an obvious comedy website.

Oh well, just a well-needed reminder to be incredulous of anything found on the internet.  Also a reminder that as information becomes more centralized, it becomes easier to distort – and not always to comedic effect as in the case of The Onion.   

Incidentally the ratings services do not rate C-SPAN (mentioned by Brian Lamb here in an interview in 1996).  Which is good, because what show would want to be beaten in the ratings by BookTV?

Say You Like Turkeys!

(Assume a haughty posture and say condescendingly) “Back when I went to school…”  the only piece of paper I remember ever getting sent back home to a parent was a report card. 

My, how times have changed.  The modern parent is subjected to a daily deluge of school papers that seems to imply a misguided belief that education can be achieved by mere dead tree sacrifice alone.  No Child Left Behind seemed to bring this educational fad to a fever pitch, but only exacerbated the existing problem.  My unscientific signal to noise ratio estimate of these papers would be about 1 marginally meaningful paper to 10 unuseful ones. 

But occasionally one does find a rare gem in the mineshaft.  As happened recently when I saw an assignment to make an “Acrostic (a related phrase for each letter)” out of the word “Thanksgiving.”  I should explain that “Thanksgiving” is a rather long word to a 2nd grader so some themes may get repeated.  For instance:  “I (heart) turkeys,” ” No vechtables,” and the rather authoritarian: “Say you like turkeys!”  But see for yourself:

Say You Like Turkeys

Say You Like Turkeys

Mystery Solved

I always wondered how the daughter was able to successfully put hats, glasses, and you-name-it on our pet dog, when the second I tried to touch or place any object on our dog’s head, she would thrash violently until the foreign object was dislodged and summarily disposed of. 

The secret, as it turns out, as in all endeavors, is persistence.  Just keep doing it again and again (say for fifteen very gleeful and entertaining minutes to a child) and resistence apparently gives way.  At that point, the dog resigns to her fate as a dress-up model and will submit to almost anything (well, OK, even at that point, the dresses apparently are still a challenge).

Good Things Can Happen…

The movie Office Space certainly is a biting and hilarious indictment of the soullessness, absurdity, and mind-numbing nature of modern office life

One of the movie’s best and lifelike characters is Tom Smykowski.  Smykowski is a middle-age, middle manager (“I take the specifications from the customers and bring them down to the software engineers! I’m a people person! What the hell’s wrong with you!“) who is edging closer to retirement, lives in constant fear of losing his job, and as a result is perpetually stressed.

Smykowski, generally a negative person, is ecstatically happy only after having just been in a horrible, crippling car accident – because it means he doesn’t have to go back to his office job.  Bandaged and incapacitated, he tells his coworkers that “if you hang in long enough, good things can happen in this life!”

Good Things Can Happen