Clint Eastwood and the Chair

At the Republican National Convention today, Clint Eastwood decided to be un-Conventional and brought Obama with him on-stage. Or at least an empty chair supposed to stand-in for Obama.

Almost immediately, the interwebz was abuzz with jeers for Eastwood; within moments, @InvisibleObama popped up on twitter and – as of this writing – gathered 34,909 followers. As savvy as Obama’s team is, this damn-near perfect twitpic response – captioned “This seat is taken” – was inevitable.

Now, I enjoy trolling as much as anyone on the interwebz; certainly, Eastwood’s stunt lends itself perfectly to both appreciative – the audience seemed to love it, despite disparaging tweets by non-believers about how Eastwood was creeping even Republicans out – and derisive hilarity.  However, as an avid student of communications, I have to admit to actually loving that speech.

First off, it seemed that a lot of the derisive reactions might have stemmed from the sheer unorthodoxy of the Oscar-winning director’s approach. Understandably, since this was a “serious” event, dealing with a “serious” matter, people would probably glance askance at Eastwood and his bit of drama. But that’s just it. At the very top of his speech, Eastwood signaled that this would not be an ordinary political diatribe, when he said

“I know what you’re thinking. What’s a movie tradesman doing out here?”

Yep. That’s exactly what he is: a movie tradesman. An actor. A professional who communicates with his audience with a fair amount of theatricality. There might be purists out there who would insist that certain forms of communication shouldn’t cross over into the political world where all the conversations should be high-browed and dripping with gravitas, so sure, they’re not gonna be happy. For the rest of us, however, it might be helpful to step back for a moment and realize that the point of communication is to connect with the audience and win them over to your side of the argument – or in this case, whip the choir up into a frenzy. Seen in that light, Eastwood’s act wasn’t stupid or out-of-place at all. He simply did what he did best, which was to entertain people while driving home his message of dissatisfaction at the Obama presidency.

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Bared to You

Oh god no, not another cheesy sex book about a domineering super-alpha male and a girl self esteem issues.

As if Fifty Shades of Grey weren’t bad enough, Sylvia Day had to write her own trilogy of bawd: The Crossfire Trilogy, boasting titles like Bared to You – already out – Reflected in You, and Entwined with You – expected to be released October and December 2012 respectively. Talk about the industrialization of mom porn.

At least one blogger seems to have raved about it, so I’m suspending judgement until I’ve actually read the thing. But to be perfectly frank, I think I might be giving this a pass. If even a quarter of the buzz surrounding this book is true, then it really just is an escalation of Fifty. Considering that I nearly bled to death from eyes reading Fifty, I doubt I would survive BTY.

Still, I suppose one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so, we’ll see where I go with this. In the meantime, speaking of covers – just in case you missed the ideological relationship between BTY and Fifty, look at the cover art.

Neckties and Cufflinks. Get it? Both are items of male apparel. But where ties are pedestrian – no matter if they’re made of silk or whatever – cuff links signal a man of distinction, wealth, and taste. After all, men’s shirts with no buttons just button holes are not commonly sold ready-to-wear, and are more often in bespoke shirts. So, Gideon Cross – why do these novels all have such funky last names for their protagonists? – is apparently quite a bit more sophisticated than Christian Grey. Or at least that’s what the author wants to imply; a ridiculous game of one-upsmanship played out on book covers.

Hurricane Isaac

Florida’s gonna be in for a blow. Bad timing for the Republicans, and just bad all around for the people who live there. Here in the Philippines, we’ve had more tropical storms and hurricanes than you can shake a weather vane at, so trust me when I say, I know how you folks must feel over there.

Yeah, we get it bad.

But over the course of several years, civic minded folks here have taken to using Twitter both to organize rescues and what-not, AND to promote disaster preparedness. In that same vein, I thought some of these reminders might be of some use to you folks.

  • An average person needs about a gallon of drinking water per day.That’s about 3.5 liters. While waiting for Isaac to come, store away as much water as you can in gallon jugs or containers. If you think flooding might be a problem for your neighborhood, it’d be smart to lash the handles together, just so that they don’t get swept away. Also, empty gallon containers can be used as flotation devices in a pinch.
  • Again, if you think flooding will be a problem, you might as well keep some DIY water filter components handy. Empty soda liter bottles, box cutters, and cheesecloth are just some of the things you can set aside now in case you need them later. Great instructions for DIY water filters are available here and here.
  • Assemble a disaster kit. It should have a whistle, a flashlight with spare batteries, and a first-aid kit that should have a pair of scissors and some bandages. You never know when you’ll need to do some field dressings.
  • Food is absolutely essential, of course. Instant ramen would be great if you had access to cooking facilities. In the event of flooding, however, that might be a long shot. So, stock up on crackers and cookies stored in zip-loc bags.
  • A portable radio that runs on batteries is indispensable.
  • Charge all your electronics – especially your mobile phones.
  • Cash, identification documents – like passports, medical records, and such – clothes. Think of it as packing for a long trip to somewhere, except that instead of packing all of your stuff in suitcases, you might want to keep them in plastic garbage bags. Double bagging will help keep them dry. For cash and documents, a zip-loc bag would be the best solution.

That’s all I have, and I wish I could share more.

Good luck! And stay safe.

Samsung chokes on Apple

So it looks like Apple got a ruling that Samsung violated many of its patents, including those involving user interface, such as bounce back scrolling and gestures. These patent violations were found in a large number of Samsung products – some you’re familiar with, like the Galaxy Tab and the Galaxy S; and some you might not have even heard of, like the Mesmerie or the Infuse. Well, at least, I’ve never heard of them.

Of course, this ruling doesn’t spell the end of this tussle. Samsung has said that it would appeal. But in the long run, the repercussions of Samsung choking on Apple are wide ranging and, ultimately, not that beneficial for the garden variety consumer.

As CNET reported Samsung’s official statement:

 “Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.”

In the meantime, it isn’t that difficult to imagine Apple’s legal eagles high-fiveing each other with their now golden hands.