Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Present of Hockey Players

Ireland may have been swindled by its bankers and lost their economic miracle, but the hockey players are still going to celebrate, by tooting! The Belfast Giants do a shout out to their fans to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You with some of the worst dancing ever. But I am now a firm Belfast Giants fan:

 

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Hooping it in L.A.

Okay, so it’s not a holiday video, per se, but this video by hula hoop master Philo Hagen of Hooping.org made me smile, and the song “Gotta Do” by Quentin Harris is a good one. Check it out, and check out how absolutely dead downtown L.A. gets at nighttime:

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Happier Holidays

This year, there’s a mild blizzard going on outside my house, I am hopelessly behind in holiday preparations and house cleaning, the radical right in the U.S. have successfully held the population of the country hostage in return for more cash for their rich corporate masters, a pattern being repeated in numerous countries, millions are still out of a job and running out of savings — and yet it is so much better for me and my family than it was last year when people I loved were in danger and financial desperation, when we lost a great deal, and fear was our regular companion. And so I am grateful, even as many things in life remain uncertain and fragile and as I hope that things grow better for 99% of the population of the world. And so this post is about good stuff and helping gifts and all that squishy, humanitarian, reaching out garbage that supposedly has something to do with many holiday celebrations in the depth of winter (or summer if you’re on the lower half of the planet.)

Three organizations that are helping the poor move forward against the odds and to which you might want to make a donation if you see so fit:

http://www.liftcommunities.org/

http://www.povertybridge.org/

http://www.goinspirego.com./

In North Carolina, a group of anonymous donors is once again dressing up as Santas and giving out $100 handshakes on the streets to those in need:

http://news.sympatico.ca/unusualnews/anonymous_secret_santas_hand_out_hundred-dollar_handshakes_to_those_in_need_in_us/d006adf0

If you want to get some do-gooder gifts this year, in addition to those geek gift suggestions from earlier, here are some suggestions compiled by Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/02/christmas-gifts-2010-9-gi_n_791413.html#s197866

One of those suggestions — Heiffers International — which helps people in under-developed parts of the world to be animal farmers and feed their families — is a pet project of fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss. Every year, he runs Worldbuilders, a donation-and-auction campaign to raise funds for Heiffers International to which numerous SFF and comics authors contribute all sorts of interesting and signed things that would make great gifts. Plus, let’s face it, the idea of buying someone a chicken for the holidays is just innately comical. You can check it out here:

http://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/2010/11/worldbuilders-2010/

My daughter came to me and said she wanted to spend some of her saved gift money to buy a whistle. Turns out she meant a metal whistle pendant from Falling Whistles, an organization trying to help rescued child soldiers and child slave laborers in the Congo and elsewhere in Africa. The youngest child soldiers, you see, are not given guns. They are given whistles, told to blow them, and stuck out in front for the enemy to shoot at. Falling Whistles is working to save these kids and help them with the difficult road they face once they are rescued. To support this effort, you can choose from a selection of different whistles or buy a T-shirt. Or just make a donation.  You can find more information here:

http://www.fallingwhistles.com/main/

And lastly, there is Kiva, an organization I’ve been contributing to for over a year now. Kiva works with non-profit organizations all over the world to provide micro-loans to small entrepreneurs and entrepreneur groups. The minimum loan you can make is US$25, but once the person you loaned that $25 to pays it back, you can loan it out again to another entrepreneur. Not many charity contributions go that long in their effect. And you can team up with people you know to do it — have the whole office sponsor someone or your church. Kiva has a link in my Links column, but here it is again, if you are interested:

http://www.kiva.org/

These of course are just some of the good causes and organizations out there. (Unicef will also let you buy a chicken.) But after having to watch the naked greed on the news lately and hear well off people complain about the prices of e-books, hearing about these people trying to build good things in the world made me feel better and reminded me of the resilience and hope we all need to get through life.

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Stargate Gets a Little Too Low Tech

To keep going on the absolutely trivial theme, I don’t regularly watch any of the Stargate series or their reruns, but I do catch bits and pieces of them now and again. And it turned out yesterday that I saw the very beginning of an episode of now defunct Stargate: Atlantis. The group of four main characters — U.S. soldiers, aliens and scientists with the full backing of the government and the use of alien technology — have tracked a strange fluctuation that is probably an alien/Atlantan artifact. They find what appears to be a doorway and it seems to have some sort of field in front of it.

So instead of, say, any special equipment to test the field to see if it’s deadly, they throw a rock to test it. The rock goes through the field, which seems to be mostly a cloaking field, and disappears on to the other side. So now they know there aren’t any death rays to the field, but they need to see what is on the other side, and they don’t just want to send a human through unprepared of course.

So then they get out their robot camera, like the kind they use for bomb squads, and send it through. Oh wait, the most important scientists/military unit in the world doesn’t have a robot camera. No robots of any kind actually to help keep them safe from injury. But they do have a regular digital camera and some twine, and they get — a stick! A stick that you tie the camera to on one end and hold with your bare hand at the other end and poke the camera through the cloaking field. What could possibly go wrong with this ingenious plan? I mean, it’s not like there might be an alien on the other side who would grab the stick and pull, is there?

And indeed, nothing goes wrong. The camera goes through and shows them a picture of nothing there but a cave. Yay! So now a human can go through — because again, now that we’ve cleared it with the rock and the stick, nothing can go wrong — and it’s the tough military guy of course. And of course, they give the guy the camera but they attach a feed to the camera back with them so that when the guy’s on the other side, they can see what happens to him, and safety tow ropes with a harness, and a hazmat suit. Oh wait, they don’t do any of that. He just sticks his hand through. And says that it hurts. And they try to pull him out of the jello cloaking field with their bare hands, but he’s stuck and it’s dragging him in, so they have to let him go, with no rope round his waist even, and he disappears on to the other side.

At that point, I had to go and I don’t know what happened in the episode. My guess is, from the inscription one of the team was reading, that time probably moves differently on the other side and he will age really fast. But then they will save him before he dies and the old age make-up gets too much. But that’s a guess.

Now, I do like the Stargate series. They have great actors (Richard Dean!) and fun scripts and an often interesting mythology. And I know that they are low budget, t.v. cable scifi that has to save a lot of their money for the big giant ship next to a planet shots. But seriously, a rock and a stick? How hard or expensive could it have been for the special effects prop people to buy a remote control toy truck and trick it out as a robot to which you could attach a camera? I mean, Japan has a lot of cheap stuff now. You could get the Star Wars R2D2 robot for a fairly good price and change it up and use it for many, many episodes. I’m not expecting explosions and people flying through the air (though they have those sometimes.) Just a pack of main characters on expeditions who have at least basic equipment and do not act like morons when dealing with alien technology. Or if they are not going to have basic equipment and are going to act like morons, kill them off and have a bigger rotation on the cast.

I can only hope that the current Stargate: Universe series, which has bigger special effects in their recreation of Star Trek: Voyager, occasionally employs some basic, human, robot equipment. But then again, maybe they just rely on stones and sticks they pick up from planets they run into.

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The Results

Well it didn’t work, but it was still interesting.

In my previous entry, I explained how my stats had shot up thanks to the Victoria’s Secrets fashion show aired on t.v.  (see I Should Be Offended By This below,) and so I put up another photo of a VS model to see what would happen. I wanted to see if I could turn my 5 fold increase into an 8 fold increase. This did not occur. Instead the view stats dropped down to only 2 fold, double, of my usual viewing average. That’s still an increase of course, and most of those views were indeed due to Victoria’s Secrets photo searches, according to Word Press’ thingamabobbies that count things. But it shows you that these things are clearly time sensitive and that if you want to increase your view count by putting up pictures of scantily clad women (I should point out that this was not my original intent the first time I used a photo of a Victoria’s Secret model,) you have to tie it to particular events and then only get a short term effect of mostly advertising spambots. Which can be fun in its own way. This may also help my friend, author and artist Cynthia Radthorne. (Go check out her blog and art at the link on the side.)

Just me doing my lack of knowledge Internet games. I think it’s more fun than Farmville.

 

 

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I Should Probably Be Offended By This

But mostly I’m amused. I haven’t been able to do much with my blog for the last few months because of life stuff. Consequently, view counts of my blog have varied depending on the day, if I’ve posted other places on the Net, etc. (Spambots do not find your blog unless you post new entries, you see.) 🙂 But they’ve still been in the average range for my little fledgling blog. Today, however, I discovered that the number of views of my blog had increased 5 times over. Why?

Well, awhile back, talking about the disturbing trend of having photos of women in fashion advertising appearing like stick aliens, including bizarre photoshopping airbrushing,  mostly in terms of puzzling about what exactly is the advertising philosophy behind it, I put up, among other things, a photo of a Victoria’s Secrets model (as an example of the type of modelling today that is still not stick alienish yet.) And Victoria’s Secrets had a “fashion show” infomercial special on U.S. network t.v. last night. And apparently, in the wake of that, there are a lot of people searching for photos of Victoria’s Secret models. And so my blog came up in searches (I can’t imagine it’s very high on the search lists,) and some of the searches — probably mostly spambots programmed for the term Victoria’s Secret — came to my blog. And the ironic thing is that the particular, one Victoria’s Secret model photograph I had put up has been removed from the upload or virused and doesn’t even open on my blog anymore. You can’t actually see it if you come to my blog. It will not successfully gather for Google or whatever it is that is being done. (I did, however, get it originally from Google, so you can just go to Google and get some.)

But it is a very popular search term, apparently. So just for kicks, I’m going to try a little experiment. Here is a Victoria’s Secret model photograph from the 2010 fashion show:

 

I like this one because I like peacock feathers. Also, she has actual thighs. Let’s see if I can get 8 times more views than my usual average! I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

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