multi-post #4: shortest story, earth hour

March 26, 2008 · 0 comments

the shortest story

sometime in the 1920's, ernest hemingway bet some of his contemporaries that he could write a short story in just six words. he did so, and collected his proceeds from them. he considered it his best work. having read it, was truly impressed at just how much he was able to convey in so few words. that he did in fact tell an entire story, evoked emotion, words ebbed and flowed and took the reader on journey in the most mcluhanist way. here it is, unabridged:
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
how i found out about this was through a recent article on wired where they approached 30 writers and 5 designers with the same task. the results mixed in my opinion. none really achieving the same essence as hemingway. while all good efforts and did capture each writer's own persona, they fell short in comparison.

here's my equally as feeble attempts at this exercise. i encourage anyone reading this to add their own in the comments for all to read.
"all computers gone. how to communicate?"
"brought a knife to gun fight"
"should've had sex before getting married"
"screeched to a halt. too late."

earth hour is upon us

today at 8pm-9pm, the world is to shut off the power. a noble pursuit, no doubt, and one that i support for whatever small difference it makes. it's more about the world banding together than it is about the small effect of turning off your lights will have. please don't get me wrong in the words below, i'm not belittling this effort, I just think it could have been executed better or sent a stronger message.

the first issue is that this is being done on the weekend. granted, at least it IS being done, but for a greater impact, it should have been done on a weekday when more electricity is being consumed. i understand it's about getting the everyday citizen involved, but isn't it the corporations that are really driving global warming? also from the perspective of corporate involvement, it says a lot more to shut down operations and offices during the weekday than on the weekend.

secondly, don't limit it just to the lights. turn everything off. hell, i may just turn all the breakers off at the source, but at the very least, i won't limit myself to a few lights. i know a lot of people will go above and beyond, but in our minimal involvement society, people will do just that and still feel good about themselves.

third, government support needs to be escalated. citizens can do all they want but climate change is a largely political issue. it's about the government stepping in and enforcing regulations that will put a halt to these negative environmental shifts. the ontario government, who is supporting earth hour, and all other levels of government need to do more than this symbolic gesture of preserving our planet. i'll give credit to them for taking the step, but it needs to go further to actual legislation.

i'd also like to see more corporate involvement and more vocal support for earth hour. my friends at molson have gone the extra mile and declared that they will be shutting down all operations for the hour in a number of their facilities. very commendable and an example of taking this effort to heart and going above and beyond. i hope that more corporations are doing the same, but i'm skeptical that they will be. and if they are, that it is genuine and not just a pr play.

i guess baby steps is the m.o. on this one. we haven't been able to radically change people's perceptions or habits in this matter, so i guess we need to start small and build from there. here's to a happy earth hour, and to it being bigger in the future.

multi-post #3: rem, scaling the schedule, 10,000 bc,

March 11, 2008 · 0 comments

r.e.m. is superserious about new music distribution

in an effort to maintain relevance and youngster cool, rem announced they will be releasing their next album, accelerate, on iLike six days before the official release date of april 1st. fans will be able to embed the band's tune's on their facebook, myspace and bebo pages through the ilike application (aka widget).

i don't mean to dog rem because i'm a big fan. but many claim them to be dinosaurs, no longer relevant to the mass music scene and past their prime, the best music behind them. i don't agree with all that, but the band is no longer on their top rung anymore. and who cares. i have a new perspective on the band having just completed their semi-authorized biography entitled fiction. it tells of a band interested in the art of music, not the celebrity of it. and however cliche it sounds, each album being an exploration into art and music that changes and never becomes homogeneous. and in that regard, they have been a success story, despite their waning sales and perceived misses. they make music they want to hear, not what the masses dictate.

back to the release of their new album, i do think the iLike effort is a ploy for more youth relevance. but i also believe that it is something rem want to explore. we're talking about a band who have been making music for nearly 30 years together, have witnessed and explored everything along the way from there. this technology is just one of the latest stops that curiosity has brought them to. this experiment follows in the footsteps of their seemingly successful dabbling with youtube and their website to give fans access to video content so they can make their own music video. see the gallery here.

the first single is a winner in my books. a great return to the hard edged rock and roll that made them famous. here's the video for supernatural superserious:

scaling the schedule

read an interesting article that seemed obvious, but teams are only now starting to realize it an implement it. for years the notion of 'scaling the house' has been in play. that the 'house' (ie. stadium, arena, park, stage, field, grounds, venue, etc.) charges different prices for seats depending on where they were. the closer, the more expensive. what is starting to take hold is the idea of not only doing that but also scaling the ticket pricing depending on who the opponent is.

inherently some of any given team's opponents are going to be bigger attractions than others. that is unless you are the yankees or red sox, in which case, you are the biggest attractions. those games are likely going to have a greater attendance, so why not charge more for them, thus increasing your revenue. people are going to see them even if the tickets cost a little more. why should those yankees and sox be the only one to capitalize on their fan base and status? conversely, cheaper tickets for lesser teams might encourage greater attendance, and thus greater revenues.

being an ardent baseball fan and regular attendee of the blue jays games, i see this every year when the yanks or sox come to town. it's almost guaranteed that attendance will be double. in many cases their fans outnumber the home team's. as an owner, i'd love that revenue increase. it could do wonders for the team in better players or better fan experience (or just likely the bottom line). my gut tells me that people are willing to pay the premium and will do so because, well, they're fans and they want to see who they like. living in the most expensive hockey city, i see all the time people will to pay top dollar to see their mediocre team play anyone else.

some independent firm analyzed the numbers and came to the conclusion that there is a windfall to be had in doing this. i'd gladly take a greater sum of money from all the new yorkers who cross the border to come watch their precious yankees and use it against them by way of better players. i think it will help sports become more competitive and smaller market teams be able to thrive.

10,000 bc (big crappy)

i had the good fortune of seeing 10,000 bc last week at an advanced screening. i say good fortune only in the sense that the tickets were free and that the movie was only an hour and a half. otherwise, misfortune abounded. i went in thinking "oh this might be an okay movie. see some dudes battle saber-tooth tigers, kill mammoths and fight over territory in an epic, prehistoric way." what i got was puzzling.

it's a love story! that's right, a love story. the entire movie is about a man chasing after a kidnapped woman. there's not even a good battle scene. most startling of all is the complete and utter neglection of historical fact. i'm all for being entertained, but there are some things i just can't overlook. sure, with sci-fi i can chalk up any disbelief to the fact it's science fiction and that is license to do what you want. but a period piece, you can't ignore the facts and history. let me recount the most grievous liberties they took:

1) complex language - the people spoke english, and good english at that. i'll give that up to making it accessible and english representing whatever language they did speak. but wait, was language around then, or was it grunts and gestures? i can't easily answer that, but can't assume that there was that much of a language around at that time. even more, the vocabulary they used was sizable. if they had words, there weren't that many.
2) forged weapons - the dominant race/tribe in the movie who did all the pilaging brandished swords. i can say with most certainty, that humans were incapable of fashioning weapons like this at that time. in a similar wein, these poeple also tamed horses which i think is quite the stretch too
3) building technology - the aforementioned dominant race/tribe was building a friggin pyramid. that is easily 7,000 years prior to the pyramids that actually exist in egypt. they also used technology and means of creating them that we are still speculating if the egyptians even had so many years later.

the movie could have been so much more, so much better. instead it was a colossal failure. there's a formula for these types of moveis, and the producers didn't bother following it. that may sound like propogating the same aold crap, but it's not. each retelling of a similar storyline has new twists. in this case, it's the prehistoric setting and the cool beasts that lived at the time.

tax time again

March 2, 2008 · 0 comments

as always this time of year, filing your taxes. wish it could be simpler? it could be. as i started my preparation, i remembered an article i read about a flat tax that the fraser institute had put a news release out on. by no means is this a new idea, i just wasn't aware of it until now. but it seemed pretty compelling.

the reader's digest condensed recap of all this is we are currently operating under a progressive tax system where different income levels are taxed at different rates. with this of course are all the shelters, loopholes, deductions, and exemptions that make actual payment of taxes perhaps less mandatory. a flat tax is exactly that, an equalized tax that applies to everyone regardless of their income level. there's a lot more to the theory and to the practice of flat tax, but i'll leave that to wikipedia.

what the fraser institute proposed was a 15% tax across the board with an exemption altogether for the lowest income earners. the tax form itself would be the size of a postcard and have about 10 inputs. that's it. no complicated forms, no receipts, no h&r block, fuss whatsoever. quite an appealing proposition for the layman. beyond the new ease of filing, they also mention a savings of roughly $30 billion in costs to maintain the current tax system and cite the economic benefits seem to be a huge boon as well. to quote the fraser release:

One of the most significant changes under the proposed flat tax is the full exemption of savings and investment from taxation. Income put back into the economy in the form of savings or investments would not be taxed under the flat tax, which would encourage more savings and investment and lead to a more vibrant and wealthier economy. The changes would also make Canada much more attractive and competitive internationally.

the greatest appeal for me is that under this system, the government will make the same amount of money, but in a much less complicated way. the other big appeal is that my tax rate would lessen from what it is now. and as the fraser institute states, more money for me to spend and put back into the economy. but aside from myself, i like that the people who traditionally weasel out of paying taxes, the highest income earners, no longer can avoid paying what they should. so no longer does the middle class bear the burden of funding this country, we all do equally.

the next question is, will this come to fruition? will someone in parliament or yet to be elected take this to the house? i can't imagine a mass populace will not want this to be a reality. if we live in a democracy and we are all supposed to be equals, at least on one level, a flat tax will make us all equals.



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