That refreshing fragrance wafting toward your nostrils is the sweet smell of electrons zipping through wires into my house, my friend. For you see, I have not turned off my electrical appliances; my lights remain shining in several rooms of the house; and even if I powered down my computer, my brother and his friends continue to consume enough electricity to light a small third-world country, I’m sure.
Allow me to be critical for a moment. While I applaud the ideals that Earth Hour attempts to promote, the method of promotion is lacking. I did not participate in Earth Hour.
There are some who mistakenly believe this is an attempt to save power. Were it so, I would criticize it as an example of the typical Western “binge” attitude designed to intensely compensate for overconsumption the rest of the year round. It’s obvious, however, that turning off one’s lights for an hour a year isn’t going to save any significant power. Indeed, sometimes other factors may cause power consumption to increase. Earth Hour isn’t about saving juice; it’s a symbolic gesture.
As far as symbols go, however, it’s all cymbals. Earth Hour is global chest-beating. While I’m sure there are many environmentally-conscious individuals participating, there are just as many, if not more, ordinary people involved who are not going to do more for the environment beyond these sixty minutes.
Earth Hour wants to increase awareness of climate change and the need to be environmentally responsible—I’m all for that. Yet as an educational tool, Earth Hour fails miserably, since most of the media required for education also require electricity—ironically, National Geographic is airing a television program concerning how to reduce one’s electricity usage. So, should you turn off the TV and miss the educational opportunity? Or should you watch the TV and be a hypocrite?
The organization and promotion of the Earth Hour event itself is remarkably well done, and I applaud the WWF for that accomplishment. They do offer educational materials for download, as well as links to further resources. That’s great. Unfortunately, Earth Hour won’t make a difference in the minds of most people. This may be a cynical observation, but I suspect it’s also an accurate one.
If you‘ve participate in Earth Hour (or even organized it) and are a trully environmentally conscious individual, then this rant is not directed toward you. Too many of those who participate in Earth Hour are going to turn their lights back on and then feel like they’ve “done enough” for another year. They’ve done their part for the environment, and hey, it feels good to participate in a worldwide event!
Well here we are, the end of an era. Battlestar Galactica is over, which has made a lot of people very angry for various reasons.
I‘m too young to have seen the original Battlestar Galactica when it was on television, and I never watched the reruns. I’m not into it. The “reimagined” series ignited my interest, however, and I’ve watched the show since its miniseries became the backdoor pilot for a new television series.
To this day, my favourite episode remains “Kobol’s Last Gleaming”, the first season finale. It represents the best aspects of Battlestar Galactica’s storytelling techniques: the high stakes conflict, the spiritual and ethical themes interwoven into the story, and of course, the effortless use of the episode’s score to enhance the most emotional moments of the episode. Tonight’s finale was cast in a very similar vein to the first season finale, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.
The show has received massive amounts of criticism in the last half of this season. To be fair, the Writer’s Strike caused the last season to be split in half, placing much more tension on the mid-season premiere than the writers had originally intended. From there, it was a slippery slope into the lands of Exposition, Retconning, and Plot Device that left many fans confused and upset. And I’d have to agree—the last episodes of season four, for the most part, are among the most terrible episodes in Battlestar Galactica’s run.
To the creative team’s credit, the finale did tie up most of the loose ends. It left just enough loose ends to keep things interesting—although it’s strongly implied that a “God” exists, we don’t learn exactly who Head Six and Head Baltar are—angels from on high? More importantly, we’re left wondering about the exact nature of Kara Thrace. Allusions to Mormon mythology aside, I understand those—like my dad—who are dissatsified with the lack of closure for Kara. But I wonder if an answer is actually superior to the question? Speaking of answers, however, I enjoyed the answer to the opera house vision. They dealt with that very artfully, mixing prescience with Cylon projection.
The first hour of the finale was just, in the vernacular, “frakkin’ awesome”. It was full of head-spinning action, Cylon centurions on both sides, old-school Cylons, and Baltar had a gun! Cavil had some great last moments, including when they almost had a chance for a Cylon-Human-Cylon peace.
I will never forgive Galen, no matter what Tigh says. And I will never sympathize with Boomer or forgive her for her choices. She had a chance for redemption until she kidnapped Hera.
Baltar, on the other hand, was more interesting. Right to the end he served his own self-interest—I have no doubt that he chose to go on the rescue mission to show himself that he could be heroric, and to save himself from being the pet of that annoying cult of his. I know I would have done the same thing in his place. Yet Baltar and Caprica Six manage to reunite and understand their place in “God’s plan” (if such a God exists). I loved the moment when Head Six and Head Baltar appeared to both of them.
The second hour was much like that part in Lord of the Rings between the end of the book and the last page—useless conclusion, in other words. Yes, it’s important for closure. I didn’t enjoy the idea that they would “abandon technology”—but whatever, I suppose if Lee thinks it’s a good idea, it’s got to be a good idea—right?
Overall, however, Battlestar Galactica’s final episode redeemed the series for the problems with the episodes preceding it. We received resolution to most of the major storylines. And we got some sweet special effects and amazing action scenes.
For those of who are reading this and haven’t watched an entire episode of Battlestar Galactica, you may be wondering why I watched this show. You may not even like “that sci-fi stuff.” You might think it’s uninteresting, or you might be passionately opposed to such “juvenile” tastes. The key to understanding a fan’s passion for Battlestar Galactica is to understand that it is science fiction—it’s the type of science fiction you get in novels by masters of science fiction, as opposed to the adventure-based space opera you find on television (sorry Stargate).
Science fiction is all about exploring ourselves, as humans, and our responsibilities as a species and to the universe. Battlestar Galactica showed us that science fiction television shows can be set in space, have killer robots, yet be relevant to current events. I’m not going to launch into an extended diatribe about how it tackled “relevant issues”—you can read blog posts aplenty about that, sure. If you doubt it, however, just remember that the cast of Battlestar Galactica were at a panel at the United Nations. Over the course of its four-year run, the series took a look at difficult issues about humanity—a laundry list would not do it justice.
Sure, Battlestar Galactica couldn’t keep everyone happy. That’s to be expected. Yet it resonated with enough people that it generated great debate. Yes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the best television shows ever because it made people think—not just about plot lines and character arcs, but about what it means to be human, what it means to evolve, and to question the nature of our world and our beliefs. Many television shows strive for such a legacy—few achieve it.
I do not like hard candy. I‘ve been aware of this fact for a long time now, but it’s at the forefront of my mind after consuming Ricola cough drops for the past few days to assauge my sore throat.
Hard candy’s just not worth the effort. You have to tease the flavour out of it, sucking at it as the surface slowly melts away onto your tongue. And if you suck too vigorously, as I’m wont to do, you can sometimes swallow the candy. While the danger of choking is hopefully minimal, the experience is seldom pleasant. I was reminded of this fact today when my mouth unilaterally decided to swallow a cough drop.
This got me wondering, what if I did like hard candy? Which aspects of my personality would need to change in order to result in me liking hard candy instead of disliking it? I suspect that my preference is some sort of hard-coded anti-choking prejudice buried deep within my genome, or perhaps the irrational result of a quirky neuron flickering on and off within the recesses of my brain. In any event, the fact remains that my dislike of hard candy is a subconscious response rather than a conscious choice—I can choose to eat hard candy, but I can’t choose to like it. If I did like it, then, I would be a different person.
We define ourselves daily by countless arbitrary preferences, justifications of taste as opposed to morality or reason. These are essentially meaningless in the grand cosmic scheme.1 On a personal level, however, these preferences are the nuances that shape us into individuals.
So I was very interested to consider, just for a few minutes, the ramifications of this totally arbitrary preference. We all love to entertain the major “what ifs” in our lives—what if we were more adventurous rather than cautious, what if we were less enthusiastic and more laid back, what if we had won that championship, etc. In comparison, the minor “what ifs” don’t seem so interesting. Yet they are just as much a part of who you are as those major attributes.
And to all you people out there who like your candy hard, I say this: you’re crazy. Soft candy is soooo much better. Fuzzy peaches for the win.
P.S. I tried using Google’s image search on the phrase “hard candy soft candy smackdown” to locate a suitably-hilarious cartoon of a Jolly Rancher fighting a Gummi Bear. Suffice it to say, the resulting photos were not what I had expected. It appears that very few people share my burning desire to see Jolly Ranchers and Gummi Bears go mano a mano.
- [ 1 ] My like or dislike of hard candy will not cause a land war in Asia, hopefully.
I‘m not the first person to say this, certainly, but I’m far too lazy to Google for corroborating posts—strangely enough, if my ethical code ever collapses inward on itself,1 my laziness will always prevent me from plagiarizing. Writing my own stuff always seems easier than trying to find it, even with the miracle of the Internet.
But I digress.
Today’s Internet phenomenon on the chopping block is Zen. The overuse of “zen” in product and website names throughout the Internet irks me—and I don’t even practise Zen, so I can only imagine how those people who do feel about this.
Firstly, don’t blame Zen. That’s tantamount to blaming Santa Claus for Coca-Cola. Much like Santa, Zen can’t fight back.2 Secondly, yes, it is our fault. And by “we”, I mean, us, those darn “Westerners” who have once again decided to co-opt an “Eastern” idea and market it as our own.3 For shame.
We stole Zen because we thought it was cool (and we are not). I understand that it’s totally a marketing gimmick. Marketing is all about cool, and marketing Internet stuff in particular requires the slippery, evanescent sort of coolness that apparently only Zen or, if you’re a teenager, smoking, can provide. Because after all, what is Zen? I certainly don’t know—sure, I’ve read the Wikipedia article. But to claim I have an understanding of such a complex philosophical school of thought would be like saying I understand communism. Nobody understands communism!
NB: I have an adequate grasp of the gist of Western philosophy—enough to hold my own in daily conversation—but I‘ve yet to actually read the treatises by Western philosophers that would firmly cement my comprehension of the thoughts that have shaped and guided our society for the past two thousand years. So take my opinions with a large tablespoon of salt: I don’t know what I‘m talking about after all. You have been warned.
We’re attracted to “Zen” because of the ethereal, Eastern atmosphere it injects into our stodgy Western minds. This is the Internet equivalent to the “New Age” phenomenon. Zen is the poster-child of those who believe Eastern society possesses a vital quality missing from Western society. In actuality, both Eastern and Western society are completely, irrevoccably screwed up.
But that’s OK.
I do think there are some aspects of Eastern society from which Western society could benefit. However, stamping the label “Zen” on products, especially technology products, is not one of them. So next time you consider naming your product “Zen Something or Other” or incorporating an enso into your logo, ask yourself: are you really espousing the concept of Zen, or are you just fuelling a fad?
In conclusion, I’d like to throw out a few disclaimers. I love the CSS Zen Garden and in no way am suggesting that it change its name to CSS Garden. The idea for this post was actually inspired by Twitter’s adoption of a new support desk software, Zendesk.
I’m sure Twitter is just picking the tool it feels is right for the job. But Zendesk exhibits exactly the smarmy attitude I‘ve suddenly realized irritates me. Take a look at what they’ve done to Buddha!
They‘ve gone and put Buddha to work in a call-centre! It’s an eerily accurate metaphor for what Western society tends to do to Eastern philosophy. And I want no part of it.