Friday, August 30

Maybe the U.S. ought to practice what they preach. Perhaps they could start with paying those United Nations' dues that are "voluntary" yet, in reality, due. At the end of June 2002, members owed the UN $2.028 billion, of which the United States alone owed $1.117 billion (55% in total and 67% of the regular budget). (Info cited here.)
Okay, maybe I am not brilliant. But here is more evidence that almost half of us (here in the 'States) are real idiots.
I hate the war on terror. Hate it. Just like I hate the war on drugs. We have not caught them, we have not stopped them, we have only taken our own freedoms, our own lives. If, as Bush said, the war on terror will go on forever, then we will never win. Nay, we have already lost. If we are not fighting for freedom, what are we fighting for? Our masters. We are letting this happen, we are the idiots, we are the damned, we are America and we suck right now.
Think you're brilliant, don't you? Think again. As Thomas Jefferson said, "he who knows best knows how little he knows."

Thursday, August 29

Don't mess with Americans. Don't mess with your neighbors, or their kids. Don't mess with America. Don't even be suspicious, cause we'll watch your ass. We've got air-tight security everywhere. Don't leave your job post - you gotta ask us if you wanna take a pee. Got it? Got it?
Welcome to America, buddy. Learn the rules.

Tuesday, August 27

Land of the free, home of the brave.
Hip-hop and disgustingly conspicuous consumption. When will this long-running trend die a horrible death? Not soon enough.
This week The Economist has an uplifting (and economically right-leaning, but that's OK) take on the future of the United States, using demographics as a key indicator. (Sorry, it's pay-content: you'll have pick up the magazine to read the article.) While many (myself included) have for a long time viewed the U.S. as having reached the peak of its economic and political power, and now entering a state of decline, this article argues that the future population mix and growth trends for the country paint a more optimistic picture. Essentially the article asserts that our population is growing quite rapidly and evenly across ethnic groups, which is desirable compared to Europe's relatively stagnate growth. More importantly, however, our population will continue to be youthful 'round about 2050, hopefully leading to "lower labour costs … and a more entrepreneurial culture." And although increases in population bring with them an array of social problems, the U.S. certainly has the capacity (and hopefully the foresight) to intelligently accommodate the growth. In fact, it would do us all good to learn to live a bit closer together.
The Farmer and the Dole, the Farmer and the Dole; Hi, ho the dairy-o the Farmer and the Dole. An interesting New York Times article (login: opensewer; password: iswatching).

Saturday, August 24

Tom & Ray Magliozzi (AKA Click & Clack) have launched a “Gentle Educational Campaign” against (you guessed it) Sport Utility Vehicles. The tagline is “Live Larger, Drive Smaller.” Why have they done this? Well, in their humble opinion, because SUVs are stupid! (4 min., 3 sec. RealAudio link.) We here at OS like to think long-term, and we’ll enjoy looking back on this era of irrational-vehicle fashion in 20 years and thinking to ourselves, “Look how right we were!”

Thursday, August 22

Today is a good day to revisit one of our old saws: Poor Customer Service. Two personal experiences, just today in fact, of Poor Customer Service prompted these thoughts (I won't say where).

For about a year now, I've been doing something that I want to encourage all of you to do as well: wait for the person behind the counter (whatever counter that may be) to ask, "May I help you?" Over the course of the past, say, ten years, this polite and once ubiquitous custom seems to have gradually disappeared. But it shouldn't disappear--we're all still humans, aren't we? We still need to relate ourselves to one another, right? So I have resolved to not place my order (etc.) until I am asked.

This decision has, at times, resulted in long, nervous, awkward periods of silence--situations in which the person behind the counter and me stare at each other in an intense battle of will. It has also resulted in disdain from both the service worker and the other customers in line. But I don't care--I'm trying to make a point. Besides, it's fun dammit.

One thing to remember when you do this is that even though you're "fighting" something that's wrong, you should always remain polite. Being mean defeats the purpose. So, try this little social protest for yourself. You'll walk away with a wonderful sense of victory and tingly feeling of righteous indignation.

Wednesday, August 21

"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." Albert Camus, 1913-1960

Tuesday, August 20

New artist Jordin Isip uses the weathered, the stepped on, and the torn as raw materials in creating his beautiful, pensive, multi-layered illustrations.
Today's Working Assets Radio is on the good old subject of what chain stores do to local economies. They talked about a Super Target - a 150,000 square foot building meant to compete with Walmart. In response, Walmart has started builing 250,000 square foot stores - that's the size of six football fields not counting the space for parking.

Monday, August 19

Those with good memories might remember that not so long ago, Iraq was receiving aid from the United States. And you probably remember that Iraq used chemical weapons, too. If you are some left-wing wacko, or maybe a crazy conspiracy nut, you might have thought that meant that the Unites States knowingly aided a nation that was gassing people to death. And now it seems clear you were right, but it still doesn't feel good. (nytimes login: user-opensewer, password-iswatching)

Sunday, August 18

Uh, hello everyone. Sorry for the lack of updates over the past few days—the people who run Opensewer are in a state of household flux. And some of those who help are on vacation. Continuity will resume before too long, don’t you worry!

Thursday, August 15

Who knows what to believe anymore? We are all in a state of limbo. (Thanks to Ben Baumes for the Stopwar link.)
What will the world look like in 10 years? Is what you're doing right now going to affect how we live in the future? How will it affect our lives? Are you making a difference? Do you want to?

Tuesday, August 13

Excellent post, Rose! The article you linked is so good that I simply must pull a "quote of a quote" from it:

...sentimentality is an excess, a distortion of sentiment usually in the direction of over-emphasis on innocence and that innocence whenever it is over-emphasized in the ordinary human condition, tends by some natural law to become its opposite. --Flannery O’Connor

Good art, bad art, not sure? What is "art" these days anyway and who are we to say? Here's a hilarious article about your favorite and mine, The Painter of Light. Ahhh.... train 'em young to like bad art. And for those of you who like bad art, here's the place for you: MOBA, The Museum of Bad Art: Art Too Bad To Be Ignored.
Lost your job? Can't find a new one? Don't have health insurance? You must be a minority of one, if you listen to White House. Experts agree, everything is fine!

No, it's not.
So not only does the government want you to rat on your neighbor, they want you to tell it to Fox TV.

Monday, August 12

Today my post will contain both earnest commentary and just a little bit of media deconstruction. In the New York Times Magazine yesterday, Lisa Belkin wrote a mostly excellent article about coincidence and probability, and how these concepts relate to America’s current state of patriotic paranoia (user: opensewer; password: iswatching). In essence, I enjoyed this article, and thought it discussed an ordinarily arcane, counterintuitive subject in an objective and accessible way. It also appealed to me personally because of my interests in randomness and forecasting, and it reminded me of Spyros Makridakis’ insightful description of six key biases that one can fall into when attempting to think objectively or predict outcomes.

So on that front, it was a good article. However, I found myself disgusted by the shameless reference (read: plug) of the recent mediocre film, “Signs.” Belkin seemed to just force it into the seventh paragraph, and it looks suspiciously like someone paid her (or her editor) to do it. If that sentence hadn’t been in the article, it would have been a clip-n-save for me—but now it’s going straight into the trash. Like our own Josh mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, guerilla marketing is increasing in frequency, and it’s despicable. This growing trend makes critical thinking skills more important than ever, but unfortunately those skills seems to be increasingly rare among our compliant, starry-eyed, media-adoring youth.

Incidentally, why is the media pushing “Signs,” a lukewarm film by any standard, and its young director, M. Night Whatever, so hard recently? Is quality of work making the star director here, or hidden money and cronyism?

It’s funny how when we (Rose and I) go out of town we don’t blog—it’s so easy to do it from anywhere. I suppose the reason is that when we’re away, we really want to be away. Anyway, we’re back.
Go ahead and stick your head in the sand and keep telling yourself there's no way humans are affecting the global climate.

Friday, August 9

Just how many potential SUV owners do we have in this country now?

Thursday, August 8

The latest trend of the supremely image conscious seems to have a frightening but ironic side effect. (nytimes.com - login:opensewer, password:iswatching)
In case you were wondering if they are listening...
Yep, they are.

Wednesday, August 7

Our military has now decided to ignore our civilian government. Martial law, anyone? Don't bother politely refusing.
Public opinion has swung in favor of revising some of the most ridiculous laws in the United States. It is now even reaching the legislators in New York, home to some of the most extreme sentencing rules.

Tuesday, August 6

Remember this- America using the UN as a cover to spy on Iraq? So we are going to attack soon, consequences be damned?
People may not have been aware of it before last fall, but some people in other countries don't like us here in the States. And it's not just because they are jealous of our freedoms, as some of our elected leaders might tell you. So instead of trying to work more in harmony with the rest of the world, we're just going to sell ourselves. You want some of Brand U.S.A. ? And when Europeans don't like our policies, are we just going to remind them that if it wasn't for us, they'd all be speaking German? Can we even consider just listening to world opinion for once before acting?

Thursday, August 1

Imagine with me for a moment: You're in a bar and have just met an attractive person with a great personality. You're getting along great with this stranger when suddenly, their Sony Ericsson T68i phone rings and shows a picture of the incoming caller on its bright color display. Your new acquaintance smiles and before taking the call makes a point to tell you, "It takes pictures too!" You're impressed with this gadget, and as you wait the person to finish the call, you wonder if you need a new phone. Maybe you'll consider the Sony Ericsson T68i?

The next day you meet one of your friends for breakfast. While you're eating, they begin to tell you about a person they met last night at a bar - a completely different bar on the other side of town. This person intrigued your friend because they seemed interesting, but what was really interesting was that they had the most high tech phone with a bright color display that even took pictures.

Surprise! You've just become a part of Sony Ericsson's new marketing campaign! Welcome to the future: where marketing reaches a new level of deception.