Having read The Way to Win last night, a refreshingly apartisan account of the political strategies of the two “geniuses” of our time, Clinton and Rove, I was pleased that the authors summarized the nature of modern politics so succinctly with the phrase “Freak Show.” Their contention is that we’ve evolved the campaign from mudslinging to an outright technological media arms race. One by one, the failings of Gore and Kerry’s strategies to defeat a foe that seemed less articulate, less capable, less experienced, and less ambitious than them are expounded.
The brilliance of Rove’s polls-be-damned approach, or Clinton’s muddling of party loyalties, how they succeed despite our preconceptions of how a political campaign should work, how what we think is a right-wing media contra was actually an old guard manipulated by Bush’s neo-conservative movement, it all makes for an engaging read. Whether it’s Clinton or Rove you consider a malevolent architect of corrupt administrations, or both of them in my case, you can’t help but appreciate the the wealth of knowledge and understanding embodied in these two forces of 2400 Penn.
In the end, nothing is new about Freak Show politics, only its migration from a blunt tact to subversive science. For us, the chess pieces caught in the whirl of Washington’s gambits, the stark, existential playground of this independent one-man game Limbo feels so familiar. Watch the teaser, its abject desolation, its blacks and whites and greys, its determined abstractions, is rife with hope. Come the next election, perhaps a candidate will rise from the dark and seize on that hope. Until then, the throngs grow more disenchanted, and I expect voter turnout to drown in the wasteland.
Yesterday, a reader had some dialogue with me via comments over my rash indictment of James Xi Zhang and China’s imposition into world trade. He brought up some good points that many are feeling right now in the apparent fallout of the American government, so I’ll use this post to address my thoughts:
Hi am back…yes of course China is a huge threat to companies here, but is that stopping companies from getting most bang for their buck? Not really. By sending everything to be manufactured over to China, they aren’t looking at the future of Americans – their consumers. So I guess the big question is who is responsible for our future/change necessary for a better future? Individual consumers ??? (No – Americans are cheap, lazy, and selfish for the most part) Companies ??? (No – they are heading us down a downward spiral where China rules) Government ???? bingo. They need to regulate our (companies and consumers) greedy butts. That’s one advantage China has over us- much more control (although perhaps now unstructured and chaotic) over their companies and people. I believe they are looking at the future. They are improving everyday. You should look at their environmentally friendly plans – all of which beat any green attempts here. I’m not pro-China. Just concerned at the way things are going these days for America. Yes we are all to blame, but more so the government.
O btw I don’t see how Mr. Zhang represents the corruption in China if he’s not guilty at this point. I believe he’s very much American. I know you’re not totally serious but this is someone’s rep on the line. I’ve been in a lawsuit before and if you’re not guilty and someone is telling you are….not fun. So that’s why I’m pushing this point so much… From what I heard, there’s no proof so far, so until then stay nice. Thanks for reading. This is great fun…
I understand where you are coming from, and I feel the same way about the lack of government intervention in what is clearly a self-destructive relationship between consumer and corporation. But you draw some conclusions that come from the wrong direction.
First, exporting American jobs to China is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is certainly inevitable as the world becomes more globalized whether people want it to or not. Lower prices mean better savings, more money to spend elsewhere, better cost of living. The problem is that the prices were so good that the consumers lost their heads and sent our national savings rate into the negative. We lose more jobs to Mexicans than the Chinese, and studies have shown that wages for Americans as a whole, or even for the working classes, took little to no damage. If unemployment really did match immigration rates, the country would have more than twice the unemployment it currently has, and growing.
Secondly, China exhibits a pretense of tight control over its companies, but it also turns a gigantic blind eye to the many it chooses to ignore. The government is even less empowered than us to make sweeping reforms because the corruption is entrenched at the state and provincial levels. I’ve been following their environment reforms, and as admirable as they are, they were created because of how POOR local regulation has been, and the ecological damage there has been immense. Their new policies are amazing, but by the time they’re implemented, alot more damage will be done.
Finally, Americans need to stop blaming the government. Doing so is what led to the tragedy in New Orleans. People seem to forget the vote to enter war with Iraq was unanimous. People seem to forget that after going into war, you need to supervise it as well, not just let the commanders do whatever. It’s no accident that welfare reform under Clinton actually decreased dependency on welfare. America is a REPUBLIC, not a democracy, per intention of our founding fathers who purposely designed the government to be inefficient. We have electoral votes. It is the duty of We the People to organize those votes against the forces of gerrymandering into a keen weapon of change, not sit at home and complain about it.
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” -Thomas Jefferson
As for Mr. Zhang, regardless of whether he is guilty or not, you can’t deny it gives Asian men a bad rep in times when Asians have been accused of spying in Federal buildings and stealing from Texas Intruments.
(more PBF over here)
Now that World Jump Day is over, stupidity will diffuse more evenly among the 23.934 hours in the sidereal day. If you hadn't heard of it, it was a call for millions of chumps across the planet to jump up and down at the same time in order to shift the orbital path of the planet, and thereby bringing world peace, global cooling, and a climate of general inanity. C'mon folks, the idea makes no sense at all in regards to physics. If anything, if should be World Blow-Upwards-At-The-Sky Day and instead of spreading across the globe canceling out their own foolishness, they should do it all from one place… like a poisonous rainforest or something.
But the strategy they've come up with is not new. Dantesoft sent me a BBC article nicely summing up the troubles a giant EA has faced. From the folks I've talked to, what burnt people out wasn't so much the workload, but the pointlessness of said work when constantly defined and redefined by suits and producers, the worst combo for human health since the Big Mac and large fries. Try changing 3-4 managers a month. Try marketing perps invoking art/code pipeline changes. One gent, who was friends with the guy who filed the class action suit against EA, told me of a game in which developers would try to score points based on how many times they could get producers to say "in reality…," and of course bonus points if you could get them to play the crying card. I kid you not, they cried.
So I guess we are to believe that significant jumping up and down has changed the orbit of EA's heart. I'll believe it when interns stop abandoning their internships there.
But jump hard enough and you'll plummet through the Earth into China, where they're still busy at work ruining stereotypes for Chinese people stateside. Read this incredible story about how Massive Black, related to the artistic monument that is ConceptArt.org, had their business sabotaged and stolen shamefully and shamelessly by their Shanghai faction.
This is the John Grisham tale of the game industry. Where asian women here in the Valley enjoy the benefits of being stereotypical dragon ladies and kawaii dolls in the sensational yellow fever of the interracial dating scene, asian guys are haplessly painted as spies and fu manchus. Y'know why? 'Cuz of selfish assholes like James Xi Zhang and the massive fraud, embezzlement, and conspiracy he perpetrated against Massive Black. If Hellgate is delayed for this, he's a dead man.
Photo albums for DanShui and YieLiu are up, which are pictures we took when traveling with Xstine's dad. He lives in a very tasteful sky-rise apartment in DanShui, which appeared to me to be an area with a higher income or living standard in certain areas. Outside the clusterfuck of Taipei, I guess there are many places like this.
The meeting with Xstine's parents was an interesting experience. Generally speaking, I've always been very comfortable with other people's parents. I give credit to my parents, who traditionalism meant weekly formalities greeting meeting seeing every who's who's who remotely distantly related to any friends and family. While I never learned the Chinese names for the brother of an uncle of a friend's mother, I did gain an acute understanding of Chinese etiquette and the concept of "filial piety" that the Chinese term "xiaoshuen." The term is more dreaded among Chinese scions than you could imagine.
What I noticed first off the plane was that her dad gave me a more familiar handshake, a lengthy one. Our custom here leans towards a firm and brisk shake, rather than a a long grasp, so I can say that was the only facet of the meeting that threw me off. He was an experienced and worldy business man, however, and after the initial reservation grew very warm when talking about things he was proud of, and things he disliked. I was appreciative that he was so observant of way the Asian civilization had changed, customs had mutated, and while one could hardly expect him (or my parents for that matter) to be happy about Xstine and I living together without declaring marriage intent, he was very aware of it being a superior method for marriage retainment. Last week's Economist showed how the divorce rate decreased as marriages happened later and couple lived longer before making the big step. Social disapproval of this important courtship period has contributed to a society more conservative than the American society, and yet with an similar percentage of divorces.
Other than that, we talked mostly about China, Taiwan, and stocks (of which he was earned an understanding of which most of Taiwan, being mere speculative gamblers, do not have). Like my Uncle William, I've realized that worldy business men have a more balanced view to preach despite what they practice. It is a tremendous step away from the world view of my Grampa's generation, where all white men are to be feared and China will be a rising dragon to dominate the world because of its 10,000 year history, and into a more courageous light that accept there is much to learn from gaijins.
I'd like to reference Kishore Mahbubani's excellent book Can Asian's Think? that offers clarity in the debate to rectify the Eastern and Western perspectives. His argument for the East to accept responsibility for its lagging development vis a vis its Western counterparts, and not blame the West for tangible but exaggerated and irrelevant past transgressions, seems to glimmer brighter and brighter behind each successive generation. He hopes, as I do, that a day when the East embraces, not contrapositions but its idealogical differences, will a synergy between formed, for it and us, for me and them. In short, I can see where Xstine gets her lovable skepticism for anachrononisms anonymous.
Done with class! Yah be blessed, albeit agnostically, as winter break has come. I'm very proud of the students' work, and I think there's alot of promise for the next year. Many of these folks started in August having never touched Maya, never pushed a pixel, never met a Polly. One student even got an internship at Pixar just today. With their feedback, I'll be able to improve the class considerably next time around.
So anyways, time for me to unwind and smack up a little Metroid Prime Pinball as I wait for Xstine to finish overtime. She's assembling a tide of scantily clad (but emminently approachable and servile) digital females that will forever emasculate the throbbing landscape of adolescent cellphone giggolos in China. I'd pray for their young souls, but I think her company would prefer royalties. So would Xstine. And so would my pinball. Ding!
Pat Morita aka Mr. Miyagi passed away. He probably did for karate what Bruce Lee did for kung fu. And that is to say, lead dumb fat Americans to be better at it than the asians. But hey, that's the asian's perogative to be prideful to the point of self-damaging. Every time I hear the phrase "sleeping Dragon" to describe China I just laugh at what is actually a drugged up Chimera flopping mid-air on borrowed time, borrowed money.
I was reading some criticism about Richard Duncan's excellent book The Dollar Crisis, and some guy comments that Duncan is wrong, Chinese banks do NOT use the national surplus as criteria for credit expansion. So I did a little research. That's right, they do not. BUT! Criteria for credit expansion is set by the STATE, and the commies can tell their banks to do whatever they want, and I'm sure the state uses the surplus as a sign of more credit. To say chinese banks are more cognizant of the problems that led to Japan's downfall is probably right. To say chinese banks are therefore less corrupt and in a better position is WRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONG.
But I'm ok. I just recieved my Everbank papers and have dumped significant funds into the Marketsafe S&P and Gold Bullion certificates. Everbank, btw, has been excellent so far, with customer service easy to reach and a personal letter from the CEO who's vision and distrust of the Federal Reserve matches mine. They are an excellent hedging solution, the only bad thing I can see is the bewilderingly pisspoor webpage design.
Phoenix Wright awaits. BTW, if you bought an XBox 360, be aware that it can scratch up your games. I also just met a guy last nite who's friend was the one that posted the shots of 360 crashes. Rumors abound on how high failure rate is (he claimed 15% but that's hard to believe), but no one should be surprised since this happens with nearly every hardware launch. I would have gotten one myself probably if Joanna Dark didn't look like a rap-rocker now.
As much as I ended up hating WoW, I can't help but feel outraged at Blizzard getting sued for some dumbshit 13-yr old jumping to his death to re-enact a scene from the game. I think they mean the scene in the game where you jump off a cliff and die horribly regardless of what level or armor you have. You know, they keep forgetting the levels of constant and pervasive Kubrickian violence in movies, TV, and comics, probably because games are "interactive" and therefore more influential.
Let me tell ya something. You know what's interactive? When I was a kid we had life-like gun replicas before they had to be colored like toys. We had ninja swords and fake blood, pop-cap pistols, fireworks, and midgetized O.K. corral shoot-out sets at the park. Then we'd go there and take it out on each other until some kid got hurt, cried, bloodied, wiped up, and back to keep pchoo pchooing with the rest. We would mix household chemicals and pesticides into secret concoctions of death to back up the rubber-band guns and paperclip maces we made that could easily have left us blind. I got flung off a merry-go-round once and ate dirt 5ft away.
Maybe the problem with games is that they aren't interactive enough. Maybe we learned our lesson because kids did get maimed. Maybe that's how our fragile little psyches avoided corruption. So how about making laser tag legal again? I can't believe we got arrested at 4am running around having the time of our lives in an abandoned park. Don't you get it? Laser tag meant we were sick of shooting it out in virtual De_Dust in virtual Iraq with virtual glocks.
I know why this stupid chinese kid jumped to his death. In China you only get one kid. You aren't going to let him shoot a paintball gun or go bungie jumping or wipe his own ass. So, being sick of an entire life at a study desk, he wanted to see some sunlight. Too bad he was a noob at it, if he had some practice I'm sure he would have survived to enjoy his BASE jump.
Live a little people, or you're gonna die the first time you try.