Autonomous Source

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October 25, 2005

Real life

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So they stayed in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.

Max stood there with Talia.
They stood there those two.
And they screamed, "How we wish
We had something to do!"

So all they could do was to
And Papa didn't like it.
He didn't think it so fine.

So how could he manage them?
How could he cope?
With recorded cartoons
And videos he hoped.

He turned to the likes of
Dora, Bob, and Steve.
They did the job
And gave Papa a reprieve.

October 21, 2005

Stuff & Things XX

  • I'm still alive. The blog has suffered, true, but I've been overcome with my responsibilities for the past few weeks. Not only do I have two extemely active two-year-olds to care for, I am responsible for the upbringing of a level 46 undead warlock and a level 15 tauren shaman. Forgive me, I will try again to build some momentum.
  • Speaking of the dread MMORPG, the Daedalus Project is a great site that looks at the psychology of these games. This is sure to be a big field in the future.
  • One of the complaints I hear often about the fact that some people get much of their information from blogs is that they are isolating themselves from other points of view. A quick scroll though Bob Tarantino's Let it Bleed should convince them otherwise. In the past couple of weeks he's looked at (and ripped apart) the thoughts of Alexandre Trudeau, Noam Chomsky (in great detail), Heather Mallick, Jeffrey Simpson, and Rick Salutin. I'd nominate him for the most prestigious blog award I know of, but he's already won it.
  • This video (warning: weird) didn't make gnotalex's weekly film fest, but it should have.
  • "Iraq's a disaster! Iraq's another Vietnam!" Blah, blah blah. This is the hidden message woven into any 'news' article I read nowadays. Even a successful election wasn't enough to dampen this tone for more than a day. For a bit of balance, read this to find out how much confidence those closest to the conflict, the Iraqi people, have in their future.
  • While I'm on the topic, check out Christopher Hitchens' puncturing of another great media myth: that of 'bitterly divided' Iraq.
  • This is a great article on stupid European anti-Americanism. It sounds very similar to stupid Canadian anti-Americanism. (via Canadian Comment)
  • A new social consciousness is arising in my household. Talia challenged my authority with a defiant, "It's not fair!" the other day. I suspect I'll be hearing it lot more in the future.
  • My local do-nothing-backbencher-for-life Liberal MP has managed to get his name attached to a growing scandal. Good for him! I never suspected him capable of such a thing. Maybe he's cabinet material.
  • In the new information age we're living in, is there really any reason for the newspaper to print pages and pages of stock mrket prices? Does anyone get their investing information there anymore?
  • Our new Governor General wants to be Canada's Oprah:
    I intend to devote myself to promoting and multiplying actions that help to create a broader dialogue among us, a still-deeper understanding of what we are collectively.
    I suggest she host a CBC afternoon talk-show featuring different special interest groups each day to 'dialog' with. (via the London Fog)
  • Mark Steyn has frequently commented in passing on the slow-motion train wreck tht is modern Russia. In this article he looks at the country in depth. It ain't pretty.
  • Do you realize, that if present trends continue, you will be able to buy a completely new variety of toothpaste each time you need some for the rest of your life? I bet you didn't realize it. Aren't you glad you have me to point these things out? C'mon, I'm looking for meaning in my life...

Break time's over -- back to work!

Yeah, yeah, I was just goin'....

October 06, 2005

To the elderly residents of Ottawa

This is what a maple tree looks like in the Autumn. Look as long as you want:

Okay? Good. Hopefully now you'll be able to resist the urge to drive your Buicks down my highway at half the speed limit to see one again...

The Terrible Twos2

(Another post in the fascinating series that looks at the reasons behind the lameness of this blog! Please ignore if the very idea of another one makes you want to shake me by the lapels and say Stop! Stop apologizing! Enough already!)

Blogging has been on the decline here at Autonomous Source at least since March. Most blogs go through dry spells, and it's normal, but this has been the longest lame patch since I started writing two and a half years ago. My post last week listing excuses possible explanations for this decline listed World of Warcraft at the top. While that game -- with its pretty pictures and devious design geared toward maximizing operant conditioning -- has certainly drawn away much of what remains of my attention span, the blog was pretty far down on my priority list before I succumbed to its charms. The real reason the blog spammers see this site as an abandoned house they can take over, is those kids of mine. Those adorable, infuriating children.

Can I tell you about them? They're wonderful. They're very good when something interesting is happening, like when they're at the store, or visiting a friend's house, or meeting someone on a walk through the neighborhood. They're generally pretty good at eating, and they go to bed without a fuss and sleep through the night. And they're so cute and funny.

But they're driving me crazy.

They fight. We only have one plastic garbage truck. Max thinks he owns it, so Talia needs to have it. When this happens, shrieking, kicking, pinching, crying, and biting erupts. Five times a day. We have only one plastic digger. Max thinks he owns it, so Talia needs to have it. Again, five times a day. Aarrgh!

They make demands. All the time. They constantly need something and tell me about it. No! doesn't work. They will only repeat their request. Again and again and again and again...

They whine. Their demands are all made in the whining tones. I believe this hi-hi-hi-hi-looooow speech melody is programmed into children's brains at birth as some kind of a survival tool. Children all over the world use the same intonations. But in practice, you'd almost expect it to have the opposite effect...

They don't listen. Trying to get them to follow simple directions of things they know perfectly well how to do is impossible. Talia is the worst at this. Except for Max.

They listen too much. They're both extremely literal, so they believe whatever the other says, no matter how wrong it is, or how much I deny it. If Max says, "Ta-ya not going to Oma's", as we're getting ready to go to Oma's, Talia believes him. And starts shrieking.

They yell. And bang things. And chase the cats. And pull everything out and spread it around on the floor. Or throw it down the stairs. And they get into every little place I don't want them to get into. They're much too fast.

And they fight. Oh, I already mentioned this? Well they do. They fight over food, what to watch on TV, who gets in the car first, toys, their parents attention, what book to read at bedtime, who goes down the slide first, what to have as a snack, who gets to brush their teeth first, and what they're going to be when they grow up. Anything you can think of, they can fight over it. It gets a little... grating, shall we say.

And I really don't want to talk about toilet training. But I think the process is what the word 'frustrating' was created for.

So there you have it. It's them, them! that are the problem with this blog. Not me. Although I may have 'free time' when my two charges are napping or attached to the insideous mind-control device, I'm much too frazzled and burnt-out to be much good at anything. But as soon as they grow up and become reasonable people, this blog will return to its position as an important source of wisdom for the 21st century. Tentative date for this return: February 14, 2006 -- when they turn three.

October 02, 2005

Aiming to misbehave

Best line in the movie:

The Operative: Are you willing to die for your beliefs?
Captain Mal: Yes... (he blasts away at the Operative from point blank range) 'Course, that ain't plan A.
My wife and I saw Serenity today and we both agreed it was one of the best movies we've seen in a long time. We're both big fans of Buffy, of course, but we hadn't seen anything of Firefly before. But we had no problem falling into the new 'verse Joss Whedon had created.

I liked the movie because it told an interesting story and told it well, didn't insult the audience's intelligence, and had interesting characters that were sympathetic enough to make you care about them and different enough to make them real. Much has been written about why there's been such a drop off in movie attendence during the past year. My theory is that most movie-makers think their audiences consist of nothing but drooling morons. They have no respect for any of us. They seem to think we're incapable of empathizing with the main characters unless we're led by the nose through the most trite and clichéd background setups, and will be absolutely bewildered by the supporting characters unless they're one of the same cardboard cutouts we've seen a hundred times before. As well, movies now all come with 'themes' or 'messages'; but they're all the most banal, greeting card mush -- and told to you as if you've never had a thought cross your brain before.

So Serenity was refreshing. It deserves to be seen, if only to remind people what the movies are about. There's adventure, action, wit, drama, and humour -- and it seems so effortless.

I'm sure many reviewers are comparing this flick to the horrible, horrible abomination George Lucas unleased in the theatres this summer, because it feels so right. I have to do the same:

George's movie cost US$120m. Joss' movie cost US$40m. George's movie had the lamest dialog since... well, his last movie. Joss' dialog shone. George's movie had a spaceship crash-landing sequence that had me groaning because it was so dumb. Joss' movie had a spaceship crash-landing sequence that had me on the edge of my seat. The sets on George's movie were as sterile as Star Trek. The sets in Joss' movie looked lived in. George's movie had no characters you could care about. Joss' movie gives you a new family to love. George's movie used 'dramatic foreshadowing' to tell you everthing that was going to happen before the movie was half over. Joss' movie had you guessing 'til the end. George's movie stunk. Joss' movie rocked. George's movie made a pazillion dollars. Joss' movie will do 'OK' (I hope).

Go see it. Now.