Quit sucking Apple’s dick

The Case against the iPad « Bottom-up

So apparently Apple has introduced some stupid thing called the iPad, which, menstruation jokes aside, seems to be some kind of wireless screen ebook reader doodad. I can’t imagine what one would want with it. Dude linked to above reviews the thing and points out how annoying it is for the device to not have normal ports (like a USB connection) as well as how it lacks multitasking and is a closed system to third party developers.

Predictably, fanboys converge on the thread to point out the benevolence of our Malusian (Is that a word? Is now!) overlords. See, the closed system is for your own good! It allows Apple to build a platform that works, as opposed to all other platforms which totally don’t (after all, have you ever heard of anyone productively using anything other than an Apple product? Didn’t think so!). And the DRM that’s built into all Apple products is so, like, not at all Apple’s fault! Also, not being able to multitask is to keep you from running a program that might wear down your battery in the background or something, I don’t know. Freedom is slavery and war is peace are about the only things missing from that comment section.

I don’t know if the iPad is any good; I suspect, given the lukewarm reviews, that the answer is no. But more importantly, the release of a nowhere-near-perfect Apple product gives us all an opportunity to watch some wonderful cognitive dissonance in action. Instead of acknowledging the shortcomings of the product as actual shortcomings (like a normal person would do), the devotees of the Cult of Jobs will jump through any hoop to rationalize why things were done the way they were. Simple motives like “trying to control the bottleneck to your device so you can make money off it” never seem to enter the conversation. Apple is never anything less than omniscient and perfectly good and therefore everything it ever does is for a good reason.

I don’t care what platform you use; use whatever the fuck works for you, seriously. But don’t, as the proverb says, piss on me and tell me that it’s raining.

You guys might want to move that somewhere else

From the what the fuck is that doing there department: among the rather mundane definitions one finds in Title 1 of the US federal code (e.g. gender terms, definitions of vehicles, etc.) one also find this gem:

Wherever, in the statutes of the United States or in the rulings, regulations, or interpretations of various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States there appears or may appear the term “products of American fisheries” said term shall not include fresh or frozen fish fillets, fresh or frozen fish steaks, or fresh or frozen slices of fish substantially free of bone (including any of the foregoing divided into sections), produced in a foreign country or its territorial waters, in whole or in part with the use of the labor of persons who are not residents of the United States.

I have no idea why anyone thought Title 1 was the right place to put this. Is defining products of American fisheries so basic to the US Federal code that it’s gotta go to the very front of the line? Fucked if I know.

Dear film critics: kill yourselves

Film Salon – Salon.com

So apparently I found out via Salon that James Cameron won some kind of “Molten Glob” or some shit for Avatar. Over The Hurt Locker, which is apparently directed by his ex-wife Katherine Bigelow. Ok, sure. I haven’t seen The Hurt Locker, which I am told is very good. I have however seen Avatar, and I have this to say to anyone who voted for that movie over… well, anything else:

Please, just off yourselves right now. Are you even trying here? Are there two functional neurons firing within your skull? Avatar is an overblown, ridiculously pretty movie with a plot and direction that could have been conceived by a 10-year old, and probably better executed. It’s not a movie so much as it is a tech demo. If you voted for Cameron to win a best director award for this nonsense, just drink some bleach, put the gun in your mouth and pull the trigger, and make sure you do this on top of a diving board positioned off the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Or alternately, put your fucking thinking hats on for just a goddamn second and stop being so goddamn stupid. Avatar? You’ve got to be shitting me.

When I’m King Shit of Hollywood Mountain, I’m going to disband all the award shows. Few things are more annoying than watching a gaggle of morons pretend that shitty movies are masterpieces. This is why we can’t have nice things, America.

Brief thoughts on SOTU

pandagon.net

At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte says everything I’d wanted to say about the SOTU address last night. By far the most infuriating thing to me about it was the fact that Obama seems to either buy into or pretend to buy into various Republican memes about the economy, energy (offshore drilling, are you shitting me?), bailouts, taxes, and so on. Sure, there were some nice proposals last night (ending DADT is perhaps the bravest one) but entirely too much of it was a rehash of lukewarm policy, and not nearly enough of it was spent ripping the Senate and Republicans a new asshole.

Republicans only understand one language, and that’s the language of threats. You can’t speak to people who think that welfare recipients are stray animals in normal human terms, because they don’t understand that. Anything you say to them has to be 95% stick and 5% carrot, and the only reason you need that 5% is so you can pretend to be magnanimous. With Obama, it’s like a 50/50 split, which is far, far too generous to these imbeciles.

Is there anything stupider than lifestyle articles?

When Chocolate and Chakras Collide – NYTimes.com

I’m sure you can guess that the answer is “no.”

Look at this dumb fucking bullshit. Every time someone gets paid a full reporter’s wage to write about this inconsequential crap, another important story on science, or policy, or international news goes uncovered. At a time when newspapers, including the Times, are already cutting their reporting staff, to maintain a division that writes about this nonsense is not just a bad idea; I would allege that it’s downright unethical. Who gives a flying fuck about the dominant humor of yogis and how that affects their eating habits? First, it affects a tiny fraction of people even in New York City, mostly the kind of upper-class woo-devotee with expendable income to spend on pursuits of faux-Eastern “teachings” commercialized for the American market. Second, it’s, like, not true! I mean, consider this:

“A pure yogic diet is one that is only calming: no garlic, onions or chili peppers, nothing heavy or oily,” said Ms. Grubler. “Steamed vegetables, salads and fresh juices are really the ideal.” Yogic food choices can also influenced by ayurveda, a traditional Indian way of eating to keep the body healthy and in balance. Some yogis determine their dosha, or dominant humor, vata (wind/air), pitta (bile) or kapha (phlegm), and eat accordingly. Foods are invested with properties like warming or cooling, heavy or light, moist or dry.

Mr. Romanelli says that such ideas about food are aspects of yoga that most Americans find forbidding, unrealistic and generally, as he puts it, “woo-woo.”

One man’s woo-woo, of course, is another’s deeply held belief system.

Gosh, if only we had some kind of system that would allow us to verify whether or not things like “humors” were, you know, real and stuff. Some kind of methodology that would perhaps try and check these ideas against the real world. That’s so fucking crazy and Western though! How could we, simple reporters that we are, possibly know if anything is true? It would be so judgmental of us! Better just report that as “one man’s X is another man’s Y,” which must be, like, the laziest cliche ever.

Also: are you kidding me with this anti-onion, anti-garlic bullshit? These are things that are pretty much unambiguously good for you, and you’re telling me not to eat them? Garlic is fucking delicious, and if it were socially acceptable I would eat cloves of it every day. Anyone who desires a diet bereft of garlic and onions doesn’t want food, they want sustenance. These are people who demand mortification of the flesh in the service of a nonsensical and false doctrine, even when that food is actually healthy to consume. A life lived without garlic is almost not a life worth living.

In conclusion: fuck hippies, especially rich hippies who can afford to indulge their stupid tastes and thereby make those stupid tastes somehow attractive to report on. And fuck the Times for devoting even an iota of its finite resources to this worthless task instead of doing actual reporting.

It’s “Hear! Hear!” dumbasses

Not “here, here!” Does that even fucking make sense? No! “Here, here!” is what you would say if you found the treasure and wanted to let the other pirates know where it was. Or if you’re a forward in the Primera Liga and you’re making a run into space, and you’re yelling, “aqui, aqui!” to your holding midfielder to make the pass. But if you are trying to voice agreement with a particular statement, as though you might be encouraging people to listen to it, then it’s “hear, hear!”

In relevant film news

I am pretty surprised, actually, that the number of critical essays on The Big Lebowski to be found in a cursory JSTOR search appears to be “one,” and maybe not all that surprised that the number of worthwhile critical essays on the same is “zero.” Here’s the link to the one essay I did find that discusses the film directly (it’s on JSTOR, so you need institutional access to view it). It’s laughably badly written academese that says almost nothing interesting about the film itself but does feature lovely footnotes citing Derrida and Heidegger. My favorite part:

I read The Big Lebowski in order to think through the problem of narratival [1], or mythic violence, and how, ultimately, to interrupt myth in the exterior world of Bush, Hussein, and the Persian Gulf.

Man, there sure are some lovely trees around here, but where the heck did that forest go?!

In other news, by the end of the weekend I plan to have an essay up about A Serious Man, in which I will try to place it in the broader context of the Coens’ canon and also try to persuade people that it’s a good movie worth watching.

[1] Goddamn it, we already have a fine word for this kind of thing. That word is “narrative” which can be used as either a noun or an adjective. You don’t need to tack on an awkward ending to show everyone how smart you are.

Addendum: if you want to see what an actually insightful review sounds like, you can read the very next thing I found on JSTOR, which is a review of O Brother Where Art Thou? by none other than (in cooperation with two others) the inestimable Tim Kreider, he of “The Pain” comics. Kreider, by the way, is a terrific film reviewer in general, and his writeup of Eyes Wide Shut is fantastic.

Obligatory “gay for Steve Nash” post

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Phoenix Suns – Box Score – January 11, 2010 – ESPN

30 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists on 12-18 shooting, including 2-4 from 3. But his +/- is still inexplicably lower than Channing Frye’s, who was 0-5 from the field and had 5 rebounds.

Ok, granted, it was against the Bucks, but still. Here’s a 35-year old dude who is leading the league in assists per game (11.3) despite playing almost 4 minutes fewer than the second place guy (Chris Paul) and several minutes fewer than most of the other top 10 assist leaders. He’s averaging 18.9 PPG, which makes him the 3rd highest scoring point guard in the league, behind Arenas at 22 and Deron Williams at 19.5; again, this while playing several fewer minutes per game than either. In terms of offensive efficiency, he has the highest field-goal percentage of any guard in the league (everyone above him is either a forward or a center). He is second only to Randy Foye in free throw percentage and is one of 3(!) Phoenix players in the top 10 in 3-point shooting (he isn’t even the best 3-point shooter on his own team; that honor belongs to Jared Dudley (!!)).

As much as it pains me to admit it, the odds are excellent that Nash will never win an NBA title. The Suns of this year are not a team built for playoff domination; when the threes are falling, they’re unstoppable, but they also can’t stop anyone and have no inside game beyond the Nash-Stoudemire pick’n’roll. But there’s no way you can look at those numbers and make the case that this is an overrated player. These are MVP numbers by almost any standard, and had he not already won the award twice, there’s no question that he’d be in contention. And this isn’t even a contract year, since he’s already accepted a two-year extension on his contract this summer. If Nash hadn’t, would he not have had his pick of places to go after this season?

I don’t know what the point of all this is except to say that obviously Nash is a terrific player. He’s going to be remembered as one of the greatest players of the decade, title or no.

Addendum: Nash is actually the 4th-highest scoring point guard. Chris Paul is averaging 19.5, but for some weird reason he doesn’t show up on the leader board of either basketball-reference or the NBA stats section on ESPN. I have no idea why this is, but that’s why I missed it the first time. I knew something had to be wrong so I looked up Paul’s individual stats.

Addendum 2: The only people Nash trails in adjusted field-goal percentage are Kendrick Perkins and Dwight Howard.