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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Backlog



I have a backlog of things I want to post about, but it’s looking increasingly like I never will, so I’m posting a summary here now:

New Year’s resolutions for 2007, I have two:
Don’t buy anything that’s name starts with “i” or “e”, especially if the second letter is capitalized (iPooh, eCrap, etc.)
Fat Off. Lose fat, not weight, through the philosophy of “move more, eat less”.

Kids and school:
I could be wrong, because I always had issues with cutting class, but kids who cut class, dodge school, go truant, whatever you want to call it, are displaying an entrepreneurial skill. This type of lateral thinking is difficult to teach, and might be difficult to harness. But it should be tried.


America-bashing
I’ve blogged before about the irony of Australians doing America-bashing by highlighting how loud they can be and criticizing their knowledge of geography.
I continue to insist that travelers are often perceived as loud because of context, regardless of nationality. I also insist that there are people in every country who don’t know everything about every other country. It was brought to my attention in 2003 at the Beach Hotel in Bondi that Ottawa is the capitol of Canada, and I still can’t tell you which province it’s in without looking it up. In addition, in every country, you can run into remarkable questions and opinions about other countries. I recently got hit with these two:

Unpaid Extra: I love America. They have such great cereals.
Me: What?
Her: Cereals
Me: Cereals
Her: Ya
Me: Breakfast cereals?
Her: Ya, like Coco Puffs and Lucky Charms and stuff. It’s great. I love it.


Shop Girl: Where are you from?
Me: I'm from California.
She asks: Oh, is that in LA?

The sphere problem:

According to the book I’m reading, “Coincidences, Chaos, and all that Math Jazz” by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird, the entire population of planet earth could fit in a container one cubic mile in volume (with room to move).

But what about on the inner surface of a sphere? Here’s what I worked out:

Agree that individual TV pixels are visible. PAL TVs display a max of 414,720 pixels. If we assign a pixel per person, then it would take approx 14.5 thousand TVs to represent everyone. If we give each TV a unit size of one square meter, we're talking about 14.5 thousand sided polyhedron with the inner diameter of 33 meters.

Can you imagine that?
If you imagine a single pixel in the centre of the circle, you get an idea of how big the sphere would be if it were scaled up to people size.

If I had a 14.5 thousand sided polyhedron with the inner diameter of 33 meters made up of TV screens I'd find a way to daisy chain them together to play video games and watch IMAX movies. I would have a 25-meter Perspex platform right in the middle. On that platform, I'd have a big Perspex drum kit, a Perspex cigar humidor, a 4-meter diameter x 10meter deep Perspex hot tub with a 3-meter diving platform. That would be cool.

Movie Review: Devil Wears Prada:

Liked it. It made me want to get into the fashion industry. The next day went to the Trop Fest short film festival with a VIP pass and felt a lot like Anne Hathaway's character, but did not look like her (that'll have to wait for Marti Gras).

Boats:
Two of the largest cruise ships in the world are in Sydney right now. I hope to go see them because people like seeing these sorts of things even though I just saw a very big boat in Circular Quay last month and I probably won't be able to see the difference without the other boat here to compare.

Stars:
Another reason people like to see the biggest boats and fastest planes, etc. is that there are so few of them. In a world with so many things, it's somehow comforting to know the limits. At either end of a set, at the peaks, there are a countable group of extreme examples. These serve as signposts of the bounds of the set. They give us a stick in the ground, a point of reference, and a common understanding, or a context. Film, TV, sport, music, art, magic and even cooking stars give us that same common context and understanding. There is a small group, very small compared to the world population, who are or were known the world over. This group includes, but is not limited to Michael Jackson, Mark Spitz, Bruce Lee, Bugs Bunny, Britney Spears, Greg Louganis, Nicole Kidman, Paris Hilton and Julia Roberts. From there cascades a downward spiral of international, national, regional and local stardom (this spiral is currently being guarded by Gary Colman). The entire group of stars from mega to pseudo, form a pantheon of demi-gods, or demi-OMGs. Endless reams of pulp follow the chopping and changing relationships of these entities in Bhagavad Gita-esq allegories of the phoenix or the flawed but inevitable ascension of the charming Krishna.

The recent passing of one of America's great beacons of culture, Anna Nicole Smith, reads like the chapter heading for our times. Just as Monroe was the perfect icon of the Kennedy era, the perfect mistress of a man with the perfect First Lady, and whose death caused a sincere grief that mirrored Kennedy's; Anna Nicole is the Marilyn Monroe of the naughties. Her story of unearned wealth, unimaginable incompetence to handle such power, the loss of that wealth, the grief she caused so many while fighting for the fortune, and the degree to which her mysterious allure was used by those around her, all mirror perfectly the GW Bush era. The untimely, but predictable setting of this star is an inauspicious sign if we follow this metaphor through.

Regardless of whatever message they carry or the arc their story takes, we owe a great deal of gratitude to the famous. They are burdened with our myth and lore. They're made to portray the pH of our culture at work and in their personal lives. And one by one, the most enthusiastic, creative, capable, and brightest stars burn out in the various heroic modes described by the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Take a moment to look at Anna Nicole and find a place where you can thank her for trying to tell us all some very bad news, for trying to warn us away from that bound. Look around at all the stars, the whole pantheon, and divine your moral compass from their stories.


End

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