Music of the Spheres

Space is a strange place. While there is so much yet for us to know about our own planet, there is an infinite multitude more of untouched knowledge past the great voids. Sometimes I think one needs a reminder of the awe of what lies beyond.

The sounds of Jupiter are peaceful, haunting, and otherworldly.

For another take on the sound and music of space. Carmen of the Spheres is an interesting adaptation of planetary orbits.



So there's been much ado about Obama's comments stating that people are bitter about watching jobs go away for 25 years and never come back. The best insight I've read on the incident is that this was the kind of comment a social scientist makes, not a presidential candidate. In my mind, that's the obvious failing on Obama's part, he wasn't a good enough politician.

However, I'd like to rail a bit against Hillary and McCain, not because they're wrong to rail on Obama for this (indeed, it's an excellent opportunity to score some political points), but because they're wrong about bitter people.

Here's a picture caption I've lifted from the BBC's article.

"Mrs Clinton said the remarks did not reflect the values and beliefs of voters."

I'm going to cynically note that this statement is absolutely correct. Bitter people don't vote (most of the time). So, obviously this doesn't reflect the beliefs of voters, who are the people Clinton is really concerned about.

It's wrong for me to make that italicized generalization as there are a number of the bitter that do vote. However, I'm willing to wager that the "bitter" vote is not a motivated one, and doesn't show substantially at the polls.

My argument here is that Clinton's statement may reveal the truth behind her, and other politicians, motivations. They're concerned with the people who vote, and not with "getting out the vote". Anyone who isn't voting isn't on their radar.

So in effect, Obama's practicing Nintendo's philosophy: When you're being beaten in the current field, find a new one. He's turned to the bitter.

As a fringe bitter person, I've actually found some of Clinton's remarks offensive. Take the following as an example.

"Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans, certainly not the Americans that I know."

She has made a series of similar statements, calling "Americans" such adjectives as resilient and hopeful. From my perspective these are flat out insults to people such as I.

Firstly, I'm going to latch onto the "certainly not the Americans that I know" bit. I'm going to assert that Clinton obviously doesn't know any bitter people. Given my experience that there are plenty of bitter people, at least respective to government, I'll further assert that this statement is downright insulting to bitter people. It implies that not only are bitter people not "Americans", but also that they aren't important enough to know someone like Hillary Clinton.

Secondly, the insults continue (backwards) as bitterness doesn't fit into "American" values and beliefs. Bitterness was what spawned this nation, bitterness at unfair government. If anything, the bitter are the most American people here.

Lastly, bitter people are, contrary to what's implied by Clinton, resilient. You don't survive being bitter because you're brittle, you survive because you toughen up and deal with the harsh reality.

So in short, I think Clinton's trying to score brownie points with the voters.

McCain's comments are far less insulting, although they're equally oblivious to the reality that, in fact, a number of people lean more heavily on the items that Obama mentioned when bitterness and hardship come their way. I'm sure he understands, what with his Vietnam experience, but he may simply have a more positive outlook.

In any case, the whole thing has been blown out of proportion, but it's given Hillary yet another chance to put her foot in her mouth (at least for me).


Shifting Goal Posts, and Other Musings

First the argument was made that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination because of her lead in delegates.
When that fell through, the argument was made that her overall lead counting the superdelegates made her the prime contender.
As that argument was dashed to the rocks, one was made that should she get the popular vote she would have to be the candidate.
Now, as even that argument falls apart, it is now being argued that Clinton won the states that matter in the general election, and that her electoral vote count would be greater than Obama's.

I'm not naive enough to think Obama is squeaky clean in this area. The practice of over-emphasizing the silver lining is pretty standard. However, this shifting of goals isn't a silver lining at all.

The implicit message when a candidate gives a "silver lining" talking point is that "this is why I'll overtake my opponent". Obama didn't say that the popular vote, delegates or super delegates didn't matter when he was down and some thought soon to be counted out. He highlighted his breakthroughs in demographics no one would have thought could vote for him, the piecemeal nature of his donations, and his message. At times it certainly was a stretch, but it was at least honest.

What the Clinton campaign, now down a chief strategist, is doing isn't pointing out the silver lining, it's attempting to change the rules. Rather than taking the positives (of which there are plenty) and bringing them out, the Clinton campaign seems content to dismiss any accomplishment made by its opponent. This is ridiculous, as these are the same accomplishments it would be lauding where they its own.

Should Clinton win the nomination it will be anyone's guess who I vote for. Had this question been asked back in December I probably would have blinked a few times. McCain over Clinton, are you crazy? However, the manner in which the Clinton campaign has been waged is not befitting of anyone attempting to distance themselves from the errors of the republicans.

For example, the recent row with Clinton's chief strategist. His sin was, effectively, that he maintained his cushy CEO position and other corporate jobs while taking heaps of money from the campaign to make a horrible mess. This is a kind of heresy for the democrats, or at least hypocrisy. Normally that's the kind of problem you expect from the republicans.

In fact, the entire Clinton campaign has played out exactly how no democrat's should. It was divisive, petty, hypocritical, dishonest and pessimistic. The beautiful moments, ironically, came when Clinton broke from the established strategy and simply was Hillary Clinton.

In conclusion, I honestly believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the democratic nomination, McCain will win the general election. Her campaign has undermined every talking point she can bring against him. We have months worth of material that McCain can use to knock the Clinton Campaign silly. All McCain has to do is simply point, and laugh.




This is another interesting comparison between movies and video games. As is par for the course, video games lose.

I must thoroughly contest the author's point, as he's making the same mistake every critic and skeptic of the video game has made since Space War. They're comparing an established media form to a nascent one. It's akin to complaining that a toddler doesn't stack up to a valedictorian. Seriously, that three year old needs to get his act together.

I state it's an unfair comparison, and I mean so because people have forgotten that the same complaints being levied against Super Mario Bros can be turned upon many early but unequivocally important films. Take, for instance, the french film Le Voyage dans la Lune. Youth viewing it today will not, by far, have any reaction similar to that of those who viewed it back in 1902. Viewed through today's lens it's completely outdated, overcome by films that took its principles and surpassed it. So why do we even still know its name?

The truth ignored in the article is that films such as Le Voyage dans la Lune are breakthroughs, as is Super Mario Bros for video games. Eighty years from now people will still know about the intrepid plumber's first adventure even if Nintendo hits game over. The platformer's platformer may be completely outdated, but it's a snapshot of the progress of a media form whose importance can not be ignored.

So how many films from the first thirty-five years of cinema are recognized today as timeless? Looking at IMDb's top 250 films, I found all of six films that fall into that time period, ten if you boost it a couple of years. In fact, it's only when we fudge the range that we even get a film in the top 100.

This isn't to say that all films before the 1930s or 40s were bad, but that they suffer the same problems outlined in the article. They were the natural products of a young media form, and we remember those films not because they were timeless but out of nostalgia or recognition of achievement.

All of the video games today with few exceptions will feature similarly on the lists next century. People will recognize Super Mario Bros as a landmark title important to the development of the industry, but as little else. They'll laugh at Oregon Trail the same way we ridicule the old PSAs. Even the blockbusters of today, such as Spore, will occupy spot #217 on the lists of tomorrow.

It's a fair argument to say that at this exact point in time video games are still an undeveloped art form, particularly when compared to present day cinema and theater. That's perfectly reasonable. However, to misunderstand this as meaning that video games today are uninspired, or that video games in fifty years will continue the trend, is turning a blind eye to the nature of young media.



After 19 months of mostly non-existent work, I have finally been assigned to a "real" job and have had to start earning my keep. Today has been my first truly full day as all my cubicly goodness was shipped over to the new area. I've been given tasks and set loose upon them.

And I'm loving it.

It is utterly refreshing to have mentally challenging tasks to work on. I've grown so accustomed to mindless website updates and tweaks that my new work is like a spring fragrance. I'm excited and happy to be here.

My coworkers consist of a number of excellent folk, some of who I already know. I might still be jittery were this an entirely alien place, but as it stands I'm fitting in and getting things done.

Here's to the 9-5.