Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bow down

When we start making legal rulings against SOFTWARE, it is time to to planning a brand new Faraday cage for the house!

First we let them practice law without a license, then we let them pilot our aircraft, and the next thing you know, we're in the middle of The Singularity! Then it gets Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria!

In the meanwhile, here's what I'm talking about:

"The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling.

The software did, indeed, go far beyond providing clerical services. It determined where (particularly, in which schedule) to place information provided by the debtor, selected exemptions for the debtor and supplied relevant legal citations. Providing such personalized guidance has been held to constitute the practice of law.


(The) system touted its offering of legal advice and projected an aura of expertise concerning bankruptcy petitions; and, in that context, it offered personalized -- albeit automated -- counsel. ... We find that because this was the conduct of a non-attorney, it constituted the unauthorized practice of law."

I, for one, look forward to bowing down before our new computerized masters!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Godspeed Mr. Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard died today at the age of 77, in France. I read his book "Simulacra and Simulation"after grad school (1995?) and it continues to haunt me to this day. One of his arguments (back then) was that our financially motivated mass media and our ultra modern consumerist society has created such a chaotic and confusing structure of symbols and artificial experiences that it is impossible for us to see our reality as it actually exists.

The book must have had a huge impact on the Wachowski brothers as Baudrillard's philosophy is all over their trilogy, The Matrix. If you look closely at the book where Neo hides his data disc, it is none other than "Simulacra and Simulation." (See attached picture if you don't have a DVD of The Matrix available.)

Baudrillard once wrote: "Information can tell us everything. It has all the answers. But they are answers to questions we have not asked, and which doubtless don't even arise. "

And on America, he wrote, "Deep down, the US, with its space, its technological refinement, its bluff good conscience, even in those spaces which it opens up for simulation, is the only remaining primitive society. "

And, even back in the mid-90s, he knew enough to say, "Television knows no night. It is perpetual day. TV embodies our fear of the dark, of night, of the other side of things. "

Good night, Mr Baudillard, and good luck.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A boy's first novel

Liam wrote his first book, today. 6 pages of literary might:

The Karate Master, by Liam

There once was a karate master who could
do anything. But the cool thing is, he was only 7!! Isn't that amazing?!

He started when he was only 3 1/2! But each week he would get
another belt. And even when he was sick, he would go to karate!

But when he got his black belt he dissipearded! His family was

No one new where he went. Neather did he. But he had
traveled 100 years into the PAST!!

There he felt something in his
pocket. But it was just a stone. A magic stone. Then he said "I wish I was back

Then he woke up. He was back home.


I think the next book should depict the young hero fighting wolverines in Canada.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The yard

We get an early start. There is plenty left to do. And my best girl is joining me, today! I’m back behind the controls of the stump grinder and Cindy is on clean up detail, hauling limbs and trimming up overgrown areas so I can find the hidden stumps.

At some point, I decide to hack down a smallish oak between our carport and the fence. It blocks the path to our backyard. And I’m tired of navigating around it with the trashcan at night. So OFF WIF ‘IS ‘EAD!

I get to chopping, eliminating the limbs and pruning it down to just the trunk. Little do I realize how much an eight foot length of 1’ trunk weighs. I should have known when I heard the dull thud of it striking the ground. But, I’m stupid on multiple levels. And before I think it through, I muscle up one end, creep under the middle of it, and hoist it up. Suddenly aware of the full weight of the thing slowly pressing me into the cold, soft earth.

There I was, squatting in the mud and sawdust and debris with at least two hundred pounds of freshly felled oak across my shoulders, harboring a mental dialogue something along the lines of:
Smart Jon: This is really REALLY stupid, you know.
Stupid Jon: No tree gets the better of me!
Smart Jon: Um, you are a computer jockey. You don’t work with trees.
Stupid Jon: I can do this!
Smart Jon: It isn’t worth blowing a disk in your back.
Stupid Jon: I go to the gym! I have muscles (somewhere!)
Smart Jon: You should cut this massive thing in half.
Stupid Jon: HULK SMASH!

But, of course, I clenched my jaw and stood up. Forced my legs to bear the weight. And step by step carried that tree trunk into the back yard. Onto the pile of limbs we’re hording for disposal next week. I actually slammed it down. Panting and sweating and savoring the moment. It didn’t wreck my back. It didn’t pull any muscles. It felt good. It felt like I was alive. And I could do anything: Grind a stump. Cut down trees. The Larch. The Sequoia. The Giant Redwood! The Mighty Oak! I could conquer them all. I could be a lumber jack!

And Cindy catches me with her eye. Plants her feet and points to the grinder, “Hey, quit playing! Get back to work, on the yard!”

Yes, honey.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Daily grind

Meg & Gigi set sail for One Eyed Willy’s, to raid a birthday party. With Cindy at work, that leaves me and Liam free to have our own adventures.

Unfortunately, the boy doesn’t care for my plan. I want to wreak some destruction on the remains of trees in our yard. He wants to buy a Webkinz and design a room for it. I want to be productive and get some projects marked off my list. He wants to be a boy and enjoy the good life.

We end up doing both. After a trip to Barnes & Noble for a cafĂ© mocha with an extra shot of espresso for me and a couple of comic books for him, I haul a rented stump grinder to the house and Liam picks up a plush pug bulldog from Hallmark. He helps me unload the machine and I help him setup his room on and win a couple of extra bucks for decorations. Then we have a split lunch, Sonic for Boy Wonder, and Taco Bell for Jon Daddy. By late afternoon, we’re happy and there’s no sign of the girls.

I spend the rest of the day grinding stumps of all sizes and shapes. (See the bliss etched on my face?) The destruction feels good. Reminds me of the days (and weeks) after the storm, clearing away the debris and the unwanted remains of our former lives. It might only be a couple of hours of clearing off our property, but it is like therapy. By the end of it, I’m whistling and smiling and looking forward to more work tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, Liam has been playing games on the computer and earning money for his new pet, Gollum, the plush pug bulldog. He already has a trampoline, a bed, and some chairs. Next he’s going build an out-door room and load it up with more exercise equipment.

I’m destroying. Liam’s building. Father and son. We each have our own daily grind.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Clear skies

The delluge has passed. We escaped untouched.

It feels good to be back in the gym after fight off a cold last week. I didn't get SICK, but I was lethargic and had too much on my mind. Grandama was is the hospital. Jason's wife was in the hospital. Nothing was clicking right.

But I've been back and I ran 4 miles last night. First time I ran in a month. New ipod earbuds helped. Started with pilates. Worked out my back and biceps. And conclued with thirty minues on the treadmill. Drenched in sweat and happy to have it pouring.

Today, I bought a new wallet. Bought a new rachet set. Brought home supplies to experiment with a new powershake recommended by Pat Robertson. And ended the night watching Liam and his friend Steven play Star Wars: Battlefield II on the Playstation.

Oh, to be young again....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Deity Needed, Inquire Within

If you want to know why I no longer watch CNN or Fox or MSNBC or anything that claims to be a new channel, let's look at what the media is spoon feeding us:

  • Brittany is bald. And she can't decide if she wants to stay in rehab. We should stay tuned for her next failure as a mother and a human.
  • Anna Nicole "family" is not only fighting over rights to her corpse, but also custody of her infant daughter (who still doesn't know the identity of her biological father.) We should keep watching because somebody is going to end up collecting the millions she stole from a wizened mummy she "married," a decade ago.
  • Beyonce is safe from Hepatitis A. We need to keep buying BootyLicious ringtones in honor of her brave struggle!

Meanwhile, let's look at how we react to actual events that effect real human beings that don't live in fifty gillion dollars houses and don't own ninety two cars with spinning rims:

  • We don't blink when we see that parts of the country received as much as thirty inches of snow today.
  • We don't stop to gape when we see footage of tornadoes killing nineteen people in two states, including five that died next door in Enterprise, AL, when a twister collapsed the roof of a high school and dropped tons of debris on our children.
  • Nobody is bothered that in 2006 we spent $200,000/minute fighting in Iraq

Please, God. I'm begging you, Allah. Hear my pleas, Yahweh. Reach down, Buddha. Save us, Great Xemu! Somebody, PLEASE smite Hollywood. Drown them. Burn them. Locus-plague them. Turn them to trendy pillars of salt. Do anything you can to end our misery and return our vision so that we can go back to things like: helping our fellow man, improving the world for our children, and generally being rational human beings who care about one another!