Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


... feels different than yesterday.  Aside from all the hope and inspiration of a new president, I have a surprising feeling I was no expecting:  


Friday, January 16, 2009

I Had No Idea This Tuesday Is Invitation Only...

Got this in the mail last week.

Posted by ShoZu

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's Your Number?

I am not someone one who is nervous or afraid of technology. When I think about computers or the Internet, my mind does not automatically drift towards pictures like this...

... or this ... 

What I am more worried about are the simple things that go away with the more technology we have.  

I got a new phone last week, and by extension, a new phone number.  On one hand, the tasks around getting a new number are much easier.  I send out a mass email or create a facebook group, and ta-da, my job is done, and everyone is informed.  But on the other hand, when was the last time you remembered someone's phone number?  And I am not talking about a Tommy Tutone song.  I mean, actually remembered a 10- or 7-digit phone number.  If you were to name your five closest friends, could you tell me their phone numbers?  Without looking in your phone?  

Hopefully you can do better than me.  I can't even name one.  

Maybe this is not a big deal.  But what if (god forbid) your cell phone battery runs out?  What if you have to call someone collect on a pay phone?  You remember pay phones, right?

Aside from paranoid situations like that, there is something lost in no longer being forced to memorize someone's number.  I remember a time when, if you made a new friend, you had to put effort into remembering their digits.  If you knew someone's phone number, they were a part of your life.  If you did not know someone's number, there was probably a reason why.  

I had a friend recently who bragged about how many phone numbers he had stored on his blackberry.  Thousands, he exclaimed, as if proof of his likeability.  But how many of those numbers do you know, I wanted to ask.  Or, more importantly, how many of those thousands know your number?  

Maybe phone numbers have simply become obsolete: placeholders alongside your name in someone's cell, alphabetized in between the names and numbers of two strangers.  

Ironically enough, I set up the Passcode for my new iPhone the other day.  I guess it prevents strangers or nosy friends from getting into your phone.  But what are the four digits I chose for my Passcode?  The last four digits from my phone number growing up.  Because I knew those were four numbers I would never forget.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things That Qualify You As A Douchebag

# 92: Trying to high-five someone who is blind.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You (Do Not) Complete Me

The Daily Beast, a monthly publication I had never heard about before today, published a list of their "50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2008." I am already a total nerd when it comes to lists, but this list is good. I recommend the whole thing. But for example:

20. Joe the Plumber

Charges: The Che Guevara of bald, pissed off white men. In a lot of ways, Samuel Wurzelbacher really does represent the average American—basing economic opinions on unrealistic expectations of personal future success, blaming his failure to meet those expectations on minorities and old people, complaining about deadbeats getting his taxes when he isn’t actually paying his taxes, and advertising his own rudimentary historical and mathematical ignorance by warning of creeping socialism in a country whose highest income tax rate has dropped by half in thirty years. “Joe” indeed symbolizes the true American dream—to become undeservedly rich and famous through a dizzyingly improbable stroke of luck. As American folk heroes go, Wurzelbacher ranks somewhere between Hulk Hogan and Bernie Goetz.

Exhibit A: "Social Security is a security I've never believed in, don't like it. I hate that it's forced on me."

Sentence: After blowing his fifteen minutes and all his money on coke and Thai hookers, an infirm, elderly Joe finds that social security actually is a joke, and is
finally forced to snake toilets for a living.

Ouch. And the list does not discriminate. Keith Olbermann, Barack Obama, Brett Favre and Sean Hannity all get ripped a new one. My personal favorite loathsome person of last year:

43. You

Charges: You think it’s your patriotic duty to spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need. You think Hillary lost because of sexism, when it’s actually because she’s just a bad liar. You think Iraq is better off now than before we invaded, and don’t understand why they’re so ungrateful. You think Tim Russert was a great journalist. You’re hopping mad about an auto industry bailout that cost a squirt of piss compared to a Wall Street heist of galactic dimensions, due to a housing crash you somehow have blamed on minorities. It took you six years to figure out what a tool Bush is, but you think Obama will make it all better. You deem it hunky dory that we conduct national policy debates via 8-second clips from “The View.” You think God zapped humans into existence a few thousand years ago, although your appendix and wisdom teeth disagree. You like watching vicious assholes insult each other on TV. You support gun rights, because firing one gives you a chubby. You cuddle falsehoods and resent enlightenment. You think the fact that 43% of whites could stomach voting for an incredibly charismatic and eloquent light-skinned black guy who was raised by white people means racism is over. You think progressive taxation is socialism. 1 in 100 of you are in jail, and you think it should be more. You are shallow, inconsiderate, afraid, brand-conscious, sedentary, and totally self-obsessed. You are American.

Exhibit A: You’re more upset by Miley Cyrus’s glamour shots than the fact that you are a grown adult who is upset about Miley Cyrus.

Sentence: Invaded and occupied by Canada; all military units busy overseas without enough fuel to get back.

But there is one person on the list who should definitely not be up there. And I have a feeling I am alone on this one:

40. Free Credit guy

Charges: OK, he’s actually French-Canadian, but he invades America’s headspace every day. It’s bad enough that we have to see this albino smurf lip-sync some ad man’s grating jingles of financial woe fifty times a day. It’s bad enough that these ditties, as calculatedly infectious as bio-weapons, bounce around our skulls like a .22 caliber bullet. But the kicker is that this culture parasite and his “band” are hawking a scam. That’s right; isn’t free—in fact, it’s 15 bucks a month after the week-long “trial period.”

Exhibit A: There is a website where you can get a free credit report: It’s called, and it was created in compliance with an act of Congress by the three big credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Then Experian set up, and their suicide-encouraging commercials, to cultivate and benefit from public confusion.

Sentence: Powering Ween’s tour bus with a stationary bicycle.

I have never met anyone who actually agrees with me on this, but that FreeCreditReport guy is kind of... cute.

They could not have cast someone who looks more like a loser, so I don't know why I cannot get enough of his commercials. And at least that's not his singing voice in the commercials -- god that voice is annoying.

But I just can't help it. All I want is to pinch his cheeks and tussle his hair and watch as he pretends to play the guitar. I can't loathe that!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blogging outside!

I have officially entered a new and exciting technological world. I am now the proud owner of a brand-spanking new iPhone. I am oozing cool.

Best part? I can blog from anywhere!

Posted by ShoZu

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Longest Joke In The World

In high school, I did a lot of work with the Anti-Defamation League, largely around issues of discrimination and prejudice, and they have helped positively shape my view of the world. One project I helped organize with a bunch of other high schoolers was a big Passover Seder for a bunch of other high school students. As a theme, we came up with what we believed to be about a dozen words that best characterized what we saw to be important in the world -- words like strength, understanding, and love. For each word we found corresponding quotes from people like Margaret Mead, Albert Einstein and T.S. Elliot. This was all thrown together for a (really bad) video I had made to introduce the Seder.

I was thinking about all this recently, and I had an odd realization about one of the quotes. The quote in question was for the word "faith," and was written by someone named Ambrose Bierce:
"Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge of things without parallel."
I am not sure why I so clearly remember this one particular quote for "faith," while having to go back and re-watch the video to merely remember some of the other words we came up with. I think this quote was the only one I did not fully comprehend, so I stored it away in my subconscious, slowly toiling over its meaning.

It has been ten years since the Passover Seder, and I think I just figured it out. I think this quote is a joke.

Actually, I am pretty sure it is a joke. The quote is taken from a satirical book published in 1911 called The Devil's Dictionary, a large collection of quirky definitions making fun of the world. For instance, the definition for "congratulations"?
"The civility of envy."
And the definition for "love"?
"A temporary insanity curable by marriage."
See? Really funny stuff. So funny, I think it has taken me a decade to get one of the punch-lines.

When it comes to Bierce's definition of "faith," the joke is the emphasis on ignorance:
"Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge of things without parallel."
The quote sure sounds nice though, doesn't it? The repetition of the word "without", the iambic-ish rhythm to the words. It is not hard to see why some high school junior doing a google search for "faith quote" thought it was a good idea.

But take away the poetics, and the definition says that faith is the belief of someone trying to deal with shit way above their pay grade.

If that is true, should we really consider faith to be a virtue? I do not mean "faith" as a synonym for hope or trust (which are two things of which I am a big fan), but "faith" as certainty of the unknowable. The world around us is going to keep going and we are going to keep figuring things out. And uncertainty about the unknowable is our fuel.

I am not saying that having faith is incompatible with intellectual curiosity and progress, but it does not help. That sounds harsh, but think about it.

Faith is a belief that no amount of proof or data or learned knowledge could ever shake. It is a "belief without evidence." So once again I ask, is that really a virtue?

A few days ago, scientists picked up a noise six times louder than any noise they have ever heard from deep space. It is a fascinating story. So far, no one has any idea what it is. They are clueless. And yet, you do not have astrologers and astrophysicists coming up with random ideas about what is this noise, and then when asked for proof, responding with, "I have no proof, I have faith."

But still, the word faith, essentially meaning a lack of a plausible explanation, is revered. Maybe I'm ignorant, but that makes no sense. What is positive in admitting complacency to ignorance?

Maybe this is something I need to accept that I will not understand. Maybe I should just have faith that faith is a good thing. That would solve my problem, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It Will All Be Over Soon

I wish I had the ability to hibernate. If I did, I would plan my hibernation around Ann Coulter's book release schedule so that I would never have to see her hacking her book across the mainstream media.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pipe Dreams of Tomorrow

I love the start of a new year. Just because a digit changes in the date, we are presented with an annual opportunity to take a breath and begin anew. It is a time when you can be unabashedly hopeful and not feel like a deluded fool. So, knowing that, here is what I hope 2009 has in store:
  • Wasps decide not to build big hives in the awnings of my apartment building.
  • Former Pastor Tedd Haggard comes out of the closet, divorces his wife, and becomes a forceful yet humble spokesgay for the LGBT community.
  • Transformers 2 fails at the box office.
  • The U.S. develops a power chemical weapon that causes selective memory loss. Said weapon is used in Pakistan, India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Somalia and Zimbabwe, making everyone forget why they hate each other.
  • Sham-Wow commercials suddenly cease appearing on television.
  • The oil companies apologize for constantly messing with the price of crude and offer to pay for a massive high speed passenger rail system from coast to coast.
  • Uwe Boll decides to take up a career as a dental assistant.
  • Obama does not disappoint anyone.
  • A Fazoli's restaurant opens near my apartment.

I am not going to hold my breath.

My Top 5 Viral Videos of 2008

Oh, 2008, how you entertained me so. A year when a bunch of big Hollywood movies were actually really good, and reality television could not hold a candle to the soap opera-driven presidential race. Even the Internet seemed to me to be better than average as it seems destined to do to television what television did to the radio. With that, I want to countdown my favorite viral videos from 2008 because making lists makes me feel important.

5) "Girl Talk - Feed the Animals" -- 21-year-old Chris Beckman describes what he does as "recycling culture." Whatever he calls it, I find it awesomely addicting. Creating music video mash-ups from any and every genre of music, he creates a jumbled symphony where The Beach Boys, Snoop Dog, Salt N Peppa and Nirvana all play their role. Best part, you can download his entire album for any amount (even for free) here. Or just check it out on youtube. Here is my favorite track:

4) "People in Order" -- The most fascinating count from 1 to 100 you will ever see.

3) "Font Conference" -- There are a lot of really lame viral video sites out there, but some of's original videos are better than stuff on prime time. Great writing and production quality set their work a part from a vast wasteland of junk. Here's my favorite from last year:

2) "Yes We Can" -- Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but 2008 was the year when then Internet was finally utilized as a tool to democratize our democracy. At the center of this revolution stands Obama, a man who is going to be the most powerful person in the world precisely because of the Internet (do you really think he would have beaten Hillary Clinton or John McCain if all we had were 60 Minutes and The New York Times?). Anyone who does not understand Obama's massive appeal only see a rehashing of a political stump speech when they watch this:

1) "Where the Hell is Matt (2008)" -- First off, if you have not yet heard of Dancing Matt, watch his first video. Matt (aka: the luckiest guy in the world) is sponsored by Stride Gum to travel around the world to videotape himself dancing (poorly). This is the third video Matt has made and it beautifully shows that despite wars and borders and poverty, wherever you find other humans, you will find humanity.

Very Honorable Mention: Simply titled, "My dogs greeting me after returning from 14 months in Iraq." This video almost makes me cry, and it would be in the top 5 if it weren't for the Green Day song in the background: