Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Heroes metagame: Hana Gitelman & Sylar

I still haven't watched last night's episode of Heroes yet, but I'm hoping we've seen more of Hana.
She sent me an email (I still can't quite wrap myself around the idea of metagames, receiving emails from fictional characters and all, but I'm trying) with a hidden login link inside Primatech's website. You might recognize the helix logo from MANY appearances on the show -- including a certain sword.

If she wasn't in more of the episode, I've been in her Primatech files:

SUBJECT: Hana Gitelman (Known Aliases: Wireless)
ABILITIES: Can intercept, generate and interpret electronic wireless transmissions.
LOCATION: Currently unknown.
PERSONAL HISTORY: Grandmother fought in World War II in the resistance against Germany. Mother was a decorated Israeli pilot. Both her mother and grandmother were killed in a 1989 terrorist attack, which Gitelman survived.

Gitelman served in the Israeli Army and transferred to Mossad in 1997 where she excelled in Sig-Int and rose through the ranks of the intelligence organization, most likely due to her latent abilities.

I exploited Gitelman’s strong desire to participate in active field work, recruited her from Mossad, and put her in our service. After physical training at our secure facility and the full manifestation of her abilities, Gitelman was sent to Tanzania to intercept data on DNA alteration from Dr. Henry Strauss. She successfully completed the mission, but was captured in the process and turned over to the US Embassy. Her belief that she was working for the CIA and lack of bona fides most likely came as a surprise to her and our intelligence indicates that she escaped.

Gitelman has not been heard from since she escaped custody in Tanzania. I suspect she is living “off the grid” under an assumed identity.

Possibly unstable. Refer to Mossad-Prepared Psych Evaluation for detailed analysis. Gitelman may harbor resentment for what she views as our abandonment of her in Tanzania.

DIRECTIVE: Locate and debrief. Gitelman’s abilities makes her a highly valuable asset to the organization.

••CAUTION•• All communication regarding Hana Gitelman should be directed through non-electronic means (no email, text message, instant message, cell phone or land line). Keep all files stored at 4096-bit encryption.

There was a code hidden in her file. I won't tell you where to find it, just like I won't tell you where to find the helix link. You'll be blue if you don't find it, though.
There are also three surveillance photos of Hana in her file. There's also a bit of her Mossad file for your perusal.

There's also a rough sketch of what's been done to Hana/the source of her abilities. She's been injected with a "radio isotope" (radioactive, maybe?) that allows HRG and his people to track her (so much for life off the grid).

The code, by the way, gets you into the Sylar file...

Case File – C3004
Subject: Gabriel Gray Known Aliases: Sylar
ABILITIES: Telekinesis, Multiple Unknown Abilities*
LOCATION: Currently unknown. Last held captive at Odessa Facility.
PERSONAL HISTORY: Gray, a watchmaker by trade, was approached for study by Chandra Suresh who termed Gray his “patient zero.” Gray used his intuitive understanding of the biological workings of individuals on Suresh’s list to obtain their abilities. The specific mechanism of acquiring the powers is uncertain, but requires the removal of the victim’s brain matter.

With the “adoption” of new abilities, Gray assumed the name Sylar and began a killing spree – targeting individuals on Chandra Suresh’s list of “specials”. Although telekinesis is the only ability directly observed, Sylar has ostensibly acquired many other abilities from his victims.

We captured Gray after the Union Wells High School incident. FBI Agent Audrey Hanson and Matt Parkman’s investigation led them to an unsuccessful raid on Primatech Paper while Sylar was in our custody. Under our observation, Sylar proved uncooperative and an incident with Eden McCain/Sarah Ellis led to her death. Despite our best efforts, Sylar escaped from our custody before our study was complete.

Infusion of foreign DNA into Sylar’s genome has corrupted his mind. He is sociopathic and singularly focused on gaining more abilities. His desire to be special will compel him to seek out more victims.

DIRECTIVE: Locate and recapture. Do not terminate. Further study required.

*Review Medical Chart for Codons Tested.

Still nothing new, information-wise. But interesting nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Heroes metagame

It begins here:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Football: Is it Un-American?

via Oliver Willis:

The Daily KOS blog hates football.
Great. Really. I'm all for people exercising their rights. I'm all for people expressing their opinions in a public forum, but this douchebag Jason Miller is WRONG WRONG WRONG.
Let's refute a few of his points.

"Rivers of ice cold beer gushing forth to satiate our desire to numb the mind and lower inhibitions...." or "For about six precious months of the year, the National Football League delivers heavy doses of testosterone, blood, adrenaline, and alcohol."
The NFL is not in the business of selling alcohol. Alcohol might be sold at sporting events, but this doesn't make the NFL responsible for wanting someone to have a beer.
I often enjoy a beer while watching The Daily Show. I guess that makes politics an alcohol salesman. I enjoy going to a theater where I can have a beer. Damn you, Hollywood. You've turned me into an alcoholic!
See how faulty this idiot's reasoning is already? Miller must be a monk, because he'd have to insulate himself from everything that had the possibility to entertain him, since you can enjoy a cold beer just about anywhere. Oh, wait. Monks drank beer, too. So, Miller must be some kind of hermit. And he expects us all to be hermits, too.

"And lest we forget, the NFL provides us with "Man Law" to shield us from our long repressed anima, which is constantly poised to assail our grossly exaggerated masculinity ...."
Since when has professional sports of any type given us any type of legislation (other than say, Bill Bradley)? As a PLAYER, you might learn certain guidelines about how you can live an orderly life. You might learn lessons in discipline and teamwork. But, you'd learn the same things in the Boy Scouts. Or any other youth organization. Once again, Miller is so full of it, it's leaking out his ears.
Since when does our dual masculine/feminine psyche have to be in conflict? Rosey Grier (a football player, and one tough motherfucker) used to show off his needlepoint on talk shows and even children's television. If a massive, hulking football player can endorse needlepoint, I think we can all agree that Mr Miller's bordering on delusional.
"Through the grace of our corporate gods, a host of media innovations (including a network devoted to the NFL and painstakingly detailed year round analyses) have significantly diminished the agony of off-season withdrawal."
Yes, there's an NFL network. But, there's also a Discovery Channel. And Animal Planet. Does he damn the animals for having their own network? Is everyone who has a media outlet evil? DAMN YOU, PBS! YOU HAVE A TV CHANNEL!!!
Congress has CSPAN! They must be oppressing us! Nancy Pelosi, you are an oppressor!
Jason Miller, you are an idiot.
"What could better reflect the collective psychosis of the American Empire than our mass obsession with the NFL? Born through violent revolution, expanded by genocide, enriched by slavery, and elevated to hegemony through imperialism, militarism, and economic tyranny, the United States, like NFL football, embodies avaricious savagery masked by a fastidiously maintained illusion of benevolent civility.
Arising from the same fetid bogs of spiritual decay that spawned the American Way, the NFL reeks with the stench of corporate tyranny, patriarchy, racism, superficiality, greed, competitiveness, and materialism."

Mr Miller, you are utterly out of line here. My family came to the US long after slavery was abolished. My father only arrived here in 1956. What does my family, my American family, have to do with any of this? What does our enjoyment of the game of football have to do with any of this?
Answer: Nothing.
Nor do the families of any other immigrants who've come to this country to escape persecution and tyranny OUTSIDE OF THIS COUNTRY. And all of those people can come together and enjoy a cultural event together, say for instance a sporting event.
At my night/weekend job, I deal with a Japanese gentleman who works at Honda. He's not an American citizen. I don't know that he aspires to be. However, he's an Ohio State Buckeye fan. He adopted them as much as he adopted Columbus, Ohio as his home city. Is it imperialism that a foreigner can come to America and involve himself in our culture through athleticism?
Let's go back to the original paragraph. Yes, America was born in a violent revolution. We were shrugging off the yoke of an oppressive government that exploited us. So, football celebrates that? Good for football. Yay for us.
Mr Miller's not really making much of a case for himself so far.
"Agony of off=season withdrawal"? He must not have heard of basketball, baseball, hockey, NASCAR, arena football, professional soccer, etc. I don't suffer just because the Browns aren't playing. Nor do any other sports fans.
We haven't even gotten into the meat of his arguments yet, folks. Just prima facie stuff in his introduction. And he expects us to take his argument seriously.
Now, he brings up Noam Chomsky. Let's look at the Chomsky quote:
"Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. [audience laughs] That keeps them from worrying about -- [applause] keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information [more laughter] and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this."
Now, obviously, this was a speech in front of a group of people who've fallen hook, line and sinker for Chomsky's bullshit.
Yes, that's right. Noam Chomsky is utterly full of shit. I've said it. I must be a bad liberal now. Noam, Jason, let me tell you something. Entertainment is not a bad thing. If you lead a life without diversion, joy, art or entertainment, you lead the life of an empty biological machine. What's the point, then? Answer: There isn't one. Kill yourself. Kill yourself right now.
Most of the people who use that intelligence to discuss sports use the same intelligence to discuss other things. Like, say, Noam Chomsky being an utter douche bottle and moron who makes the rest of us liberals look bad.
Let's look at something that utterly kills Jason's entire argument...
"It is worth noting that in a few weeks, about 125 million of the Empire’s citizens will settle in for a day of hedonistic pleasure."
According to the US Census Bureau, there are now over 300,963,000 people in the US. So, if over a third of those people are watching the Super Bowl (the "day of hedonistic pleasure" you're talking about), do you really want to offend and alienate a third of the US population?
Isn't politics about bringing people around to your way of thinking? So what you're attempting to do here is to push a third of the country AWAY from the liberal agenda. You're attempting to say that if you like football, you can't possibly be anything other than a tool of the corporations, a GOP-voting zombie and a brain-addled nitwit.
Jason Miller, you are a humorless, joyless sack of festering donkey shit.
"Hallmark Cards calculated that the Super Bowl surpasses New Year’s Eve as the biggest party day of the year. US Americans consume more food on "Super Sunday" than any day except Thanksgiving. Super Bowl celebrants will engorge themselves with about 15,000 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn(1). Meanwhile, 35,000 human beings will die of starvation(2) and our government will continue pouring half of our tax dollars into the murder machine they euphemistically refer to as the Department of "Defense"."
So, during the time that those 35,000 human beings will die of starvation, other people eat. There are human beings dying of starvation right now. Have you given your life wholly over to caring for them? I see your bio says you volunteer at a homeless shelter, Jason. Are you working there 24 hours a day? While you're sleeping, people are dying, Jason. That's so irresponsible of you! Jason, you need to quit your job and start farming and giving your food away for free. People are starving, Jason!
"It may seem unbelievable, but the Daniel Snyder’s of this world are entitled to tax benefits for a portion of the salaries they pay to players. US tax laws actually enable NFL owners to depreciate their employees, thus classifying football players as business capital rather than human beings."
Just like US tax laws allow any business owner to depreciate business capital. Same for big business as well as small. Considering the monstrous sums that professional athletes can now command in salary, is it any wonder that they'd want to depreciate them, when they can be sidelined at any time due to injury?
"When an owner sells their team, their profits are taxed as capital gains. Hence these bloated plutocrats pay a lesser tax rate than we do on our wages or salaries."
Um...sale of a business is not income. Duh.
"Logically, one wonders what the working people got in return for such "investments"."
They got the opportunity to be entertained. What benefit do the working people get from having an opera house or a concert hall in their municipality, Jason? The very same.
Mr Miller then quotes from a Cato Institute report about sports franchises and arenas and their impact on local income.
"For example, the arrival of a new basketball franchise in a metropolitan area increases real per capita income by about $67. But building a new arena for that basketball team reduces real per capita income by almost $73 in each of the 10 years following the construction of the new arena, leading to a net loss of about $6 per person."
Having police costs each individual person money. What if you don't have to call the police. Are you getting your money's worth? What about road use taxes? What if you don't drive? Public transportations costs money! What if I don't ride the bus???
Jason, you're not thinking this through. A stadium or arena costs money. Do you expect these games to take place in parking lots? Hopefully, the stadium has a life expectancy greater than ten years. Which would mean that the real per capita income increase WOULD happen. It just takes time. Like, say, with an investment.
Are you really this dumb, Jason?
Those same cities that have stadiums/arenas/etc can host other events in those facilities, too, you know. For instance, the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland was originally constructed to host the 1936 Olympics (which went, instead, to Berlin -- but imagine if Jesse Owens had been able to compete in front of a home crowd...). Basketball/hockey arenas are frequently used for other events like concerts, trade shows and whatnot.
"Take note of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. He owns the Seattle Seahawks and is on the public dole with the rest of the NFL "billionaires’ club". In 2000 Allen demanded that the state of Washington pony up 75% of the $425 million "necessary" to build a new stadium for his team. His net worth at that time? $40 billion. Despite his nearly unlimited financial means, the state feared Allen’s threats to move the Seahawks and met his demand."
So, what you're expecting is for every NFL owner to pony up the money for their facilities. So, what happens if Green Bay needs a new stadium? It's a municipally owned team. Which means that they'd be able to use tax money to build a new stadium, but all the other teams can't. Because they're owned by rich people. Wouldn't that give Green Bay an unfair advantage?
The municipality retains ownership of the arena if they build it, yes? What's your problem again? If they build it, they can use it for whatever they so choose, including keeping a beloved sports franchise (The Seahawks) in Seattle.
Oh, and forty billion is not unlimited. Duh.
"The NFL cartel further empowers these moneyed elites to successfully insist upon insane television revenues. Who picks up the tab? The cost is ultimately recouped from the fans in the form of increased cable TV rates and higher prices (to offset retailers’ higher advertising costs during NFL games)."
The NFL's television revenues have been falling of late. What with Monday Night Football moving to ESPN from ABC and all... But, it's not like they're poor or anything. So, that's okay.
There's this thing called NFL Sunday Ticket. It's a pay-per-view subscription service. Which means that the cost of the package isn't passed on to the other cable subscribers. Nice try. You lose yet again.
Now, Mr Miller attempts to show off how racist the NFL is with a quote from James Harris (interviewing former NFL player Anthony Prior):
"In the NFL, 65% of the player force--as you know and well document in the text--are Black. Six percent of the general managers are Black. No--as you noted--no owners in the NFL are Black."
Well, it costs about $200 million to buy an NFL franchise. When a black businessman chooses to spend $200 million on a risky investment like a sports fanchise, we'll have a black owner. According to the US Census Bureau, 12.8% of America is considered black. They could stand to do better with the general manager thing, unless there are not enough qualified candidates among the black population (which I doubt). 4.3% of America is considered Asian. Where's the protest from the Asian community?
Frankly, assuming that you're going to be a professional athlete is like assuming you're going to be a movie star. Chances are, it's not going to happen. Not everyone can get a full ride in college. Not everyone can get drafted. Not everyone can get the dream job that they hope for.
However, there is an equality of opportunity in this country. If you're dilligent, talented and in the right place at the right time, anything can happen.
I find it hilarious that, in his article, Miller laments the fact that only 20% of football players get full scholarships and 55% play with no financial assistance. Considering how anti-sport he is, he should be celebrating this fact.
I wish that we could afford to send EVERY college age person to school. However, schools won't educate folks for free yet, and our state and federal government cannot afford to foot the bill. Still, it's a nice dream.
Miller continues with his aimless tirade:
"Imagine what our youth (and the rest of us) could accomplish if we focused more of our time, energy, resources, and efforts on attainable goals and socially redeeming activities."
Well, art's out of the question, now. Speaking of which, how many artists can make a living off of their art?
Attainable goals. Sounds noble, doesn't it? You know what life is with just attainable goals? Empty. With attainable goals, we'd never have put a man on the moon. We'd never have beaten the Axis in World War II. We'd never have conquered smallpox. Or polio.
With attainable goals, without the ability to dream, mankind would be doomed.
"Right here in the United States over a million people are homeless at any given moment. Tens of millions lack proper nutrition and access to health care. Our infant mortality rate is the highest amongst industrialized nations. Untold numbers caught in Katrina’s Diaspora are still scattered to the four corners of the Earth. One in seven US Americans live below poverty level.
And if enough of us amongst the poor and working class united, it would be within our collective power to alleviate the suffering of those in need."
The NFL, through their NFL Charities foundation helps fund
Girl Scouts of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Adventure Girls
The United Way
Medical research
In addition, they even established the NFL Disaster Relief Fund and the NFL Grassroots Program, a fund to help improve community athletic facilities.
Don't forget about all the players who give back to their communities. Like Eddie George, who established a literacy program in Columbus, Ohio.
Infantile Self-Absorbtion indeed.
You want to know what real infantile self-absorbtion is? It's the mindset that everything we do is right and everyone else MUST be deluded. It's the mindset that we're so important in our lofty intellectual towers that the common people MUST be stupid, because they like things we don't.
That's the height of infantile self-absorption.
"Our unitary executive has run roughshod over our Constitution, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, and blatantly violated the Nuremberg Principles. In his recent television address, the Decider informed us that he will defy the will of the American people by sacrificing more of our own and escalating the genocide against the Iraqi people."
It's the NFL's fault that the Shrub got elected. Got it.
"And it would not be beyond our capacity to end these horrendous crimes against humanity. Without the complicity of the masses, Bush, Cheney, et al would be rendered impotent."
Yes. Already got it. Shut up already.
"Yet we choose to remain transfixed by the alluring seductions of the NFL and its corporate partners."
Didn't I say I got it? Jesus fuck a bagpipe. Shut the fuck up already.
"Regrettably, it appears that many of us in the United States suffer from the delusion that the rest of the world exists to provide for our comfort, pleasure, and prosperity."
It does. Enjoy life while you can. Because eventually, you'll be dead.
"Pity we’re too busy "living NFL and drinking Diet Pepsi" to notice the staggering numbers of emaciated, mutilated, and obliterated human beings we are leaving in our wake as we "protect our way of life"...."
So, basically what Jason Miller was trying to say in his misguided and totally clueless "diary" is that the NFL is to blame for all of society's problems. Starvation. War. Pestilence. George W Bush.
Yeah, it's all the fault of an entertainment that only occurs on two days a week for a few months a year. That's GOT to be it.
Wow. What insight. What intellectual fervor.
What bullshit.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson. 1932-2007

via Ain't It Cool News and Douglas Rushkoff:
Robert Anton Wilson has officially left his body and transended to whatever great unknown awaits us.
I've been struggling with my writing of late. Nothing's been making me happy the last couple of weeks. But I will find my way through this, because of all the writers who've influenced me in the slightest, Robert Anton Wilson was the one who made writing seem, well, important.
I first became aquainted with his work at college (as most people apparently do). My friend Terry loaned me his copy of The Illuminatus Trilogy and I ate it up. Most books, even that size, take me less than a few hours to read. The text was so dense, so rich with detail and citation and goddamn mindblowing stuff -- that it took me over a week to get all the way through it. I'd probably read and reread most of it three or four times in that week, but I needed to.
I immediately rushed out and purchased everything of his I could find. The Shroedinger's Cat Trilogy. Masks of the Illuminati. The Illuminati Papers. Neuropolitics. Prometheus Rising. Cosmic Trigger. I even found a copy of his Playboy Book of Forbidden Words in the closed stacks of my college library.
I wasn't just hooked. I was obsessed. I tracked down and stole a copy of Akron Daraul's A History of Secret Societies since it featured prominently in Wilson's research. I studied the various Masonic conspiracies. The Gnostics. Crowley. Even the Church of the Subgenius.
Because of Robert Anton Wilson, I believe I'm more in touch with both myself and my world. I don't see conspiracies everywhere -- to the contrary, I know that most conspiracy theories are bunkum simply because no one can keep secrets that big for that long. However, I read newspapers with a more critical eye. I notice the minutia and details. Even the occasional fnord that gets past the editorial staff.
Wilson might have been dense and deep and all that horseshit, but he was also one of the funniest motherfuckers this world has ever seen. Many, many comedians owe him a debt -- I doubt Bill Hicks would have gone on the Flying Saucer Tour without a nudge or two from one of Wilson's books, for instance. The humor was one of the things that lasted with me, long after I'd read any of his books. I'd remember a particulary witty and applicable passage at the right time and chuckle to myself. The guy cracked me up like no author I've read who wasn't named Woody Allen.
I've not mentioned his nonfiction yet. Most people consider the sciences separate entities. They see a line of distinction between psychology and physics. Chemistry and sociology. Biology and politics. Wilson found the keys to meld them all together. His Quantum Psychology really did energize my brain to the possibilites that exist when we realize that everything we're trying to discover is all related. Any man that manages to interrelate the writings of Albert Einstein and Timothy Leary is an intellect to be respected. Wilson did that and so much more.

To tell you how influential Wilson was to my thought processes and creative drive, the newsletter Neurotrash from which this blog evolved was originally titled Operation Mindfuck 2 as a nod to Wilson.

There shall never be another. Goodbye, Mr Wilson. Roam free and learn those secrets you've been yearning to.