Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Do Democrats Have Too Much Pride?

Hillary and Barack
Obama vs. Hillary
Originally uploaded by Manuel Valencia.

See how happy they look? Why can't we learn the value of good comradeship like these two? *sigh*

Democrats are... Defectors?
Now, I'm a Democrat and am probably going to catch all kinds of crap for this.

Let me begin with saying that I'm a Hillary supporter. Yep, I felt the sting last Tuesday when I watched her campaign chances all but dwindle down to zero. I'm still donating on my recurring campaign automated schedule and I'm behind her as long as she's in it (and today, it sounds like she is definitely in it to stay). But, I'm not in complete denial that pending a miracle, she's about done.

Okay, fine. So, it sucks... but we don't always get what we want. When/if she’s counted out, I'll give myself a couple weeks to sulk, then I'll start buying Obama buttons.

A significant number of us seem to disagree. I felt a wave of genuine nausea last Tuesday at a polling statistic touted by MSNBC. Only 48% of Indiana and North Carolina Hillary supporters would support Obama in the election should she lose. Less than half?!

If Obama wins, nationally, 28% of Hillary supporters will vote... McCain?! Obama supporters are a little better at 19%.

Today, that number is up to almost 50%, with only 34% of West Virginian Hillary supporters willing to support Obama in the national election should he win the nomination.

What’s the deal? This is beyond Obama's image getting muddied over Hillary throwing a little dirt.

And it’s bigger than a demographic.

I am so tired of hearing that Hillary supporters are uneducated racists. I’m a college graduate, twenty-something minority female engineer. I’m sure that Hillary has a few bigots in her clan, probably as many sexists that have flocked to Obama. But I digress.

It's a Simple Question of Policy, Right?
When it comes down to policy, it’s a struggle to find any two serious candidate contenders more aligned than Hillary and Barack.

We’re saying (and by we, I mean Democrats), that after our self-professed general political alignment with the Democratic ideals, if we lose Hillary, we’d opt to prolong/send more the war and make Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy permanent?!

Either, we haven’t been paying close attention to what Hillary plans to do in the White House, or something else is going on.

I’m going with door #2… and I think it’s pride.

We Need to Swallow It Down
We can all take a lesson from Alanis on this one. Why? Because we absolutely can lose this Presidential election if we don't get it together.

Some of us have been very invested in the campaigns and have listened to all the speeches. We think Obama is just great, (really, we think he's a nice guy). But we just aren’t convinced he would make as strong of a President compared with Hillary. Over time, that perception of him as “motivational,” “great” and all-round nice guy has become tainted. It’s probably not even Obama’s fault.

It’s the same reaction that happens when we see an evangelist on the street corner holding up a sign reading: “Jesus loves you.” Even fellow Christians cringe and cross the street.

See, no one likes to be preached to (in fact, by now, you're probably already growing sick of my rant), and there are a lot of Obama (and yes, I know, Hillary) zealots out there touting their candidate as the holy messiah to save us from all things unhappy.

I've felt it, too.

But, at the end of the day, I hope I can take a deep breath and realize that it’s the reason this dang nomination is dragging out so long: it’s hard for us to choose between two strong candidates.

And, our country needs a Democrat to clean up our current mess/disaster that Republicans seem to be in denial about. If Hillary doesn’t make it, Obama can and will be an excellent choice. The nominee is going to need our support.

So, if it’s pride (and I think it is), how do we fix it by November?

Comments? Leave them below.

On to other stuff...

I Was Dugg, Yay!
It's not a significant accomplishment compared with any serious blogger (I got a whopping 10 and 4 for two articles here). And it'll probably never happen again, but I was excited enough to add the Digg widgets to my blog.

So, now, I can be more easily mocked when I all my subsequent post diggs sit at zero :)

Donate, today to HillaryClinton.com

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How to Survive a Zombie Invasion: A Practical Guide

In case of zombies...
In case of zombies....
Originally uploaded by Drunken Monkey.

It's a Zombie Invasion! What do I do?!
Have no fear. If the undead begin to rise and reak havok on civilization as you know it, this trusty guide will safely navigate your survival.

I watch a lot of zombie movies. It's my dad's fault. He used to sit down with me from the age of six to view any run of the mill slasher I wanted. I loved it. I saw all the Nightmare on Elm Streets (multiple times in fact – these were my favorites). I grew up on Jason, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, you name it. So, over time, I've come to consider myself somewhat of a horror amateur connoisseur.

In my experience, there are some practical actions we can take to avoid death should a zombie invasion occur that typically go unexamined on film. It's no accident – employing these rules will allow humans to win... and that's simply not as entertaining.

What is a zombie?
In order to successfully survive a zombie invasion, we have to be sure we've correctly identified what a zombie is. Not to be confused with vampires, zombies are an undead threat to us in daylight and nighttime. These reanimated corpses were previously living humans (or animal, see Resident Evil Zombie Dogs), that have died, and though dead, are now walking among and attacking the living.

Note that this definition excludes “zombies” in films like 28 Days/Weeks Later. Apologies to all the fans (I like the franchise, too), but although they contain a virus/cannibalistic component, they are not technically zombie films since the infected are not undead and are subject to starvation, death and other natural elements as normal individuals are. My survival “rules” only work given the standard characteristics of true zombies.

Survival in 3 Steps
Surviving a zombie invasion requires careful mastering of three items in order of priority: 1) Environment, 2) Body armor, and 3) Weaponry.

You cannot run forever, and zombies never sleep. They are forever walking around in hopes of stumbling across a member of the living to devour. So, it is vitally important to quickly identify a secure location to live and sleep.

Go upstairs and destroy the stairwell. Zombies cannot climb or swim. Apparently, this requires higher brain function than zombies have. Luckily, we can do both. So unless you can quickly identify a castle with a mote, I'd pick a second plus story apartment. Then, either destroy the stairwell, or you have to permanently block the door. From here on out, you will be scaling the building to climb in or out of your residence of choice. No zombie will be able to follow you.

Apartments are more desirable to houses, because they usually have crawl spaces that connect to other apartments. So, not only do you have to jump up to get in them, but they can give you a quick way out that the undead cannot follow if you need it.

Climb your way to safety.

Body Armor
I have yet to see this discussed in a zombie film, and to me the is the most surprising omission. One constant across all films: it will be very bad for you if you are bitten by a zombie.

The details tend to vary, but you are infected with zombie blood and one of two things will happen: 1) your wound will get infected because zombies have very poor hygiene and you will eventually die (and become a zombie), or 2) the zombie blood is lethal and so you will quickly die and, well... become a zombie.

You will eventually have to venture outside for supplies/human companionship/sheer boredom, and any exposed flesh will be ripe for a surprise zombie attack. For this, you will need to find the nearest military base or abandoned soldier's home and steal an army combat uniform plus boots.

Lucky for you, zombies really only have one weapon – their teeth. They will never pick up a gun, rock or other weapon. In fact, in most films, zombies are not intelligent enough to operate door turn handles. They are deadly when they surprise you, and when they swarm you in large numbers. The ACU protects you from both. It's not penetrable by human teeth (but you must protect your neck and face!), and is light enough to allow you to get up and run to avoid a potential attacking clan.

If you can't find an ACU, use what you have. Wear jeans, even bubblewrap is better than nothing! Why some individuals venture outside in a zombie situation in shorts and a tank top is beyond me. Sounds like a candidate for Darwin Awards.

Cover up exposed flesh.

Eventually, you will need to kill a zombie. Zombies can only “die” through blunt trauma to the head or decapitation. You cannot break their necks, burn them alive, or otherwise injure them. Zombies do not feel pain.

Guns are great, but you will eventually run out of bullets. Murphy's law instructs you this will happen at precisely the wrong moment. The key lies in being prepared with a variety of weapons.

Guns will help you for paving a way through a mob. You only need to shoot a clear path – then run for cover. Fresh meat and zombie mobs tend to attract more zombies.

Baseball bats are a fantastic choice. They are quick and pretty clean, minimal risk of zombie infection.

Knives and stabbing weapons are usually a mistake. They allow the undead too close, within biting range. But if you must, I would recommend attaching the stabbing weapon to a plastic broom or some other durable stick. The key here is to keep the zombie face as far away from the body as possible.

Remember that face offs with zombies always end up bad for the human. If all the above fails and your zombie has come within arms reach, don't panic. You simply have to maneuver yourself behind the zombie. Then, grab your foe by the back of the neck (you know, like the snake handlers on Animal Planet). Now you have control of your zombie and are free to bash his(/her?) head against the nearest wall or suitable solid object of choice.

With any luck, you are entangled with the pre-2001 flavor of zombie, which are extremely slow. In this case, out-maneuvering your opponent should be a snap.

And remember – aim for the head. :)

I hope you have enjoyed this little survival manual. I'm open to critique and further thoughts. Leave them below.

We're so *Class-y-cal*

A Night with Mozart
Last night, Jeremy and I got all pretty and went to the Sacramento Choral Society's Requiem by Mozart. He was required to go for a Music Appreciation course he has, but I decided to come along for fun. See how pretty we are?

I always seem to appreciate art more when there is a local focus. Reading the program, I learned that all of the members of this orchestra and choir were professional musicians currently living in the Sacramento area. The pieces performed after the intermission weren't even Mozart, but requiems from grammy-nominated USC professor Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna, written in 1997. I'm not sure if this local composer theme is a regular thing with this group, but for me, it worked.

After the concert, I overheard an elderly couple remark that, "The first half was wonderful, but the second was absolutely magnificent," apparently none the wiser that a second composer had been slipped into the program at all. What a compliment for Lauridsen.

The choir received a deserved standing ovation.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's the Anniversary!

Alicia Keys in a Red Dress
Alicia Keys in a Red Dress
Originally uploaded by bigdmia

It's our two-year anniversary and Jeremy did freaking awesome. Well, okay our anniversary is in a few weeks. But there's a reason we're doing it early.

I was greeted Thursday afternoon by a dozen roses, an appropriately mushy card, and two tickets to Alicia Keys this Sunday night. What a surprise -- I'm pretty much on Cloud 9, but I'll stop here.

Don't want to make the ladies jealous :)

Other Stuff
I love this apartment complex, community, and blah blah - but the management could use some work.

Yesterday, I received a bright green "Illegally Parked" notice stuck on my car window. And when I say "stuck," I mean the break-out-your-paint-scrapers, peel away in millimeter-diameter strip fragments for twenty minutes while hurling explicatives kind of stuck. The guy (or girl) had to have broken out a blow dryer to make that sucker bake against the glass in the few hours the notice had been there. That, or paper adhesive backing is now secured with super glue.

I was pretty hot.

Apparently, I'm "illegally parked," for leaving my complex registered vehicle in my one parking spot allotted to me in my lease. Reason? My car "hasn't moved" -- the only comment on the notice. Wow.

So, sue me. Lately, I carpool.

What really gets me is, every day I pass all kinds of cars illegally parked in the driving areas of my complex. Occasionally, they are blocking other residents in. Occasionally, they are blocking me in. But management here is very proactive. Yay! For this, we all get generic nasty-grams from management telling us that if residents don't begin using designated parking, management reserves the right to hold garage inspections.

Garage inspections? Why not tow them?

I think I understand, the idea here is that some residents are packing their garages full of their crap and use two outdoor parking spaces, instead of their lease allotted one.

Nothing ever comes of the threats. And anyway, how are residents supposed to use their garages when we're always worrying about being blocked in?

Apparently, this is okay, so long as we routinely move our cars from one illegal spot to another.

Yep. Tow the legally-parked residents and we'll free up the space for the folks parking in the middle of the driving areas. Then, everybody wins!

Meh, I think I may be jaded that there are still tiny bits of that notice maybe forever stuck to my poor Neon window.

Battlestar Galactica Predictions

BSG Last Supper
The Last Supper
Originally uploaded by kidddrunkadelic14.

I'm venting today a little about a topic that I'm frankly sick of thinking about. Apologies in advance for pulling you into my deluded psyche. Here we go.

So, who is the fifth and final cylon?

For going on three weeks now, I've been convinced that it's Anastasia Dualla. (That's right, Dee. I said it!)

So, why Dee...
My rationale was three-fold:

Point One: Gender
The fifth is probably female. This keeps what I like to call our “5-7-12” theme consistent. Thematic numbers seem to be extremely important to the BSG series writers. We have the concept of twelve colonies, twelve humanoid cylon models, twelve human archetypes and further designation of the “Significant Seven” and the “Final Five.” If the fifth cylon is female, we have a cylon group of seven males and five females.

Not exactly iron-clad proof, but a fair point, I think nonetheless.

Point Two: Gasp. “You... forgive me, I had no idea.”
D'Anna Briers is surprised and apologetic towards one of the Five that are revealed to her in the Opera House. It's clearly a clue for us, but the last time Briers had significant contact with humans was back in season two; we really need to think back. Honestly, myself, I'm split between this being a clue for Sam Anders (whom she tried to kill before a Six shot her) or for Anastasia Dualla, whom she consistently dismissed condescendingly during the Galactica tour in “Final Cut.”

Point Three: “Adama is a cylon.”
Here's the clincher for me. These are the famous last words of Leoben before Roslin throws him out the airlock. We also have significant indication that Leoben's entire objective aboard Galactica was to relay that very message to Roslin, even stalling stalling his own execution through lies, voluntarily enduring torture the face of for the chance to tell her. He leaves it up to her to deduce which Adama he means, though I don't think she could even be sure at this point.

She (and I admittedly, at first) assumes Leoben is referring to Admiral Adama (hereafter referred to as William). After he passes his cylon test, she rejects the theory as a divisive lie and begins the even more intimate partnership/relationship with the man that continues today. We have no indication she thinks of his revelation again... but I'm not so sure I agree with her assessment.

So, let's look at our "Adama" options: William, his children, and don't forget Dualla (since Lee and Dualla have since married).

The Admiral: William being a cylon is a long-shot without taking into account the “Last Supper” photo-argument, given Boomer's programming to shoot the man. We know that the Significant Seven do not program themselves, nor do they know who programmed them. But since we're aware of at least eleven of the twelve cylon models are programmable, and if the raiders even refuse to engage one of the Final Five, I have a hard time buying Boomer being programmed to shoot one.

Zac & Lee: I don't even want to discuss any of William's kids. Lee is excluded in the "Last Supper" photo. But, if Zac Adama is a cylon member of the Final Five... I'll quit watching the show. It's beyond reasonable plausibility to me that one of the main characters on the show can have a child, raise him and have no idea he's a planted cylon. I have no idea what kind of complicated-conspiracy/hospital-room-switched-at-birth scenerio would have to ensue to make this work... and I don't want to. It sucks.

Dee: So, if Leoben is being truthful: we get more early development of Leoben's character as uniquely prophetic, foretelling Dualla and Lee Adama's marriage, and yet another hit for Dualla. Nice.

So, I went along my merry way under this assumption until I saw Razor.

And Why I'm Unsure Now
Now, I generally don't buy into the over-analysis that seems to take part on some of these topics. I know what you're thinking - and yes, some analyses are much much worse :) Remember, the meticulous examination “Last Supper” promo picture. Clearly, the show producers are trying to relay a fair amount of symbolism through the image, but like the cylon model to astrological sign mapping, we viewers can occasionally read more into these symbols than what was intended by the writers.

Ronald Moore admitted over a year ago, for example, that the numbering of the cylons, with the exception of Six, was entirely random. But you'll still find cyberspace littered with charts and diagrams matching the various models by job function or personality types to their perceived astrological match.

That said, something the old hybrid imparted in Razor reminded me of an obvious omission in the now famous BSG promo image. I'll only highlight one point; I think you'll find it not too much of a stretch.

The old hybrid elaborates about the fifth:
“At last, they’ve come for me. I feel their lives, their destinies spilling out before me. The denial of the one true path, played out on a world not their own, will end soon enough. Soon there will be four, glorious in awakening, struggling with the knowledge of their true selves. The pain of revelation bringing new clarity and in the midst of confusion, he will find her. Enemies brought together by impossible longing. Enemies now joined as one. The way forward at once unthinkable, yet inevitable. And the fifth, still in shadow, will claw toward the light, hungering for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering. I can see them all. The seven, now six, self-described machines who believe themselves without sin. But in time, it is sin that will consume them. They will know enmity, bitterness, the wrenching agony of one splintering into many. And then, they will join the promised land, gathered on the wings of an angel. Not an end, but a beginning.
Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end. She is the herald of the apocalypse, the harbinger of death. They must not follow her. “

Remember Moore's admission/media slip that the “missing” individual at the table is the fifth cylon. Given the placement of the twelve present in the photo, we can infer that the missing individual would correspond to Judas in DaVinci's original piece. I mention it, because the characterization of a regretful Judas-like character being the fifth seems consistent with the hybrid's revelation.

So, Dualla? Hungering for redemption? Now I'm confused. Besides Baltar, who is excluded by the photo, I'm drawing a blank on who would harbor this amount of regret and guilt. Shrug. Maybe Dualla's heated argument with her father affected her more than I gave her credit for.

Or... maybe it's not Dee at all and I'm back to square one. Grrr...

To be sure, I guess I'll have to wait until Kara and her new crew reactivate the Three. In the meantime, feel free to leave your own hypothesis/thoughts.

Open Questions after the “Faith” Episode Last Night:
1.Why did Boomer's blood “activate” the hybrid for Kara Thrace? What's the significance here?

2. What happens to Baltar's Virtual Six now that the NC Six is really dead?