Sunday, June 30, 2013

Super Spying

There is an argument that Superman is spying on people when he overhears their private conversations about their evil plans, and this could be construed as all kinds of invasive. However, I just recently had an interesting thought, for Superman, unless he is deliberately taking measure to counter actions that under normal circumstances would genuinely prevent him from hearing or seeing these events were he someplace it is completely acceptable to be, it's not spying if his senses are simply better. At that point it's just doing things where he could see or hear them, I think.

He didn't deliberately acquire these powers for the purposes of invading people's privacy. It's just a different expectation of what privacy means, if you're aware of the implications of Superman's existence. For him, walls that aren't lead lined simply aren't the same things as walls. It's like if someone built a house out of glass, you couldn't be accused of spying if you just watched them through their transparent walls.

It appears comic authors are fine with comics loaded with deeper issues as long as they don't have to talk about them.

This character is just... wasted. There are so many cool questions we could ask. If this character were really alive, what would actually be the legal ramifications of his actions? Is that spying? He could literally put all of his energy into saving people's lives, or preventing them from ever being put in danger to begin with,  so to what extent is he responsible for not doing that if he is simply so good? He could literally kill himself doing as much good as he possibly can and it still wouldn't be enough, because Superman is just one man, and that's not enough to simply save everybody. And is it right to save everybody? Is the sanctity of human life more important than the quality of that life or the capacity to make decisions that might be detrimental to that life? Should Superman even have to think about that?

Any and all of these questions are so interesting, and almost none of them are ever explored, at all, even when Superman is doing things that are questionable, like faking Clark Kent's suicide just to expressly and deliberately antagonize Lois Lane's fragile and caring emotional state just because she wont go out on a date with Clark.

It's not even funny anymore. Almost all exploration of any issue or implementation of a less than heroic nature of Superman is done at this point entirely out of the biased, misogynistic, thoughtless writing that people are able to express when they're hiding behind the pages covered with the cape of heroism. It's the ultimate morality power fantasy. Where you can append moral authority whatever you do. And, I don't think that's wrong from time to time, but you have a character here who is almost exclusively written that way, and he's the first and he should set the model for what the medium is capable of. And he doesn't. For a lot of reasons, he doesn't. And that's why he's the most boring character ever. And that's why all of his stories boil down to him getting beat up, and failing to keep people alive, until he can punch everything better at the end.

He should have to deal with things that can't be punched better.

The things that make you feel the most helpless, and take away all sense of empowerment are the ones you can't fix just by doing what's right. Superman should have to grow up.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fighting Superman

Zack Snyder is an amazing technical director, who is able to make every single frame of his films visually compelling. His lighting is almost unparalleled and his use of the camera is all around excellent. But I hate him. He can't handle any story with any amount of grace greater than if you were wielding a sledge hammer. All subtlety is driven completely out of his films. In a way that makes him a perfect director for a Superman movie. Every superman story devolves into Superman getting beat up for forever and just not dying until he's able to punch everything better. How is this not the perfect movie for Snyder? Because just because that's the way things are, doesn't mean that's the way things have to be.

This movie was hilarious though. "You're just trying to find out where I hang my cape! Well, I'll never let you find that out. I was raised in Kansas and we're smarter than that there." Paraphrasing of course, but not far off.

I've started taking what looks to be a very cool class on Coursera from Stanford. It's a Startup Engineering course run from Stanford that has a lot of cool emphasis. The final project is to develop an HTML5 crowdfunding site that has bitcoin based merchant services. I'm very excited to start working on this and I've already gotten pretty far with the first week's homework. It's going to be some great practice with the command line interface of a Linux box as well as getting started with communities like Github.

My RAT 5 mouse developed a serious drifting issue, so I replaced it. New mouse has same issue. I am really not keen on this. If it's a hardware problem it sucks, and I need to replace the new mouse which is a pain, and if it's a software problem I might need to reinstall windows to fix it? Eff that. If that's the case, then the RAT mice, for all their amazing features and really cool customization maybe be just completely unusable. Nothing even changed on my computer, it happened after I switched desks, but the mousepad is the same awesome mousepad I've had for forever.

And, I just solved the issue while I was typing this post. My new desk has a lot of metal and vibrated very slightly because of my computer's fans. That slight vibration was causing the sensitive mouse laser to move sporadically. Taking my tower off of its storage hole on my desk fixed the issue instantly. Yay. That blows. Seriously, it's only the slightest vibration, it's amazing that it messes up the pointer that much. Well, that's one of life's problems and mysteries solved. Shame the solution sucks.

This is going to be a rambling post. I know it is.

Back to Superman, and the line of dialog that drove me nuts. Morality is the anchor preventing evolution, immorality is the step in evolution that allows moving beyond the constraints of outmoded societies. Know what's wrong with this statement? The idea that immorality is the evolutionary step as opposed to morality?

Immorality came first. When no one cares about anyone else or about doing the right thing, how can anything advance? Literally every major advancement and effort in the evolution of society in almost the last 200 years has ultimately come from working as a society to create level playing fields, cooperation, open communication, hard work, and a certain level of trust, that while not absolute(the world isn't perfect) is more possible than anything before that time period. Morality is the evolution. It's morality that allows so many people to be greater than themselves. The real evolution after that, is an appreciation for that morality and a subtle understanding of when it is making the world better and when it's holding us back. A good guy, the right type of good guy, can be a million times scarier than any villain. The type of good guy that is tinged with dark edges, but understands that sometimes you have to make hard choices. That hero could be terrifying. Could do terrifying things.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


They happen all the time and they're everywhere around us, but some changes are bigger than others. Some are so small that it takes 30 years before you realize that nothing is the same at all anymore and you feel the magnitude of the change. Every once in a while though you do it consciously and deliberately. Yesterday I got a new computer desk. 17 years is a long time for a 20$ block of particle board to hold together, and my old desk has been with me more reliably than almost anything else I have owned in that entire timeframe, and I had it longer than I had people in my life who I considered to be incredibly important, and that's pretty impressive. I guess, maybe I'm alone in just not considering how long furniture is with you when you don't think about it very much.

I had a lot of anxiety. My new desk had some pretty big shoes to fill and some very specific needs to meet in order to relieve my anxiety over the major alteration. I was at Ikea yesterday when I found just about the most excellent desk possible, for me, with plenty of surface space, tower shelf, room for 2 monitors in parallel, my speakers fit nicer than they ever have on any desk I've had, and a really comfortable zone for my computer chair, keyboard and mouse. And it has cupholders too. So in another 17 years my next desk will have just that much more of a barrier to replace the old one.

As it happens, I also had to replace my phone last week. This happens more frequently, and it's always interesting finding out the little things that you dislike about your new phone. In what ways your new phone is dumb that you took for granted, despite all the ways that it's totally better. Sort of a non equivalence of change in quality. This one separates its internal memory into 1 gig application storage and 4 gigs phone storage, but it's all internal flash, and you can move some of your applications to the phone storage, but you can't actually store anything at all on the SD card that it lets you have installed, so it's like, why even let me plug an SD card in? All fascinating. I still like this phone, though. None of the problems are dealbreakers and it was only 40$. Also, it's a cool bright red color so it feels sort of non standard, very vibrant. In addition,

Yeah. That.

You scream burn the world, but the whole world burns too easy, and you're there in the ashes afterward and you don't know what to build so you build another house of tinder and twigs and even before it's halfway done you can just feel it, that it's just temporary and there's nothing anyone can do to make this world permanent. And you hate every bit of it because it's just made from things that were meant to burn, to catch fire, to spread, and break apart. And you put so much work into it that you love it dearly.

No matter what you make your house, your world, your life out of, I know you can feel it. It was meant to burn down and fall apart because there's nothing inside it that can last but love. Love is like fire, but...

But after everything is burned the fire burns out. Nothing but wisps of smoke and whispers of heat and a fine white ash.

And why did you burn everything to begin with?

Because you were in love and it was made to burn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Long Time No Blog

Well, I have been a busy boy. From finding new jobs, learning new things, studying new career paths, cooking new foods. Life is changing, all the time, and I'm okay with that. I had a wonderful BBQ this weekend with burgers and hot dogs and smoked fajitas. Justin brought over different kinds of mead to taste test them all, which was really cool. Scott gave me a variety of beers which have all been excellent. My parents are going to help me buy a new computer desk, of which I am badly in need.

I've had my desk since I was in high school. Maybe middle school, I don't really remember because it has been that long. A little particle board monstrosity I keep because it has a solid keyboard tray, good storage space on the right hand side, decent mouse location and space for 2 23" monitors. These features are not easy to find in a desk that fits in the space I need it to fit into. But I'll be working on finding one.

I finished my intro to guitar class at  coursera, and I really enjoyed the challenge and the ability to work with so many passionate and engaged students. One of the reasons I've stuck with guitar so long is the quality of the community surrounding it. It's one of the few instruments with a whole world full of people just absolutely completely willing to share their knowledge  of how to play. But they wont like listening to you, so, that's cool. It's hard to listen to people learn to play instruments, but if you love me you'll listen to my final assignment:

That's right. I played the if you love me card. What are you going to do about it?

I was also given the most epic hat ever, which I have worn pretty religiously. The thing is awesome. However I am determined to prevent there ever being photographic evidence that I have worn it, so good luck finding pictures of it. It's not going to happen.

Memories are good, and I have so many good memories.

I hope everyone is feeling as good today as I am.
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