Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pass the Cod Flavored Doritos, Please

  Both Tole and Lawdog have extolled the virtues of The Gamers, but while poking around the rental site I got one of those "We think you would like..." things, and one of the suggestions was Astropia, an RPG geek movie from Iceland.  It's standard fare: Shallow girl finds herself in tough circumstances, takes job in comic store, and finds true love and her inner nerd in the end whilst battling crime.  Wait, crime in Iceland?  Who knew?  The real treat though was watching icelandic life filmed by those who live there.  It's pretty amazing that they have managed to carve out a comfortable life on an island which looks so barren.

  It invites comparison to  Greenland and why the Norse were not able to hang on there.  One thing I've discovered is that archeology can be fad driven in a major way, and by studying archeology or history one can learn a lot about modern times.  For example, when I was young, it was held that learned men in the Middle Ages wasted a lot of time arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.  This was evidence of how backwards things were back then, since people were starving and those who should be helping were arguing meaningless things.  It later morphed into a semi-serious argument, since a fixed number of angels would mean that angels were not just made of spirit.  Still not helping the starving, but a move towards rationality.  The problem is that no one in the Middle Ages really cared about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.  It was a rhetorical argument, designed to help a student convince  you that he knew that 144,000 angels could dance on the head of a pin.

  The same applies to the Norse Greenlanders.  Right now, they've been hit by a one-two punch of Global Warming (Wait a second.  Heat would make life better)  Climate Change and the entity known simply as "The Church."  As time goes by, there will be other theories; I think pandemic was popular for a year or so.  Right now, no one can say for sure, but I can tell you why the Icelanders were able to hang on when the Greenlanders were not.  Me, currently baking in the Texas heat, never been to Iceland or Greenland, speaks not a lick of the language.  Here's what happened:

  In the deepest North Atlantic winter, when human life was hanging by a string, one Icelander said to his friends, "I'm going to use the last of my strength to go down to the beach and uncover that dead shark that washed ashore last spring."  And his friends replied, "To hide our shame, we'll make it our national dish."


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lawnmower Man


  Come Autumn,  I'm down at S-Mart looking for the cheapest lawn mower they've got, then looking to see if it's on clearance.  I take care of my $85 machine, but if I get three years out of it, I'm lucky.  Then I'm back at S-Mart.  I can have the old repaired, but it will cost half the price of a new one, and won't be ready in the ninety minutes it takes to wait in the checkout line.

  It's a system which has worked for many years, but there is just one catch: I have to mow up to three full sized lots, and doing that with a push mower all these years is starting to lose it's luster.  Finally broke down and bought a "reconditioned" riding mower.  Guy I bought it from had hundreds of lawnmowers stacked in his work yard; he gets so many he told me he has to cram them into the body of an old car then have the car towed off.  Nice to know others share my attitude.  Anyway, for the first time I have enough money in a mower to care, and it's now raining...  And I never thought about a place to put it.

On a slightly related topic, here in town a few people (ok, a lot of) go around town on lawnmowers.  The retail chain I work for believes the best way to repair a parking lot is to pour gravel in the potholes.  Notice where this is going?  I got to be part of a drinking story as the foil who comes running out of the store waving his arms shouting "Disengage the blade!" 


Monday, July 26, 2010

If you're going to sin, sin boldly

   First post ever was going to be about Lawdog's fondness for short stories that usually end with a single gunshot, but today's news has been about Wikileaks posting gobs of what was considered secret stuff.  Might as well jump in with both feet...

  I'm generally of two minds.  I think in a democracy secrets should be pretty rare.  Most of the time they exist simply to keep people from being embarrassed, and I think we should trust the public to react in a mature way.  Can't say I've ever feared for the Republic on the breaking of some huge secret.

  On the other hand, if you don't like policy you should quit.  Write letters to the editor, join a protest group, campaign for the politician who promises sunlight, etc.  If you feel the Nation is in danger unless you leak, then you should do so publicly.  You're not important man!  Throw open those doors!

  I guess it's the methods that bother me.  Any policy based on hypocrisy is off to a bad start.  

   Q:  So you believe in leaking secrets?

   A: Yes.

  Q:  So who is the leaker?

  A:  That's a secret...

  What is interesting to me about all this is that apparently amongst the treasure trove is information that the Iranians are giving the Taliban a hand.  Yeah I know, no big deal.   Still, has anyone over there really thought about this?  Wikileaks just gave ironclad proof of Iranian malfeasance!  One is led to the conclusion that: a) Wikileaks is honest about what it posts, no selective releases based on content,  b) it's really a CIA front, c) it's so focused on making America look bad, it overlooks evidence that might give the attack Iran crowd a boost.  

  I used to run into c) a lot back when I frequented a certain political message board.  Someone would post that the Pacific War was forced on Japan because of American policy.  That would be my cue, so I would jump in and announce that the poster had just justified America's blood for oil campaign.  You could feel the brains locking up.  Good days.