Friday, April 28, 2006

lololz videogamez

I have started a new blog explicitly for videogame-related posts. It is called Trite Videogame Blog. That is all. Read more.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

South Park, free speech, blah blah

Background: South Park does a two-part episode in which they lambaste Family Guy for having lame jokes and lambaste Comedy Central for not allowing them to air an image of Muhammad. If you've not heard about or seen this, this describes it much better than I care to take the time to.

After seeing it, I was pissed. I had trouble articulating why at first. What I wanted was fallout, the same kind we got after the Scientology episode. I wanted an image of Muhammad, I wanted fascist Muslim assholes to be outraged, and I wanted public debate that, like the reporters in the South Park episode, didn't forget about that whole First Amendment thing. Instead the fallout we get is from free speech advocates against Comedy Central. Everything's going the wrong direction.

I guess that just proves the point. Read more.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Welcome to the internet

A while back there was a silly little email forward circulating around with the idea that, if enough people don't buy any gas on a certain day, the oil companies would be flourished and gas prices would spiral downward. Anyone who could use the powers of logic could find the flaw in this argument: people would just stock up on gas on a different day and it wouldn't make an ounce of difference.

Now there's another one of these things floating around. It's equally bad, but it incorporates a pseudo-economic argument for about one sentence, so it's kinda popular.
GAS WAR - an idea that WILL work

This was originally sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. It's worth your consideration.

Join the resistance!!!! I hear we are going to hit close to $4.00 a gallon by next summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some intelligent, united action. Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea.

This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day "campaign that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them.

BUT, whoever thought of this idea has come up with a plan that can really work. Please read on and join with us! By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $1.50 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $2.79 for regular unleaded in my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50 - $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..... not sellers. With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves.

How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea:

For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices.

If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out at this point.... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people.

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us sends it to at least ten more (30 x 10 =3D 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 =3D 3,000)...and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers. If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people.

That's all. (If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people.... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician.

But I am, so trust me on this one.)

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!!

I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you?

Acting together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $1.30 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN.

THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

This is an utterly terrible idea. Normally I wouldn't care, but since I'm on MySpace and Livejournal and people's email lists, I'll have to suffer this forward for months unless I fight back. I think the inclusion of graphs will make things easier.

So, the initial idea is that the price will go down if we don't buy gasoline from the largest company, Exxon/Mobil. This contains an economic truth: lower demand means lower price.

As you can see, P2 is lower than P1. So far so good. But since we're consuming the same amount of gasoline, that means that demand must rise for all non-Exxon/Mobil companies.

The price will rise! You'll be paying more for gasoline than you were before!

But, the argument goes, the other oil companies will reduce their prices because Exxon/Mobil lowered theirs. This is only true if people start buying from Exxon/Mobil again - otherwise the smaller companies can continue to exploit your wrongheadedness so long as you're willing to throw your money away. Once you do come around and try to save money by going back to Exxon/Mobil, guess what happens?

Back to P1, the real competitive price of gasoline. And, of course, the same thing happens to the other oil companies:


Note how stable that price is. No matter what you do, so long as you try to save money on gasoline and so long as the oil companies try to maximize their profits, that price is gasoline's true value. Nobody has "tricked" anybody into thinking that truly cheap gasoline is expensive. Gasoline is one of the most fungible commodities on the planet; its value is almost guaranteed to be the market value. (The case of collusion among oil companies would change this, but Congress has made repeated inquiries into that allegation and has found, every time, that there is no evidence whatsoever of collusion.)

However, there is one truth to this whole mess: the consumer can directly influence the price of gasoline--not by selectively buying from certain companies, but by consuming less gasoline. Total demand must fall for prices to fall. If you really want to make a difference, rely on the usual gas-saving techniques: carpool, stop going out to movies and restaurants, etc. And stop making silly excuses like, "Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas." No, but you can ration. (Once the price went down, however, you might cease rationing and it would rise right back up.)

(Protip: Google "Phillip Hollsworth" and the first two results are other critiques. A second of research would do so much to end silly forwards.) Read more.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Der firstening of April

Most of April Fool's Day was a bust, except for this article from the Mises institute. I'll quote my favorite part, but the whole thing is full of gut-busters.
Ms. Carey's lead attorney, Mr. Harold Ramstein, said that government lawyers had a skewed view of how the industry works, saying, "In the end, the music industry, which contributed over $100 billion to the world economy last year, is an open economic opportunity for any entrepreneur in America, the world even."

And the U.S. Congress along with State Attorneys, notably Eliot Spitzer, are working on legislation to keep it that way, raising the penalties for non-competitive practices in the music industry, calling for higher fines and even revocation of licenses to play. A Department of Justice source responded via e-mail, "The abuses seen during the 1960s, when musical tycoons such as the Beatles dominated sales, cannot be allowed to re-surface. The days of unregulated, laissez faire music are, thankfully, over".
Read more.
That whole punk rock thing

Plan-it-X Fest 2006 is shaping up to be the most unintentionally hilarious thing ever.
the fest activities begin on JULY 6th. during the day there will be CLASSES. teachers from bloomington and teachers that are coming to the fest will teach classes on a wide array of subjects. there will be DIY skills classes, like how to do stuff. there will be lecture style classes on many topics, political, social, sexual, ethical, history, science....and so on. there will be radical training classes that discuss and train for direct action, protests, dealing with cops, revolt and revolution.

Just in case you're too stupid to figure out how to be a snotty, destructive asshole, here are some classes for you! Capitalist pig keeping you down? Here's how to kill him good! Though I admit it's better than pretending to be changing things when all you're doing is sitting around and listening to music. Besides, the previous fests didn't achieve the goal they wanted:
the shows all went well but the tour proved to be very stressful and tiring. we didn't really achieve the level of community building and person to person connections that we hoped to, nor did we raise as much money for good causes. we made less than 3,000$ for the benefits.

Something tells me this next event will raise even less money. Aren't classes a tool of the oppressive establishment? Don't punks hate that kind of thing?

I don't want to rip on them too much. I like Plan-it-X more than most labels, and it's a shame I won't be able to see a lot of great bands. I guess I'm more interested in rocking out than building "person to person connections." I have enough trouble tolerating normal people, let alone super-pissed punk types. It's a constant curse (blessing?) of mine, liking things but not liking the people who like / made those things. Read more.