Archive for May 2010

What is happening in China??

May 24th, 2010 — 2:21am

I mean, besides the obvious…

I’ve long since had “issues” with China, from their deplorable human rights record, to the way they devalue their currency and to the way they pretend to be on par with the Western leaders of the world, yet refuse to take the responsibilities that come with that when it comes to giving aid and correcting environmental problems. I have no issues with the Chinese as a people or their long, immeasurable history; I just cannot stand their government.

Recently, scores of young children have been murdered in their classrooms by random men who, for one reason or another, wish to take out their grievances against the world on innocent children.

What fascinates me about these reports of children being murdered in their classrooms, is that it was not much more than a year earlier that China claimed that US should not point fingers when it came to human rights records, since we were apparently being murdered in the streets at daylight.

In case you forgot:

The 9,000-word Chinese report depicts a bleak picture of the US, saying violent crime is a widespread threat to people’s lives, property and personal security.
The American people’s economic, social and cultural rights are not properly protected, say the Chinese, and many young Americans “have personality disorders”. (Source)

While I am sure Harlem at night may not be the best place to take an evening stroll while unarmed, but last I checked our five-year-olds could attend school without fear that random intruders would break into the building and stab their teachers and classmates to death. That’s why we have got all those metal detectors and cops in our schools!

What has also got me even more troubled than usual about China is its massive GDP and undervalued currency that live beside its astounding poverty rate. There are close to 500 million Chinese living on less than $2.00 USD a day. China’s bootleg industry alone should allow the communist state to have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Instead, an emerging “middle class” is receiving some of the benefits of global success and the corrupt government officials continue to reap the majority of all that comes into China. I simply cannot imagine that a country that rules global exports could have close to have of its population living at or below the poverty line. Even worse, China takes little regard for the environment and allows more than 200 million of its own people to drink polluted water. Eventually, a nation that is intent upon building multiple New York-sized cities within its borders, must take a serious action on human rights and the very same things it claims Americans worry needlessly.

I will give China some props, however, as they have seemingly been far more forthcoming with internal news than they have been in the past. So, I congratulate the government for making some headway, but some of us Americans who are apparently cowering daily in fear of everything have long, long memories.

Comments Off on What is happening in China?? | Politics

The iPad…still unimpressed

May 12th, 2010 — 2:53am

With my iPhone’s glass cracked, I ventured on a trip to the Apple store. I had been avoiding this for a while to keep my adoration for iPhone from pushing me into purchasing a MacBook or something worse. Lately, the major cause for stay had been because of the “magical” iPad.

I’ll say this first: I read every article and blog regarding iPad right up to and immediately following its announcement. I was enamoured with the possibilities that could be concocted in the, as yet, unnamed Apple tablet-type device and I was expecting to be among the throngs who would purchase the device within its first month. I mention this now to reassure anyone that I am not simply Apple-bashing; I am speaking from the heart.

I’ll say this as well just to reiterate the point: I’ve owned some kind of “iProduct” since 2003. From my 20GB iPod, to my 160GB iPod Classic, to my 32GB iPhone, I feel like iProducts are a part of my iLife and I’ve loved every single one of them. Again, when I read every article that held an inkling of what was to come from Apple, I knew I was going to love it. When I held it in my hand, however, I found nothing akin to love.

My trip to the Apple store brought me face-to-face with the iPad, upon which I have shown nothing, but disdain from the day it was announced. I was unimpressed by the interface, the lack of anything truly new for the world and then, there was the name. From looking at the specs, looking at images and reading article upon article about the iPad, I, one who had been so enamoured with iProducts, could not see its purpose and viewed it as anything, but magical.

Time has allowed some changes to come to light for the iPad, but again, I am still unimpressed. The iPhone OS4 will bring multi-tasking to both iPhone and iPad (which is a major step forward for the device), but that which made the iPhone a work of beauty does not work on the iPad.

With the iPhone, for the first time, everyday people had access to a PDA-like instrument that looked cool, did not attempt to replicate a full computer, was easy to use and fit right in the pocket or purse. To coin their own phrase, “It just works.” The iPad does not bring anything new to the game. “We” have already grown accustomed to the iPhone and “our” expectations are much higher when it comes to “magical” products. For the price of an average, full laptop or even a low-grade desktop, users are given an iPhone-like product, without the benefits of iPhone’s size, iPhone’s 3G, iPhone’s camera and iPhone’s phone, without the readability of the Kindle it attempts to replace and without the usability of a simple laptop. To be honest, if Apple had just come out with a MacBook with a touch interface, I would have been camped out in front of the Apple store the night before release. The iPad is just not what it should be.

The iPad attempts to fill the proposed void between smartphone and laptop, but that’s why there are netbooks which play movies, play music, create documents and, if the right developers took the initiative to bring it to another level, can be used as e-book readers, all for the same cost of the iPad which is bigger, in some cases heavier, and does not employ all the features of the current state of the Internet (the Apple vs. Flash “thing” has been done a million times already). In truth, the iPad is something that fills the “gap” between smartphone and netbook, but who can really justify that for $500?

All of what I’ve said so far, I said (or screamed, whatever) before holding the iPad and seeing what it could do. Tonight, I’ve had the opportunity to hold the iPad in my little brown hands and I still stand by everything I said prior to ever seeing it face to face.

The first thing I noticed was that the iPad is very pretty, but lots of things are pretty and pretty does not equal useful. My first thought was that it was no different from what I already had on my iPhone. Games are little prettier on a bigger, shinier screen, but not having something that fit in the palm of my hand dampened the experience and I found myself trying to figure out a way to hold the darn thing comfortably before finally giving up and just resting it on the table. And, if you don’t think close to two pounds is heavy, go to a bookstore and hold a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The US version weighs about two pounds…now, it’s like you’re holding an iPad.

Speaking of books, after viewing a few sites on the iPad, I meandered to iBooks and was, again, unimpressed. I had been told that iBooks was the ultimate Kindle-killer for months, but there was a definite difference in the experience from when I first held a Kindle and when I first held the iPad. The Kindle disappears into your hands and, because there is no backlight shining directly into your eyes to the point that it could be used as a separate lamp, your eyes do not tire after a few minutes of staring at the screen. The iBooks app will not “disappear” in front of you and I can’t see any serious reader (and by serious reader, I’m talking about people who read, at the very least, a book a month, but really closer to a book every week) choosing an iPad over a Kindle or Nook or anything else with e-ink as a e-book reader. I’m, literally, just not buying it. The page turning “effect,” while cute at first, actually takes second place behind the Stanza app which was already free on the iPhone and I found myself marveling more at the image of a book in front of me than the words on the “page.” A Kindle shows a reader words and with a click, new words appear on a new “page,” and this comes without any bells and whistles to distract from the reading experience. As I had been saying since January, the iPad is a crappy e-book reader.

So, here I sit, smiling triumphantly that I was not blown away by being in the presence of the iPad, but also deeply disheartened by my lack of love for the device. I had honestly hoped that by holding it and playing with it for a bit, that I could catch the Apple fever and re-live what it felt like to see an 4th generation iPod for the first time, or an iPod with colour or the iPod touch or that very first iPhone commercial that literally (and I do mean literally) made me drool. Alas, I was as unimpressed as I was the day I first learned of the name. At least this way, I suppose, I can sleep a little better knowing that my skepticisms were not unfounded.

3 comments » | Article


May 11th, 2010 — 3:09am

My iPhone slipped on some haphazardly laying items on my kitchen table and crashed upon the kitchen tiles.

I can replay the moment over and over in my head and, each time it plays in slow motion as the single most important object in my life hit the floor and cracked. It is still very usable and I’ve a trip to the Apple store planned for tomorrow/this morning, but carrying my broken phone today got me really thinking about how society places such high regard on these items.

I’ve only had my iPhone since October 2009 and yet it is rarely out of reach, replacing my planner, my heavy bibles, my notepaper and pens, my alarm clock, my camera and, for a short time, my books (that is, until Kindle came and saved the day on Christmas!). This small device quickly became everything and the crack in it’s face has placed a major crack in my life, but there’s really no reason for it.

During the milliseconds of panic, when I thought my phone and it’s data had been lost forever, I imagined trying to go through life without my iPhone; never knowing what time it is, never able to update my Facebook status at a moment’s notice, never able to text and receive texts throughout the day…never able to get to the next level on Stick Wars. The problem is that, not so long ago, there wasn’t even an iPhone in existence and not so long before that, it was plausible that not everyone and (literally) their grandmother had a cellphone at all.

I remember a time when I was not afraid to leave my house without my phone, and could even go for a whole afternoon, or even a whole day without needing it. Today, however, I wondered vaguely if I could even risk going outside with my phone simply cracked.

I’ll concede that times today are slightly different than ten years ago. Ten years ago, things such as land-lines existed in every house and it was not expected that everyone have their cells ready at a moment notice for any trouble or mildly amusing event in their lives. Nowadays, I find myself staring at a wall jack, unsure of its purpose or wondering, “why is that ethernet outlet so small?” and my thoughts tend turn towards the flow of a witty or eloquent Facebook update.

All of this leads me wondering…when did become so dependent on something so small? Just the other night, I was driving around lost in a thunderstorm and my iPhone saved me; a few taps in Google Maps and I just had to follow the blinking dot on home. But, surely, I’ve been lost in thunderstorms previously and still found my way? Surely, before the advent of iPhones and smartphones in general, there were methodologies in place that allowed mankind to think things through to completion and operate without depending on something other than their wit and their wiles to get them through the day?

I love my iPhone. I’ve said multiple times and in multiple ways, but all this dependence…all of this lackadaisical living…all of this wandering without wondering…

Well, it feels a little cracked.

Comments Off on Cracked | Deep Thought

An update

May 9th, 2010 — 2:56am

…because it was time.

I’ve not written on this blog in almost a year. Not for lack of love, I might say. I’ve got at least seven drafted posts just sitting and waiting; most are completely outdated by now.

No, the absence of writing was mostly due to simply too darn much happening at the same time. In 2009, I buried four relatives, stopped watching any and all television and completed a very rough draft to what I hope to be my first novel. I’ve also become an “every so often” church member; I’m not proud of this by any means.

A part of me feels this blog has run its course, but on the other hand, I know I’ve got plenty more to say.

I suppose I sound a bit unsophisticated and rough since I’ve just finished a rather lengthy blog post about Star Wars (yeah, it’s insane how big a geek I am now), so I’ll make this short. About four years ago, I started something on Mother’s Day and it worked out pretty well for me (the whole making an effort and finding Jesus, thing), so this Mother’s Day, I’ll make a new commitment, a commitment to write.

I’ve got much to say and, if I keep my creative juices flowing…well, I’m not entirely sure what will happen, but either way, I’d just like to keep writing.

I’ll see what happens from there…

Comments Off on An update | On Me

Not so long ago, in a rather near galaxy…

May 9th, 2010 — 12:33am


A small, but morbid Star Wars geek has been a part of my psyche since I was ten years old. This is my story:

I remember quite clearly, how the Easter basket that lay on our dining room table picked up the light from the nearby window as its topmost gift shined across the room. I cannot remember what else my mother had got for me that year as an Easter gift and, likewise, I cannot remember much of 1996, but I can remember watching A New Hope on VHS for the very first time.

My mother had thought it incredulous that her only child had not viewed one of the most classic films of all time and had bought it for me “just because.” Her single gift began the flame that flickered and kindled until it roared to life in the early 2000s.

The music was what first caught my attention. Looking back, it seemed that I had already known the music, but was finally able to put it in context. I was then annoyed at the film because I was not able to read all of the beginning story (VHS = no wide screen), but afterward, my mouth hung open for two hours.

Threepio’s movements and accent, R2’s likability and near-human qualities, Darth Vader’s echoed breathing, Princess Leia’s crescent rolls,
the way Luke looked as he stared at the triple sunset…I could go on forever. I was completely enamored with everything I saw.

After my first viewing of ANH, I began to watch it once a week. I adored Princess Leia, was in love with Luke Skywalker and was scheming to get my own R2-D2 as my weekly viewings turned into daily viewings. By my eleventh birthday, I obtained Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and with the “full story” before me, I was poised to make a full leap into the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, there was need for hesitation.

Star Wars was (and, really, still is) for the nerdy kids and, if that was not bad enough, The X-Files was taking up all the obsessive love I had to give. With adolescence’s cliques and challenges standing before me, there was no way I could hide both X-Files and Star Wars fandom from that table. So, as much as I loved my beautiful VHS trilogy, my love of Star Wars was put on hold.

The year 1999 brought high school and The Phantom Menace simultaneously. While I was indubitably excited about having the chance to see a Star Wars film on the big screen and there was some noise being made about the new film amongst my peers, my desire to remain a part of my clique won over my desire to see TPM and I let the opening weekend pass without a flutter.

Poor critiques of the film, most regarding “that kid” and some apparently annoying character called “Jar-Jar” kept me from seeing TPM on my own and, as the film went out of the theatres, my desires for Star Wars seemed to fade as well.

By chance, however, my neighbors, always keen to be the first to have every new technology and every new film, obtained TPM on DVD and, one night while babysitting their kid, I enticed the youngster to watch the film with me. To be honest, there were moments I forgot my temporary ward was there.

I loved everything I saw. From the opening, to the new worlds, to Amidala’s wardrobe and especially to Liam Neeson. With dozens of people and all the media “telling” me Jar-Jar was irritating, I was truly expecting Carrot Top on speed, but was pleasantly surprised that Jar-Jar did not live up to my worst expectations; young anakin also was not that bad (at least, for the first viewing). The podrace, the music, the species and the battles all enthralled me and re-kindled that old Star Wars fire that had lain dormant, unloved and unwanted, for years and…I wanted more.

Thankfully, Attack of the Clones was just around the corner and I had grown old enough to know how I wanted to be viewed as a person. The bore of high school was nearly complete and I had left its cliques and nonsense when I started half-days, opting to begin collegiate work sooner rather than later. Overall, I was a completely different person than I was when TPM was shown and, when AotC came to theatres, I made certain that I saw it that opening weekend.

As expected, I was floored. Watching Star Wars on the big screen was everything I thought it could be and much, much more. And, I admit it…I fell for Anakin, hard. I went back to see it on my own the next week and the week after that as well. In all, I saw AotC seven times in the theatres, the most for any film (runners up are Harry Potter and Chambers of Secrets and Revenge of the Sith, both at 6 times). The best part was that I did not care whether anyone knew I was going to see Star Wars, again, and that, more than anything made watching the film even better.

After AotC, I began my first dips into the Star Wars community and entered the realm of fan fiction. I just needed more. I wanted more of the story, more Anakin, more Padme, more Obi-Wan. More, more, more! I bought posters and read stories and bought music and read the stories while I listened to the music with posters in the background. At one point, I even began making notes to my own fic. The more I read, the more I learned and the more I learned the more I loved, but like years earlier, another obsession moved Star Wars out of favor: the aforementioned Harry Potter.

Potter took hold and, once again, there was no room for Star Wars, but Potter unfettered the deep nerd within me. For once, I was no longer afraid of what others would think if I were found reading fantasy or visiting science fiction forums and, for the first time, I felt like myself.

By the time Revenge of the Sith was released, however, my Potter love had faded and I was primed for Star Wars. Wearing my very own cloak, I dragged my best friend to a midnight showing of RotS where I was ashamedly underdressed as far fans went and was again, floored by what I saw.

To this day, I still do not care what others may say: RotS is one of the best of the films. In fact my “order” goes Episodes 5, 3, 4, 6, 2, 1; 4 and 6 sometimes trade places, but that is almost always the order. Needless to say, I loved Episode 3. I went on to see it five other times, bringing friends some times and going alone to sit in the second row where I always loved to sit, other times; I bought the soundtrack immediately after Viewing #3.

To say that RotS revamped my Star Wars love is a bit of an understatement. All that went on with AotC was just a drop in the bucket in comparison. I spent so much time reveling in the Star Wars universe, watching the films, visiting forums, reading fan fiction, etc., that others began to take notice and tried to drag me away from it. My friends even threatened intervention if they found me with a Star Wars book and so I lessened the time I spent with the universe, allowing the love to fade…slightly.

Since RotS, I took steps into the working world, walked across a baccalaureate stage and found Jesus, all the while, my adoration of Star Wars was at the back of my mind, pulling me towards “old” websites and occasionally reading things I had told my friends I had given up for the time being.

In the past year, I found Wookieepedia and with it, the desire to finally know everything there is to know about Star Wars. I find myself wanting to read the novels, not just because a film of similar name is in theatres, but because I honestly want to know what happens between and beyond the films. Editing Wookieepedia here and there, entails hours of reading and learning about the expanded universe and makes me want to learn even more through reading the books and comics that make up the entirety of the expanded universe.

I have a very long way to go (I just started reading Episode 1 and, as of this writing, Luke and Obi-Wan had just met Han Solo), but this time around, I doubt my adoration will be fading much.

I know many fans believe that the prequel films were the worst thing that has ever happened to any series, at any point in time, but I beg to differ. The prequels brought an entirely new generation to Star Wars in a manner that could never have happened without new faces and new stories. I know that had I not seen a young Obi-Wan, the “real” Anakin Skywalker and Yoda battle with a lightsaber, I would never have bothered to learn more about Star Wars and the expanded universe.

In all, I love the story. I love the idea of the Jedi, the Sith and the Force, and I love the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker.

My goals here are simple. I am not a rabid, super-fan of Star Wars and I doubt I will ever be. I am not a toy collector (except for Darth Tater because it was just so cute!) and I am just not that into comics. I just want to let loose a little and take hold of that which has had such a hold on me, since I was a child.


Comments Off on Not so long ago, in a rather near galaxy… | Favorite, On Me

Back to top