Mar 17

Scams, vanity and hope

The pageant business full of scumbags? Who would’ve thought!

The only direct experience I have with this sort of thing is being friends with a woman at a previous job who was interested in modeling.

She was certainly attractive enough for it, but so are millions of women around the world. Modeling is a star field — a very small percentage make big money, and the rest make almost zilch.

Anyway, she was stopped on the street by someone who said they’d like to have her pose for some photos and that she might be a “fit” for their agency.

I told her that this was almost certainly a scam and that though things like that did happen sometimes, to be wary.

She asked me to go with her to the screening process and I agreed. It screamed scam city to me the moment we walked in. A hundred girls in a room (and me) with some guy who looked like a combination of Ryan Seacrest and Vince Offer telling them they’d have to pay a few hundred dollars to have their official photos done to go on to the next stage.

I leaned over to Kim after a few minutes and said, “This is a scam. Let’s roll the fuck out of here.”

But she wouldn’t do it. She wanted to believe so badly that this was her shot, to escape her depressing typist job, that she wanted to give them that money just in case.

I sat through the snake oil pitch and then tried to convince her again that it wasn’t worth any money to get these photos taken, that I could probably take better ones for free anyway, and this was not a good idea.

It didn’t work. She paid the money, got some bad photos taken, and as far as I know that’s all that happened. At least she didn’t get scammed anymore out of the deal.

To be fair, this Vince Offer-looking guy was convincing. I’m about the most skeptical person you’ll meet, but by the time the meeting was done I was about 20% convinced in spite of myself. But that trance lifted the moment he shut his mendacious mouth.

Mar 16

The Soderbergh version is actually good

It’s funny that I hate Windows 8, Unity and Gnome Shell so much as I fucking love CDE on Solaris and it’s the most arcane, schizophrenic interface in the world combined with the most odd Unix system ever used en masse.

It’s like a bunch of engineers get together and smoked a Kilimanjaro-sized crack rock and designed an OS and its user interface. I know how to use it fine (though most of the time I’m in it, I’m at the command line and not actually using CDE), but when other more new-school IT people are watching me use it, the questions go like this:

  • How do I log-in? What are all these options?
  • Why did you tell me to be careful because “root can blow everything up?”
  • What just happened?
  • How did you know to click on that?
  • What the hell did you just type? (After I type some arcane command in the terminal I recalled from the ’90s.)
  • How did you know what that means? (After something like “SIOCGLIFFLAGS: igb2: no such interface” appears on screen.)
  • What’s “grep?” What’s it doing? That’s a weird word.
  • Why do you keep typing “more” behind everything?
  • Why do you keep typing “man?”
  • What’s the difference between console and xterm?
  • Why do you keep cursing about “fucking korn shell can bite my ass, rat bastard piece of crap?”
  • How did you learn this? (Much pain, young padawan, much pain.)

But still, to borrow/paraphrase/steal some thoughts from an old essay of Neal Stephenson’s, Solaris and CDE is like a tool used on a construction site. It’s extremely powerful, very dangerous in the wrong hands, and it does exactly what you tell it to do, no questions asked. In Solaris, you aren’t flying by the seat of your pants because your pants have already been torn off by the windshear and jettisoned 100 miles back.

Want to accidentally wipe the whole system! Go right ahead, motherfucker, we won’t even say a word about it! rm -rf / to your heart’s content! Run a nice sys-unconfig too, we don’t give a crap!

I love it. Just love it.

Mar 15


Want to do a pullup? Join an airborne unit. They’ll have you doing pull-ups in no time.

When I joined the 82nd Airborne Division, I could barely do one. When I left, I could do 20 easily. Overhand, full extension pull-ups, too.

Every woman in my unit could do quite a few, too.

Just takes training and time.

Mar 14


Why I’ve always hated the minimalism movement.

Poor people don’t have clutter because they’re too dumb to see the virtue of living simply; they have it to reduce risk.

When you are poor, you can’t throw away anything as you never know when you’ll need it again. It’s almost certain you won’t be able to afford it when the time comes, so it’s much safer to keep it all around.

Not being poor anymore, I throw away things I almost certainly will need again in the future just because I don’t want to keep them around for a few months or a year when I’ll need it again.

Not an option if you’re barely making rent.

Mar 13


Saw Zero Dark Thirty, by Kathryn Bigelow.

This movie according to many glorified torture. I wonder if anyone who believes this actually watched the damn movie?

There were torture scenes, and they were horrible. Yes, they are in the movie. These scenes are presented without music, without ornamentation, without many cuts. They are utterly horrifying in their unflinching revelation of the vileness and loathsomeness of torture. Every moment is uncomfortable to watch and is drawn out far too long (for a reason, of course — see above!)

The people who believed these scenes somehow glorify torture — are they psychopaths? There nearly has to be something wrong with them. Only someone not at all connected to humanity in any way could have seen any glorification, any justification, for treating another human being that way as presented by this film. To glorify something is to attempt to give the viewer some sort of thrill, some sort of charge, and if you got either of those things from the scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, then you have far more missing pieces than I do.

The whole fucking point of those scenes is of course that no matter if valid intelligence was gained by such methods, it wasn’t worth it. Nothing was worth that. Else why show 10 minutes of torture that seemed like two hours when it all could have been elided over in a 10-second clip?

There is a school of thought that to show something at all is to somehow glorify it. This is a valid argument, sometimes. But the scenes in Zero Dark Thirty probably did more to turn more people against torture than all the congressional reports and CNN newscasts ever did.

Not only are many people wrong about the film, they’d also fail Film 101 were they ever to take the class.

Mar 13


When I was younger, I used to not care much for music like this. Music that celebrated life? Why? My life was pretty harsh. As I’ve gotten older, my life changed, got better; I’ve tried to raise my fists less, put down the saber, back away instead of striking out. I’ve never been a macho guy, defending my honor at all costs, but I’ve always been fearless (some say reckless) and ready for battle. Armor always on, shields always up. Never letting anyone get beyond the titanium veil.

Hard, hard way to live. Sometimes I backslide. But I try to be over that now, beyond that. In some ways, it’s the harder path, defenses down — but it’s far more rewarding in the end.

What I love about Lisa Mitchell is that when she sings, even though she doesn’t have a great voice, all her defenses are down — in those moments, she’s utterly beautiful (and would be even if she weren’t already lovely). Everything is revealed; not one bit is held back. There’s nothing more alluring than passion admixed with intelligence. Nothing more likely to shatter the universe. Nothing more likely to better the world.

My place in the world might not be the same as hers. If the revolution comes, my posting is and should be in the militant wing. I know this. The leopard cannot change its spots so easily, not completely. But this leopard does enjoy putting away his spots in the spot drawer until they are needed again. Lisa Mitchell helps with that.

She’s not used to singing in the studio. She doesn’t like not being able to hear herself. It’s why she moved the headphones back from her right ear.

Teleporters! Ha! (But interestingly, if teleporters were available, a bottomless suitcase would be unnecessary or at the least a fait accompli of that tech.)

Mar 09


This is a simple song that takes some interesting musical risks, with a really great video.

Though I’ve liked the song for a while, I had not the first clue what Lisa Mitchell looked like until I watched the video today, but she’s about as a cute as a thousand fluffy kittens. Wish they didn’t mostly hide her freckles.

I believe there is also a polyamory reference in the song, too. “Bed for three?” Yep.